Finding joy in parenting (and keeping it)

I found this post-it stuck to my wardrobe door when I woke up on Sunday. It reminded me of the joys of motherhood all over again.

mother's day note

It spoke to me about my child’s heart, simply because he wrote it spontaneously and secretly. (This coming from my highly sensitive kid whom I complain about to friends as he is such a tough strong-willed child.)

I distinctly remember him asking me the day before how to spell “mother” but I didn’t notice what he was scurrying off to do.

Things are difficult at times on the parenting front and our hearts get easily burdened by worries, fears and disappointments.

I do experience my fair share of those, but I realise they weigh us down and prevent us from noticing and enjoying the good.

We can open our eyes to the good things in our lives, however small, and find joy in the midst of struggle and storms. We have the power to choose joy.

whatever is pure quote

Source

The past few months have been busy. My writing business has grown and stabilized which I’m thankful for. I’ve also been learning more in the educational therapy field I ventured into last year.

In the midst of the bustle, I kinda lost track of my goals for the year.

Some days I feel like a failure – not accomplishing much at work and also not keeping everything together on the home front. I constantly feel I’m running on a treadmill that’s been set at a faster pace that I can handle.

I wonder if I’m doing more harm than good staying home.

I wonder if I’d be more successful as a full time worker (well at least I’d be contributing more to my family’s savings?)

I wonder if I’m spread out too thinly.

(Do you ever have such negative thoughts /doubts running through your head?)

Well, here’s the thing…

When we use the world’s standard of success to measure ourselves, we will inevitably fall short.

But if we know what God has called us to do this season, and we respond with joy, trust, and hope, then we are already blessed.

When we embrace the life that God has given, instead of the one we left behind in the dust, we open the doors to greater blessing and grace.

So I consider the good things God has brought into my life.

  1. The encouragement I receive from my eldest – who seems to have a gift of affirming her dear ol’ mum with kind words and physical affection. She’s always hugging me, and saying sweet things. She’s sensitive to my moods and she knows I get stressed out on some days. (Girls are such a blessing like that!)
  2. The work (both writing and special needs teaching gigs) that I get to be involved with and learn from.
  3. The many little joys of the moment that make up motherhood, from watching the kids play well, and witnessing their little growth and milestones, to celebrating small wins after a period of struggle together.
  4. The sharing and support among girlfriends who are daily learning what it means to give our lives for our young ones, and to surrender ourselves to God.
  5. The love and understanding from the husband, who checks in on me, and allows me to vent or air my frustrations from time to time (okay almost every other day!) He’s a great trouble shooter. Just recently, he sat me down and reminded me of my focus for this year – to help and serve my family.

Oh the circumstances may be the same. Tempers will still flare, words spoken, things broken. But the attitude is different. We can choose to be more forgiving, more gracious in our words, more compassionate to ourselves, when (not if) we fail. It’s not easy, in fact…it is a daily battle.

Even though we’re still struggling to overcome certain difficulties in my child’s behaviour, I know God has a purpose for all this, and that all our struggles will not be in vain.

I know it is in our imperfection and weaknesses that His grace and love shows up.

When you know your struggles have a purpose, your days may not get easier or lighter, but you pull through them anyway. With God’s help.

Whether it’s full-time caring for the family, or working, whatever your hands have found to do, I hope you choose joy, and never let it go.

Open your eyes to see what is pure, lovely and kind.

Keep stress in check, in its place.

Find a community and ask for support when you need it. 

Try out ways to sow peace and fun into your home.

May you find joy and strength, as you cling on to the God of hope.

PS. All these thoughts from a simple post-it note from my boy. It’s funny how God chooses to encourage us. He knows all our cares indeed.

finding joy in parenting

The start of a new journey into primary school

Dear Vera,

You’re going to primary school. The other day at P1 orientation, you looked excited and hopeful as you found a spot in your class, and took in the new surroundings and new faces.

It’ll be a big day, for sure, come January next year. I know you’ll be excited, because this is the attitude you hold towards life. Full of promise, fun and hope; full of learning new things and making new friends.

Full of growing up.

I’m so grateful for you, my dear daughter. You’ve been a wonderful help at home, caring for and helping out your younger brothers when they find themselves stuck. Sometimes you take on the mummy role, which is both funny and exasperating to watch. Funny because you’re actually pretty good at bossing them around. Exasperating because you try to exert an authority which you don’t truly own.

I feel I learn so much gentleness from you; the way you console your brothers when they’re in tears sometimes puts me to shame.

I can’t count the ways that you bring joy and grace into our home – grace, that is the meaning of your name. But I know it, because I’ve received these gifts from you often.

It’s amazing to watch you grow. Such a privilege to be the one to guide you and teach you God’s ways. We recently had the opportunity to serve together for the community, and it gave me just a small glimpse into the future. You will have a big heart for people, and help those around you who are in need – perhaps even through creative ways.

Sometimes when things get stressful at home, I tend to get overwhelmed and sometimes lose my cool. During those times, you just try to listen and nod your head, and do your best to help. That often helps me feel better, and I’m grateful.

Yet, I know you’re just a child – still growing, still learning, continually being moulded by His unseen hands. I have to constantly remind myself not to place too-high expectations on you, not to expect you to be the perfect goody big sister. You are a wonderful one no doubt, but your name is Vera (not big sister) – a little girl who loves to learn and try new things, who loves to take on challenges with a hopeful grin, who loves a bit of drama and crazy-good-fun in her life.

Even though you cross a new milestone into primary school, you’ll still have a long way before you, and I hope you’ll run this race slow and steady, like the tortoise rather than the hare. I pray that God will strengthen your faith and character as the days go by, and that you’ll learn to walk in wisdom and grace all through your learning years (which never stops by the way).

Very often when formal schooling starts, we start to focus on performance, results and external achievements. But I pray that I’ll keep my eyes on what matters – that I’ll focus on your inside, your character, your faith in God.

I pray for His favour to be upon you in the area of friendships too, and that you’ll continue to be a blessing even as you are blessed.

I’ll miss you, my little girl, but I look forward to hearing stories from you when you come home from school each day.

Love,
Mummy

Mums need time out too

Some days I feel overwhelmed.

By the things I’ve got to do, by the kids acting up, by the conflicts I’ve got to manage and resolve. Some days it just gets a little too heavy to bear.

And I start to react.

I start to scream. In my head or out loud.

I start to feel like my world is caving in.

That’s when I know I need to call for time-out.

I’d send an SOS message to the hubby. It’d read something like, “I’m feeling damn crappy, I need to get out of here.”

And (during the moments when I don’t feel out of control) I’d try to communicate to the kids too. “Vera, JJ, mummy is feeling mad. I’m going to go downstairs, get a cup of coffee and calm down.”

That’s the better scenario. Often, I would have screamed and let it all go already.

…I’ve learnt that feeling overwhelmed isn’t necessarily an evil thing.

If we listen to our bodies, it’s signaling to us how it’s doing every day.

You’re tired – get some rest.
Your mind is bogged down by work – relax, go for a walk, write down the things you have to do, and prioritise them.
You’re upset at the kids for not listening to your instructions – see if you can do things differently, instead of saying it louder, use a softer voice to make them pay attention, let them feel the consequence of their actions, rather than keep nagging at them.

Often when I feel overwhelmed, I send out SOS-es to my hubby or girlfriends, asking for prayers.

I share with someone who will listen without judging.

I check my schedule and cut down on things that can wait.

By doing these things, I’m telling myself that I care for ME. I need to take care of my needs and sanity, before I can tackle the rest of my responsibilities.

Most of all, overwhelmed is a big sign, telling me to STOP. Reminding me to sit and find rest at His feet.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed today, take time out, seek Him, and He will give you rest.

(PS. Here’s a line from a song that I’ve been listening to.)

foot of the cross

Dear Mummy: A hopeful letter

Vera wrote this little card for me, upon my request.

dear_mum_card

She always has a knack for hitting the needle on its head.

“I hope you’ll be more patient with JJ” – represents the many times she wishes I’d be more patient, less “shouty” with the boy and more loving and gentle. (I often ask God for help to be more patient too…Guess it’s still work-in-progress.)

“I hope you will bring me out more” – tells me just how long it’s been since we went out on a mummy-daughter date. When I read her words, I felt so sorry for having neglected to spend one-on-one time with her (being caught up with her two younger brothers most of the time).

She even verbally said to me, Mummy, I think it’s been a year! (Okay…kids are fond of exaggerating especially when it comes to time!)

So last weekend, we went on an ice-cream date. And did girly stuff like shop for crafts and knick-knacks. A simple date but we had fun.

~~~~~~~~~~~

Dear Vera,

I wish I could take you out on more dates too (and will definitely work harder to make these happen!) More fun trips to the museum, to parks, to feed the fish at Botanic Gardens, to anywhere that catches our fancy, just as long as we get to spend time together.

You’re growing up too fast. I wish time would slow down for us.

Love you more than you’ll ever know,
Mummy

~~~~~~~~~~~~

This post kicks off the Dear Mummy blog train – a series of dedications and letters from our kids to us, specially for the month of May.

DearMum_300

Tomorrow, be sure to tune it to Lyn’s Dear Mummy post! Lyn Lee blogs at Lil Blue Bottle, where she writes “letters” that are placed in a bottle, cast off into the bluish sea of the world wide web. She is a FTWM to two not-so-little girls, and enjoys scrapbooking.  

k&B

 

Little Lessons: When going to the supermarket feels like a holiday

My girlfriend came over to bless us with dinner one day and after settling her nearly 2-yo daughter, decided to head downstairs to get some groceries.

After about 30 minutes, she came back, radiating with a glow and smiling to herself.

I asked: “Well what did you get?”

Her reply: “I got myself a teh-si and was walking all by myself around NTUC. I feel like a million bucks!”

I smiled, a knowing smile. I knew she was going to enjoy the little escapade all by herself. Even to the humble neighbourhood supermarket. (I’ve been there, and remember feeling the exact same way.) And what’s more, the teh-si at the foodcourt…is to. die. for.

You know you’re a tired mum when a trip to the supermarket starts to resemble a holiday. (There’s a quote that says something to this effect, I’m sure I’ve read it before somewhere.)

It measures up pretty close to uninterrupted toilet time.

But mums, you’re so worth it. Go ahead, have your teh-si and sip it slowly.  Go for a walk around your supermarket too. (Better still if you can hit the mall.) You’re totally worth it.

be refreshed

Dear gf, may you always find time to discover the simple joys of sweet rest and precious personal time amidst the endless responsibilities of parenting. Thank you for reminding me of the importance of taking time out from our busy schedules, to love and show kindness to others too.

This is Little Lessons #24. Grab our badge and link up your little lessons / reflections / learning activities below!

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