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Mother Nature.

Who decides what makes a good mother? Is there a guidebook for the dummies as far as motherhood is concerned? For instance, does a mother who smokes make a good mother? Is a breastfeeding mother better than the mother who feeds her kid formula milk? Does going out to work mean you do not love your kids as much? Does asking your child to sleep alone make you a heartless mother? Does not knowing how to cook make you the worst mother in the whole wide world? Does sending your kids to endless enrichment classes make you the best mother in the world as compared to mothers who cannot afford to do so? Or perhaps, does owning a degree make you a better mother than the less educated ones? Does it mean you are a bad, BAD mother if you feed your child fast food?

Who decides. really?

I asked my four year old daughter the other day why she loves me so much.

“Because you are my best mummy. And nobody can ever be my best mummy.”

At such a young age, she already decided that I am the best. No comparison to other mummies even. But I wonder whether it would still remain that way when she is bigger, and better able to make judgements. Would she compare me to other mummies? Would she question my capabilities as a mother? Would she ever doubt me? Would she blame me if things do not go her way?

I keep telling myself each time that what I feel is good  may not necessarily be good for my girls. Sure, I want this and that in my girls, but do they want the same this and that? Remember how much in love with ballet both Sharleez and I were? Well guess what, her interest in ballet somehow vanished the bigger she got. I saw just how reluctant she was to go for her ballet classes each time. When I finally asked her whether or not she wanted to continue with ballet, she said something like “No Mummy, I do not want to dance like a ballerina anymore. I am so tired.”

Wah at that point of time, when I heard that, I just felt like screaming, “NO SHARLEEZ. YOU HAVE TO CONTINUE YOUR BALLET CLASSES! I ALREADY PAID FOR YOUR BALLET FEES FOR AN ENTIRE TERM!!”

But I ended up respecting her wish. Do you want to know why?  I put myself in her tiny pink ballet shoes.

I would say my childhood experiences affect my life as a parent. I keep reflecting on my younger days as a child each time I am presented with a dilemma. I love my parents so so much, and there is no way I would say they have failed as parents. Because fact of the matter is, they are the best set of parents one could ever have – my opinion of them has never changed even for a second over the years. However, of course there were certain chapters in my life that I wished  had a say in. I still have many people asking me this.

“Diah, why do you go to so many junior colleges and then polytechnic?”

Want to know the truth? Let me tell you now, finally! Do not ask me the same question anymore okay.

Back in secondary school days, I was an extremely diligent and hardworking student, if I may say so myself.  Did you know that I studied extremely hard in Sec 2 just because I was upset that I was not in the top class? Did you know that as a result of my hard work and determination, I ended up being 1st in class in Sec 2 for both my mid year and final year exams? Did you know that from Sec 2 until Sec 4, I was always the among top 5% student and received the Education Scholarship every year? Did you know that I was in the top class from Sec 3 to 4? Did you know that I was the top Malay student in my school for GCE ‘O’ Levels?

So it was no surprise at all that my parents had very high expectations of me. I was told to go to TP JC for the first three months while waiting for my O level results because Mak thought JC was the only place to go right after my O’s, and TPJC was only JC to go to due to the  distance. Up till now, she just has something against going to schools that are too far away from the house, no mattter how good they are.  “Don’t waste your time on travelling!” she would say. I was told to carry on with JC after I received my results even though I hated the colour of the uniform  – very pale green. I was told to take the Pure Science stream even though I did not enjoy it. Pure Physics. Pure Chemistry. I felt like running each time it was lab session. I was often lost during tutorials. I could not catch up, and I remember my books being so clean – I did not even copy notes! I ended up not going to my tutorials because I knew I was so far behind. What was happening to me?! I remember my Civics Tutor, Mr Tan A/h L/e/c/k always calling up at home to look for me.  I felt like a prisoner who escaped from cell.  I did not go for my promotional exams in the end.

So what happened next? Mak suggested, “Try taking Arts stream la!”

And so I joined my brother at Catholic Junior College the following year. The uniform was not any better – PALE BLUE. Eeeeeyer. I looked like a factory worker. I took Arts this time round. I forced myself to like school. I forced myself to attend every tutorial. I attempted to take down notes. I attempted to pay attention in class. It was better this time because at least I attempted. I took my promotional exams this time round, but my results were… well, let’s just put it this way – I left Catholic JC, begged my parents to give me a chance at Temasek Polytechnic, and applied for Law & Management the following year.

I graduated with flying colours, and a few As along the way.

And no, I did not become a lawyer. I could have pursued my education further if I wanted to be one. But me, a lawyer? Haha! Thankfully, Mak and Daddy asked me what I wanted to do with my diploma – to get a degree in Law, or to do something else. I decided I wanted to be a teacher because I loved it. After all, during my term break in poly, I would always teach in a nearby childcare centre. I enjoyed every single bit of it, and thought I should just earn that piece of certificate in teaching.  Therefore, the decision to join NIE. The rest was history.

But you do know why I left the teaching service right? Not because I changed my mind again, but because of circumstances. To be fair, I didn’t know I was going to have twins a few years down the road when I joined teaching, you know? And like what I mentioned before, I  loved teaching so much (and I still do!) but the admin work just sucked out all the joy of teaching. I guess I was not strong enough mentally to stay any longer in the service. This is the reason why I have so much respect for all the teachers out there. It was not easy being one. And it is definitely not easy being one.

The point of my entry is this, do not force your child to be what you want them to be.  You  want to raise a happy child, not a resentful or deprived one. Do not let your child be the victim of your over the top competitive nature. As far as being a mother is concerned so far, I have learnt from my past experiences that I need to be willing to adjust my style according to the current and ever changing needs of my girls. Mothers are not perfect – there are times when we fail ourselves. But I guess we are never failures in our children’s eyes no matter what.  What’s most important to the child is to have a mother who loves her/him unconditionally, whatever form that happens to take. If your kids know they are loved, they will probably grow up and make fun of all the things you did that they did not quite like. Just like how I still make fun of how strict my curfew was even after I was already engaged with Tatek. Just like how I still make fun of how my Dad threw my pager just because I reached home at 10.30 pm instead of 10 pm. Just like how I make fun of the fact that my mum still calls to check on me each time I am out. 30 years old and married, with three kids. 🙂

I can never ever thank Mak & Daddy enough for everything that they have done and sacrificed for me. I might have failed them both at certain stages of my life, but I know they are still proud of me nevertheless.

So you see, at the end of the day, no matter what happens, you are still the best mother to your child. And the best judge is nobody else but your own child.

Do not let others dictate your life as a mother. Do not feel discouraged if you are not doing what others are doing for their children. As long as you are doing something for your children, you are good enough a mother.

Here’s to motherhood, mummies! 🙂

mummy

 

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