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

2 comments on “5.75 years on

  1. Wonderful post! Can relate to each of the things here…Moms can really move mountains.

    • haha I think most moms would! Cos I mean, we carried them for 9 mths..I’d be damned if I let the kid go! (short of wanting to stuff them back into the womb if they get to bratty)

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