Category Archives: motherhood

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.

Perfect in our imperfections

This year, B (mostly) ran his first 800m race at the 2015 Cold Storage Kids Run.  Seeing him press on despite feeling hot and tired made me proud – and reminded me to persevere and not give up despite how we feel sometimes. Motherhood is kinda like that, isn’t it?!

We're almost there, B!
We’re almost there, B!

This year marks our fourth Mothers’ Day. Every time, I can’t help but thank God (again!) for B who made me a mother, and was the catalyst for this Finally Mama blog.  I’m all too aware of my imperfections as a mom but am glad that since I made my 2015 Chinese New Year resolutions, I’ve been able to find greater contentment this year at working full time, supporting CRIB, and being a mom to (just) one – adorable, amazing, appreciative, and at times, aggravating – 3.5 year old kid.

Thanks to B’s teachers and dad, I received some nice (surprise!) dedications this year:

Presenting me with my letter
Presenting me with my special letter
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with DIY coupons to redeem and art for Mother’s Day

What was inside was so simple yet awesome in its effort. B’s drawing and colouring isn’t great at this age. I know he wants to write and colour better, but I’ve been trying not to “correct” his grip and control, but rather let him keep scribbling, drawing, painting, clay and play doughing et al.  So, it touched me to see him try to write his name, illustrate each “coupon” accordingly (with his smiley faces) and colour the flower as best he could.

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Coincidentally on Mother’s Day, I also started to volunteer once a month at his Sunday School N2 class.  Many (including hubby) would argue that my schedule is packed as it is!  But I wanted to play a bigger part in his faith journey, support the staff that put in so much effort to manage the kids while we are free to attend the main service, and also spend more moments with him on a weekend, especially on weekdays when I’m away.

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I’m not perfect, but I’m in the “World’s Best Mom” to someone 🙂

Last but not least, this year, I also wanted B to appreciate not just mama but his grandma, as both grandparents have stepped up this year to help with chauffeuring and childminding. Daddy took B to a nearby nursery where he chose fresh carnations for each of us “moms” – mama, ama and nainai.

Ultimately, what makes most happy as a mom are the spontaneous expressions of love and honest remarks that affirm the bond B and I have.  Just as we love our kids through the ups and downs, so too do they love us despite our imperfections.  And although we “older and wiser” adults should guide them as they grow, our kids often teach us wonderful lessons too – like ending a race well, no matter how tough the journey can be sometimes.

This post is part of the “Dear Mummy” blog train, a series of letters and dedications from our kids to moms.  

Next up is Winnie, who blogs at Toddly Mummy, where she shares her thoughts on parenting, and fun moments from their home learning sessions and outdoor adventures. She sometimes share about her favourite food too, along with occasional side orders of stuff that she finds useful as a busy mum.

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Time is precious, waste it wisely

This month, I have 3 weeks of no business travel. Hooray!  His teachers and my parents tell me that he’s thriving – at nursery and at home, even when I’m away. But when I’m back, B has definitely become more demanding of me, my attention and time. I find his worst behaviours tend to get triggered on evenings when I’m the most tired too. In those moments, I’m learning that  empathy, consistent TLC with a dash of discipline (when appropriate), and some basic psychology (choices, counting down, consequences) goes a long way. While days at work remain focused and full, I’ve been trying to carve out precious time with the kiddo every day. This week, instead of rushing to pick him up after work and head back for our regular home-cooked dinner, we detoured to Clarke Quay. We shared a Hokkaido ice-cream and watched the river boats chug by, B scooted while I attempted to window shop, and we had a later than usual dinner with daddy near his office by the river. FullSizeRender While I have less time to plan those projects and outings which B and I enjoy, I find that simple spontaneous activities together can fill that need B has for mama time, which has typically evolved around art and craft, books and music. This week, after countless volcano eruptions and floods, I suggested to see what happens next. So we cleaned and dried our clay models, rolled and flattened them like play dough. B had fun figuring out how to spell “VOLCANO” and “FLOOD”; find and make the clay letters, and later created his version of what the ground would look after a natural disaster – with animal tracks and dead trees. He was also overjoyed to receive some dino and volcano stickers from a friend at school – everything just came together nicely 🙂 The best part? These at-home activities didn’t take much time or money, just some hands-on investment and imagination. Yet IMO, they pay off far more than classes or toys. IMG_2600 A mom friend recently asked me if I felt guilty working full time.  I’ll always remain an engaged parent regardless what the circumstances are.  I didn’t feel guilty leaving the corporate world back when B was 6 months old, which led me to start up CRIB with some awesome ladies. I don’t feel guilty today with my commitments at full time work either. I think perhaps a big reason is that I’ve had the benefit of choice – and I chose to do what felt right, and what I was passionate about at that time. Honestly, having been a full time mom, flexi mompreneur, and working mom, I must say, the grass always seems greener!  Working full time has its ups and downs, like days such as these: I really need to work todayBut rather than guilt, let’s focus on making the most out of the time we have today. After all, time is precious. Waste it wisely. For updates, reviews and more, 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

For updates, reviews and more, like me at Finally Mama on Facebook.

Motherhood across generations: Compare less, celebrate more

A friend recently asked why we seemingly struggle to raise our kids while our moms raised larger families without help from hubbies or domestic helpers. I was typing out my reply along the lines of “Different times, different approaches, different expectations” when I came across this DDB Life Style Study. This got me thinking why today’s moms often feel they “have to” and “need to” be different from their own moms, and hence, our greater perceived struggle.

We have to as families living in a highly materialistic society in the post women’s movement era.  Modern women are wired to aspire for equality with men at work AND excel at home. In a way, this has led to the imagery of today’s woman as both domestic goddess and corporate high flyer.  This is an impossible task without a corresponding social and institutional change, leaving many moms frustrated with their identity and choice of career – whether you are a stay at home mom (this label is really quite a misnomer), work full time, or somewhere in between like me. It’s also the curse of our 21st century that “the more we have, the more we want” and the technology that boosts productivity has also broken down the walls between work and home. For better or worse, we grew up wanting to do more and better than our own moms (those born pre-1960s). The breadwinner(s) today feel a constant pressure to improve their social standing, to rise above. The irony is our moms had less pressure to achieve this “feminist” ideal and lived in an economy with a simpler, less dispersed, standard of living. As a result, they derived more joy from parenting and spending time with their kids.

Although motherhood brings joy, it is not without its challenges. Millennial moms are significantly more likely than Boomer moms (22% v. 11%) and Gen X moms (22% v. 15%) to view parenthood as a real burden. The toll motherhood exacts on Millennial moms is even more apparent when considering how they view time spent with their children. 34% of Millennial moms say that if they had to stay home with their kids day after day they would lose their minds, while only 21% of Gen X and 18% of Boomer moms feel this way.*

We need to so that our kids will not just survive but thrive with smaller families and a “bigger” world. Women today tend to have children later, resulting in fewer siblings to help out at home (and also to take care of their own parents one day). Add to that the lack of grandparents due to death, divorce, separation, etc. or aging grandparents who also need caretaking during your children’s early years. The tighter family unit and close-knit communities in the past have also expanded to a wide diaspora due to the search for a better “life” – overseas study, work opportunities, cross-cultural marriages, etc. With less support from traditional sources, moms today look for help from their spouses, or outsource to nannies and child care centers. While this is happening at the home front, our world is also gaining complexity and losing boundaries, leading to higher expectations and greater possibilities, higher cost of living and greater pressure to succeed at school and work. To paraphrase Voltaire: With greater knowledge, comes greater responsibility. Today’s moms are more educated and/or aware, and feel this responsibility towards their children keenly.

Millennial moms, more so than their Gen X and Boomer counterparts, want to make certain their parenting efforts aren’t for naught. 61% of Millennial moms say they do whatever they can to make sure their children get preferential treatment, whereas only 46% of Gen X and 44% of Boomer moms do the same.*

There’s a saying: “Mothers and daughters become closer when daughters become mothers.” For all the differences we face, the reality is that every mom is doing the best they can given their situation and understanding. So let’s NOT compare one generation with the next, or even one mom with another. Let’s NOT say “You have it easy!” or “You don’t understand!” But rather, celebrate and affirm the unique bond that is motherhood. Happy Mothers’ Day!

Image*Generational guide: Millenial (1980s through 2000s), Gen X (1960s to the early 1980s), Boomers (mid 1940s to early 1960s)

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Month 3 Week 1: 3 month upgrades

The “fourth” trimester brought along several upgrades. Some were unexpected, but each contributed to give us fuller hearts, a livelier home, and an increasingly alert and active baby boy.  To be honest, motherhood is very much a work-in-progress but I do feel more confident and less anxious with B each passing day.

Mommy lessons:

  1. Healthy sleep habits, happy child … and family too: B’s nap and sleep time were disrupted by all the Chinese New Year activity. Unfortunately, that brought back the overtired fussy baby (who we thought we’d literally put to bed by week 6) who needs to be rocked to sleep.  After several exhausting days, we bought a bouncer (the Baby Bjorn Babysitter Balance Air – a true Godsend!) and I introduced a sleep schedule: 7/8a wake up, 3 naps (9/10a, after the mid-day feed, 5/6p) leading into his 9/10p “longer bedtime” before the day starts again at dawn. It isn’t easy to enforce this with the hubby who comes home late and B’s many caregivers and visitors but I’m determined to give him the 15 hours sleep needed for his age
  2. Tummy time is good for you, boy: B hates to exercise (who does?!) and makes me look like a slavedriver when others are around to witness his complaints and whimpers. What does mama do? Sneak in playmat time when the critics aren’t around, carry/burp him head-over-shoulder and allow daytime naps on his tummy (supervised of course). It’s paid off – his neck is stronger, the flat spots (!) on the back of his head get a breather … plus, I don’t seem so evil anymore! 
  3. One unexpected “upgrade”: I am inadvertently on Plan B aka stay-at-home mom until I return to work again (or continue if baby #2 comes along).  Plan A was to return to work after my four-month maternity leave (i.e. end of February) and we had scoped out infant care centers to accomodate that. However, recent personal and office developments led us down a different path. When I tendered at work last week, I felt really conflicted — guilty for wanting to work and guilty for choosing not to. It’ll take time to get used to saying “I’m a stay-at-home mom” vs “I work as X at Y” but I know that this opportunity, however brief, is a blessing and B will be the better for it.  No regrets.

Baby milestones:

  1. Sleeping “through the night:” About two weeks ago (from week 11 onwards), B started regularly skipping one of his night feeds, i.e. waking up just once for a feed between 8p and 8a. As I’m still breastfeeding, I kept waking up every 4-5 hours to express and check on him but eventually realised that he’s REALLY sleeping ~7 hours straight overnight (or at least can quietly self-soothe). What bliss!  I’m enjoying these extra hours of rest after months of sleep deprivation.  Pray for no relapses and longer night sleep.
  2. Physical development:  B does mini push ups, moves his head side to side with greater ease (though he still favours one side more), opens up and clasps his fingers together, reaches for, grips and shakes his rattles, blankie, crib mobile, kick-and-play piano, books, mommy’s T-shirt, etc… and his all-time-favourite – sucks his fist (and thumb).  He briefly sits upright when propped up and can roll over while supported too. 
  3. Social development:  B really enjoys his 1-1 time of chatting, storytelling and singing. He smiles socially, pouts and chuckles on occasion (i.e. when playing peek-a-boo or funny faces) and imitates sticking his tongue out. He vocalises different combination vowels and different tones now and has new distinct  “babbles” when he’s hungry, tired, angry, bored, etc.
  4. New year, new things: We had to upgrade him to a convertible cot bed earlier (thanks, 爷爷) after he got stuck in his crib at night for the umpteenth time. He’s also outgrown his moses basket, newborn/0-3 month diapers, mits, booties, socks and vests. We’ve now switched over to 3-6 month and even some 6-12 month clothes, and passed the rest on to other expectant mom friends.  As for swaddling, forget it!  B is too active — and no amount of wrapping can keep him cosy and warm.  We’ve started using sleeping bags instead and they work like a dream.

For updates, reviews and more, like me at Finally Mama on Facebook.