Parenting

A Good Host

“What makes a good host?”
“What makes a guest comfortable?”

Recent events had me pondering about those questions as I belatedly realised the host plays a crucial part in determining my personal stress level. I’m embarrassed to say it but honestly, that in turns affects my kids as they usually bear the brunt of my vents.

Having house-proud hosts are bad idea for families like mine. My stress level peaks naturally.

“Don’t touch that!”
“Look at that mess you left on the floor after your meal!”
“Keep your shoes!”
“Don’t sit there. You might dirty the sofa!”

You can hear me constantly hissing to the kids as I weld the broom and pan. I would probably feel the need to diligently mop the floor everyday, if I can find out where the cleaning essentials are being kept. I try to trail behind them to make sure water marks are not being left behind. I go on my knees to scrutinize the floor to make sure all crumbs are eradicated. I’m not even half as concerned about our own place.

In case you get me wrong, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being house-proud. It’s just unfortunate that I don’t raise robots. As much as I warn and hiss (the whole species of snakes should have been so proud of me), sometimes the kids just override my programming. It’s simply a reminder to myself that it’s not a good fit for us, despite all the (possible) best intention when the invitation was issued. It did made me question my parenting skills when I hear accusations (imagined or otherwise) in the questions and statements.

Which naturally leads me to the hosts who either:
1. Have only babies currently
2. Forgotten how children can sometimes behave

Some children are boisterous (I almost said ALL!). I admit mine goes hyper sometimes when they’re excited but I also know when they are just being… childish. You know, jumping, taking in loud voices, playing games. I know babies do not generally do those things but I wish the hosts will try to stop giving them the evil glint and show the kids a little bit more grace and patience. Perhaps you feel that I cannot control my brood but I also hope you’re aware that your babies will grow up and outgrow the stage of adorable drools and coos. By then, I hope you’ll be little bit more understanding why I can’t and won’t control them like robots. But then again, maybe your superior parenting skills will prevail.

Currently, I’d rather spend on a hotel to save my sanity, preserve my children’s esteem and pride while providing a relaxing break.

Anyway, the upside to all these is it made me reflect on my own behaviour as a host.

Precious One

The littlest person turned ONE recently.
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I hope you’ll always enjoy the affection and tumbles showered by your siblings, and may you do likewise for them.

I hope you’ll never lose that curiosity.

I hope you’ll never lose that innocence, to always smile at everyone and everything.

I hope you’ll continue to bring joy to the people around you as you have for us.

I hope you’ll always fearlessly take the first step towards the unknown.

I hope you’ll always be a hardy girl, who can take the knocks of life.

And selfishly, I hope you’ll always light up when you see me.

I love you so much, my personal bundle of sunshine.

Thank you, my little help

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As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. (‭Isaiah‬ ‭55‬:‭9‬ NIV)

Life’s pretty interesting with hindsight.

During pre-marital counseling classes, the only thing that we couldn’t come to a consensus was the size of the family. He wanted four while my internal conversation was along the lines of “I’m getting married?! Really? Children?!!! Can we just take things one at a time?”. I was not adverse to the idea but planning long term was just really not my forte.

After the first born, I was hoping for a close age gap between the siblings but the second did not come along till four years later. Amidst the joy and gratitude, there was that little disappointment at the age gap because I had naively believed that the gap would directly correlate to the closeness of the relationship.

Fast forward to present day.

I am ever thankful that God’s plan prevailed and He knows my limitations. When people ask me how do I do what I do (quite a mouthful!), besides attributing it to the grace of God, I know it has to do with my little help (and the age gap!).

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He makes meals when I can’t.
He entertains his siblings when I can’t.
He calms his sister down when I can’t (or honestly sometimes when I wouldn’t).
He helps me remember things when I can’t with my cheese-holed memory.
He entertains himself when I can’t.
He packs the house when I can’t.
Among others.

And because of all these, I forget he’s merely a seven year old. I take his maturity for granted and berate him for things that I expected him to do. I get frustrated at him when things do not turn out the way I want.

The other day, I hugged his lanky frame and apologized for the ranting tirade I was on. As I talked, his shoulders shook with his cries. My heart broke when he said, “I’m really trying to be good.”

And that’s when I remembered.
That I am the adult and he’s just a child.

So thank YOU, my little help.
I’m sorry for the weight that you carry on your tiny shoulders.
I really wouldn’t know what to do without you.
I can’t promise glorious golden everydays but I know we shall aim for that together.
I love you.

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Perfect Seven

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Thank you for being our son.

At times, I forget what a privilege to call you mine.
I forget to look into your heart and see your abundant love.
I forget to look past your maturity and see that you are still a child.
I forget to look beyond the mistakes and see your intentions behind them.
I forget to look past your boisterous shouts and see that you are just a boy.
I forget to look at the present and enjoy what the moments bring.

I forget a lot of things.

But I hope you won’t forget that I love you and how precious you are to me.

Blessed birthday my dear boy. I pray that God guides your every step.

Heavy

One of my childhood memory was being incessantly compared with. I hated it. And I still do.

One of the other thing I grew up with was being teased that I was fat. I hated that too. Now, I try to embrace my love handles and muffin roll.

But because of these experiences among other things, I try to avoid them with my children.

I try not to emphasize on physical appearance (mine or otherwise) so that they’ll won’t.

I try to tell them that physical appearances are a gift. They had no part in it and thus should not be smug about it nor tease others in any way. On the other hand, I’m also mindful that positive comments on physical appearance are also important to their self-image (I blame all those parenting books for this paradox).

And yet during a particular Lunar New Year visitation, it happened. Not to me. The daughter got invariably compared with another because of their closeness in age. One of the comparison was weight. The daughter looked heavier than her friend and that comment along with her appetite were repeated over and over again by the acquaintances and relatives of the friends. No one seemed to take into account that both the husband and I are bigger than the other couple.

When someone wanted to carry her, my heart broke and I wanted to cry when my almost 3 year old looked up and said, “You can’t carry me. I’m too heavy.”

She. Is. Not. Even. Three.

I wanted to bash up the people there and then. I wanted to send out a press release to stop everyone from commenting about her weight in her presence. I wanted to send out warnings on every social media platform.

That’s when I realised I cannot protect her forever. I cannot always be there to shield her from the harsh words or the perceived ideal of others but I can help her to be strong and confident in who she is.

So I did the one thing I could.

I took her in my arms, looked her in the eyes and told her that there will always be people who will compare or comment but she is beautiful in God’s eyes and to us. Not because of her outwards appearance or the things she does but simply because she is just her.

I hope that works.

Someone told me, “But it’s true that she’s heavy.” Whether she’s heavy or not is besides the point (she’s actually of average weight). But why is there a need to point out and emphasize the physicality of our children, whether their appearance, height and weight?

Three

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You’re turning three tomorrow.

May you continue to dance and sing like there’s no tomorrow;
shining like a star on your own stage.

May you continue to shower your love and kisses to your brother and little sister,
and receive likewise from them and favour from others around you.

May you continue to use that amazing memory and mind to dazzle and outwit us,
although I might really regret this a few years from now.

May you continue to have blissful and joyous smiles,
all throughout your life.

May you continue to eat your crabs and prawns, and everything else,
without worrying about anything or anyone.
It’s really heartening for a mother.

You are an incredibly special girl and
may you never forget that.

Words cannot express how much we love you.

Blessed birthday.

The Announcement

And so, some might have already heard, we had an addition to the family about three weeks back. Some were surprised, especially friends and acquaintances whom we haven’t caught up in person. Some have asked why didn’t I announce it? Frankly, it’s a little difficult to jump onto Facebook and announce I’m expecting when I have friends who had recent miscarriages or have been trying to have a child for a while.

Anyway, with the experience of pre-epidural pain, I wisely gauged my timing and had a smooth labour and delivery.

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Now the question in everyone’s head is how am I going to manage everything and everyone? Honestly? I have absolutely no idea. I am the quintessential P which according to Myers, I prefer to keep decision open. In my world, it means putting off major decisions and planning to the last available minute.

But I’ve been trying.

These past weeks, I’ve been sitting down, cracking my head over meal planning and the homeschool timetable but each time, it’s to no avail. All I end up is a bunch of impractical recipes that are simply drool-worthy just thinking about them, but hugely impractical with the three of them clamouring for attention.

So what am I trying to say? I’m not too sure too. I just put everyone to bed and it just seemed a waste going to sleep. And I wanted to test out my new photo app. And that’s probably the reason why this post is deteriorating into nonsensical rambles. And therefore, I think it’s best to say adieus for now.