About growing up and letting go

I watched as father and daughter disappeared into the sandy distance on the back of this horse named Golden. (We were enjoying our last evening at Golden Sands, Batu Ferringhi Beach, Penang.)

It was a beautiful moment to behold.

There and then I realised that the kids are growing up sooner than I know. And there will come a time when they would want to ride on a horse by themselves, and travel to places far and wide.

That regardless of how much I long to be by their side, I will have to let them go. They will need to forge their own path, and seek their own adventures. And I will need to set aside my motherly fears and worries and release them to be where God wants them to be.

I am shaking as I type this.

I know we will struggle. Don’t we as parents hope and pray for the good life, complete with picture-perfect moments, for our children?

It’s the reason why we stress over getting a place in a reputable primary school.

It’s the reason why we want our kids to learn and grow, and reach their fullest potential.

It’s the reason why we willingly spend our time and resources to research, buy and cook the most wholesome foods for them to eat.

It’s not that we have a herd mentality, or that we just can’t lose out. It’s just that we want the best for them…the best that we have to give.

But even as we do our best for them, I’m reminded that if we trust God, and entrust them to Him, they will be receiving His best and His best is definitely, infinitely, better than our best.

As the kids grow, and reach new milestones in life…

  • I pray that we’ll find the courage and conviction to let go, bit by bit at the right stage.
  • I pray that we will not be afraid of allowing them to go through setbacks, and pick up important life lessons they need to learn, such as coping with mistakes. That by falling down and getting up, they will learn resilience, perseverance, and to make wise choices.
  • I pray that we will walk this parenting journey with faith, and not fear.
  • I pray we will not wish for a safe, sheltered life for our kids, but rather lives that are filled with purpose, adventure and worthy pursuits.

Meanwhile, I’m gonna wish that time would move a tad slower for all of us. And I’m going to relish their childhood, collect precious memories, and equip the kids with wisdom and values that will be a strong foundation for life.

What are your thoughts about seeing your children grow up?

Counting my blessings at pregnancy week 22

They say that gratefulness is the key to happiness.

Here are the little blessings I’m grateful for this week.

1) Detailed scan @ 22 weeks

I went for my detailed scan last week. Because I chose not to do the Oscar test, the detailed scan is like a first detailed assessment of the baby, and I was praying that it wouldn’t show up any abnormalities or points for concern.

Thankfully, all went well. And the scanologist (or whatever you call the person doing the scan) even mentioned that baby was growing very well and was on the higher percentile for its stage of growth.

Well, it turned out that they got my edd wrong, and I’m about a week further into my pregnancy than she thought, which would bring the measurements closer to mid-range. Anyway the gynae clarified that, and we’re just happy that all is well with baby!

Also glad to bring home this close-up shot of baby dozing comfortably in the womb. (His arms tucked under his cheek.) The kids were all excited and going, “I wanna see baby!”

2) Freedom from UTI

Last week marked the last of my UTI woes. You might be wondering how come it took so long to heal? Doesn’t it normally clear up with antibiotics?

Apparently my case was a little abnormal. But whatever the case, I’m thankful that the bleeding and abdominal pains are over. And I’m doing all I can to stay clear and healthy for the remaining four months of pregnancy. (Mainly upping my daily dose of probiotics from yoghurt, miso and kimchi, taking more raw vegetables and fruits, and cutting down on sweet treats and processed stuff like bread.)

3) JJ’s new milestones
He’s recently learnt to wear his own slippers. It has an elastic band at the back and he’s able to now pull the band up behind his ankle and wriggle his toes into the right position. He’s also picking up lots of new words and phrases from his big sister.

Perhaps more importantly, he’s starting to show a growing desire to want to please us and is eager to be helpful whenever help is called upon. I’m ever so glad for these sunshine moments because it shows me a glimpse of who he can be, who he is capable of becoming, rather than just focusing on the negative — you know, the tantrums that are of course still rearing their head from time to time.

He is also able to gurgle his mouth after brushing his teeth now. Still we probably won’t be transitioning from the baby-safe toothpaste until he’s well into his third or fourth year.

On my wishlist is to be able to get him to sit on the potty, something he’s been quite resistant to this past year. Well one step at a time I guess…For now, we’re enjoying his sunshine smiles and cheeky contagious laughter. 🙂

4) Exercise time at the pool – I’ve been making swim dates with my girlfriends and I must say, without the kids in tow, I’m relishing the freedom to exercise and relax. I know now that I need to schedule this regularly, not just to improve the state of my health, but also to have some space to myself, to breathe and just be with good friends.

When I take the time to count my blessings, it’s like putting on a different lens. Life looks good from here…

What are you thankful for this week?

Linking up with Mum in the Making’s Grateful Gatherings.

 

Diary of a mum with HFMD

Some of you may know that both JJ and I were down with HFMD over the past 2 weeks…We’re both alive and well now. Having gone through 10 days of pain, I think I can better empathise with any child going through HFMD. If it’s already so difficult to endure as an adult, what more a young child?

I also know how I’ve taken for granted the little everyday things like enjoying a meal, and talking normally (not like a lisping snail). This thing we call health. We only miss it when we lose it, isn’t it?

Here’s an account of my HFMD days…and some lessons that I learnt from it.

~~~~~~

Day 01:

  • Feverish and worried. Oh no could this really be it? Fever persists through the day. I take panadol and rest. First signs of a sore throat.

JJ’s HFMD is at day 04 (counting from the day that his fever started) and crankiness and pain is at its peak. He’s been rejecting milk, and only eating oats, drinking honey, diluted juice, and the fruit juice popsicles I made for him.

Day 02:

  • As the day went by, the fever subsided. By evening, red spots have started to appear on my finger tips. Suspicions confirmed. Oh no…

Little boy is taking some small meals now, consisting mainly of porridge or soupy stuff. He can’t take his usual fruits because they tend to sting the ulcers.

Day 03:

  • Throat is “pain pain” today. I see the doctor and am given 10 days MC, and medication for relief of inflammation, swelling and pain (all for the throat).
  • Am told I am now a statistic because it’s rare for adults to catch HFMD. Mainly because we tend to be exposed to the virus before and also because it’s mostly spread child-to-child (as adults know how to keep their “healthy” distance). Obviously I failed somewhere along the way.
  • Some itchy spots on arms and legs (could be hives?).
  • Also experience tingly sensation on the blisters on my hands, making simple chores like hanging clothes out to dry a sometimes painful task when the wrong “button” is pressed.
  • I go to bed with painful soles, like someone just rubbed chilli padi on them. I say a prayer and feel like crying.

JJ has started to take some strawberries, which is a good sign of the healing progress because the acidity of strawberries would have caused the ulcers to flare.

Day 04:

  • Woke at 5.30am feeling like my throat was on fire. Self-medicated with a teaspoon of Manuka and a drop of thieves essential oil, and tried to fall back to sleep.
  • I rest more while daddy entertains the kids. We all miss church today.
  • Meals consist of pork/fish porridge, cooked/bought. I can’t eat/drink anything hot because my throat is still on fire. Swallowing is a chore and I’m craving for a Magnum.
  • Because the blisters on the feet are more painful now, I try to minimise the amount of time I spend with only one foot on the ground, so as to reduce the pressure on the sores. I look a bit like a penguin with her underpants on fire.
  • Was teary all evening because the throat was so painful. I asked daddy and the kids to pray again, and after an hour or so, the pain went away. I realised it could be ulcers in the throat, because of the high intensity pain that comes and goes throughout the day.
  • The Magnum was a BIG mistake. I thought it would numb the pain but Nooo, the milk content stung the ulcers instead. I almost passed out on my dining table. (I found out separately from the doctor that it’s not always the case that ice-cream helps. At first contact, it always stings, and as it works to numb the sores, it starts to feel better. At the end of it, there could also be a “rebound pain.” )

Little boy’s better since yesterday (day 06 for him) and less episodes of “pain-pain” cries. But we still have our hands full because he can’t fully communicate what he wants. And when that happens, he really loses it…

Day 05: 

  • Woke up to a brand new day with the same ol’ pain. I wish this stupid virus would self-destruct and die.
  • I gargle my mouth with an antimicrobial mouthwash, in a bid to avoid further ulcers from developing. I also down Manuka honey, avoid food and drinks that are too hot, and fruits / juices / milk because these can really sting.
  • The ipoh horfun (with less sauce) seems to work, some stings here and there but bearable.
  • When night came, my throat started to hurt really badly again. I couldn’t eat what my mum cooked, not even just rice and soup, so hubby made some cold soba for supper. I tried to down them as best I could. *gulp*

On the bright side, JJ is completely well, and happy as a lark on his day 07. Seeing him happy makes me feel a little better…There is hope.

Day 06:

  • I start the day jumping off my bed and onto my computer because of some urgent work. (Well at least, I didn’t start my day thinking about the pain.)
  • I swallow soft boiled eggs for breakfast, with some wincing and flinching. Plus some fish ball kuey teow. And then some fish mee sua for lunch. As you can see, this virus has taken away my joy of eating but it has done nothing to curb my appetite. (Which is like a double whammy if you really think about it.)
  • Hubby came home early to spend some time with me, even though there really wasn’t much he could do except for pray and make me honey drinks. When the pain got worse and I was lying in bed, he was there right beside me, just keeping me company. Days like these, I wonder what I would do without him…

Day 07:

  • Woke up to pain, again. I make a doctor’s appointment to see what exactly is going on, since I thought I would at least be feeling better by now. I find out that the ulcers were located at the base of my throat, right where the swallowing action takes place, and that is the reason for my pain.
  • The good news? That this too shall pass.
  • The bad? That there’s nothing I can do to ease the pain, except pop painkillers.
  • I learnt today the most comfortable food is still kuey teow soup or mee sua. A little warm is okay, just not too hot. I even managed to sip down some teh-si today. I asked for less hot, and let it sit while I read a book. Oh bliss…
  • I also did some work and some writing. It helps to keep my mind off things.

Day 08:

  • Good morning, pain. Go away already. I’m tired of seeing you here! (Okay, somehow that made me feel better.)
  • My stomach’s rumbling. I’ve been surviving on so little food, I’m probably losing weight. I guess that’s the good part.
  • I’m starting to feel nauseous, not sure if it’s due to the swallowing of saliva and air. I just can’t wait for all this to be over.
  • Terribly bored at home and distracting myself with a good book, and have had some quiet moments through the day. I can’t be grateful enough to mum and godmother for being around to help with the kids…

Day 09:

  • The pain is noticeably less, but nonetheless still there.
  • Found out that almond milk actually does not cause ANY pain. Oh jubilee! (My friend bought almond powder for me a few weeks back and now it’s come in handy. Suitable for all ages, and apparently quite nutritious too.)
  • At the end of the day, I realise that I no longer need the painkillers, and the peak of the pain has lost its blunt edge. Looking forward to a turnaround, finally!

Day 10:

  • I wake up feeling pretty much close to normal, barring the existence of an ulcer on my tongue.
  • I feel like popping champagne, and stuffing chocolate cake down my throat. Instead we head over to a nearby park and have a picnic with the kids.
  • I’m actually tucking into my meals for the first time in 10 days. The residual ulcer on my tongue feels stingy at times, but nothing like the pain from the past few days. I’m so glad this is over. So, so glad…

 ~~~~~~

Sometimes when illness or calamity strikes, it’s easy to get angry and lash out at others or God, and ask, “Why? Why?” Though it feels like God is silent amidst the pain, the faith that is in you tells you otherwise — that He is indeed very present and also by your side.

Then I came across this poem, and it helped me to see something new:

I asked God for strength, that I might achieve.
I was made weak, that I might learn humbly to obey.

I asked God for health, that I might do greater things.
I was given infirmity, that I might do the better things.

I asked for riches, that I might be happy.
I was given poverty, that I might be wise.

I asked for power, that I might have the praise of men.
I was given weakness, that I might feel the need of God.

I asked for all things, that I might enjoy life.
I was given life, that I might enjoy all things.

I got nothing that I asked for, but everything I had hoped for.
Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered.

I am among all men most richly blessed.

~ author unknown ~

Put worry and anxiety back where they belong

My church recently organised a prayer journey. It was a temporary space set up at the church carpark with air-conditioning and carefully-arranged decor and seating to facilitate this journey of reflection and time with God.

The first thing we had to do when we stepped in was…

1) Capture all our worries, fears and anxious thoughts on paper.

2) Tear the paper up.

Such a simple act, and yet so necessary. Too often we allow our negative and anxious thoughts to prevent us from coming to God fully and in child-like trust.

When we come to God burdened with our problems and worries, we fail to really acknowledge (in mind and in heart) his goodness and love. Thus we leave His presence unchanged and still worried.

Because of this simple act of faith, I was allowed to lay my burdens at His feet…putting them back at the place where they belong.

As a result, I emerged from the prayer space lighter, and feeling strengthened. Like my hope was topped up afresh.

I think I need to do this regularly. Perhaps you too? 🙂

10 surefire ways to lose your joy

I was doing my devotion one Sunday, and came across this devotional passage on how to lose your joy. It spoke about prayerlessness, fear, self-centredness, focusing on circumstances, as some of the main culprits and joy-stealers. It also listed two of the biggest culprits: dissatisfaction and ingratitude.

It made me think. About the different ways that I allow everyday frustrations to block my joy-sensors and overwhelm me with a sense of dread and anger.

Here are my 10 surefire ways to lose your joy as a mum.

1) Compare yourself with other mums, especially those who are thinner, prettier, younger, etc etc.

2) Desire what other mums have that you don’t.

3) Don’t be thankful for the things you have. Focus instead on what you do not have. (And grumble about it to your spouse daily.)

4) Be quick to anger when your kids act up or throw tantrums.

5) Be quick to anger when your hubby forgets to do something that he promised to do.

6) Keep worrying about the future. Keep mulling over your anxieties and fears about what will happen IF… Let your fears paralyse you from doing what you really want to do.

7) Dig up the past. When you speak to your kids, use sentences that begin with “When I was your age…” and keep bringing up past grudges to use against your hubby and put him on a guilt trip.

8) Stop playing with your kids. Make sure that every minute of their time is “well-utilised”. If not, enrol them in some enrichment class or tuition or sport. (Keep telling them they need to get ahead because we “live in such a competitive society”.)

9) Compare your child to everybody else’s kid in every single way (grades, height, weight, looks). Make your child (and yourself) miserable by telling him how much he does not measure up.

10) Focus on every negative thought, every tough circumstance you find yourself in, and keep dwelling on it. Remember that your glass is always half empty.

Heh, I know I kid. But I think to some extent, we tend to fall into the trap of such negative, joy-stealing habits once in a while. If we are able to consciously and conscientiously do the opposite of all of the above, I think we’ll cope much better with life’s plentiful stresses and challenges. Wouldn’t you agree?

What are your biggest joy-stealers?

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