Thursday, December 18, 2014

Now they are small, and Christmas trees are tall

The end of each year always brings about a sentimental cloud. Not that I ever need a reason to be sentimental, but the end of the year marks a closing of sorts, doesn't it? When we take stock of all that we're grateful for, and all that we've done. When we say a prayer of thanks for the people that we love, and beat ourselves up with guilt over the things we could have done better.

With me starting work this year, my routine with the girls went out the window and amidst the flurry of work and all related to it, along came December. And now that I can exhale and look, I mean really look, at my children instead of glancing at them, I can't help but notice how much they have grown. 

It's inevitable that they will grow, of course. I mean, I do feed them well. But it's shocking at how fast they're growing. They are noisy and rowdy and cheeky and quite a handful, but I simply cannot imagine my life any different. And these are the things I never ever want to forget about their childhood:

Real candles, fake candles, pictures of candles, drawings of candles. The small girl sees them and she has to sing Happy Birthday to them and attempt to extinguish them. 

The year of the curl
This year was also the year that this girl's hair grew out. At the start of the year, she was still pretty much a baldie. And now, it's lovely locks galore. This is such a beautiful age, when the wind blows their hair in their face, and they are still mastering their fine motor skills so they brush the hair away clumsily with the palm of their hand. I love it. I love her. 

Ice-cream treats
How I love living in a neighbourhood where we can dress up (you know, just because) for an afternoon treat. Afternoon treats are essential to our relationship. Sometimes we can have a crappy day and everyone's on everyone's nerves, but ice-cream always saves the day. I am convinced that ice-cream was created for Mamas with young children.

And older sisters asking for matching hairstyles with their baby sisters? Oh be still, my fragile heart.

This year, the Tooth Fairy was kept busy. She probably had to take a loan to finance Poppy's teeth. It's funny that teeth take months to grow but we're so busy with our daily lives that before we know it, a new tooth has grown to take the place of the old one. I never want to forget this gorgeous smile.

Being carried
She's running around like the wind at home, but once we're out, she lifts her arms to me and says in her sweetest voice, "Please carry me. I cannot walk more. Mine legs are hurting". Never mind that mine arms are aching.

Or "We are too close to the road; it's too dangerous. Please carry me.". It's a strange ailment that only attacks when we're out and dissipates once we're home. I usually give her a target to reach, like the bus stop, or the recycling bin, and then tell her I will pick her up after that, but hope that she forgets. She never does. And when I finally pick her up? Oh that sweet feeling when she nestles her head in my neck, and her soft curls tickle my nose. And when she says "I'm just a small baby, Mama". It's hard to not love this baby.

Sometimes I plan all kinds of outing for the girls but I forget that sometimes all they want is to simply be at the neighbourhood playground. This year marked a turning point for us - we're now able to enjoy quiet moments at home when both kids are entertained with books on the sofa, or lying on their tummies on the floor and drawing. Sometimes it's fun to go out and explore, but sometimes, it's wonderful to just stay home and appreciate each other. 

This year, we started having two-way conversations with this girl, and they're getting funnier too. "Calla, come give me a hug". "No! I will not say yes!". And those moments when I overhear conversations between the two sisters? Simply priceless.

Yup, all in all, it's been a good year. I hope that you've had many beautiful memories of 2014 too, and wish you many more for the coming year! Happy holidays, everyone!

Poppy and Calla are wearing Pumpkin Patch's Fall range of clothing. Thanks, Pumpkin Patch, for the girls' lovely dresses!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Mama has Horizonto

Horizonto. I've been struck by a case of Horizonto. 

Technically it's called Vertigo, when one experiences dizzyness that comes with a misperception of motion, coupled by nausea and vomiting. At one point while hugging the toilet I have a brief flashback to the days of morning sickness. Oh joy. 

It came out of nowhere. From a loss of voice one day after work, to a sudden headache to extreme tiredness and finally a fever. The only thing that was constant throughout was my need to remain horizontal. Thus, Horizonto. 

Yesterday was tricky. Poppy cried when I told her she couldn't go for a play date at her friend's house because I couldn't even get out of bed. Which meant I could even stand straight. Except to half walk, half crawl to the toilet to throw up. 

In the end I gave in and somehow managed to get everyone dressed and out of the house and stumble into a taxi without puking. Thankfully Poppy's friend's dad gave Calla and I a ride home or I'm pretty sure I would have fainted by the roadside. 

Unsympathetic though my girls are to my situation ("Mama you're not sick!" "Mama you're not cold! Come play!"), they were kind enough to allow me to be horizontal for most parts. In exchange I had to let them jump around me on the bed and bear loud songs from their music player (because why have a music player when it can't play at volume 10, right?) while I drifted in and out of light sleep. And the construction from the neighbours nearby? It sure helped. Not. 

I flitted through sleep and strange dreams as one usually does when a fever strikes. Through burning eyes I looked at them when forced. When I couldn't ignore them further I had to nod or smile through the invisible force squeezing my temples together. 

I'm thankful that they did not get up to much mischief, and that the moment my husband could take over, he did. But above all, I'm so thankful that this struck now when the kids are older and can occupy themselves, as opposed to when they were babies and were more reliant on me. Come to think of it, this is probably my first big illness since the kids were born. I suppose it's my body's way of saying "Right, I've waited long enough". 

The week isn't turning out to what I had intended it to be. We were supposed to go out and play with water balloons, suss out fake snow, buy new shoes, expel energy. But instead I'm stuck home and playing catch up with the Advent Calendar (this morning I woke up to Poppy's face in mine "Mama, do you think you could fill yesterday's pocket of the Advent Calendar later please?".

In any case, I'm on the road to recovery though the prospect of loud noises and bright sunlight doesn't appeal to me for now. If anyone needs me, I'll be in my cave. 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

It's only been Twenty Years

A few weeks ago, I heard the news that my beloved former school was going to face the wrecking ball. Well, it is Singapore and I should have known that this was going to happen sooner or later. It's going to make way for a bigger building to be constructed in its place, so that more girls can don the blue IJ uniform and sing Forward Katong Convent and maybe some day many more babies will be rocked to sleep to that tune. So it's for a good reason, I suppose, but it didn't stop me from feeling all emotional about it.

With every cloud though, there is a silver lining. Amidst the gloom of demolition, I suddenly hooked up with old friends and schoolmates whom I'd not seen in 20 years. It finally gave me the push to go to the school again for one last look, something I'd been wanting to do for years. Among us - strangers, yet sisters, united by our motto and memories - we also rallied together to help our school bookshop owners (or otherwise known as "Auntie Bookshop") sell off all their stock to send them off on their happy retirement. So, lots of good came out of this.

My first class photo in the blue uniform - I'm right in the middle, in front. Teacher decided at the last minute that she didn't want to sit and picked me randomly. Not that I was the teacher's pet or anything. Love how our feet were hovering off the floor!
Last class photo. I'm seated, second from left.

It's hardly a secret that I remember the weirdest and most random things. So it probably won't surprise you that I can remember most of my Primary 1 classmates. And we're talking a l-o-n-g time ago. But there are things that I'd forgotten, and those good ole school magazines were around to save the day.

I can't remember how much they cost but for as far back as I can remember, it was compulsory for every student to buy a copy. I have all but one, the year I was in Primary 1 - My mother said "Well there's no need to buy it since you're not in it anyway." True, true.

Sure, we complained back then because they weren't cheap, but I'm glad to have them now. Oh, the excitement when we received ours every year! We'd excitedly flip to see if we were featured anywhere else apart from the class photo, we'd scan through the creative pages to see if our essays or poems were picked (mine never were), we'd laugh at the unfortunate ones who were caught in less than flattering poses and angles. 

These guys followed me with every house move and some of them are practically falling apart. 

I think I labelled everything back then.

I'm not sure how it's like now but back then, the graduating classes had their pictures in the year book in colour; everyone else was in black and white.

Remember autograph books? I had one of those but I'd forgotten that I got my friends to write little messages in one of the year books. Yes, I'm from the "Stay cool and funky always" era.

There's hoarding, and there's archiving memories because they light up the corners of your mind. I'm glad I saved these memories. Memories are unerasable, but having them in print just makes them so much better.

Do you have your school magazines too? I hope you have fun reminiscing like I did. Plus, it's also fun to laugh about our old hairstyles and fashion sense eh? :)

Up next is Justina from Mum in the Making (who won this year's Best Family Blog, yo!). Justina is a stay home mum to three little boys. She is a compulsive hoarder of all things recyclable and has a secret stash of toilet rolls. Hop over to her blog tomorrow to see what she's held on to for the past two decades!



This post is part of a blog train hosted by Agatha from Green Issues by Agy on "I Didn't Throw It Away". We have become such a throw-away society, but there are some things in our households that we still keep. Why is that so? Perhaps this blog train can unlock the reasons behind it! Follow the daily posts on this blog train and read about the stories behind the things we have kept for many years and why we didn't throw them away.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Primary 1 Parent

Year-ends are usually emotional for me. As well as birthdays. And weddings. And soppy movies. And just about anything actually. But year-ends mostly. Well, and birthdays. And.. Ok, stop, collaborate and listen!

Yes as I was saying. If it's not enough that the last month of the year is approaching, it's also the final month of my 6-year old's pre formal education days, as well as my 2.5 year old's pre school days. So you can see how this is an extra special month for my delicate heart. 

In recent weeks I've been giving a lot of thought as to what kind of parent I want to be, particularly on the kind of parent I want to be to a Primary 1 child

Prior to Primary 1, I suppose it's ok to kind of just drift along and go wherever the wind blows, and reactive parenting can still get one through, just like it did for me. But when formal education is involved, I see it as a time for me to decide what I really want to appear as to my daughters, and if I can live by my decision and bear the responsibility of that outcome. 

I'm glad that Max and I both feel that we want our kids to enjoy their childhood; to have swimming lessons for example, because it's a fun thing for them, and that it's a good skill to have, not because we want them to train for the Olympics or simply to have some badge or certificate under their belt. In all that we do for our kids, we want it to be ruled by fun and interest; we want to give them opportunities to learn on their own. 

We want to impress upon our children that academic results may be important, but there is so much more to life than school and assessments. Not that we want to teach our kids to be rebellious and disobey teachers because "my mummy says school isn't everything!", but more to instill the importance of an all-rounded life. 

Why it is particularly pressing at this point in time for us to make a stand, is because we know that our choices, and our way of life, are not aligned with the choices of many, which would make us part of a very small minority. 

Not that being part of a minority is anything bad. Just that there would be implications, and certain things that we might have to learn to live with. 

In all honesty, I was all for the "I'm not going to help my kids in any way! Let them figure everything out on their own! It's their future and they should be fully responsible for it!" camp. 

All throughout K2, I had a chance to try that out. And as much as I tried, my friends, it just wasn't possible. Because Poppy was given the task of a weekly journal to work on each weekend. I would have loved to leave her to sort it all out on her own but you know what? She couldn't spell. And couldn't find the right Chinese words to use. I figured the school's objective was simply to get the kids introduced to the idea of homework, and that's how poor ole Mama got roped into a half hour session a week of helping the 6-year old. 

I could have saved myself a bunch of white hair if I had simply spelt everything out for her but I guided her with her spelling instead. Which, as parents will tell you, is possibly the biggest test of patience yet. We came to a point when Poppy would recognize the signs of an impending explosion from Mount Mama, and she would hug me. It was tough but hugs always helped buy us an additional block of patience. And somehow we got through the year of journals with lots of prayer, hugs and coffee. 

Why did I do it? I'm not sure. Because I didn't want her to go to school with an empty book and face ridicule? Because I feel that 6 is a bit too young for homework? Because I'm her parent and have the in-built system to help whenever I can? 

With everything, there are always multiple schools of thought - throw them in the deep end, walk away and let them learn to swim on their own? Yes, there's the chance they will learn quickly because their survival instinct will kick in. But there is also the risk that they will drown. Give them swimming lessons and start them off in the baby pool step by step? Maybe, though many would see that as overbabying them. 

I suppose that we pretty much have a mid point approach to things, to perhaps let the kids learn to swim and when they are ready, step back and let them. Equip them with the basic necessary skills to survive, and then let them manage on their own while remaining within close range. Is this the perfect solution? Maybe not, but it's what we are comfortable with, because we known ourselves and we know our kids. 

So what kind of Primary 1 parent am I going to be? God only knows. Though I will try very hard to keep play on par with school. Because the kids? They are only young once. And I want them to have find childhood memories to think back upon and not just remember what their school books looked like. 

And the sacrifice we have to make in order for this to happen? Our kids are probably going to be pretty "average" performers in school. Academically. We'll have to bear that in mind when we see their report cards. But you know what? I think what I will look at is not so much the grades, but the comments made by their teachers. If they mention anything at all about how Poppy shows compassion and empathy toward her classmates, or that Calla is always the one to raise her hand to answer questions, even if they aren't always right, I think I'd be happy. After all, grades aren't the only way to define a person. So says Miss 196-points at PSLE herself. 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

No Mum is an Island

I've been making a lot of lemonade these past few weeks. Not in a set up a little stall with buntings next to the road and selling iced cold drinks kind of way. More like a if God gave you lemons kind if way.

Going back to work has been nothing short of amazing. The rusted parts of my brain have been oiled and put to good use, and regular family life is carrying on with little disturbances. 

But I've been doing quite a bit of thinking of late. I blame alone-travel time. 

There's so much more that I want to do with the kids. So many more places that I want to explore with them. Sometimes I plan, sometimes I decide on the spur of the moment. 

But my mood dips the moment the 6-year old decides that she'd rather stay home in her pajamas and read than visit some awesome place that I'd researched on. A place I know she would absolutely enjoy, if she'd only let me bring her out of the house. Without a scowl on her face or 20 minutes of the "We're going/But I don't want to go/We haven't been out of the house today/But I want to stay home" debate.

Sometimes we make it out of the house, sometimes we don't. But sometimes it's hard to remind myself that I'm the adult, and she's a child, and I shouldn't let her mood affect mine, and that it isn't her responsibility but mine to cater for multiple Plan Bs. Sometimes though, I may be an adult, but I'm also human.

A human who's also a mum. A mum who also needs to take care of the needs of the family on top of contributing toward paying household bills.

Needs like, say.... fruits? You know, those colourful edible balls you see at the supermarket? You can either crunch into them or cut them up? They're usually sweet and juicy? And have seeds? Those things, yes. I think my family may not know fruits if I didn't buy them, cut them, and bring them to the table. When I teach my kids about how plants grow, they must think I'm crazy to tell them about soil and seeds and fertilizers because to them, fruits simply appear at the dinner table, all cut up into bite sized portions with little forks stuck in them.

There is definitely a direct relation between the number of hours I work, and the amount of fruit my family eats. It's come to a point where I make my husband promise to buy fruits regularly for the kids if I should so die before he does.

But, Vitamin C discussions aside, there's also the "I really have to rush this assignment but I also have the kids with me" guilt trip. I think that many mums believe that the level of how good or bad a mother is, is pegged at mum's level of exhaustion at the end of the day.

For instance, if your energy is hovering at the dangerous red zone level of about 3% and you will absolutely need to be peeled off the floor if you don't have another (maybe your third or fourth) coffee, but yet you drag yourself to read a bedtime story to the kids and they fall asleep without any screaming or crying (either yours or theirs) then congratulations, you are the winner of the Best Mum Award. But if at the end of the day, you're still skipping around scrolling on Facebook while there are still unwashed paintbrushes on the dining table and dirty socks on the bathroom floor then my goodness me, do you really call yourself a mother? You know, stuff like that.

I think that as mums, we complain a lot about how people from all over are judging us and our choices - if we sling our babies, if we give them juice before they turn 2, if they eat fries, if they play in the sand, if they go to childcare, if they watch TV, if they run around barefooted, if they forget to brush their teeth - but we are the worst judges of all.

We want to do everything and cannot accept that it is impossible to do everything. We cannot accept that we are not, like our friends like to call us, "Supermum", who can juggle a million tasks and never feel tired. It's not possible, it really isn't. It's not possible to work, and be physically there for the kids, and to treat them equally, give the spouse equal attention, have a hobby, meet up with friends, and maintain the house all the time. Something's got to give. Some sacrificices have to be made. Sometimes we have to - much as I dislike the word - outsource some tasks.

We can have everything, just in different percentages and quantities. We need to remind ourselves that it's OK not to know everything. It's OK to not have all the answers. It's OK to make mistakes. We need to accept help from others when we can't manage, and recognise when we can't manage. And once we can accept that, we will feel less guilty about everything. Or at least I hope. I'm still striving for guilt-free parenting.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Sick Kids, Tired Mums

The thing about parenting websites and guide books is that they tell you that typically a fever lasts X number of days. So you know that in X number of days, your life will be back to normal again. 

They tell you that during these X number of days, your feverish child might be a little whiney. A little is a little subjective, I think. 

They don't tell you that your usually smiley and happy toddler will turn into a crying machine and follow you around the house, governed by an unseen magnetic force. They don't tell you that she will raise her arms to you and asked to be carried everywhere. 

They don't tell you that her nose will be drippy and her face will be tear-stained from all that crying, but she will refused for you to clean her. 

They tell you to administer medicines but don't tell you that the spoon will be pushed away, and they certainly don't tell you how sticky and sweet medicine can be, particularly on a white sofa. 

They tell you that your child might exhibit unusual behavior but don't specify that it includes taking a nap at noon on the sofa while dressed in pajamas. They don't tell you that prior attempts to nap may last no more than five minutes because they'll wake up crying because they don't understand what's going on, and why they aren't running around like they're used to and why their heads feel fuzzy. 

And that all that confusion will make them throw up on your shoulder when you pick them up to soothe them. They also don't tell you that despite that, you will remain calm and continue to soothe and rock your child, then lead her gently to the bathroom to wash off all the vomit. 

They don't tell you that you will ignore the vomit that's on you temporarily, because clearing the floor and bedsheets is more important, so that your sick child can plonk back on the bed and try to have a comfortable sleep. Also, the last thing that you want is your child walking through vomit. 

They tell you to consider the BRAT diet (bananas, rice, apples, toast I think) and not to worry if your child has no appetite but don't tell you that as your child's mother, "don't worry" means nothing. 

They don't tell you that vomit can smell like bourbon, and that your house should always be stocked with kitchen towels and old nappies in case of such emergencies. 

They don't tell you about how you will constantly smell your child's head and pray that they will feel better soon, and that your other kids don't get the same thing because you know you can only afford so many vomitty bedsheets. 

They don't tell you that despite knowing that germs can be transmitted through touch, you will still kiss your little sickie and that your motherly instinct will be on full mode. 

They don't tell you that despite a looming deadline, you will ignore your work until your baby is better again. They don't tell you that all rules will be broken, and you will allow the sickie to watch as much television as she wants if it makes her feel better. 

They don't tell you that it may not be you with the flu, but you sure wished it were, instead of your kids. 

Sick kids. Tired mums. The end. 

Village Hotel Katong Staycation

The invitation to staycate at Village Hotel Katong came at the right time. I spent most of my youth in the East. Katong in particular. And this week, my old school is getting torn down. Staying in Village Hotel Katong gave me the opportunity to roam around Katong, just like I used to as a teenager.

Upon reaching the hotel, I was hit by a wave of nostalgia. Heyyyyy - This was the old Paramount Hotel, at which my parents brought me as a child during Chinese New Year (when all other food outlets were closed)!

But the hotel's changed so much that so my blast from the past was shortlived. The hotel underwent a makeover to keep up with the times. Our room was clean and bright, with little Peranakan touches to reflect the Peranakan influence of the neighbouring Katong and Joo Chiat area.

I remember a time when I used to work in a hotel - room keys were really room keys. With a big plastic tag on them. What a thing from the past eh? Now every hotel has got those electronic key card thingies. Though I'm not entirely sure I felt comfortable without having an actual lock and chain on my room door though.

The bathroom included the usual amenities, and we thought that the sliding door was such a great space saving idea. Until one of us tried to put the girls to bed while the other was in the shower. Turns out frosted glass doesn't keep light out as well as we thought. The rain shower was nice, as rain showers always are. And I really liked that the bathroom allowed natural light to enter. But what felt strange was that the contractors seemed to have forgotten about changing the bathroom windows while renovating the hotel - they looked like they belonged to a different era, and not in a deliberate way.

I think all the levels had different works of art; I wish we could have gone around to explore more but our access card only allowed us access to our floor, and the public areas. Yes of course, all in the name of safety and security.

Well, no matter, our kids were well entertained with the wardrobe, and enjoyed a good splash at the pool. The pool's a bit of a walk from the (rather cold) lift lobby so make use of the bathrobes from the room!

Of course, when you're in Katong, it is expected of you to have Katong laksa. It's like going to Paris and not visiting the Eiffel Tower. So we laksa-ed. And otak-ed. And well, ate more than I'm proud to disclose.

Of course, there's the customary hotel buffet breakfast where you'll go for rounds of local fare while your husband stares at your with his mouth open, wondering if you've been replaced by an unstoppable eating machine. Oh wait, that's just me.

There's so much to explore around Katong, but I must confess that the walk about meant more to me than the rest of the family. I guess after a while, the kids got bored of hearing me say, "This place! Oh I remember this place! It's where I ________ (fell and scraped my knee / went on dates before I met your father / learnt to bowl / discovered the best kueh pie tee). This Katong though, isn't the same as the one I remember. So much of it has changed. I whined about the Katong I remember here: Where did my Katong go!

Don't know where to go? Pick up a handy little booklet from the hotel lobby!

When roaming around Katong takes its toil on the kids, head East-ward (that's "turn right when you get to the main road - East Coast Road" for you non directionally inclined folk). You'll see Holy Family Church (oh the Saturday evenings I spent singing in the choir!), followed by Jago Close. Go through Jago Close and there'll be a little playground there with slides and swings and a sandpit - perfect for the little ones. 

It was kinda nice to watch a different generation enjoy the same area in a different way. Did I lose you in that last sentence?


Thanks for the stay, Village Hotel Katong, and thanks for welcoming me back with open arms, Katong!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Mama's Been Chopping Onions Again

We ran and caught the bus in time. The bus ride itself was uneventful. The walk to the school was uneventful. Except that we passed a playground and the girls asked to play but we just didn't have the time. We walked really fast because we were going to be late.

Like many of our outings, we were rushing. At the school, I barely had a moment to heave a sigh of relief when the instructions came.

"Look for your child's class and leave her with her teacher. Parents, please proceed up to the assembly hall". 

I didn't have the time before to give her a hug and a kiss like I usually do before we part, so I jumped into the lines made up of 6 year old girls and grabbed mine for a fierce hug while squishing the baby at the same time. She was nervous too. I could tell because she hugged me back. She usually dismisses my need to hug her.

"Are you alright?" I asked.

I had to. I needed to know. Because if she had said no, I would have half considered homeschooling her. Thankfully she gave a timid nod.

"You'll be fine. I'll see you later!"

I smiled but it was fake. I didn't believe it. I wanted to be with her. But I couldn't.

But I wasn't the only reluctant parent. We all lingered. Until we had to be sheparded to the assembly hall. I craned my neck all the way. I blew kisses. I waved. And then I disappeared into the crowd, leaving my 6 year old sitting crossed-legged on the floor with strangers.

All around me were fellow parents. The only difference was that most of them were there with their other halves. At that point, I not only felt extremely envious, but also a little shortchanged. I not only was there alone, I also had the 2.5 year old with me. The very active 2.5 year old who wanted nothing to do with any of the 500 chairs set out in the assembly hall and kept me on my feet all the way. 

Over the 2.5 hour talk by the principal, she granted me about 15 minutes of colouring and puzzle book flipping. The rest of the time was spent walking up and down the corridor, climbing, browsing the goodies sold by parent volunteers, rolling on the floor, and dancing.

Oh, she danced. While the principal talked about the school's beliefs, while the parent volunteer representative shared her thoughts, while we were introduced to the rules of the school, while her sister was getting to know her new classmates, my little girl danced.

Well, mostly she spun round and round. And then fell from the dizzyness. And then got up laughing and walking like a drunkard.

I may not have heard everything the principal said, but what I heard reassured me that we made the right choice with Poppy's school. And with the thought of her starting big girl school in about 2 months, my focus suddenly shifted. I no longer felt envious of the other parents. Instead, I was glad that I had my little companion for company. I was relieved that she was there to distract me from bawling. I was thankful that I had her around to remind me that Primary 1 for one girl doesn't mean the end of all good things for everyone.

And of course, I squeezed her tight and made her promise not to grow up too quick.

Parenting Quotes to Live By

A dear friend recently asked me for some parenting advice. I said "Well, I mostly just stumble along, use a lot of common sense, pray often and hope for the best". I realise that while it is very true and practical, she might have been hoping for something more concrete and shall I say, less useless?

These parenting quotes however, are good enough to share :)

With one kid going into Primary 1 and another starting Pre-Nursery next year (be still, my heart!), I'm learning to let go. I'm learning to keep my hands to myself when Poppy takes an extra minute to tie her shoelaces. I'm learning to keep a smile plastered on my face while Calla makes a mess when she feeds herself. I remind myself that I'm training them for independance, and it's starting to feel a little liberating.

More about letting go! I'm their mother so that means that by default, I'm responsible for everything that involves them. As mothers, we want to give them the world. We want to do everything for them but we have to sometimes learn to take a step back and let them take some responsibility and do things on their own, even if it means it takes a longer time or things aren't done the way we are used to. Because even if we wanted to, we aren't going to be around forever. Besides, I don't think any mum wants to be wiping snotty noses forever.

These two constantly remind me that it's so easy to find joy in simple pleasures. They remind me that it only takes a little to be happy. They remind me that there is more to life than work and things more important than social media. They've taught me what it really means to be rich. My bank account disagrees though.

You know, we say it all the time to our kids, that they can be anything they want to be. But yet we make the mistaken of babying them and not letting them learn at their own pace, of laying things out for them, of picking up after them. Of handing them their water bottle and opening it for them (guilty!). Not that it's our fault; we're built to love them and care for them and spoil them after all. I'm still learning.

Too often, I find myself searching for things to do with the kids, places to bring them, preparing crafts for them, choosing the right library books for them, preparing food for them.... so much so that I neglect them. Ironic, isn't it? I think that as parents, it's important for us to draw a balance between doing things with them, and doing things for them. Sometimes it's also fun to hang out together and not do anything.

Possibly one of my biggest mistakes of parenting two children, is stepping in to break up their fights. Generally I try to let them resolve their disagreements but it's hard to ignore when one is shrieking and the other is crying. "Maybe your sister just wants to borrow that? Could you let her have it for just a little while?" "I think Jiejie is not done with that, why don't you play with something else first?".

How much of it is me trying to help them understand, and how much of it is trying to solve the problem? And by helping to solve the problem, am I creating another problem by taking away their opportunity to learn to work things out on their own? Oh dear. (Did I mention that I pray a lot? I did, didn't I?)

As Ms Frizzle from the Magic Schoolbus so rightly points out, kids have to "Take chances! Make mistakes!"; that's the only way for them to learn.  It's so easy to push their little hands aside and fit the jigsaw pieces together for them, or to beautify their scribbles or to erase their mistakes in their books properly for them. Hard as it is now to watch them make mistakes, let us remind ourselves that independence is a good life skill!

I think at some point, most parents are guilty of this. We always want the best for our kids but sometimes we fail to recognise that they may be little but they are individuals too and have their own way of thinking and doing things. Instead of spending our time trying to change them, we might as well focus on how we can make the best of our relationships with them. The main thing for me? To be less snappy and more patient with them.

As guilty as I am? Well, recognising it is half the battle won! Happy parenting, everyone!

Do you have a particular quote you live by?

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