I think I just about grew up overnight as soon as I became a Mum.
I thought I've been round the block twice, so that makes me always prepared for whatever life throws in my direction. Little did I know that I was in for a pretty (rude) awakening. Nothing really prepares you for it... not books written by other Mums who are still finding out how to be a good Mum, or stories regaled by other Mums about their personal experiences.
Here's my top ten list of things which made me realise that being a Mum not only involves a lot of sleepless nights and constant worry... but also made me understand that life is always full of surprises. Every day is a learning experience.
1. I started sounding like *my* Mum.
One day I caught myself in mid-sentence, telling the boy not to sit too close to the TV.
"BabyMoo!! Not too close... otherwise you will spoil your eyes!"
Granted that sentence was wrong on so many levels - the eyes doesn't get spoiled, the vision does! - it also made me think of the numerous times when my Mum told me that. I don't know why but the show just seems better when viewed up close. I've moved back and sat down where it was acceptable, but I've always gone back nearer to the screen when I think she's not aware.
Full circle, and I can now totally understand why my Mum gets exasperated with having to constantly put warnings on repeat.
2. Children learn by observing.
I have to constantly watch what I do, and remind the husband to do the same, because there have been many instances when we suddenly find out that BabyMoo is able to do things without being taught how. Of course, this usually involves 'bad' things such as attempting to plug appliances into sockets, unlatching the safety gate, jamming the DVD into the slot (done when there is still one inside it, breaking the said DVD and resulting in no movies for a week) and locking the doors, amongst other things.
It's difficult, but not impossible, to always be mindful of what we do, especially when we're trying to get everything done accompanied by a toddler-baby who gets up to mischief the moment our backs are turned. I do, recognise that this is so necessary, viewing that their safety can be compromised in many instances.
3. Children pick up nasty words much faster than we can say it.
BabyMoo has yet to talk (I'll start worrying if he still doesn't when he turns 24 months in January), but I have made it a priority to watch what I say when he's around. This applies especially to DaddyMoo, who punctuates his sentences with unmentionables when he's watching football or driving during peak hours.
A colleague of mine had a rude shock when his then-22mth old started yelling "Parking Cheat!!" when he sees a football game, only to realise that is exactly what Daddy usually says when there's a live game on.
4. Children understand more than they let on.
Sometimes I feel that the boy plays us like a fiddle. He is able to say things, but he chooses not to... probably because he gets what he wants just by pointing to it or getting it himself. I always encourage him to tell me what he wants instead of grunting and losing his temper when I (pretend) to not understand him, but he will then give me the "You gotta be kidding me!" look before he goes about his business.
BabyMoo is growing up in a multi-lingual environment. My Mum and helper speaks to him in Indonesian, Grandmama and Granddad speaks Teochew dialect to him, and his Godma (my sister-in-law) speaks Mandarin to him and her son because they need to be exposed to the language, and BabyMoo's parents are of no help at all in this department. The entire family speaks mostly in English.
He is able to understand and respond to all instructions or conversations done in these languages. Perfectly, especially when it involves treats, food or getting what he wants. He just doesn't want to voice it out. Not that he can't do so. He's selective when it comes to doing things, and will choose to do something more for the surprise factor and to disarm us into giving him what he wants when it's absolutely necessary.
"Mummeeeemumum...eeee!!" pounding on the toilet door, about a minute after I closed it to shower/ pee/ take a dump.
"Car! Car! Car! GoGoGo!!" when he wants to go out, or got impatient because he's all dressed up and has to wait for Mummy who was delayed due to the pounding on the door.
"Mum..Mum...Mumumumummmm!!" eyeing the chocolate cake / ice-cream / froyo / duck rice.
"YaYaYaaaaaa!" in final response to: Does BabyMoo want some ice-cream? after threatening him with none if he doesn't answer me.
on other occasions:
"BabyMoo, do you love Mummy?"
Looks at me like I'm silly and saunters away with a hidden cheeky grin.
After which I will grab him and ask again, refusing to let him go.
5. Parenting is hard work.
I have renewed respect for my Mum and all the other Mums who juggle 20 million things on top of keeping the house and children in order. Not only do we have to constantly be vigilant (children get into trouble regardless of how old they are), we also have to ensure that they are well-fed, scrubbed, and well behaved. Add in the schooling factor, and you're in for a ride.
There are not enough hours in the day to do even the most basic every day chores... but there are just too many hours when the kids demand every second of your attention and refuse to be placated by anyone else.
6. I worry.
I never used to worry about a great deal of things in life, choosing to take every day as it comes and meeting challenges head-on. When the boy came along, I realised that this has not only become no longer viable, but I find myself worrying about even the smallest little thing.
At 10 days, when he started crying inconsolably for no apparent reason (colic was not the culprit, neither was reflux or any other regular newborn ailments) I went half mad with worry. I started exploring all kinds of possible causes, and putting two and two together while driving the hubs (and everyone around me, including myself) crazy. I didn't think that he was just uncomfortable being swaddled - and it didn't occur to me to be the case even though he stopped crying whenever I unwrapped him. Of course, my Mum and MIL, being old-school, still adopted the 'babies are supposed to be swaddled because that's just what's done'... so we were none the wiser.
He stopped when DaddyMoo unwrapped him and told me that the poor boy must be uncomfortable with all that restraint. Up till today, he still doesn't take too well to restrains and anything that hampers his movements. Just goes to show that sometimes we are blinded about the craziest things when the solution is actually oh-so-simple.
7. I became (a little) too paranoid for my own good.
- At 5 months and not flipping over - I was afraid that there may be something wrong with his body structure.
- At 7 months and no teeth in sight - I wondered if he's going to be toothless all his life.
- At 12 months, cruising but wary about walking - I thought that he may be developmentally behind.
- At 14 months and not showing signs of attempting to talk - I fear that he may have autism.
- At 15 months and still not attempting to voice out his preferences - I worried more.
- At 17 months, yelling himself and greeting everyone with loud 'EH!s' -I wonder if I should worry about childhood apraxia.
DaddyMoo (as always, the voice of reason), told me I worry incessantly and a little too much for everyone's good.
- BabyMoo never flipped to his tummy. He sat down at 6 months, and never wanted to lie down again, unless he's sleepy.
- He sprouted one molar at 8 months, and after that very tough one-week teething episode, all his other teeth came by, easy peasy for him. And now he has eight + 1 molar!
- He took his first steps at 13 months, and never looked back. The husband never lets me forget about me worrying... especially since I started sounding like a broken record stuck at "BabyMoo!! DON'T RUN!"
I think I'll hang around and wait for him to start talking when he's ready. I have a feeling that when he does start with his why(s) and where(s) and wiseass remarks, the hubs is not going to let me forget the way I worried... for a long time.
Finally walking at 14 months!
8. My heart now walks (and runs) outside my body.
I never thought I was capable of loving anyone so much. Not until I had the boy. I then truly understood why parents give up everything for their offspring, and all that they do is for the children's good.
I never knew 'Love' in its purest form is not only unconditional, but it also involves a great measure of sacrifice. I now know the depth of my mother's love. A parent's love accepts, understands, and appreciates.
9. Every child is different
I've learnt that every child is different. Developmentally, physically, and mentally. I've stopped wondering why one child is taller / bigger / is more articulate / is more advanced than another child of the same age. I realise that children are always in a process of transition - they are known to suddenly be able to do something today which they were unable to do yesterday. Every child develops at his / her own pace, and although sometimes its tempting to compare, it is a fruitless and unnecessary deed.
While foundation is fundamental, children thrive best when they are allowed to develop in an environment best suited to their personalities. As parents, it is our duty to recognise that and give them room to grow, not to push them into a mould which is 'accepted' by society or to have them perfect candidates for bragging rights.
10. Trust my instincts.
I believe that a mother's instincts is placed there in each and every one of us because of the bond shared between a mother and child. This may sound all too clichéd, but I have learnt to trust my instincts since it has proven right too many times for these incidences to become sheer coincidences.
I 'knew' I was pregnant, despite being on the Pill, even before I did those 3 home tests.
I've always known I was expecting a boy before the ultrasound confirmed it, despite the numerous people who mentioned that my hips and tummy indicates that I was to have a girl. (my stomach grew sideways, and only protruded out during the 28th week)
I knew how to comfort BabyMoo as a newborn and more so now, after the initial stumbling first time mum stages, and after I started paying heed to my instincts.
I always know what he wants or what ails him, and as time goes by - this eliminates a lot of frustration on both his and my part. I listen to my inner voice, too... when I don't feel good about bringing him to a certain play area or place, I don't. The hubs now does not question me when I tell him I'm not comfortable with it, for my so-called feelings have proven right decisions time and time again.
I'm still trying to be a good Mum. Not a perfect one... because if I was, then I will cease to be one because I will stop learning. Motherhood brings about a great deal of things to discover and experience, and having been blessed with a little mini-me whom I love to bits and pieces and more is its cause and reward.
They will always make us worry.
But I think as parents - that's our job.
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