Being a mother isn't a right, it's a gift.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

My son is 2 years old. Perhaps to the seasoned parents and to everyone else (who aren't parents), it doesn't seem that long, but in actual fact, I feel that he's been around for much longer. I think I get that notion because as a Mum, I am perpetually 'working' on a 24 hour shift.

The first few days in hospital were bliss. There was a lactation consultant and nurses to call to latch him on correctly... and all the 'back end' work was done by the fabulous nurses and their assistants. I had visitors to keep me entertained, and half the time, the little one was asleep. 

Then the enormity of the situation literally kicked in on the first night we brought him home. He was screaming non-stop because he couldn't latch on correctly and I didn't know how to turn his head to guide him. He wanted to be carried all the time, and refused to let me sit down even as I carried him. He started hiccuping, and the hubs and I panicked, worried that he was going to choke at any moment.

I was exhausted, and truth be told, it was really hard to look at the bawling, screaming, kicking little baby with doe eyed wonderment and love overflowing from my very being. Many a time I was so tempted to yell back... simply because I didn't know what he wanted. I was frustrated, I craved sleep, and nothing I did seemed to settle him in any way.

Thankfully, I have a husband who is more level headed than I am, and also perhaps because he wasn't assailed by the hormonal changes which undoubtedly made that entire period so testy. He sat me down and while I sobbed, told me that we are trying our best, and BabyMoo was screaming and crying because he didn't know how else to let me know. He didn't know how to tell me if he's hungry, or too hot, or too cold. He didn't know how to tell me that he wants me close, and perhaps that he would like to sleep on his right instead of his left.

It's our responsibility, as parents, to try to figure it out.

Fast forward, 24 months later... we are still trying to figure things out, even though it's so much easier now that the boy has learnt to express his emotions, needs and wants better. We're able to talk to him, he's able to understand us, and he is slowly learning that he cannot simply get all that he wants with a grunt and a shriek.

Being a Mum is more about diaper changes, night feeds, baths and rituals. While these things can be perfected through time (I can even change the boy in under two minutes in extreme conditions!), one is constantly learning to not only live with the addition to the family, but to deal with the roller coaster of emotions which come about courtesy of parenthood.

I can take care of him, but to truly love him explicitly, unconditionally, I must learn to let go of my expectations of myself, and remember who I live for. I must be there for him when no one is looking. I must give to him without expecting anything in return. I must sacrifice what I want or need, for his greater good. For someone who is used to getting her own way and doing things her way, it's not an easy task.

Thankfully, these all come with the brand new title which is bestowed upon us the moment we hold them in our arms. Being a Mum changes a lot of things, believe it or not - the most major one being that for the first time in our lives, we truly are willing and able to always put them before ourselves. There are no second thoughts when it comes to their well being. We give what we can, when we can.

I remember a story which my Granny told me a long long time ago, perhaps when I was still in preschool. A Mum, being poor and not having enough for dinner that evening, took the last piece of beancurd and divided it equally among her husband and 3 kids. She had none, claiming that she had her dinner when the neighbour shared some dishes with her earlier. But of course - she went hungry so that her husband can have something to eat after a hard day in the fields, and her three children could have more than if she were to share it with them. Back then, I could not fathom why she had to tell an untruth, and have even gone so far to ask my Granny why her husband could not earn more so that they need not share the piece.

My Granny told me, wise as she was - that one day, I will know exactly why the mother did so, perhaps when I have a family of my own. I remember being angry and upset because I thought my Grandmother told a story 'halfway', and didn't want me to know the reason why.

Now I know.

Motherhood is a funny thing. It goes far beyond teaching, learning, and setting a good example for the kids. It cannot be measured by the blood, sweat and tears which inevitably comes as a package, along with the kid. In times like these, when I've had happy days and not so happy ones... my heart knows that motherhood is a beautiful gift. It's a painful trip, a tiring phase, and there are days when we think that we got more than we bargained for. But as much as it can break your heart, it heals it, too, and this has made me more open to love, sacrifice, and the beauty of our vulnerabilities.



  1. Your post just made me wanna cry! I am going down the memory lane while reading it, all these flash backs are a little bit too much for me today :(

    We love them with our heart, we gave them the hardest and sometimes cruelest punishment when they did wrong but we know deep in our heart we are perhaps doing the right thing, to nurture him into a better person

    1. You know what my Mum told me last night?

      She said - now do you understand why I seem to be the evil stepmother, while your Granny is always the Fairy Godmother? It is perfectly alright for us, as Grandparents, to indulge them, to give in to them - because our days of being responsible about how a child turns out is over. It's now *your* duty to ensure that, and I know exactly how hard it can be. But it's necessary. Because we would rather tell our kids off, than have other people tell them off.

      So true. Doesn't make it easier, though. Especially since our time with them is so limited, and it can be tempting to always give in to them to keep them quiet!

    2. Wise words from your mum! Perhaps now I should just allow my mum to indulge DinoBoy with all the goodies she want to give him.

    3. She doesn't get to see him often, right? Make them happy lar... Haha!

  2. Such a wonderful and heart wrenching post about motherhood. It really changes one 100%. Glad to read that you are embracing it so well.

  3. Getting more than we bargained for us an understatement! :))) If I were to see myself now 7 years ago, I would have not recognised myself. Not so much the physical attributes, but the things I am willing to sacrifice for my child's sake. Well said! Vunerability is probably a newly acquired 'super power' once u become that mom who loves the little one more than u will love yourself.

    1. 7 years ago - I would have looked at ME now, and said: Eee!! Auntie! Haha!

      I agree, though. I've since come to the understanding why some Mums, despite verbal / physical abuse from their offspring, will never cast them aside. It's all too easy as non parents to pass comments, and say that the woman whose son barely acknowledges her, yet still cooks selflessly for him - is stupid. Or silly. But the truth of the matter is they will always be ours. Other things are transient, ever changing, but once we're their Mums, they will always always be our children.

  4. That's sacrificial love of a mom. When Sophie fell sick today, it took us by surprise. I immediately applied for child care leave to take care of Sophie and tried my best to comfort her. In between trying to work while caring for her, I had to cook, catch up on some housework and also keep her occupied. It wasn't;'t easy because she was so uncomfortable and whiny but I knew that she needed me the most at this time. So I tried my best to turn her frowns to smiles and indulged her. So yes, sacrificial love that only a mom would understand...

    1. It's weird how we just will do anything to see them happy, ya? We act silly, we do things we dont normally do - just to see them smile.

      If that's not love, I don't know what is :)

  5. I am touched by this post. I love how you nail the intricate emotions we feel as moms - that we are to love our kids explicitly, unconditionally; that we must remember who we live for and to give without expecting anything in return...sometimes I feel that I've failed in this regard...I praise when she's well-behaved and on occasions when she's not, I beat, scold and punish...Motherhood is a journey of sacrificial love and of self-discovery. It brings out both the best and the worst in us which after decades of being in our own skin, still come as a revelation. Our roles evolve with every season of our children's lives; I want to do better as a Mom and I'm glad I have fellow Moms here to inspire and to urge me on...Being a Mom is a gift, and I MUST treasure the gift well...

    1. I also lose my temper. Get angry, get frustrated, especially since he's still at this stage where he knows what he can / cannot do, but he doesn't yet understand WHY he can't do so.

      Then I feel so guilty - because I expect him to understand me. I'm not letting him learn, or grow in that aspect. I'm not letting him pick his own battles by enforcing what *I* expect him to do.

      Motherhood is a tough teacher, but it's the best there is.



Powered by Motherhood