Dare to be, my little lady

8 of March, a day we celebrate women, Happy International Women’s Day to myself, my daughter and all the ladies in this world. 

And really, I ask myself, why do we need just a day to celebrate ourselves, rather than celebrate ourselves everyday, but that is a topic for another day.

 This year, I haven’t written much, as I  tried to refocus on family, and attempt to be more conscious about making what little time I have with Little Foot quality time. Purposeful time. And, even in my absence, I hope she feels my presence and love. And so I slowed down on the various things I like to do in my leisure time, and focused on her.

Yet, some things going on around us, have been setting me thinking about various things.   And so, I will try to find some time this month to pen them down. 

This is the first part to a series of thought bubbles that have been forming lately in my mind. 

*****************************

 The world we live in.

As a nation with one of the lowest crime rates in the world, with capital punishment, with caning, jail and effective policing, it is easy to become a complacent parent in Singapore. Where we are perfectly fine to sit back and watch from a distance while our toddlers are at play, we have primary school children who walk home or take a bus alone after school. A place where adults feel it is okay to leave our children unattended in a food court to “chope” seats during a meal. 

Yet it may not be the case at all, that we can always be assured that our children, especially our daughters will be able to avoid the dangers that this world have to offer.

 I said this because of late I have been feeling disturbed by disturbing reports published in the media, of middle-aged men being convicted for sexual assaults which involved statutory rapes, and more disturbingly, from the reports, the sexual grooming of young girls. 

  • In one case, a 52-year-old man raped his neighbour’s daughter some years ago, ran off to Malaysia and was only caught when his wife, spotted him in JB. The girl was only 11 when she was repeatedly raped over a period of time. Here in Singapore, rape carries jail and caning. However, because he had fled and was only caught at 52, he was spared the cane. Understandably, netizens are angry. Had he been caught there and then, surely he would have gotten the caning as deserved for the heinous acts.
  • In another case, a 47-year-old man raped his son’s supposed “ex-girlfriend” and then convinced her that he had feelings for her, and the girl was led to believe they were in a relationship.  And continued to be sexually involved with the man.  The girl was 11.

 There are more such cases. 

Just reading the headlines are sickening to say the least. My heart cried for the girls and their parents.

11 years old. An age when perhaps puberty has just started, at an age when a child starts to have awkward feelings and wasn’t quite sure if she was an adult or a child. An age we call them “tweens”, not yet a teenager.

11 years old. An age where as parents, we want to baby them just a little bit more. When mummies would sit and watch wistfully as their babies start to sprout and perhaps grow as tall as themselves, and wonder where the diaper-wearing, toothless grin, chubby cheeks baby had gone, and wished time could stand still and they still had their little girl.

And then to have to face a situation where their little girl’s innocence was stolen by disgusting old men. I am not mincing my words. I will not. If they are not disgusting, what are they? These are men with wives, and even children. And they prey on the daughters of others. Imagine the parents’ anguish and pain. 

Parenting today is complicated, and yet parents have so little time to navigate the complex terrains because of the demands from work commitments. It is not the easiest reality to grapple with, but we have no choice, we have to try to wing it. 

In the past, when our parents took away the house keys, restricted access to the house phones, and set curfews, they could more or less “protect” us from going astray.

Today, the internet, smart phones and social media leaves a door open for the world to come in. Friends and foes alike. In the second case, the girl had foolishly sent naked pictures of herself via Facebook private message to the man’s son (purportedly her boyfriend), and that was how everything went downhill from there, when he saw the photos on the account.

 I had so many questions running through my head: Why didn’t they speak up? They did not think they could confide in their parents or an adult? Did they think no one would listen, no one would believe them, or that they would be “punished” or shamed for having been sexually abused? 

 There are no easy answers. 

There are many more of such reports, and with each one, I hug my child tighter. How can I shield my Little Foot from this very complex world, where children seem to mature younger, parents seem to lose tab on them earlier, and with psycho men out there?

 And so I pen this now, for my baby girl. For a time not to far away. 

******************************************

Dear Little Foot,

If you ever read this years later, and we have somehow reached a stage where you find it difficult to understand my intentions and hard to have a decent conversation with me, I hope you read what my heart wants to say to you today and everyday. 

As a woman, you are empowered. To believe in your own self-worth, to define your own self-worth, to love yourself. In weak moments, it may not seem true or possible, but it is, and I tell you I know. I have been there. Many times, doubting that I can be anything worthwhile. And in the end I am, because I became your mother. 

First, don’t let anyone make you feel lesser than you should be; don’t let anyone make you think that you are incomplete or nothing without them. With or without a relationship, you are complete and perfect. 

You are and always will be the most perfect in my eyes and your Daddy’ eyes.

We loved you from the day we knew you existed, and we fell even more headlong in love with you the day we first set eyes on you. This love we have grew and grew, so much so that we would not be able to breath well again if you were taken away. And this love will be.

In some places, women are treated like commodities, but this is Singapore, where you are as worthwhile a human as any other person, man or woman, whatever your skin colour or religion. 

It is a place where we can dare to be. And I hope you will be.

Next, your body is your own, God gave it to you, we gave it to you. Cherish it, protect it and never think you could or should use it to gain anything, because when a person want you not for the person that you are, but the body that you are in, that is not true love. And it will not last.  It hurts when you hurt. Just because we are your parents. We may not say it, but it does. And so, love yourself well. 

I will always remember that first nail clipper accident when I ran blocks carrying you to the doctor because my newborn was bleeding from a small cut. The blood had drained from my face, but I hugged you and ran frantically to get help.  

I will also remember the day you fell and hit your head on the marble floor, and had the biggest bump on your forehead ever. I didn’t sleep that night, thinking if you would feel sick because of the effects of the bump.

My list can go on… but you get it. It hurts us when you hurt. So take care of yourself. 

Third, never feel like you could not approach us to talk about something or ask for help. Within and beyond our capabilities, we will help you or find help. Always. Unless we are no longer in this world. And if that day came, you have my sisters, your Yiyis, to turn to. I would trust them with my life, and you can too. 

A nun I knew once told a story of a teenage girl who found out she was pregnant, and the girl told her “My mother will kill me if she found out”. The nun’s reply was simple – “Don’t be dramatic. No mother has ever KILLED their daughter for getting pregnant”. Nothing can be more true. Being furious is one thing, and one ought to face the music if one has gotten into trouble. But yet at the end of the day, we will sit down and sort out whatever mess it is with you. Because you are our child. That is simple. We have a duty to do what we can for you, and we love you.  

 Dear Little Foot, it is International Women’s Day. 20 years from now, 50 years from now, women may have finally reach an enviable social standing, on par with their male counterparts in all parts of the world, and in all parts of society. Who knows? Yet we will always be just a little different. Because we are daughters, girlfriends/wives and mothers. We love, we listen to our heart, and sometimes we will feel burdened by these roles. And yet we will and must plough on, because we are strong that way.  My mother was like that, and I try to be like that too. 

May you grow up to be brave, street-smart, and most importantly discerning. See through the superficial, be aware of the dangers this world has to offer. Let your head lead the way, not your body, and I daresay, rein in your heart.

Dare to sing your own tune. Be not afraid. 

photo6129865200338315242.jpg

 I am not saying that you should restrict yourself because there is much to fear. I am saying dare to be. And dare to say no. Dare to ride the rainbow, go after that pot of gold at the end of it. Along the way, there will be dangers and harms, you will fall, you will and must pick yourself up. Dare to be. and dare to do some ass-kicking along the way.  

Life will be full of potholes and craters, but discern my child, and don’t lose sight of your destination. 

And finally, just know that no matter how old you are, you will always be our baby, you can always come home to us. 

 You are only three now.  And I hope that the years we have together will allow me enough time to prepare you for this world. You will never be quite ready, but we will try. 

Till then, as your mother, along with other parents, I can continue to trust, support and even advocate the policies that will do its best to keep you and all our children safe. If tough laws will keep Singapore just a tad safer, then let’s work hard to make sure the laws are adequate and effective deterrence, and allow due justice to be served to those who destroy lives and families. 

And in the end, it if you could read my mind, you would know I fear too. I fear to let you go, but I know one day I must let you spread your wings. 

Dare to be, my little lady, because you can be all you want to be. 

I love you. Always. 

Love, 

Mummy 

photo6129865200338315243.jpg

Advertisements

Teachers’ Day Cards & Tags in the making

It’s our second year getting ready for Teachers’ Day in school and still as much a scramble as last year!

By chance, tonight was going back to basics with Brushables markers & watercolour pencils…

Little Foot (32 months old) had done stamping in the evening on normal drawing block paper after picking out her preferred stamps. And she had also tried her tiny hands at using the Brushables markers.

I believe in helping her do these “thank you” gestures rather than simply do a scrapbook mama session and hand nicely handcrafted cards out to her teachers. I mean, to be fair they are her teachers, not mine! Hence I try to get her to be involved in the making process. And she had fun (that is, until the part she wanted to take wet wipes and wipe the drawing block to clean off what she had stamped, and we had to whisk her away).

To make the Teachers’ Day cards meaningful, I didn’t redo the stamping, but simply inked in what she had started.

Also, at this late hour everything else thst wasn’t taken out was in the bedroom where Aunty Lily was sleeping. As a result, it was back to the basic colouring tools I used 7-8 years ago when I first discovered the joys I found from these wooden stamps from Penny Black.

I loved how everything turned out. On hindsight, thankfully I had let her use my Versafine pigment inkpad instead of those washable ones for kids. Otherwise, nothing would have stayed once the ink from the Brushables went in.

All done for now, and to continue tomorrow evening. Just two more days to the celebrations! *gasp!!!* Somehow, I will have to turn these into nice cards (for the main teachers who have been teaching and caring for her) and gift tags for the gifts we will be giving to all the teachers and assistants at the school.

Frankly, I am zonked out but happy to touch my scrapbooking materials again. Especially as it has been really draining at work these days. The inking really is cathartic. Heals the soul.

Alright…time to turn off the lights. Will share the end results when I am done. Stay tuned!

*UPDATE*

Visit A Little Footprint Facebook page to see photos of our finished products. Happy Teachers’ Day!

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!*

Closer to Mother Nature

11 to 13 Aug 2017

Post-National Day (and my birthday), I wanted to make the most of our time together this long weekend. I feel a sense of urgency because this baby is growing so fast. And also because of the dreadful feeling knowing that next week, work duty calls again.

So, for three days in a row, we went close to nature. I am hardly a nature lover, because mozzies just love me too much, but since I had decided on a whim to sign myself up for a school field trip with her, I bit the bullet and just went.

Of course I made sure I overpacked my Ju-Ju-Be Be Right Back with every cream and ointment we would need plus other toddler essentials.

Loading up my Ju-Ju-Be Be Right Back for the trip

(This mama really one kiasu mama!)

The field trip to Gardenasia was rather fun. Little Foot had been anticipating the visit to the “plants farm!” since I started mentally preparing her for it a few days ahead.

And so here we are, accomplished plant potters!

❤Little Foot’s first plant! ❤

To many parents, a day out alone with the Little One is nothing. For me, it is still a leap of faith… taking baby steps to overcome my anxieties and irrational fears. I am hardly out alone with her since that near-fainting on the MRT episode when she was 8 months young.

As I consciously worked towards overcoming my anxieties, every little achievement seems like I’ve conquered a mountain.

And so it was that I successfully did this field trip with Little Foot without Papa Long in tow. Celebrate with me!

Then on Saturday, by chance, a trip to Little Foot’s BFF’s place brought us to Seng Kang Riverside Park. A little piece of mangrove and a floating platform…. the two toddlers had fun holding hands and walking around, and then chasing some bubbles.

After her flirt with nature, we had a situation in McDonald’s… sighhh… someone tell me why she always misbehaves when she is with me and Aunty Lily… but that shall be another story for another day.

At night before bedtime, Little Foot talked about feeding fishes. So it was that she went to bed holding that thought. I went to bed wondering if I shouldn’t have threatened to put her in the dustbin for her atrocious behaviour.

On Sunday we woke up and I tried to get us all ready to go somewhere as painlessly as possible. There were of course the usual procrastinations when it came to taking a bath and brushing teeth.

And then we asked ourselves, “Where shall we go?”

Papa Long suggested the Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden before we went to feed the fishes at another part of Botanical Gardens.

Our first visit to the place, which would have rivalled all the nature walks we did in Perth, if not for our tropical weather which also meant the place is a home for all kinds od insects including mosquitoes!

Little Foot was distracted by her packet of Jagabee which she has been demanding to rip open while in the car. So Papa made it a game — every house you reached is a checkpoint, and you get one chip when you get there. And so began the exploration of the little garden.

Some of the areas were undergoing construction/upgrading, but there was definitely enough for a kid to be entertained.

1st checkpoint!

Conquering her dislike for sand for awhile because she likes going down the slides more!

Let’s cross some bridges

And find some fishes

And look for some herbs too!

Finally we fed the fishes and had lunch at Food For Thought (incidentally, it was their last day of operation)

And so as the sun starts to set on this week, I do think a little bit more of nature will be good for Little Foot. Even if my legs are now peppered with mozzie bites.

Letting my mother role spill over 

This week, I made a mistake.

I allowed the emotions of me as a mother to spill over into the me as a worker – I cried in front of my colleagues (to my own horror really, on hindsight).

That morning, I woke up elated “Little Foot is exactly 2.5 years young today!” And I texted Papa to get some small cake for celebration. It was tradition since she was born to mark the half-year milestone. And the little lady really loves a good chocolate cake these days.

Work is always busy, but this week was particularly crappy. And that day was the start of a series of atomic shit hitting rhe ceiling.  And then despite my remarks about having something on in the evening, and I had to leave, somehow I found myself being made to stay back. AGAIN.

The frustration started to build up because this is happening rather too frequently. Despite me already burning  midnight oil on Fridays or Saturdays just to work on things so as not to waste time or push too close to deadlines.

In my blog post ‘Of working mothers and our unnecessary guilt‘ over a year ago,  I have said this very clearly , as a working mother, I do not allow myself to show my emotions at work.

…We don’t bring our moods to work. Because moods and tantrums makes us less effective at work….

And then I allowed myself to let my frustrations get the better of me that evening as the clock ticked away, one by one people carried their bags and left and a few asked me “Why are you still here?” The good-natured show of concern for me still being there simply allowed the dam I had built to break. I really couldn’t care less anymore, at that point, what people thought of me.

And so the dam broke.

On hindsight, if I didn’t waste time crying, I could have typed faster. If I didn’t waste time airing my “grievances”, I could have shut down sooner. If I had just stood up and insisted that something at home was more important that evening, I would have made it in time for the cake session.

And so in the end, I reached home after Little Foot had cut the cake and done many replays of “Light candle, Little Foot sing ‘Happy Birthday’, Little Foot blow out candle”.

She happily informed me when I got to our lift landing and found her there waiting for me that she ate a chocolate cake and she had burnt her lip a little on the candle. “Mummy! It’s hot hot!”

Taking a picture after I missed the party

It was past her bedtime and Papa had dragged for as long as he could before he took out the cake. I understood he had tried his best.

This is every working mother’s recurrent nightmare. Somewhere along the way, there will inevitably be something at work will make you miss the party, miss a milestone, miss a moment. Perhaps cumulatively, it will make you the absent mother.

It is a fate that no working mother can avoid. So really, who am I to think I am special or right to demand that my after hours time be out-of-bounds?

As a working mother, I try my best to ensure that my motherhood status does not become a convenient excuse to shun work or make others take on my load. Put simply, I don’t ask for concessions at work just because I am a mother. Since we take the same pay., as far as I can, I will put in the same amount of effort and hard work as the rest. I detest people who pull this trump card out to ask single or childless colleagues to take the odd hours shift, or settle something that crops up in the weekend. Singles and childless folks have their own life too, and they too have private affairs and families which are just as precious as ours.

Yet I cannot help but feel that perhaps, there are times when something gotta give, and maybe, just maybe, I should speak up.

 

My child is in a full-day childcare and gave up her right to my time while I am at work. The least she deserves is that work don’t encroach into her time with me at night and on weekends. 

Just like employers don’t want distracted workers, children don’t want distracted parents. Simple yet so hard to make a reality in this society. 

If only people stopped to think that way, then perhaps we will stop promoting this crazy culture here in Singapore where people just work longer and longer, and start expecting others to do the same.  No, we do not get paid overtime, and in this day and age with phones and mobile devices, work just encroaches more and more into our family time. For one, the phone messages never stops, and that is in itself a destructive distraction from family.

What will I do next? I have no idea, but at this point, I can only give you the other side of the story. Stop invading your employees’ personal time unnecessarily. Sure if there is a crisis, we will drop everything and rush back, but this privilege is abused/taken as a given, overtime, burnout occurs, people stop reacting. Like the boy who cries wolf, by the time the real wolf comes, you can bet, half the people who can help would have left the farm in search of a better place.

 

Mothers’ Day… dilemma dilemma

Mothers’ Day weekend was a flurry of activities for us, and from the floods of postings on my Facebook wall, everyone too, was busy showing some family love. 

So what exactly is the dilemma I want to talk about?  For a mother of a toddler, me to be exact,it is this: 

Actually on Mothers’ Day, the inner voice is asking to be let off from being a Mother with all the duties and responsibilities for one day. 

Really how odd, that on a day that celebrates me being a mother, I just want a chance to siam!(the word means escape in Hokkien, but so much better expression-wise). 
Motherhood can be physically, mentally and emotionally exhausting. Especially when, unlike work, there is no “I quit!”. I think SAHMs get it worse. There is no leave to take, no calling in sick, 365 Days a year, except for those few precious getaway moments. 

SATURDAY 

So on the morning of Saturday, I woke up wondering if I would get to sit back, put my feet up on a chair and relax with a book and coffee. 

One can always dream… and I got that one proper “me time” slot. While baby went for her class. I sat at Yakun with kaya toast and coffee using a $10 note Papa Long passed to me. I left my purse in the car accidentally (#truestory).
And then the day found a momentum of its own.

Mothers’ day lunch for me at Yacht Club –  Little Foot continued with her usual demanding self and she thought the complimentary  cake was for one of her countless “birthdays”. Cute. 

Papa spent the entire evening fixing the new bunk bed that arrived. That left me and Aunty Lily to entertain Little Foot and keep her away from the “site”. I couldn’t resist trolling Papa Long with the popcorn shot. 

I spent midnight to 3am working on slides for work after Little Foot finally went to bed. 
SUNDAY

No helper day. 

Woke up and end up bathing the princess. Papa Long has blisters on his hands from fixing the bunk bed, I decided to relief him of the duty. He slept for awhile more.

Went to music class, and we were informed that class size was big for this day (quite a few kids came for trial), so we could only have 1 parent accompanying. Again I looked at him and said you go la kopi. I knew he was aching all over. 

Lunch and shopping at United Square.. after Udon and animal rides, I end up carrying Little Foot in carrier while she snoozed. Backbreaking nowadays. 

Went to my parents’ place to chill… Little Foot woke up and there goes my chance for a nap. Papa again snoozed. The bunk bed fixing really no joke! Luckily, he bathed her before we left. 

Dinner with Papa Long’s family for celebrations. Papa was very good – he fed Little Foot, sharing the seabass, mushroom soup and she got a milkshake too. Then a lot of running around by the Little toddler at the open space outside the restaurant and several rounds up and down a set of escalators until we had to conduct “Ops Extraction” and carried a meltdown toddler crying all the way to the car. 

Throughout the day,  I was so exhausted at some points that I simply dozed off while we were on the roads. We arrived at our carpark… me with my head leaning back, mouth hanging open..about to drool in my snooze when I was woken up by the sound of the engine turning off. 

I need my bed…

MONDAY

Celebrations in Little Foot’s school. A Kawaii sandwich-making session which was mainly us mothers trying  to make something decent while the kids kept trying to eat everything up. I loved the singing performance by our toddlers and the tear-jerking photo montage they played to kick off the celebrations. 

Unable to convince Little Foot to stay  on in school for the rest of the day, I walked her back to my parents’ place… and tried to interest her with nature. She loved it and we had a happy walk together. I showed her dandelions and mimosas, the little plants which my mum showed me when I was a child. 

And so she followed me to Hai Di Lao for lunch with my mother. Luckily Aunty Lily also came along. We all could eat decently when we took turns to look after her. I think I actually enjoyed it more than if she didn’t come along.

Went home and I finally cannot take it anymore.. knocked out cold for a late afternoon nap. 

There you have it… this was Mothers’ Day weekend for me. I wanted to rest but I am also aware of my roles and responsibilities… and in the end, at so many junctures of decision-making, I chose to give love, rather than insist that I am queen for the weekend. 

On reflection, it was probably a more fulfilling weekend than if I had been left to veg out alone at home while Papa brought Little Foot out. 

Next year, I will still ask for time to rest. And hopefully there won’t be unexpected events like the delivery of the bunk bed to thwart any best laid plans, but I really do enjoy the company of family and I would still want to spend time with them. 

The book and coffee can wait. Ok maybe give me the coffee hehheh. 

For my third Mothers’ Day, I was presented with this flower made by Little Foot. A gift that money can’t quite buy is the best gift of all 🙂

In Little Foot’s words…

 “THE END!”

And then we reached 29

Over the weekend, Little Foot turned 29 months.

I had the pleasurable challenge (read daunting situation) of being alone with her till late afternoon on Sunday when Papa went for wedding lunch and Aunty was on off day. Not the easiest kid to be with especially when dealing with a stomach bug (me) but we had some fun … music class as usual,  picking out bread for ourselves (Baby chose a rainbow donut while I chose a Mentaiko covered baguette and a ham&cheese sandwich) then hanging out at my mother’s place where she is very familiar with.

We ate our bread and sandwiches, her seated in the baby chair, me beside her…

We had conversations revolving around the food, the weather, where Papa was, about “Papa Mister Moon, Mama Mister Moon and Baby Mister Moon” (a continuation from the night before when we pointed out the moon to her and she said it was a baby Mister Moon)….

I sang and played with her, at times sat aside and watched her play…

Finally, carried her in the carrier around the estate I grew up in and felt her doze off… went back upstairs, laid her down and watched her nap.

What I would give to watch her grow each day (each day that she isn’t hopefully throwing a tantrum).

And for the first time in a long time, I wondered whether I could ever handle another Little Foot.

Everyday, I am greeted with my floor to ceiling mirror in my living room covered with photos of Little Foot in her first year. Little Foot had happily pasted them all up. And whenever I’m wearing my shoes, working on something on my laptop,  or having my dinner, I get a glimpse of how much she had transformed.

For a mummy who has so much strings attached to her one and only child, it is a bittersweet encounter each day. Some mornings, I kiss one of the photos before I leave the house. I love you, I said. As much as I love the you now, I love and miss the little you too.

Still, such thoughts are fleeting. We have so much to do with Little Foot and already so little time.

Once she wake up from her nap, all fleeting thoughts like this are out of the window. Gone like the wind.

“Come, Mummy! Runaway!!” ~ her cute little voice always rings in my head, even when I am busy at work.

And each time I hear it, I can surely say, I am ready drop my work and run with her, until my back doesn’t allow me to run no more.

And the rest? I will leave it in His Hands… as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be…

For now, one is still enough.