Kentang Little Foot Reads Chinese 

Last June, I wrote about how I am trying to raise my baby to be a book lover like me. 

I can safely say, if like me, you have introduced the tablet and YouTube, you know know how challenging it is, to try to lure them to the world of reading while something more exciting is the other option. 

Luckily for school. Little Foot’s preschool is huge on literacy and reading. So other than storytelling time, there’s also natural literacy sessions weekly and every Friday, our toddler drags 2 little books home in her trolley bag. 

That’s homework for the weekend. 

READ. 

So from very sporadic moments of flipping books for novelty, Little Foot has recently been asking me to read to her. She would suddenly walk to her cupboard and tell me that it is reading time. 

Yesterday, we breezed through 3 books and 2 short stories in the Baby Bible.

And today more impressive – I read two Chinese books to her. Complete story! And she skimmed through a third one from the same series. And she could tell me the animals’ names in Chinese “小熊”, “小兔” and “大象”. 

I could leap for joy! Because we’ve been fretting about how she refuses to engage us in Mandarin , and would always reply in English. (Or maybe I am being too demanding of my 28 month old, who has been extremely impressive with her speech and singing). 

Papa had spotted this series of books when shopping on Ezbuy. The characters in these books were the same as the ones in the Chinese books that Little Foot brings home on Fridays.

Familiarity with the characters probably contributed to her interest in going through the books. 

We like the storylines, simple, engaging and teaches some manners/values/habits, like saying “thank you”. And the illustrations are cute and easy on the eyes. 

So yes, good find online!

So pleased to see Little Foot growing in love with books. 

Guess what? Her favourite is reaching the end of the book and saying “The End”. 

Too Cute.

A promise of cake

28 months is a lovely age to be…

It is the age when Mummy is your fairy godmother who grants all your wishes  🙂

This morning, we were scrolling through my phone gallery and Little Foot saw a photo of her eating cake (from the previous weekend). 

She agreed to stop being fussy about changing out of her diaper and PJs after I said I will buy her a chocolate cake. 

So, fast forward to evening. Work tied me down (again!), but I was determined to complete my fairy godmother mission!

I walked really fast to the MRT station, got on the train (Aunty Lily texted to say Little Foot is waiting and keeps talking about the cake. She’s singing ‘Happy Birthday’) argh…. prayed for the train to go faster!

Dashed to the Chateraise shop, bought the cakes, walked as fast as I could home. 

On the way, Aunty Lily texted again.- “We go dwn n wait for u dwnstair…  dwnstair wait for u coz she screaming at home”

Extra pressure. Ahhhh….Walk faster! And don’t fall and smash the cakes!
FINALLY! Reached my void deck and there she is! Eyes wide open looking out for me.

“Mummy!!!!!”

“What is it you buy?!!”

“Is it for me?” 

Ohhh my heart melted…. I made it! Phew! Happily carried her to the lift. 

Happy baby got her cake and party…she was do happy to put the candles, sing the birthday song, and ate the cream and fruits.

A promise is a promise. And I’m glad I managed to keep it. Happy times… just thankful I decided to leave the office with a “whatever!”.  

And before she slept,she kissed us, played and got me to read stories to her. Rare and precious mood for books! 

Good day indeed… no working mothers should be deprived of this precious window of time to spend with their child. 

#alittlefootprint 

Of tears, snot, poo and tantrums

Over the past month, Little Foot and I have been falling ill, getting better then falling ill again. 

Worrisome and tiresome times. 

We’ve counted 5 consecutive cases of HFMD thus far in her school, so we have been on tenterhooks, wondering if we were the next victims of the dreaded virus. 

Crossing fingers that we have somehow escaped unscathed somewhat. 

Perhaps all the essential oils we were diffusing and applying helped to shield her from catching it, perhaps we were just that little bit lucky.  

Still, with the cough and flu came crankiness. Dealing with a tired yet resisting sleep toddler, who had skipped her afternoon naps because of vomitting bouts was completely no joke. Much less when I am also flu bugged.  


One of the random tantrums

Being a considerate Doc when I told her “Mummy is sickypoo

But I do remember, of all things, some thing that Pink (the singer) said in and interview long ago -it went something like ” motherhood meant that you had traded tears alcohol and cigarettes with tears, snot and poo”…. a sacrifice she said was worth it. 

For me at this stage, I have to add tantrums to tears, snot and poo…. to what I traded my old life for. 
There are days I think about how I had traded my orchard road trips, Friday date nights, drinking sessions, movies and self-pampering lifestyle for the life of rushing home, anyhow swallowing down my dinner, reading books, singing along to “Wheels on the Bus”, helping Little Foot dress her “baby”, wiping snot, battling terrible twos tantrums and going to work feeling like the bus just ran me over some days. 

All groggy in the morning

And on those days I think I am crazy.  

But yet dig deep, I find that it is a purposeful existence, despite the appearance of it being a dull, mundane, unadventurous life to onlookers. 

Seriously, in fact it is anything but mundane if you live the moment! 

  • I have sang so many kiddy songs nursery rhyme and “Happy Birthdays”, that if I had a dollar for each song I sang, we’d be on the next plane to London! 
  • I have gotten drenched in puke, splattered by poo, and had baby weewee drench the front of my shirt and pants in public places. 
  • I have done 28 months and counting of disrupted sleep since she was born. 
  • I have conjured up countless stories and “drama” antics just to attract/distract Little Foot as mitigation before she swings into full blown meltdowns. 
  • I have carried a 2.65kg tiny tot to the current 12.6kg toddler strapped to my small frame, and still counting. (These days, I tell myself… smell her hair, ignore the weight!!)
  • I have received much unabashed affection from Little Foot… who now asks after me with phrases like “Mummy, you eat full full already?” Who plants kisses on my lips and give me big hugs. 
  • I have also received many a bruise and strained muscles from dealing with a toddler trashing around in tantrums.  

I could write on and on… but my point is, I have traded my old life for this. It isn’t a basket of roses, all the time, yet it never stops to amaze me how, as a parent, I have found courage and strength to keep going and learn to enjoy it along the way. 

Even if on days I lose my temper at the fussing toddler…. even on days I’m so ill or exhausted  I just want to lie down and hide in my wardrobe. 

I keep going. 

There is only one reason. Her. 

And I borrow strength from Papa Long ans Aunty Lily… between the three of us, we somehow will wing it. 

And my only regret these days is not being able to be around the tears, snot, poo and tantrums more. 

Hard to fathom. That’s what parenting is I suppose.  

 For the storms will always pass, and we ride them out anticipating the brightest rainbow that will greet us at the end of it.  Your smile is my rainbow, my little one…  did you know? 

My thoughts on that breastfeeding photo

Some friends asked me how I felt about the photo circulating around on social media, of a lady breastfeeding openly on the mrt train. And then her subsequent facebook post declaring that she was not affected by the photo going around AND standing firm that there is nothing wrong with it. 

Well, before I start, congratulations on making it to the news and raising awareness on breastfeeding. 

My personal views on this episode? 

First, as a breastfeeding mother, I  feel the difficulties. Many times over the last 2 years,  Little Foot wants milk at the most inappropriate moments. And she wasn’t going to guai guai keep quiet if I didn’t let her get to the tap. And nope, she wasn’t going to wait till we reach the next private spot. 
Sometime before her 1st birthday, she also started to protest about the nursing cover. So I would run. Literally carry her and run to find a nursing room or sit in the car (oh yes, the luxury of having the mobile space). So we will not be nursing in full view of others. 

Then I started to educate her. Logic + nagging. Because I got tired of the situation!

“Do you want other babies to drink milk milk?” …”do you want uncles to see mummy milk?” . She got the idea somewhere along the way. And so we reached a nice compromise. She goes into the carrier and she would say “cover cover!” and nurse. Only in the car or when we have a room of sorts can she nurse without restriction. Fair deal.
So that’s us.  

Second, we all have rights. Your rights don’t overshadow mine and vice versa. I feel that perhaps all parties need not be self-entitled/ overly self-righteous.
It was not right for the busybody person to take the photo and post it online. That person ought to be ashamed of him/herself for doing it. 

Yet I also wonder if it was a little much to demand that a cabin full of folks who are not used to such a sight be made to watch in discomfort or “just look away” as the lady puts it. Just because “#proudbreastfeedingmama #useplasticbagtocoveryourselfwhenyoueat#nowrong #mybabywillalwayscomefirst #breastservingdifferentpurposes #notjustsex“?

 (so many hashtags…#fierce)

No babies are the same. Some prefer bottles, some want to directly latch, some reject milk. Some are feisty, some are gentle. So are adults. No two persons comfort level are the same. 

Personally, I respect that breastfeeding may make others uncomfortable. I have been there. I respect Papa Long’s discomfort at letting other men view what he felt they weren’t entitled to. 

And I respect our community’s awkwardness at what they feel is too much while some mothers, especially those who champion breastfeeding, challenge that it is a natural thing to do.

I also understand that there are girls and women who haven’t gotten to my stage and will be uncomfortable at the sight. I remember declaring how I was “scarred for life” when I witnessed my elder sister expressed milk some 10 years ago. And I almost never got round to accepting that I will do it one day because that is a natural thing to do. 

Today, people are actually awkward when I mention that I am still breastfeeding. Some of the elders frown discreetly. Some tell me in my face “够了” (enough already). I take it in my stride. Imagine me getting all riled up, whipping out my boob and breastfeeding in front of them just to make a stand. A bit much isn’t it? 

As an early Gen Yer, I watch how people from Gen X and older complain about us and the millenials saying we have a false sense of entitlement. Perhaps they are not too far from the truth? 

The lady challenged naysayers to try eating and drinking under covers.likely adapted from  arguments of “if you wouldn’t eat your lunch in the toilet, don’t ask my baby to.”

Telling people this is common space. Not happy you look away also hint of that sense of self-entitlement. 

Well…. if it was me, perhaps I would have gotten off the train and searched for a quiet corner to nurse. Maybe on days when I have more resolve, I may have tried to promote delayed gratification (a necessary lifeskill that parents today are stuggling to help their children learn because of or “instant” society and indulgent ways, and which Papa Long nags me about) and told Little Foot to wait or she can cry till we reach our destination (woe betide the other commuters). I would definitely have first offered alternatives like milk bottle (is it still no milk bottle drinking policy on trains?) or tried other distraction techniques. 

Still, who am I to say or judge? Because her comfort levels, views on this subject, and circumstances are not the same as mine. 

So I will reserve my judgement on this. 

And I wish her well on her motherhood journey. 

Meantime, I prefer that people don’t make sweeping statements about breastfeeding mums. 

We are have something in common, but that’s almost as good as just saying we are all humans. 

What I write may rile us some in the breastfeeding, but well, it is my personal stance. No offence. 
Peace. Out. 

Little Foot noticed !

Got home unexpectedly early this evening. 

As I approached our unit, I called out “Baby, Babyyyyy!!!” as usual and was greeted with the ever-enthusiastic “Mameeeeee!!!!”

She gleefully informed me,  “I cut the cake!! You see? Birthday Cake!!” Referring to the toy birthday cake she was playing with. Then when I walked through the door she stunned me with the next question. 

Little Foot: “You change bag?” 

Me: *floored* ummm yes. I changed my bag. 

Little Foot: Why!!?

Me: because the other bag too small for my laptop. 

Little Foot: Why!!? 

Me: Because I have to bring laptop home.  This bag is bigger, the other one cannot fit the laptop. 

Little Foot: Mummy change bag? Yes!

And then she moved on to the next line of questioning (about my top and my pants).

The thing is…I have a lot of bags and I change them ever so often. Who would have known that my daughter would notice the mustard laptop bag was different from the Jujube bag I carried out? 

W.O.W. Still overwhelmed with amazement. 

Looks like she’s gonna grow up to be a bag addict like me. 

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.