Be my Valentine

“Oh it’s Valentine’s Day this Friday.” Ok, even I’m not convinced with my own ‘acting surprised’ icebreaker. I blame it totally on the lack of mirror time. And the weather.
“Damn it, the malls would be so, so crowded with idiots and their over-dressed girlfriends.” Strike 1.
“Not only dating couples celebrate it, you know?”
“Yeah, some idiots are apparently married too.” Strike 2. I’m beginning to worry about my chances.
“So I’m assuming I’ll be empty handed on Friday?” No point beating around the bush anymore.
“So you’re going to make me an idiot after all?” Argh…. I hate, hate, hate his theories sometimes.

“Do you have anything planned for Friday then?” He asked deliberately, moments later.
“Oh yes, I’m going out on a hot date with my imaginary footballer boyfriend.”
“That means NO. Ok, I’ve got a Valentine’s gift for you.” Now we’re talking. “I now officially grant you 2 hours off duty. I’ve booked a pampering session for you.”
“But shouldn’t Valentine’s Day be celebrated together, the both of us?” Thinking back now, I should have just shut up and said “Thank you” instead.
“Well, if you want me to go with you for a pedicure, I could. I jus don’t think the pedicurist would be too happy with the condition of my feet.”
“Alright then, thanks for the gift. What do you want in return?” Again, I should have stopped at “Thank you”.
“I’m going out for a drink with the guys on Saturday, ok?” He answered without the slightest guilt and hesitation.
“I KNEW IT!! It was a barter!” He smiled and walked away.

Really, there’s no free lunch under the sun. Not when it comes to dealing with my husband.

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Good cop, bad cop

Parenting before and after having a kid can be so different.

When you have a misbehaving kid right in front of you there and then, all the parenting techniques and knowledge that you’ve been reading, researching and at times preaching about are all thrown down the drain. It makes you feel like the biggest hypocrite under the sun, especially when you just couldn’t find that extra ounce of energy and patience to reason with a kid screaming at the top of her lungs.

Personally, I practice attachment parenting and advocate positive teaching. While I was never the most patient person I’ve known (and that would naturally make me the most patient mother NOT), I’ve promised myself that with Doughnut around, I will be more patient — with her, with myself and everyone around me. Starting from when she was around 14 months old, I’ve slowly accustomed her to her little “sitting corner” whenever she misbehaves, taking the pain to sit there with her until she stopped crying, and later explaining to her about her behavior that was unacceptable, even if it meant that I had to sit there with her for as long as it takes.

My husband, on the other hand, is an advocate of the school of hard knocks. Positive parenting or Negative parenting, he believes in neither; “Effective parenting” is all that matters. “No point explaining about parenting and all to a kid. Distract or remove them from the situation. Case closed.” Even if it means leaving her crying and shouting.

Entering the “Terrible 2″ (or “Terrific 2, whichever you believe in) stage wasn’t easy for Doughnut herself, let alone for us. It’s the stage where she had so much to express, but yet can only express so little. She longs to communicate, but can only tell that much. I find myself defending her so-called ‘undesired behaviours’ against my husband’s preferred way of parenting. I realized I ended being the bad, bad cop, more so in situations where I wanted to stick to positive parenting. Arguments were always about “You’re reading way too much” vs. “How would you improve if you don’t even want to read”.

As days go by, we are still learning and trying to find that balance. Patience is something I’m not very good at and neither is my husband. But for the sake of Doughnut, we have to learn. For the sake of our family, we all have to learn.

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A word I didn’t appreciate when I was in it; the same word I’m beginning to dislike as time goes by. For the past 3 days or so, there’s never a day that passed by without me being asked repeatedly, “So which school is she attending?” or “When do you plan to start her in school?” or worse, “Still playing at home?”. Tell me, is there anything wrong with a 2 years-old playing at home?

When I gave birth to Doughnut 25 months ago, I made myself a promise: that I would NEVER make her the girl I never was and never wanted to be. Which means, no art / drawing lessons. No ballet or dancing school. No speech and drama classes. No music sessions, right brain development courses or karate school. Not until she’s old enough to make her own choices and tell me that she wants any of them.

The first few times when I was asked the “school question”, I was unprepared. For a moment of two, it felt like I was not doing it right and making poor decisions for Doughnut. It made me feel insecure, as though I was depriving her of some opportunities. After much asking around, reading up and some soul-searching, I felt more relief. More assured that while there’s no exact right or wrong answers, the decision is plainly an individual choice. And that everyone makes different choices for different reasons.

The next few times when I was asked the same question, I’ve learnt to be more confident when answering. “She hasn’t started school yet. She’s learning at home for the time being.” Just smile and continue the conversation. There’s really no need to judge or to be affected by those who chose to judge.

I am proud of the decision I make for Doughnut, and I hope she will be proud to say the same of me when she grows up.

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The obligation to write

I’ve never liked statistics, and I think the feeling is mutual. I never liked it because it is never on my side, very much like the stats that is showing on my blog:

29 posts in September 2013
18 posts in October 2013
12 posts in November 2013
9 posts in December 2013
4 posts in January 2014

They say statistics never lie. That’s a fair statement, I reckon. Except that at times, it doesn’t give a very good reflection of the actual situation too. Either that or I’m really bad at finding excuses. For myself.

Don’t get me wrong, I STILL enjoy writing very much. And whether anyone reads them, that’s a whole different story altogether. Granted, some of the posts in September were from my archive when I first started this blog. And the real fact is, I sprinted at the starting line, only to find my rhythm somewhere midway. At the beginning, a post every 2 days sounded lazy and irresponsible. Now, 1 or 2 posts a week seemed reasonable and on-track.

It took me quite a while to realize that if, all you could think of after waking up is “what should I post today?”, then writing becomes an obligation and a mental liability. It becomes less enjoyable and even desperate at times. It made me want to rush things off so that I could sit down and start writing. In those instances, I realized it actually took me much longer to finish a post. All that writing and deleting and rewriting took up a lot more time than it is required.

And discipline is also something that I suck at. BIG TIME. My fear of commitment is also a stumbling block — “3 posts a week” or “a new post every Monday” both sound like a promise to ‘pass up homework on time’ and in my world, those promises are MEANT to be broken. I flourish when the tide is “free and easy”, happy and go lucky. That very moment I find an inspiration, that particular few minutes of purging thoughts, is exactly when I can complete a post in 10 minutes.

So, my beloved readers, please bear with me while I embark further on this journey called writing. I am deeply humbled to have each and every one of you coming on board and checking out my blog once in a while, shed a tear or two or even laughing out loud (silently or otherwise) when reading. And if you don’t see any new posts for an unusually long period of time, don’t be surprised. I appreciate each and every one of your “Are you there?” or “What’s up?” or “Have you stopped blogging?” messages. It’s just that, I’m just me.

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Some days

A story book read so many times that you have memorized the entire story.
A nursery rhyme sung so regularly that you can even hum it in your sleep.
A rocking motion you’re so used to that you rock even when she is not in your arms.
Routines so familiar that you can practically get through the day without even looking at the clock.

And then, that one day. Or that one time.

When you have a million things to do and she comes to you asking to be read her story book.
Just when you needed to focus on that one important assignment / phone call for just that 30 minutes, she demands that you sing her favourite nursery rhyme to her that very moment.
And exactly when you are having PMS and the worst migraine, she insists that you nurse and rock her to sleep.

Out of the 365 days in a year, we would, happily and willingly so, do any of the above for our kids. Or even more. And most of the time, we actually give so much more. Until that ONE BAD DAY. That chain of tight smacks on her thigh for throwing a tantrum at the pettiest and smallest of matters. Shouting and screaming at her for not giving you even a single second to breathe. And that one incident of venting your frustrations on her. It happens. And it happened.

My point is, it could have been ANY day. And it WILL come. We lose momentary sanity, that lapse of judgement or just one small, little parenting-don’t out of the thousands of parenting-do’s we so religiously follow through, every single day. And you know what? It’s okay. And you are not alone.

We are mothers. But we are human too.

Don’t beat yourself up for it. If our kids can forgive and forget, then we, mothers, the supposedly grown-ups with so much wisdom, patience and love that we are entrusted to care for our kids, should too. Hold your kid, look into her eyes, and tell her how sorry you are. And then move on.

It’s a journey. And there’s no prize for reaching the destination in the fastest time. We learn from it, we forgive mostly, we forget some, and then we love again. It’s a beautiful cycle. Don’t you think, ladies? =)

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