That’s My Joy of Parenting!

Joy of Parenting

When parents get together, the subject invariably turns to stories about their children. They talk about the fun things their kids have done, and I almost hear the same sentiment from every parent that having children is the best decision in their lives.

I’m sure you would agree with me.

But raising children is indeed not an easy process, and it’s not surprising that many young couples today have dropped the idea of having children, at the thought of all the responsibilities, hassles and costs involved.

I have to admit this. When I was in my twenties and still single, I told my friends that I dislike kids. Every moment when I saw bawling kids and frustrated mothers, I told myself that this is not going to happen to me.

But that was the past now.

I got married at the age of 28, and I was pregnant shortly after. It was unplanned, and our romantic twosome life was shortened as compared to what we’ve imagined. But still, during my nine months of pregnancy, we had a lot of times on our hands. We managed to fill up our days with all sorts of activities, and we even went on a vacation in Japan.

After I gave birth to Little Edison, the passion we felt as newlyweds was gradually being replaced by mundane routines of taking care of a baby. The first year was very tough for us, maybe because we didn’t prepared ourselves sufficiently enough.

The second year was a whole lot easier. We got a helper, we made some adjustments in our routines and we learnt from our own mistakes. Then, we found ourselves immersing in the gift of parenthood. It was a wonderful time of witnessing our son’s development milestones and trying new things each day.

Then I began to realize why parents can do everything for their children – their selfless sacrifice, their unconditional love, their undivided attention, and so on.

Mar 2013

“In him, I see reflections of myself and my husband.”

As I’m reflecting on my joy of parenting now, I’d like to say that parenthood has bought me into greater appreciation of my son, and how our family life has flown together after his arrival. In him, I see reflections of myself and V, and how our genes have connected and produced such a wonderful human being.

It’s a marvellous process!

After a long day at work, I come home to see my beautiful 6-year-old son, rolling around in the garden with a huge grin plastered on his face. At that instant, my problems at work and my tiredness are gone miraculously. I quickly pick up the toy golf set and have a game with him before the dinner is served.

“Every small change in him as he grows brings me so much joy!”

Every little step that he took and every single word that he learnt brought me so much joy. Every little achievement that he made at school is as remarkable as setting a foot on the moon. In my six years of parenthood, I’m moved by every small change in him as he grows.

But of course, there were also times when he misbehaved and made me upset. I’ve found gentle discipline approaches to keep peace, connection and respect for all of us. Nonetheless, all these will become precious memories in time to come.

Over the years, I’ve also learnt to be gentler with myself on times when I don’t do it ‘right’, and instead see these moments as learning opportunities for improvement, rather than failures that churn up to maternal inadequacies and guilt.

It’s truly an inner journey for me that have walked many miles, at varying paces and directions. I’ve swapped a lot of personal time to get more organised in order to have our days flowing with greater ease. At this point, family life, career, motherhood and personal life are in a balance. I’m embracing every moment of it.

Last but not least, I’d like to say that having children brings a sense of contentment that cannot be fulfilled by career advancement, wealth or stability alone.

Thanks to Little Edison, our lives are now more complete, meaningful and fulfilling!

 

Let’s Talk About the Enhanced Parenthood Package

So the biggest talk in town this week is the $2 billion Enhanced Marriage and Parenthood Package, and the new subsidy framework for childcare and infant care services. What I get is only additional two days of childcare leave when Edison turns seven. Nothing much for me to cheer at the moment.

For a comprehensive list of benefits that you’ll get if you pop out a Singaporean baby, you can visit HeyBaby website. So does it entice you to have a baby anytime soon?

Baby1Singapore may be the few countries in the world who is throwing money at its citizens to encourage them to have babies. If we compare ourselves to similar countries with low birth rates like South Korea and Hong Kong, we’re very fortunate to have a government who is continuously looking at this issue and offering helps to families.

I have friends in Hong Kong and Taiwan, and they told me the same thing. Over at their country, life is much tougher when they have kids. I agree with them.

Over at China, people want to have more babies but they are restricted by their harsh old-child policy. Over here, government is giving money to citizens to make babies but they are still reluctant. Life is ironic sometimes, isn’t it?

Many people asked me if I have plan for baby # 2, and my answer is still NO. Two years ago, V and I had a serious discussion on whether we should try for baby # 2, but at the end, we were still undecided. I wrote about it HERE.

So, we took it naturally. We didn’t really “work hard” for it, but we didn’t particularly “avoid” it either. Two years have passed, and I didn’t get pregnant. I know that deep in my heart, I’m not very keen to have another baby. That’s why I didn’t pin any high hope.

Late last year, things went downhill when I was diagnosed with an incurable disease. I need to be in long-term medication to keep this disease under control (there is still no cure for it). The medication will cause birth defect, so my doctor has warned me it. I cannot get pregnant now, and it saddened me to no end.

Suddenly, I feel the pain. I regret for not doing it earlier when I was still healthy, but I can’t turn back time now. My status has changed from “I think I don’t want” to “I can’t even if I want now”. It’s sad, I know.

Pic1

Sometimes, I do wish that Edison could experience what it is like to have a sibling. I have a very close relationship with my brother and sister, and we enjoy spending time together till now. I feel sad that Edison will not have the same experience. It will be very painful for me to hear if one day he says he wish to have a sibling.

Still, there is a 1% chance for me to get pregnant in future – if my disease can be kept under control, if I can stop my medication, and only if it all happens before I hit the big 40. I can’t think about it too much now.

Back to the enhanced parenthood package, I think it’s very helpful for families who are planning to have babies. But still, I can’t be sure it will be effective to boost the fertility rate. If a family wants to have a baby, they will save every penny they can in order to achieve it. But if they don’t, they will not do it just because of the one-time incentive. Perhaps, what we need is just a mindset change.

After all, having a baby is a lifelong commitment, not a one-time incentive. What do you think?

 

What I Like Best About My Son?

Edison - 5 years old

A friend recently asked me what I like best about my son. I love this question and I felt a strong urge to answer her. With his presence, each day I can find something that is better than the day before. Each day when I thought I couldn’t love him anymore than I do today; and tomorrow would come and prove me wrong.

Little Edison turned five in September this year. He’s a wonderful boy who is caring, loving, reasonable and has a gentle character. He continually amazes me as he reveals the various facets of his beautiful personality each day.

Edison

In fact, he has grown into a sensible boy with a heart of gold. He cares so much for the people around him – especially to me. Two weeks ago, when I fell ill and had to quarantine myself in our study room, he checked on me few times at night. He covered me with blanket, gently kissed me and said “I love Mama” before he finally went to sleep.

He knows that all of us love him a lot. And he knows that I love him with all my heart, mind and soul. Because of this, his love tank is always full that he has an unlimited capacity to love, accept and care for others with no fear of not getting the same in return.

Edison

Little Edison is also a very reasonable and understanding boy in general. He has seen me having a very busy time at night. He’ll not disturb me when I’m rushing for work. Although I tried so hard not to sacrifice family time for work, but sometimes it’s very hard to avoid – unless I can turn into a robot that can operate without any sleep. But I’m not.

For the same reason, I really appreciate his excellent capacity to entertain himself for up to an hour or two. He has a wild imagination and he loves to make up his own adventures with his super heroes and action characters. And he’ll play all by himself without disturbing me.

Edison

At a tender age of five, he always surprises me with his strong determination. When he sets his mind to do something, he’ll finish it. Even for a complicated task that I find quite challenging for him, he’ll go all the way and never look back. He likes to say “Never say never!” whenever I mention “Never mind boy, this is too difficult for you”.

What I love most about being a parent is watching him turn into his own person a little bit more each day. There is always something to discover, appreciate and be thankful for in this wonderful journey of parenting!

What do you like best about your children? And what do you love most about being a parent? I love to hear from you too!

 

Is Parenting Easier or Harder Than It Was 30 Years Ago?

Let’s face it, parenting is hard. But how hard it is as compared to 30 years ago? If sleepless nights are the worst thing that could happen to you, I think that it’s just a matter of time. When the kids grow older, you’ll get back all your precious sleep.

I complain about the loss of freedom, you might say that it’s also a matter of time. When the kids grow up and gain their independence, we will get our freedom and time back. I agree with you.

I had a conversation with my MIL few days ago; she shared with me how she struggled to take care of her two sons (without the help from her own mom or MIL). At that time, she also babysitted another kid for extra income. Seriously, I don’t know how she did it.

My mom took care of me and my two younger siblings all by herself. She was a part-time tailor too; sewing clothes at night when we were asleep for extra income to supplement the family.

“It is so much easier now”, she said this as she points to the disposable diapers and washing machine. I agree with her. I can’t imagine life without these two items. Thanks to the modern technology; it has provided many conveniences in our life.

Easier? Yes!

In my opinion, things that are easier now include:

(1) Modern conveniences, i.e. disposable diapers, stroller, etc. My brother is one year younger than me. My mom told me that she woke up few times at night to change us, and she had to handwash the cloth diapers few times a day. Phew! Can you imagine that?

(2) Electrical appliances, i.e. washing machine, microwave, bottle warmer, sterilizer, etc. I shudder to think how complicated life is without these.

(3) Ease of travelling. Looking at the price of COE, I can’t say that car is affordable but most families have cars now. When I was young, my family didn’t have a car. My mom sent us to school on her bicycle until we were old enough to cycle on our own.

(4) Better medical facilities. PDs, clinics and pharmacies are everywhere.

In general, our life has been made comfortable and luxurious with modern technology and scientific inventions.

What is making it more difficult now?

(1) Modern materialistic society where our lust is often greater than our needs. Our neighbor went for a holiday, should we go too? My friend spent $2K on her son’s birthday party, should I follow? I could go on…

(2) We’re often spoilt by choices and we want only the BEST. This is especially so for schooling matters. We don’t mind spending 80 hours for volunteer works or queuing overnight to get out kids into reputable schools.

(3) Easier for kids to go on the wrong path these days. Maybe due to greater peer pressure, I don’t know.

In my point of view, I think that parenting is EASIER now than 30 years ago although we may have different set of challenges or problems that might not exist 30 years ago. Most of us have a car for travelling, a nice comfortable house to live in, a healthy income and almost all the comforts of life, only if we know how to manage our expectations and live within our means.

What do you think?

 

Quality time vs. Quantity of time

I’m so delighted to hear that my company will be extending our 4-day work week arrangement to March. In fact, I’m craving for more off days now.

With the shorter work week, I can spend more time with my son. Somehow, it makes me realize that the quantity of time cannot be replaced by the quality of time. To our children, any time spent with us is quality time, so the more the merrier, isn’t it?

Having said this, the “quality” of the time is important too. We parents must truly commit to the time we spend with our children with no other distractions, i.e. no phone calls, no TV etc. It doesn’t make sense to claim that we spend quality time with our children when in fact, we watch TV while they play on their own.

For any full-time working mothers (like me!), the number of hours that we can spend with our children is very limited. On weekdays, I spend about 3.5 hours with little Edison; from the time I reach home at 6:30pm till Edison’s sleep time at 9:30pm, plus another half an hour in the morning before I go to work.

That is why I don’t schedule any personal appointment during the weekdays. I hate it when I get home late and little Edison is asleep. I want to kiss him goodnight and tell him how much I love him every night without fail.

On the weekends, I dedicate most of my time to my family. I avoid working on weekends, unless there are critical issues that require my attention. Otherwise, I’ll leave them till Monday.

To maximize the amount of time for my family, I’m surviving on these time management tips:

At work:
1. During the working hours, concentrate and focus in my work. Finish my work on time and be able to go home early.
2. Avoid overtime. If there are any urgent tasks, bring them home rather than doing overtime in the office. I can continue my work from home after Edison is asleep.

At home:
1. Outsource all house chores. Get a domestic helper to lighten my burden on the house chores.
2. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from in-laws, parents or friends.
3. Exchange tips and ideas with friends and colleagues. They may be able to give advice to the problems that I’m facing.

Work and family are two sets of emotions. It all depends on how we prioritize each day. Strike a balance between them is difficult, but definitely NOT impossible. 🙂