Don’t be Me, my Little Foot

Been rather swamped at work recently, hence the blog seemed to have collected some cob webs.

(Actually, who isn’t? In this climate where even journalists get laid off, you better be busy or be gone!)

Little Foot has resumed much of her carefree ways during her time outside of preschool, and it brings a smile to my face when I sit here recollecting her cute voice singing the full “Doe A Deer” song accurately while swinging high on a swing.

She was mesmerised by the song when I first sang it to her when she came back from school doing the Solfege Do-Re-Mi hand signs. And I think she practised over a couple of days during her naptimes to perfect it.

I do wonder how long I could actually keep stresses away from her. Especially when mummies around me are talking about alphabet and numbers recognition and writing.

We had dropped all enrichment classes for nearly half a year. A break for all of us. We were all just a little burntout.

And so we played.

Besides her ambition of being a princess (must be Elsa), she’d also fallen in love with Peppa Pig and had watched the episodes on YouTube so many times, she could complete the sentences sometimes as the clips play.

There are moments like yesterday, when I paused at work late at night wondering if Little Foot’s development would have been more spectacular, and perhaps she was “wasting time” because I am hardly around and when I am, I indulge her as all guilty mamas do.

And then I pause.

She is not yet three. And I don’t want her to be me. I want her to be like Papa, never harassed, always self-assured, steady and fearless.

Why I am me…

Before 3, I was starting to write, reciting Tang poems (according to my mother, but which I have no recollection of). At 5, I had completed alot of basic chinese character words (remember writing a page full of the word “草”) , wrote and counted well in English, even basic additions and subtractions, and did some spectacular feat of drawing an apple and colouring it at the same time with with a colours pencil in each hand (I do not recall this either).

My mother loves to reminisces such things. I was that brillant child she tried to hot house. I wanted to play, she wanted results. She loved me, but she saw potential and she wanted me to shine.

And at 8 years old, I burnt out.

To end up with a month-long stay in the hospital with gastric ulcers.

Finally someone said it – she is stressed.

Whatever she did or whatever I was born with however saw me through schooling life rather easily, but I never wanted to do more anymore… a perpetual tiredness follows me, together with the gastric pangs and occasional panic attacks.

And so, I dont want Little Foot to be like me. Hopefully our slack attitude will not be a reason for her to blame us in future, but for now, I try to think we are ok.

Because I love you so very, very much.

Advertisements

Do one thing every morning

Begin the day by making your bed. You’ll feel better. (And if you’re male, shave) And the rest of the day, never give in to the sharks.

One weekend, I saw this text from the boss in a work chatgroup, and I didn’t dwell much on it, except secretly say “oops!” because I hardly ever make my bed.

AND yet another crazy week went by.

This week, I had several appointments for work, with so many early mornings I had to take Grab cars almost every morning just to make it in time. And so I mused again about this line “Begin the day by making your bed” because, actually, while I do not make the bed every morning, thanks to Little Foot, I begin every day by having one good task done – I change Little Foot’s diaper.

Just some months ago, she had taken to insisting that only Mummy can change her diapers, so whether I was supposed to sleep in for some days or whether I was rushing off for work, so would be rejecting everyone and cry “Mummy change!” while still half asleep.

And so this week, everyday I made myself get up earlier than I needed so I could get ready, and before I left for work, woke her up, changed her diapers, got her ready for school, as if it was any other day, waved her off before I grabbed my bag and took the next lift down to set off for work (otherwise she will be demanding that I send her to school in Papa’s car).

I must say I am mighty pleased with myself for having been able to still do the morning diaper session despite the tight schedule. It keeps me sane, knowing that I have done that one task every morning, so I don’t feel like I have not accomplished anything as a mother.

Next term, Little Foot’s school will start their toilet-training, so this arrangement won’t be forever. Oh Little Foot is growing up too fast! So I am enjoying the responsibility as much as I can for now.

When the time comes where there are no longer any diapers to change, I will have to find another task that I can do every morning.

And so, this week didn’t go so badly after all. Glad to have conquered it.

And in case you are wondering, I still don’t make my beds *shhh!*

I had a quiet lunch but it felt so empty

Today I had a quiet lunch before I set off for work in the afternoon.

Having the chance to sleep in later, to walk around the market at leisure, to sit down and quietly enjoy my hipster cafe lunch.

It felt like I had my old life back. And it felt strangely empty.

A mama walked into the cafe with her toddler in a Tula, and sat 2 tables away from me. I watched their interaction and it made me smile and feel an ache deep inside my heart.

A glimpse of my life not too ago.

I missed my Little Foot sorely (she went to her childcare preschool as usual). Her demands, her constant “why?”, even her tantrums which disrupts my meals a lot.

I really missed her presence at this meal.

And tonight, she will reach home to find biscuits and the papaya I just bought for her. And no mummy. And she will wait in vain until her eyelids are too heavy. Only Papa will be around.

For the umpteenth time, I wondered what I had gotten myself into, this job that takes me away from her more and more.

And I have no answer… really.

Sigh

Still learning to be a mother

Motherhood comes naturally to some…

I’ve known people who gave their future kids names and tell about motherhood as their dream career when they grow up.

I’ve seen how some mamas go out alone with 3 kids and look like they have gotten it all sorted out. And their hair is neat and kids are clean.

For me, from day zero, we both knew this wasn’t going to be a walk in the park for me. Obviously! Someone who can’t cook or keep her desk clean, and falls sick so regularly I need someone to look after me most of the time. That’s me. How to be a mother?

So nearly 27 months on, I am still learning.

There are days I feel exasperated – like “What do you want? Quit making sputtering noises like a car engine failing and tell me!!”

There are days when I’m sick and wanna crawl under the bed and hide, but Little Foot finds me and wants me to sing and play “three little monkeys jumping on the bed”.

There are days when I make loud angry remarks at the whole family… because “Aaaahhhh!!!! I just wanna eat my meal in one sitting!!”

There are days when I lie in bed and sob. Because “I. Am. Just. So. Tired… it might be easier if I was dead”.

And then there are days when all the grudges and unfairness gets erased, or at least momentarily forgotten.

Because Little Foot gave me a kiss on my lips. Then again. And again. And again!

Because Little Foot does a “Baby-5!” With me…when we make some little achievement together.

Because Little Foot held my hand and ran with me together after Papa Long shouting “wait for me!!!”

Because Little Foot would have those rare caring moments … like how she suddenly remembered her Papa’s foot was injured, looked over the edge of the bed and asked Papa Long “Are you ok already? Not pain already?”

Because she gives the most brillant grin that is brighter than the sun.

And because I would lay in the dark these days, with my fatigue and constant pain… angry at God for being given thid body that never stopped being in pain, and yet never could hate Little Foot for it, as I would recall how scary the moments after delivering her was…because we were separated and I was left lying in the dark occasionally asking God if my baby is alright.

I still can’t quite cook a decent meal, nor clean up after the Little Hurricane…

But she enjoys bathtimes with me, and being carried like a koala by me, she enjoys singing and running, play pretending and simply just being around me.
And I know these days are getting far and fewer, because of work and because she’s getting more independent.

One day, she will be no longer a baby, no longer a toddler, and perhaps I would still be learning how to be the best a mother can be.

So, if anyone is feeling inadequate, remember you aren’t alone. It is a lifelong class we are taking. Let them teach us to be the best that we can be. Sometimes we fail, but we won’t always be failures unless we stop learning and trying.

And yes, we will get frustrated and pull our hairs or scream our heads off (into pillows I hope). And sometimes we will hide in the cafe opposite our houses, just to get a quiet moment.

It is ok. Because after that is all done. Take a deep breath and go home. I look into her eyes, smell her hair and I tell myself “Anything is possible, because I have you”. Some days are harder than others, but we get through. Somehow.

And yes, because my dearest husband is always there to fill in when I am wanting..and to pick me up when I fall. And remind me through his actions that all can be done…just keep going.

That’s really how I get each day. Tired, in pain, some days dejected, some days delighted.  That’s motherhood as it is. Really. Nothing glamorous at all.

With only 1 child and working full time, some days I find it hard to remember to make sure her teeth are brushed and her probiotics are taken. Sometimes I forget that I haven’t cut my hair for months or stocked up on diapers. Recently I turned up for work without drawing my eyebrows. And today tried to leave my mum’s place without my sling bag containing all my keys and cards and money.

How those with 3 or 4 kids do it and still look like life is good continues to baffle me…but you have my respect for sure.

Thanks Little Foot, for being a tough teacher. It’s really quite a wild ride!

And you know, I always muster my last ounce of strength and go with you when you say “Come, Mummy! Come with me! Runaway!”

Motherhood makes me feel like a wise old granny some days

If anyone ever asks me if there ever was a life-changing, coming of age moment for me, my simple answer is Yes, the day Emma came to be.  

I had a chat with a colleague I’ve known for quite some years recently, and during the conversation, she shared a little with me about the stresses from every part of her life that was simply just not within her control and it’s taking a toll on her health.  She too is a mother. 

What I can say is that, as she spoke and I visualised myself in her shoes, it simply felt impossibly exhausting. 

A working mother,

A supervisor holding a heavy portfolio at work. 

An only child of two retirees.

A mother of a young child taken care of by her parents who regularly sends her on emotional roller coaster rides. 

Bills and mortgages to pay, and she is the one bringing in more dough.

I sense her frustrations and her tension. And it’s apparent to everyone as well.

I finally told her my take on this whole work thing — we just do what we can. No point putting up fights and resistance unnecessarily. And the work, it never ends. We are always hard on ourselves and we feel so overwhelmed by the deadlines and the worries that something bad will happen if we don’t try to get things done asap. 

And I said, “it (the work) can never be finished. Tomorrow if we die, someone else will take over the work. We are not indispensable.  We are only indispensable to our children.” 

I’ve never been clearer about my priority in my life. 

I was trying to slowly get her to wrap her head around the idea that if we let all the work and the other stresses affect our health. If anything bad happens to us, what will happen to our children? So take it easy, learn to let go and go with the flow at work. 

Whether anything I said got through, I  don’t know… but at that point, I felt like an wise old granny. And I wonder where the old me went.  

Thrown away with the placenta I suppose. 

The current me stood, staring at the sky, holding a chocolate chiffon cake I had bought for Little Foot. 

At that point, nothing could be clearer. Unspoken.

Finally the 1st weekend of 2017 has arrived!

And so the first week of 2017 has finally come to the end. Phew! Welcome weekend!

Little Foot is slowly adjusting to the idea of lunch times without Mummy, even though she probably can’t quite understand why… and the idea that I may not be there to pick her up from school in the evenings.

Most challenging for Mummy is actually the idea that home is not quite so near anymore…

Having to join the majority of working Singaporeans in the daunting daily commute to and from work  (and which everyone b***hes about a lot) after having blissfully escaped the madness since 2011 is extra painful. Yes, it is a major perk to one’s sanity when you live close to work. 

And 5 years down the road, one does wonder where all these humans (and cars on the roads) come from! It never used to be THAT packed and congested!

I’m thankfully that Papa Long is able to do the afterschool pick ups. So there is some stability to our arrangements for Little Foot. 

It is still early times to say if it will all work out, but for now, one step at a time, have a little faith. I need to gain back the confidence I used to have. 

And when I’m feeling low or lost, to focus on what I’m doing all these for. 

Even if I miss her acutely.

Waiting up for Mummy

This evening I went for my long overdue haircut and got home only at 10+pm. 
I thought Little Foot would already be in bed, so I didn’t hurry and even opened the letter box. I walked in, went to wash my hands in the kitchen. And when I walked out of the kitchen, a teary-eyed Little Foot trotted out from the bedroom and greeted me with a silent, imploring face. 
She touched my hair and said “Mummy cut hair”. 

Aunty Lily must have been telling her that Mummy went to cut hair to explain my absence. 

Her tears obviously meant she had enough of waiting for me to get home while she’s sleepy already. 

Oh, my heart pinched a little. 

So we spent time opening the packages from Book Depository  which included 2 children’s books. We read one of them.  

She wanted milk.  We spent a bit of time in bed together, but Little Foot didn’t want to wind down and sleep. 

She wanted to stay up longer with me to play. And so I piggybacked  her to the living room, watched her play and helped her with some of the lining up of Hello kitty toys. 

She counted 1 to 8 flawlessly (first time she did it for me!). 

She was yawning but still wanted to play. I indulged her. 

Finally she held my hands and walked us back to the bedroom, then nursed to sleep. 

Tonight, I’m acutely aware of how much she had grown. 

And I’m wistful. The latch-to-sleep days may well be over soon. 
Tonight I’m also painfully aware that come 2017, my coming home later (and not being able to pick her up from school) will become a regular occurrence.  

It saddened me. 

I can only pray that she will be understanding of the limited time I can give to her and hopefully, we can find a good balance somewhere.  
Work and family – Two words that co-exist awkwardly together for every working parent. Sometimes we want to have our cake and eat it, but with finite time and energy, the best bet is to find a balance…and have good support from family to fill in whenever we are absent. I hope that I will be able to find that balance and not lose this closeness with my Little Foot. Otherwise, everything we strive for will be pointless and meaningless pursuits.  

Thanks for waiting up for me, baby. 

Love you always.