Category Archives: love

Learning to swim, learning to love

Last month, B swam a few proper strokes with his face down and holding his breath in the water. No big deal, right?  Yet something this trivial was a breakthrough after years of stops and starts.

B loved water since young, and I was so inspired by this book, I tried to follow it but failed miserably. Our swim time together was constantly interrupted with my string of early miscarriages, full time work, frequent travel, and lack of “substitutes” – aka the grandparents who also faced several health setbacks.  That led to a 1.5 year hiatus where B lost water confidence and regressed to saying “I can’t swim,” “don’t want to wet my face” and “too scared.” At parties, B’s friends would dive in pools and take big water slides, and he’d feel left out… So this year, we decided to try again. I intentionally planned more water play, bath tub or pool time together, and hubby signed them both up for Saturday morning class, which proved great 1-on-1 time to bond too.  There were happy tears when he passed his latest Duckie level last month, and is transitioning to learn freestyle and breaststroke – swimming on his own!

B’s journey to learn to swim made me think about my journey to learn to love in our marriage. As we celebrate our 11th wedding anniversary today, I’m reminded how tough marriage is when you bring two imperfect people together in an imperfect world. We start highly motivated with great intentions and textbook ambitions but life’s ups and downs get in the way. We tend to compare with others, only to feel shortchanged or discouraged. We lose faith and confidence, think and eventually say negative things. We’re tempted to quit after all the pit stops and detours as the effort seems too time consuming, emotionally draining, isolating – and too often, not worth it.

But the breakthrough comes when we presevere. Be it a challenging milestone or moments in marriage, don’t give up for it’s never too late to turn things around.

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Nothing says it better than your kid

I tried this “how well do you know mom” interview with B, and his honest and hilarious answers melted my heart today.

My mommy’s name is Mei
She is 19 years old
Mom and I like to paint and play
Mom likes to say I love you
My mom really loves me
She likes to eat ice kacang
She likes to drink tea
My mom’s job is to help me
If she had time, she would like to play with me
Mom is really good at typing
If I could go anywhere in the world with her, we would take roller coasters in Japan
I love my mom because she loves me

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I also had a flashback to the past when us CRIB founders were interviewed for a Mother’s Day feature last year. Here’s the coverage 🙂

Happy Mother’s Day to all moms – you are indispensable super women!  And for those trying to conceive and/or moms to be, take care of yourselves, and while we trust and hope for a future to come, don’t neglect to live fully in the now.  Hugs.

For updates, reviews and more, follow Finally Mama on Facebook and Instagram.

Joy. Peace. Hope. Love.

My annual leave starts this week. I look forward to disconnect (as much as I can!) from the day-to-day hecticness, and reconnect with who and what matters the most to me.

“LOVE makes our friends a little dearer, 
JOY makes our hearts a little lighter, 
FAITH makes our path a little clearer, 
HOPE makes our lives a little brighter, 
PEACE brings us all a little nearer.”  

JOY: While passing through US airport immigration last week, I flashed a smile to the duty officer, relieved to be done with my 15+ hour flight. I was taken aback when he aggressively challenged me “Why did I smile? Was I not taking him seriously? I can decide to let you in this country, or not!” How do we remain joyful in a world filled with suspicion, superficiality and self-centredness?  B may be little, but he is one of my biggest sources of joy as he reminds me to keep a cheerful disposition, and don’t let negative moments or thoughts ruin your day.  Christmas is a time to make spirits bright, to laugh and sing, just like this song says!

PEACE: As I spend more time than ever with my parents in their golden years, I’ve been reflecting on the peace of mind that only family and community can offer, and also the inner peace that comes when you care for and center yourself.  It could be as simple as sneaking in some self-reflection, reading a devotional like this or this, expressing gratitude and praying each day.  For busy bees like myself,  Christmas is a time to place the important ahead of the urgent for a change.  Let’s look in, up and outwards – and gain perspective and a measure of peace as we do that.

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A family that holidays together, stays together
Developing peace of mind by staying mentally and physically fit

HOPE: Harsh words, unexpected news, broken promises, lack of trust from others or self-confidence are difficult issues to deal with. In those moments, I’m encouraged by how my siblings stand by each other through life’s ups and downs.  Two weeks back, I placed a tearful call to my sis after a particularly rough day, and she gave me exactly what I needed – a listening ear and affirmation.  We pay her a visit when things come up, and don’t let her be overwhelmed alone.  I also look forward to catch up with my brother and his family everytime I’m in the US for work. For me, Christmas is a time to cultivate those relationships and build a faith that give us assurance of things hoped for, and the conviction of things not seen.

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Bonding over design and engineering 🙂
Aunty and her pumpkin 🙂

LOVE: I’ve been tugged in many directions by my various commitments this year, and often felt that I’m running on empty with no reserves left to give. As we prepare our hearts and our homes for Christmas, I’m thankful for the man who walks beside me in this journey of love. It’s not been easy, as we are both so imperfect. I appreciate his support to let me refuel on me-time and the things I’m passionate about – causes, family, good friends and new discoveries.

Christmas playdate
Christmas playdate
No, mama isn't kissing Santa Claus
Sorry Santa, mama ain’t kissing you

Wherever you are this season, here’s wishing you a blessed Christmas filled with joy, peace, hope and love. Do share with us how you’re celebrating this season and holidays too as we continue this blog train on:

PrayerFull Mum

Next up is Valerie:

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At Mums In Faith, she shares her passion for books with other mums through a convenient book-lending service and reviews on good Christian resources. She also writes articles giving an encouraging Christian perspective on issues pertinent to modern-day mums. Together with her co-founder Danessa, she hopes to build a vibrant community of Christian mums who will love and pray for each other, providing the support we all need as fellow warriors in faith.

For more updates and reviews, follow Finally Mama on Facebook and Instagram.

Her Hands

To my mom, my son, and all mamas this Mothers’ Day:

Her hands held me gently from the day I took my first breath.
Her hands helped to guide me as I took my first step.
Her hands held me close when the tears would start to fall.
Her hands were quick to show me that she would take care of it all.
Her hands were there to brush my hair, or straighten a wayward bow.
Her hands were often there to comfort the hurts that didn’t always show.
Her hands helped hold the stars in place, and encouraged me to reach.
Her hands would clap and cheer and praise
when I captured them at length.
Her hands would also push me, though not down or in harms way.
Her hands would punctuate the words, just do what I say.
Her hands sometimes had to discipline, to help bend this young tree.
Her hands would shape and mold me into all she knew I could be.
Her hands are now twisting with age and years of work,

Her hand now needs my gentle touch to rub away the hurt.
Her hands are more beautiful than anything can be.
Her hands are the reason I am me.

Author: Maggie Pittman

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How deep and how wide is your love?

Besides his own name, another word B likes to spontaneously spell is “L-O-V-E … Love!” So I figured Valentines Day was a good reason to look at LOVE as we apply fruits of the spirit at home. Here’s B’s “Thumbody loves you” V-day craft to kick off the theme 🙂

1) Say and show it often. We always wish each other “晚安,我爱你,明天见” (“Good night, I love you, see you tomorrow”) every night. When dad is away for long, we record him a video that usually ends with a flying kiss! Although I wasn’t raised like this with my typical Asian parents, I don’t hesitate kissing, hugging and praising B and find that he soaks it up like a sponge. Rather than being spoiled (as some of the older generation may caution), I find that he becomes more assured and affectionate in return, which has helped during his frequent separation anxiety phases. In the book “The Five Love Languages of Children” the authors encourage parents to keep your child’s emotional tank full, use all five languages (physical touch, words of affirmation, quality time, gifts, acts of service), and pay attention to their behaviour as it often tells you which one speaks the loudest to them. Usually these preferences emerge around 3-4 years on.

2) Love obeys and forgives. We shouldn’t continue doing wrong things and we shouldn’t stay angry with others. Whenever B acts up, I make it a point to look him in the eye and state “Stop. That hurt mama/your friend, made us feel angry/sad”. I’ll then ask him “Was that wrong or right?” When he sees that this is serious and acknowledges “B is wrong. I am sorry,” I’ll say “It’s OK. But don’t do it again!” Of course, sometimes he gets rather cheeky and says “B is wrong, right?” What you say or do must match what’s in your heart. The Chinese character for forgiveness – 恕 (shu) incorporates a heart below a woman and a mouth. When we forgive others with words from our heart, we learn to put others before ourselves, practicing love and “human-heartedness.”

3) Love is selfless. Kids learn by imitation so take every opportunity to demonstrate selflessness. Evidently, tots do a lot of proto-sharing – i.e. they may be willing to show what they hold to others but won’t quite let go (sound familiar?). It’s a big step, so reinforce and reward the act. When B’s friends come by, it’s also quite common to see ALL the boys want the exact same double decker bus (or train) that one of them develops a liking for. When potential tantrums/fights come up, try to offer duplicates or alternatives, and if that doesn’t work, keep the item-in-question and engage them in a fun group project. It’s key to NOT punish your tot at this age for not sharing. Let him know your feelings but don’t make a big deal out of it. They’ll get there and may surprise you one day! Case in point: I’ve been feeling quite down and worn out as everyone was sick or away again, on top of our ongoing failure to conceive #2 despite trying everything we can think of. There’s also been days when I’ve lost my temper and somehow, B knows the best way to diffuse it – by kissing, hugging me and saying “Mama, be happy… So happy” Toddlers may be the most self-centered beings at times, yet their empathy and ability to love others amazes me. They DO listen, share and care!

4) Love and forgive others just as God loves and has forgiven us (Ephesians 4:32, 1 Colossians 13). Some of our favourite songs to reinforce:
– “Jesus Loves Me”: Our first bible song together, B used to fall asleep to this
– “Whisper”: A lovely song that teaches kids to say “I love you” to parents and to Jesus in a soft voice 🙂 I couldn’t find a video but the lyrics are included below

– “Deep and Wide”: God’s love is like the ocean, never-ending, always forgiving
– Barney’s “I Love You” original and this adapted version: I forgive you, you forgive me. We forgive each other, can’t you see? With a great big hug, and a kiss from me to you, won’t you join us, and forgive too?

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