When New Years came around, I was consoled that there would be “quite a bit of time” before Chinese New Year. Well, where did all the days go? We have been so busy with the every day, with moving to a new office space, me still trying to train my helper (a long story for another day), getting accustomed to the new schools and way of schooling for all three kids and everything else in between.
Mittens turned 7 early last month, and we celebrated it with a big lunch party…..at the neighborhood zhi char stall. With a last minute store bought cake. It was with all his cousins (from both sides!), and with a fish dish caught by his very own uncle, followed by lots of cycling, scooting, and pizza for dinner, still with cousins. Certainly not the most elaborate, but simple doesn’t mean it’s anything less.
I have not made any new year resolutions, but it’s obvious that simplicity is the key for me this year. For a long time last year, I was struggling with managing the kids. I felt as if I’d lost the joy of mothering. I began to wonder how post partum can the onset of post natal depression be? Would say, 2 – 2.5 years seem unreasonable? 😀 The kids seemed to be constantly getting on my nerves, and I felt as if I was the grumpiest mother. Ever. Constantly.
I wasn’t having fun and no one was having fun. Or maybe it was because I made sure no one else was having fun. I’d kinda lost that (fun) loving feeling. Was it because I had too much on my plate? More children than hands? Trying to multi-task too many things?
No amount of “How not to shout at your kids” articles and Orange Rhino tips were helpful. I wanted to feel like I didn’t need to give them a shelling all the time, rather than the need and tips to calm down when I wasn’t. I was totally over the every-mother-needs-me-time mantra – sometimes it was even more work coordinating care takers in my absence or it would have to be throwing the kids to a few hours of TV just to have some me time, and on return it seemed like there would be even more mess to clean up than before I left.
But somehow I made it through those long dark days, and I can truly say that I have been really enjoying the days with the kids. It’s hard to say what exactly was the solution, and I wish there was a magic formula I could share with you, but I’m pretty sure that it was a confluence of so many factors, I still have trouble pin-pointing the answer.
I do think that there were a few turning points. Something like noticing that the angst rubbing off on the kids; constantly feeling guilty about not being the mother I thought they need; realising that the kids were acting out mostly because they were trying to get attention rather than just being difficult or naughty. Most of all, I wondered what if they lost me today? Or tomorrow? Or if I had only a week? A month? A year? There is still so much moulding for me to do, there is just no time wasting being grumpy.
So I laughed more, played more, kissed more, and hugged more. While still being firm, of course. I decluttered (and built some shelves, instant gratification!). I resolved to be their biggest fan. I decided meals would be as simple as possible (less stress!). I am now constantly finding ways to streamline everything so that I can give more to the kids.
And every night, even despite my annoyance with them (if any), we would say our night prayers, and we would be thankful for all the wonderful things that happened that day, as well as all their good qualities for the day, and ask for assistance in where they could improve. They seemed to love it and soon were looking forward to saying our night prayers!
I often try to recall what I read in Professor Zhou Hong’s Appreciating Your Child – that parents are like farmers. We sow the seeds and tend to them with water and soil, and we gently persuade them to grow in the way we would like to see them grow. We can do our best to make sure they are healthy in order to survive pests and disease, while keeping an eye out for such invasion. We can’t rush their growth, and we can’t make basil grow into mint or vice versa.
Life is full of ups and downs, and being a parent even more so. But if you ever feel like quitting this mothering job, wonder where the job satisfaction is, feel frustrated or suffocated, I cannot tell you what to do. But I wish you well and hope you get your mojo back soon.