mommy’s milestone : Sarah turns 1

Photo taken by: Grow Old With Me (Gideon)

To the 28 year old pre-pregnant me:

Your 3rd child turns one today. Did you know that you were going to have 3 kids? Well, the plan was to have four but you wouldn’t know that it is not going to happen. Maybe not just yet. Cos, you know, accidents can happen.

Except it wasn’t the case for all kids. They are all planned. It wasn’t as easy as you thought it would be. You got emotional when you had been trying and your colleague came back from a holiday..pregnant. But hey, it was only a few months. You will get pregnant eventually. And then go on to have more cos..you felt you needed to baby one kid all the time. Like WTH. Damn you hormones.

How does it feel to have your 3rd child turn one today? Bittersweet. The 35 year old me now had been counting down to the day she turns one. It is a major milestone for me, the last kid, and thinking back on how she had grown in the past year or so.

She started walking unassisted around the house in the past 2 days. The glee on her face, as she strains to run after her brothers. They had been her motivation to walk earlier. Last week, she started climbing the sofa and the toddler chairs. *sigh* you will have your hands full.

You will wonder how you were going to raise her when you find out you were pregnant with a girl, after having two boys. You & I both, we struggle a little with self-esteem, wonder a little about our self-worth, yet we know that this worth should be determined by yourself and not what the world thinks you are worth.

You will come to accept that you are doing fine. And that you are worth..a lot. And you will see that worth in the way your husband appreciates & loves you, and in the way your children treat you.

And despite all the frustrations, overwhelming pressure and stress that society or you may impose on yourself, you will know that your kids love you a lot regardless of how you dress (damn lok kok & all), how you behave (like a crazy woman talking as loud as her son) or how you deal with them.

Cos they only know love from you. You will love your kids so much..it’ll be a pain in the ass. Hahaha.

But you will still wonder how you were going to raise your little girl. The girly girl who shares your passion for shoes and bags, has your temper and knows she is loved, safe and protected by the ones around her. Just by the way she manjas the two of you.

You’ll like it. I promise you. She’s the game changer.

But at this moment, I’m celebrating my milestone of having survived the first year. Wait, scrap that. No survival required. We cruised through it, with the help of family. And it is as you envisioned when you thought about having more kids.

The kids giggling and shrieking in excitement as they run around the house.

The older ones looking after the younger ones. 

The stuff that comes out of their mouth. #shitOlliesez #shitQTsez #shitSarahsez

When they run into your embrace. 

It’s scary as we moved along each phase of their lives, but celebrate as they grow, cos you will grow too. In size (unfortunately, sorry! Please stop buying new clothes, you won’t have a chance to wear them again). In heart (lots and lots of love to give). And in mind (ommm be zen, be patient.)

Now, excuse me whilst I go wish our baby girl happy 1st birthday.

happy birthday, my dear baby girl! <3

Category: Special

a reminder

I just wanted to remember today.

It was one of those days. That moment when that sense of overwhelming frustration just hits. There I was sitting at the edge of my bed, trying to nurse an agitated Sarah who was overtired. Second windI had been sitting there for 15 mins and counting.

Prior to trying to get Sarah to nap, I had given the boys instructions to tidy up their tables, living room and the Lego on the floor. This was the lead up to a movie once Sarah was asleep and the living room cleared. Dinner was not cooked and I was getting annoyed cos I knew the brown rice was going to take 2 hours and it was already 4.30pm.

With an agitated Sarah, who was tossing and throwing herself around in my arms, and the silence outside in the living room, the pressure started to mount. I needed to vent and texted the husband. The mental overload was getting overwhelming. The silence outside..was too loud.

What were the boys doing outside?
Are they tidying up?
Would I still go out to a mess?
How was I going to deal with them apart from withdrawing the movie? 

I needed dessert. Sugar. Something nice. I told the husband that. But I also know he was on my case about cutting down sugar. Argh. That got me riled up as well.

What flavour do you want?’ he replied.

As I thought I also heard the door, I decided,’screw this, she is not yet asleep, let’s go see what is happening outside’. 

No one was at the door. The living room was 95% cleared to my satisfaction (which happens very rarely), and the boys had been keeping the toys quietly so that Sarah would sleep faster, something that I had sorta drilled into them in the early days but..there are days that they still make enough noise to keep Sarah awake.

The pressure was released. I felt some load lifted off. Dinner was not cooked, but all of us were going to be in a better mood. I felt better, not as frustrated as before.

Went back into the bedroom to try and put Sarah down for a nap again. She finally does so by 5pm, and I hurriedly got around to setting up the movie and chips for the boys, whilst telling them to sort out one last area. A promise was a promise.

I couldn’t help but feel that I had the best boys in the world. Tell me that again when I get ready to want to kill them again. hahaha. But heck, it made me feel that for all the moments I felt guilty about not doing stuff with them, I probably did something right to get them onto this path.

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Once I got them sorted with the movie, I went ahead with dinner preps, quickly running through my head what I needed to do first to optimise the time. Cook the rice, preheat the oven, boil water, prep the chicken to be roasted, cut up the veggies and soak, wash the dishes and make some fries. Sarah woke up mid-fries marination, but it’s all good. The major stuff was out of the way.

As I did the dishes, I smiled to myself.

Last weekend, the hubby and I had gotten into an argument cos I had accused him of not helping out with the chores and focusing on personal work. The laundry to be folded had piled up and I had shifted it from the ‘laundry chair’ to a ‘laundry bed’ for the weekend cos the bulk of the clothes belonged to the kids. It had gotten to a point where I was sick of thinking about what household chore I needed to do next. There was always catching up to do.

Just as Donald had naively assumed back in the early days, that as a SAHM, I had nothing much to do, I was guilty of thinking that he doesn’t really do much to help out around the house. He offered to do the dishes, but he would sigh or groan whilst washing, which made me feel like he was ‘judging’. We have since agreed that he will happily wash the dishes without any ‘comment’.

Throwback to yesterday, he came home, stared at the sink full of veggie scraps and then grinned at me before exclaiming,

I’m so happy to be doing the dishes! It’s so great..to see the sink full of veggie scraps!’ 

I couldn’t help by laugh at the absurdity of it. The argument seemed silly then but it had allowed me to vent about the internal pressure I was feeling and to tell hubby what exactly he needs to do (including exclaiming happily about washing dishes! hahahaha)

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It was the school hols last week. The kids were recovering from a cough and cold so playdates were out. I had a busy weekend just before the school hols started, and decided that I was going to take it easy the next week as I was also recovering from a cough and cold. I was spamming lozenges, flu tablets, vitamin C and manuka honey..just to feel alive.

Post school hols, I felt really rested. The boys stayed over at their grandparents some nights, I took them out for lunch, we had a family photoshoot by Gideon from Grow Old With Me (the sneak peek photos were awesome!!), back to the shop over the weekend, rethinking some priorities. I slept early (I mean like 10.30pm) most nights and Sarah was being nice by pulling longer hours! Ahhh what luxury.

Then I had to pay it back with a growth spurt plus teething baby this week. Urrrgh. Why you hate me so much? And why you no call me mama!! >:(

Category: Daily

5.75 years on

Nostalgia. I took a walk down memory lane last night and this evening, trawling through the highlights of my life as a mother, looking at photos that I posted on social media.

Most of the photos on Donald and myself were on Facebook. I was on Friendster back in 2004, and only go on the bandwagon for Facebook in 2005. I finally got on Instagram in 2012, because of Oliver.

Now my albums are mostly about the kids, and the kids & myself.

Having kids: not for the weak hearted. 

And they sure as hell brought back some memories. The amazement and wonder as we welcomed Oliver into our lives; the fear as he got hospitalised for UTI; the joy of him getting discharged from UTI; the excitement as we got pregnant with Quentin; the worry as I continued getting contractions at 34 weeks despite medication to stop it; the inability to bond with Quentin cos he was in SCN; the guilt as he got UTI as well (FML); the concern that he still wasn’t speaking at 15mo; to more fear that there were issues with his kidney and potentially ultrasounds for many years to come; to shock of expecting Sarah (a girl!!); and back to the fear of the possibility of her going through what her brothers went through.

As they grew up, and learnt to venture future and explore their boundaries, how they make your insides cringe as you watch them climb up the ladder at the playground, half wanting to hold their hand to guide, half wanting to stand back and see how far they would go. How they surprise you all of the sudden with their newfound skills. How I squealed ‘bebe! she’s walking!’ to hubby when Sarah grinned and took her first two steps.

I remembered the emotions that I felt in every photo. The joy. The happiness. The excitement.  The sadness. The fear. The guilt. The tears.

At the end of the day, they are still my pride, and I wouldn’t trade them for anything else.

But as my social media feeds show my life as a mom with 3 kids, a lot goes behind the scenes with a man called Donald aka Daddy Ting.

The husband

A silent pillar of support that sometimes I take for granted for. Living together overseas had made the move back to Singapore a lot easier. We didn’t need the transitional period that most newly married couples would probably need when they first moved in together. But parenthood was a different matter altogether.

We started the journey with ideals and expectations. There were certain things that were a major no-no we decided. But as we all know, reality was a whole different matter. The SAHM who craved adult interaction vs the husband who wondered what the wife could be doing at home the whole day. Those were the early days. As we worked that hurdle out, of course there were new hurdles to clear.

Discipline. Hygiene. Diet. Engagement. Parenting. Health.

There sure wasn’t the ONE manual for this we realised. But hell, there was a book for every topic for sure. And there is Google..and Facebook and WhatsApp groups, we soon realised. By the time we got to Sarah, we were pretty sure we were proficient in dishing out the meds in the right dosage (‘it’s viral, they will just have to ride it out’ sounds familiar?), we learnt that it is okay for the kids to be bored, that tv is bad for attention, we don’t use the cane, traditional weaning has been taken over by baby led weaning, and because we no longer use reusable diapers, we also don’t use regular diapers, they need to be chlorine free with wood pulp from sustainable forests.

Or whatever our budget allows for.

*takes a deep breath* Welcome to 2017. Where it appears 3 kids quite the norm (dammit, cos Daddy Ting said 2 is too mainstream. Now we really need one more kid).

But yes, Donald works hard to be a hands on dad. Just like the working mum struggles to split the time amidst her child, spouse, work and household, it is the same with Donald. And because he has lesser time with the kids, he has to work harder at building that relationship with them, on top of splitting the chores with the wife AND attending to her emotional needs.

Oh and he has to work doubly hard at making the wife trust that the kids will be fine in his hands so that she can get a break *narrows eyes* It’s true! I mean, sucks to be him but…sorry hor, Ipad babysitting is no count!! Okok, he has improved a lot and settled for National Geographic on TV most times.

On a serious note, no Donald, no reassurance that I am doing a decent job and reminder that we should look after ourselves.

Self-care.

When we get too busy looking after everyone that we forgot to look after ourselves. I broke down then at the realisation. It even took me awhile to figure out what the issue was. Because I was too busy feeling guilty that I wasn’t meeting up to expectations. My self-imposed expectations.

Expectations to manage the household, to remember vaccination appointments, to remember school schedule, to remember to do the chores, that everyone had clothes to wear, that the house is clean, to buy groceries, that the kids are engaged, that I come up with activities for the kids to do. Put that on repeat every month. And no, it doesn’t happen when I am hormonal. This overwhelming sensation just comes in waves unexpectedly.

These days I berate myself when I forget to cook Sarah’s meals. OMG. Bad mom! It is just putting the rice into the food jar and pouring hot water in. How difficult can it be?? How can you forget about it?? But why did I forget? I forgot because I was busy decluttering a cabinet that was so messy it made it difficult for me to access some of the materials/toys for the kids. I was busy thinking what I could do whilst Sarah took a nap when the boys are at school. I was busy thinking what I needed to drop off at the shop later in the day.

It helped a lot more when Donald took over some of my mental load, giving me more time to take care of myself and when he started taking care of me as well. Sometimes, in the midst of the mayhem, and focusing on the kids, it is so easy to forget that the other half needs the attention too. It should remain the same, not lesser. We then made it a point to allocate some time to regroup together as a couple. It helped. It really reminded us that we were once a couple and not just parents. It helps remind us that at the end of the day, we have a common goal, regardless of how we get there.

That we all want the best for the kids and family. And for that, I love this guy cos he puts in so much more that I realise.

Ah the early days. So much turmoil and drama. Just felt that with Sarah turning 1 soon..these little hiccups will be experiences that make us feel that this parenting game isn’t too bad.

As Sarah took her first few steps, Donald put one arm around me and said, whilst looking at her

my turn liao. Now that she walks, I will take over. You can retire’

Yar, he takes over the life skills, whilst I handle the emotional bits. How bittersweet when he said that. I also felt a huge load got lifted off my shoulders for some reason. Like I almost got through the first year; she’s hit a lot of her firsts and soon will be hitting her first year too.

It was also the time I felt that I wanted to give myself a lot of other firsts too. Having a decent photoshoot for her birthday with a nice dress and make up on. Cos I didn’t have stuff like maternity shoot (not that I wanted one..but yar). Cos I dun get a chance to dress up and feel all pretty. Cos I haven’t felt pretty for the longest time.

I struggled with the make up bit, wanting to be real, like this is how I look like on a daily basis..to wah lao, wear wedding dress and dun put make up abit cui right. #firstworldproblems meh. And is not as though the kids are bothered about their mom being made up. But the boys know enough to compliment when I actually make the effort to dress up.

Wow, mummy, you look so pretty.’ Eh, this kind of compliments are rare. So it must mean something to them when I do dress up right?? WTH.

This shoot was also more like..time for me to have someone take photos of me with the kids kinda rationale. I have shitloads of photos of the kids, some loads of photos of me and the kids (mostly in selfie mode), very few photos of Daddy Ting with the kids (which is like damn sad). So I do genuinely think we need some decent family photos, which allows us to fully engage with the kids and yet have the moments frozen in time.

Else all the photos we have comes with parents’ faces with mild annoyance, and reluctant smiles on the kids’ faces hahaha. damn fail.

But it was nice to be able to consider a few firsts for myself when Sarah turns one. It is a milestone for both of us. There is another milestone in 2 years time when she goes to pre-nursery haha. I promised myself a short trip without the kids and husband! We’ll see how that one goes. =P\

This post is part of the ‘Mothers Make It Work!’ Blog Train hosted by Owls Well. To read other inspiring stories please click on the picture below.

Category: Daily, Special