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Embracing Motherhood

This post is part of a blog train which was initiated some time ago. 

It is hard to believe that I have been a mother for 7.5 years. The first six years were mostly blissful. J was obedient and easy to care for. I took leave between his eighth month and twenty-sixth month to look after him and that was a very happy period in my life. I thank God that J was good-tempered, rarely had tantrums, behaved well at home and in school and learnt fast. I did not have to deal with sibling rivalry as there was no sibling then. 

I went back to work after the leave ended and the childcare arrangement seemed to work for the next four years. J attended nursery / kindergarten for half a day, after which my mother-in-law would bring him home for a nap. He would nap for two to three hours, then play under the supervision of my father-in-law till I got home. Friday was Lyn's off day, so he would take J swimming and go on outings every Friday. 

Then in late 2013, the birth of baby An changed our lives. We had prayed for her arrival for years and were ecstatic with this little blessing. However, the birth of a newborn meant adjustment. J had our undivided attention for six years and told us that he felt left out on some days after his sister was born. I tried to participate in his life as much as I could. Two weeks after his sister's birth, J had a birthday party where all his kindergarten friends were invited. During the confinement month, we brought him to his favourite restaurant without the baby, attended his P1 orientation and sat through his Aikido classes to give him support. I could see that he was trying to cope with this major change in his life and having a sensitive nature made the task more difficult for him. 

Soon after, J entered primary school. All of a sudden, he seemed to have grown so much. I started reflecting on my parenting decisions. It could be due to the stresses of primary school, the birth of a child or the fact that I had more time at hand during maternity leave, then extended no-pay leave, but I seemed to have more things to be concerned about last year and this year on the home front. Here are some of my concerns: 

Before primary school, whenever I taught J, the teaching would be fun and leisurely. There was no syllabus outcome to achieve. Whatever J learnt was for the sake of interest. In primary one, there were about six bite-sized assessments per term starting from term two. English and Math were fine, but I dreaded revision for Chinese tests. I would love for J to be able to independently study, but the language was quite foreign to him as we barely spoke it. Thus, I ploughed through his books and worksheets with him, not without moans and grumbling from the boy. I regretted not exposing him to Chinese early enough and for not persisting in speaking only in Chinese for a period of time, as recommended by his kindergarten teacher. Actually, I am comfortable with Chinese and did Higher Chinese at O Levels, but everyone around us spoke English, and we also did. My bad.

Then, I also noticed that J did things out of enjoyment and did not have the drive to excel. He attended swimming lessons since he was 13 months old. He always enjoys being in the water, but till now, his strokes are still mixed up because he does not have the discipline to practise properly. With music, many of his peers are taking graded ABRSM exams while he takes his time to plod through his easy Yamaha pieces. I wonder what I can do to motivate him. 

For An, the concerns would be more of "How many words should she speak by now?" or "Is she getting enough nutrients in her diet?" and in the earlier days, "How should I sleep train her?" The number of articles and books I read on sleep training was considerable indeed.

I am also making plans for An's childcare from next year. Should I send her to a childcare centre near our home or let her have the same childcare arrangement as her brother? Should I continue to work part-time so that I would have quality time with the children? I have always thought that SAHMs produced more adjusted children but as I observed more, I noticed that that was a generalisation. I have friends who work long hours and whose children's learning are settled by enrichment classes and their children seem to be thriving. Some do not even wake up when their children do, leaving their domestic helpers to prepare breakfasts and get the children ready for school. And the children look well-adjusted in every way. I read a lot and on my bookshelves lie more than twenty parenting books. Having read most of them, I have come to conclude that there is no best parenting method. Then how should I parent, is a question I ask myself. 

A glimpse of one of my bookshelves
As I ponder over parenting issues, it is easy to compare myself with other mothers and feel inadequate. I do not make pretty Bento sets, craft creatively or have great insights on life's issues. However, I came to realise that it was not Gina Ford or other parenting experts who helped me sleep train An. It was prayer. It was not a lactation consultant who assured me that An's diet was sufficient. It was God. When I felt harried or flustered over the many tasks that lay ahead on some days, I was calmed by His peace. 

Therefore, I have concluded that I would consult the Word of God in all facets of life, especially in parenting. I have also asked myself this question, "What am I on earth for?" It may seem irrelevant to the topic at hand, but clarifying our purpose on earth would help me determine my emphasis in parenting. My response is  that we are here to let our light shine before men, that they may see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16). 

This is enlightening to me. It helps to reassure me that my part-time work arrangement is the way to go for this season. My work gives me a wider circle of influence than just my children and I have the opportunity to let my light shine through working with people. Yet, it gives me four full days a week to spend with my children. My children can also bless and be blessed by their other caregivers. 

It also reminds me that the activities that I have been planning for my family seem to be for the benefit of ourselves, so I will make a conscious effort to schedule community outreach programmes in our calendar. Lyn and I are making plans to bring the children on a mission trip at the end of the year. 

Besides Matthew 5 : 16, I have picked some other verses that will guide my parenting decisions: 

1) Train up a child in the way he should go. And when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22 : 6 / Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Deut 11 : 19

Since to me, our purpose is to shine for God, I will teach my children the Word of God. I am glad that J remembers to memorise a verse before he goes to bed, a practice initiated by Lyn. Little An has learnt to say the word "Bible" and participates in Bible reading by doing actions with me or answering questions with one-word responses. May the Word take root in their hearts and may their hearts be like good soil, so that the Word can bear fruit. 

I will also purposefully teach values to the children through Bible stories as well as other good stories. Where schoolwork is concerned, I will emphasise on the attitude with which J does his work, rather than the results. Thus, J was gently chided for getting 18/20 on a Chinese written test recently as the two words he could not write were words from his spelling list, whereas when he scored lower marks on another test last year due to wrong answers in a comprehension exercise, he was let off. I also display the value awards he has obtained from school in our living room to remind him of our focus on values. (On this, I am thankful that J's school rewards the demonstration of values in various ways.) 

2) Rejoice always, I Thessalonians 5 : 16

Despite having cares now and then, there are so many things I can rejoice about. That I even have a second child is a miracle. Before I conceived, I faced month after month of disappointment. I took comfort that Sarah gave birth at a ripe old age and that Hannah's pleas for a baby were answered. When it was revealed that we would have a girl at An's 20-week scan, J said, "Yay! God told me I would have a sister!" 

It is very endearing to see the little one stretch out her hand to her brother and say "Hold". It is equally heart-warming to see the older one respond by smiling at his sister and taking her hand, then walking off together joyfully. 

My heart leaps for joy every time J hugs me and says "I love you, Mama". When he heard that I had a fall recently, he asked with concern, "Mama, I heard you had a fall. Are you feeling alright?" J reminds us to pray and I rejoice at his faith. 

An rushes to the door and hugs me when I return home from work. I love her infectious laughter and her cheeky grin.   

I will hold these sweet memories dearly and be a joyful mother. May the joy of the Lord be my family's strength. 

3) Pray without ceasing, I Thessalonians 5 : 17 

For J's 7th birthday, I wrote him a song with these lyrics: 

Because I love you, I pray for you each day
I ask the Lord to guide your every way
Grant you peace and grant you joy
May His wisdom be your choice
May He bless you and keep you 
And make His face shine on you 

Praying for the children daily gives me peace. In the face of calamities and distorted messages all over the world, we need to know that he will give his angels charge over our children, to keep them in all their ways. Whenever I have worries, I will commit my cares to Him. This applies to J's learning of the Chinese language, his pursuit of excellence and all. It also applies to An's protection and development. 

Two people have told us separately that God will use J mightily to preach His word to many and to be influential. I pray that J will fulfil the purpose of God in his life. 

4) Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. I Thessalonians 5 : 18 

The challenges of parenthood will always exist, but I am glad that God is with me on this journey and reminds constantly that there are plenty that I can be thankful for. I have dedicated each Tuesday as the day I record my blessings on this blog and I have also asked my family to write down their blessings on slips of paper every Tuesday. 

5) You will be blessed when you come in and when you go out. 

I will bless my children with these words daily. May they be blessed wherever they are and in whatever they do. May they grow in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and men, just as Jesus did in Luke 2 : 52. 

These verses shape my mantra in parenting, but there are times when I lapse. When we are in a hurry and J's nose is still stuck in a book, when J's Chinese tests approach or when I am tired, I find myself raising my voice at J and losing my patience. Still, these verses help me to know what to focus on in my parenting journey with Lyn and they point me back to my Source of Strength and Hope. 

Motherhood is a blessing from God and may He always grant me and other mothers love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control as we train our offsprings in the way they should go. 


This post is part of a blog train hosted by Dominique of Dominique's Desk
Read what other mums have to say about "Embracing Motherhood" here

Next up on this blog train is Ashlyn

Ashlyn shares her walk of faith, love and joy as a full time working mummy to 1. Many years back, she prayed for a child but God didn't send her one immediately. Instead, he waited and blessed her with a daughter at the perfect timing. He continued to be her center of life, guide and lead her new journey. She writes about her life, faith, parenting, child, travel and crafting "adventures" - yes, many ups and downs!


Dominique Goh said…
Focusing on the WORD of GOD to lead you through the journey of motherhood is what I am doing to. It's true that the answers that one seeks pertaining to parenting cannot be found in a book but rather based on personal experiences and trial and error. Each child is unique therefore the varied difference in responses to parenting.
Pea said…
Thanks for reading and for dropping a note. :) God's Word never fails and I am depending on it in every aspect of my life. Glad you are too.

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