Ever since Little Edison discovered the marvel of telephone, he has been calling me every day when I’m at work. Sometimes he calls up to four times a day to share with me about an event at school, what he has for lunch, what TV program that he’s watching, and what other monkey business that he’s doing at home.
I welcome all these calls as I often find them very amusing. Somehow, they ‘connect’ me with his routine even though I’m not with him physically. But in my mind, I can imagine what he’s doing from these phone calls.
“Hello Mama! What are you doing?” he asked enthusiastically.
“Mama is working. Have you taken your lunch?”
“Oh yes! I had a sandwich for lunch, and I finished it.”
I was delighted to hear that, and I answered him: “Good boy. Now you go take a nap and when you wake up, please do the homework that I gave you last night.”
He was quiet for a while. He doesn’t like to listen to my nagging, and oh, he’s at a stage where he thinks that afternoon naps are only for babies. As a matter of fact, he seldom takes his afternoon nap now.
“Okay, I’ll pass the phone to Yeye.” Before I could nag any further, he passed the phone to my father-in-law. I knew his trick. Smart boy.
Two hours later, he called again.
“Hello Mama!” he said in a less enthusiastic tone this time.
“Yes, boy. What are you doing now?” I asked him.
“The homework question is too difficult. Twenty minus five? But I don’t have twenty fingers!”
I chuckled and said, “You don’t need twenty fingers. Use the ‘count down’ method that I’ve taught you. Twenty, nineteen, eighteen, seventeen, sixteen, fifteen. Remember?”
“Add means count up. Minus means count down.” I reminded him again although I was very certain that he knows how to solve the math questions by himself.
“Okay, Mama. I’ll try again. Bye!” The line went dead after that. I assumed that he went back to his homework questions.
I like it every time he calls me in the middle of the day, even for no apparent reason. Just to listen to his rambling, his voice and his jokes. They brighten up my days.
Do you talk to your children on the phone too when you’re at work? Do you enjoy it? Say YES if you do! I love to hear from you too.
It was 8pm on a Tuesday night. Little Edison was taking his own sweet time, munching on his apple, and watching the TV. I was anxious to return to our home from my PIL’s house, but the boy has not even taken his shower.
I was tired and my face was ‘black’, but he didn’t notice it. I packed up our things and I told him angrily to continue eating very slowly until 10pm, because I’ll be leaving without him. Then, I dumped our things into the car and pretended to start the engine.
He got a shock, and he dashed out of the house with his teary eyes. Then, he cried and said to me that he wants to go home with me too. I quickly showered him, and we drove home.
On our way home, he looked at me innocently, and muttered “I love you, Mama.”
At that instance, I was surrounded by guilt again – for raising my voice at him, for losing my temper, and for threatening to leave him behind.
“I’m such a terrible mother!” I repeated that to myself several times, and I apologized to him.
Things like this happen once in a while.
In my five years of motherhood, I’ve thrown a few things out of my ‘guilt sack’, but there are also new things that get added along the way. I’ll share some of them in this post.
Things I used to feel guilty about, but not anymore:
1. Being a working mom
I can still remember vividly the first day I sent him to the infant care centre, that was during the last week of my maternity leave. I sat on the bench, sobbing quietly and struggling with separation anxiety from my baby.
I blamed myself for not being able to take care of him 24/7. It’s not because I’m career-minded, but there are valid reasons why I need to maintain my financial-independence.
Now when I look back, I’m at peace with my choice of being a working mom. I can’t be with him all the time, but I’m with him most of the time when he needs me. And I’m always there for the important events in his life – his birthday, his parent-teacher meeting, his graduation concert, when he’s unwell, etc.
2. Feeding him with a less balanced meal
I don’t cook so often, and I used to be guilty about that, but not anymore. We eat home-cooked food at my mother-in-law’s house every weekday. So, on weekends, we usually eat-out at our favourite restaurants.
When we’re out the whole day, sometimes he missed his mealtimes and naptimes too. Out of convenience, we also feed him with burger and French fries. But again, I tell myself – one day without protein will not malnourish him, one day without afternoon nap will not make him tired or cranky.
Most importantly, we spend a meaningful and fun weekend together. It’s okay to bend the rules once in a while.
3. Stealing some ‘me-time’
I like to attend to him whenever he demands my attention. But I’m a human after all, and there are times when I really need some quiet times for myself.
So, I’ll plonk him down with his favourite iPad game or in front of the TV. I told him not to disturb me, and I disappear for ten minutes. Whether I’ll be enjoying my cup of coffee, taking my power nap or lose myself in a book, ten minutes are all I need to recharge and rediscover myself.
Guilt that I’m still working on removing:
1. Losing my patience
(as in one of the classic examples that I’ve mentioned at the beginning of this post)
I’m a person with a limited patience tank. Throughout my motherhood years, this tank has gradually grows too. Many times, I told myself to be patience and I succeeded. But again, when stress level builds up inside of me, sometimes I do lost control too.
I feel guilty whenever I raise my voice, scold him or give him a little whack on his bottom. I convince myself that all I’ve done is for his own good, and I should not feel guilty. But most of the time, I’ll end up blaming myself for not being the perfect mom who is always patience, caring and loving towards him.
Now, what is the biggest ‘guilt’ in your sack? I love to hear from you too! Leave me a comment!
Before I have Little Edison, I had no idea that being a mother would involve carrying around a huge sack of guilt. A totally unnecessary sack of guilt, I should elaborate, but no matter how hard I try to avoid, it still creeps stealthily towards me.
Last week, I was watching a Korean drama at 10pm. I told Edison to sleep on his own as the drama will end at 11pm. It will be too late for him to wait until 11pm, and he’ll definitely have difficulty waking up the next morning, but he refused.
My six-year-old big boy is acting like a baby again. He wants me to cuddle him to sleep, but I’m dying to watch that drama. (A Gentleman’s Dignity on Channel U, are you watching it too?) The last time I watched a Korean drama was 8 years ago, and the very last time I watched a Korean drama by Jang Dong Gun was 12 years ago!
Why can’t I have just one hour for myself?
I was frustrated. I insisted that he should go to sleep on his own (in a VERY stern manner), and continue watching the TV. He walked to his room, feeling very disappointed.
Suddenly, I felt an internal battle going on inside of me.
“Emily, is the drama more important than your son? Are you insane? The boy has been waiting for you the whole day while you’re at work. You sure want to disappoint him this way?”
“Arrgh, just continue! It’s just a one-hour show. It doesn’t make any difference after all. It’s not like you’re watching it every night. You hardly spend more than 5 minutes a week on TV since the day he was born. That was pathetic, you know!”
Well, there are a lot of good factors that I can debate on. Firstly, he should be independent enough to sleep on his own. Secondly, I’ve spent the entire evening with him the moment I got back from work. I should get my own “me-time” too. When the drama is over, we’ll be back to our normal routine. It’s just 20 episodes anyway (not 200!).
But still, deep down I knew that I’ve disappointed my little baby. I felt so guilty. At the end, I switched off the TV and went to bed with him. That sack of guilt is always there.
I always question myself if I’m doing enough for him. Five years ago, when I saw him crying at the infant care centre, I questioned myself if I should quit my job and take care of him instead. Three years ago, he cried when I dropped him off at school, I again questioned myself if I should homeschool him instead.
When he tells me how much he misses me when I’m at work, I feel guilty again. It’s not an easy process, and I don’t think it ever will be. Although I’ve thrown a few things out of my ‘guilt sack’ from time to time, but there are other new things that get added along the way.
After five years, I’m still trying hard to find that equilibrium. No matter how heavy the sack is, I’m still trying my best to be a good mother to Little Edison. And I always will.
Do you have a ‘guilt sack’ too?
To be continued…