Dear SAHM, you impact the world…

Children running with the wind.

When I made the decision to be a stay-home mom, I was terrified and clueless. I wondered if my time at home was worthwhile (I still do at times). Most say, leaving your job before 30 is career suicide.

Like many young women, I had dreams of making a difference for God. Going into the marketplace and impact the world for His glory. Isn’t that what we often hear from the pulpit?

Instead of important business meetings and nailing that presentation, my priorities become getting through today’s Chinese lesson and laundry while also buying groceries and Popsicle sticks for my kid’s craft.

I start to feel like my all-consuming tasks aren’t very important…

How can I use my gift to serve Him? How can I be missional as a SAHM?

True, I’m making a difference in my family. However, can I impact MORE than just my family?

Yes, you can.

Continue reading Dear SAHM, you impact the world…

Late Talking: Looking Beyond the Mom Guilt and Whys

Over the past 5 months, our family struggled with a myriad of emotions.

My son who just turned 20 months hasn’t been speaking much. A lot of moms tell me that boys just develop at a slower pace. A part of me thought I was simply paranoid.

But something didn’t seem right when Elijah who was calling “Daddy”, “Mama”, “Jie Jie” (big sister in Chinese) suddenly stopped calling and spoke nothing.  He points to what he wants and scream when we don’t get him. He often try to drag us to the places he wants to go and grab our hands to show us what he wants.

As the main caregiver, one could imagine the kind of questions that went through my mind.

“Was it because of a head injury?” Elijah has always been an active child. He’s always climbing, running and prying into things.

“Could it be something I ate?” I wondered if the sashimi or caffeine I took affected my milk.

“Did I not pay enough attention to him?” The grandparents said this when they noticed Elijah’s lack of words.

A month ago, I finally had the courage to bring him to a friend who is a speech therapist for evaluation. She recommended some exercises to do with him, as she noticed he had difficulty focusing his attention.

Following that, I did more research.  I was now in “panic” mode. The red flags stated for Autism, Apraxia and ADD were relatively similar to Elijah’s situation.

I started to dread bedtime because my mind would try to reason for an answer in the stillness of the night. I was weary physically and spiritually. My pillow soaked in tears each night.

I had naturally assumed that talking would come quickly for Elijah because Hannah started talking early. By 18 months, she was already communicating fluently with us.

While I kept searching for the “why’s”, I persisted with my home exercises with Elijah. Things didn’t seem to improve after nearly a month. In fact, it seemed worse. He had more meltdowns and with that my firstborn felt left out. She started acting out more.

I tried to tell her that I needed more one-on-one time with her brother. Though it surely ain’t easy for someone whose love language is quality time to accept this.

She feels that Elijah is robbing away her time with her mother. And sometimes wish for her brother to go away. My heart broke when I heard those words.

Late talking: Siblings

I’m on my knees everyday. Asking for an answer. Praying for more love and understanding within the family. I couldn’t understand what God wanted us to learn.  I couldn’t understand why a perfect God allowed imperfection to enter into our lives. I am drained. I’ve ran out of logic.

By end of 3 weeks, I decided to bring Elijah to an ENT specialist to have his hearing checked.

The session was expensive because we didn’t seek a referral. But I knew I shouldn’t delay things. This nagging feeling of having his ears checked have been on my mind.

It turns out that it was a right decision. Elijah has impacted ear wax in both ears which affects his hearing (approx 10-20 decibels). We had the ear wax removed; terrifying experience for Elijah.

He then went for a hearing test. Results were positive. He has no hearing problems. The ENT specialist recommended a developmental pediatrician to evaluate Elijah’s development.

In the meantime, the husband reminded me of the upcoming church retreat in 2 weeks time.  I wasn’t looking forward to it having much dissonance within.

A week before we left for Malaysia, Elijah called out “Papa”.  My husband and I stared at each other in amazement.  He finally spoke something again!

I waited expectedly for more words. Nothing came.

The theme for our retreat was “Love Beyond Reason”. Dr. Peter Tan-chi of Christ’s Commission Fellowship was one of the guest speakers.  His sermons resonated most with us.  His sharing about his daughter’s tragedy; of pain and restoration were inspiring and compelling.

Did I receive a word from God during the camp?  No.  But I’m beginning to understand what Mother Teresa said:

We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature – trees, flowers, grass- grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence… We need silence to be able to touch souls.

Mother Teresa

I do not know how our journey will unfold; how God will write Elijah’s life story.  Please pray together with us while we cling on to God’s promise in Jeremiah 29:11.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Jeremiah 29:11

P/s: Elijah called “Mama” on the third day of our retreat, right after our service!  His every word spoken becomes so precious to me…

Happy Mother’s Day 2016

Happy Mother's Day 2016

Every year, on Mother’s Day, we thank our mothers for their selflessness and love. Although, we mothers, often question our choices and how we fall short of the idealistic image of a perfect mom.

Just a couple of days ago, a friend and I lamented about the weariness of raising a family.  We wondered why we chose to leave our careers and raise children who drive us insane.  There are times when we are envious of yummy mummies who get to dress up, wear high heels and still have time to head to the gym while we, in sweat-soaked tees, chase after monkeys children in our Mary Janes.

It is an intense period of hard work: physically, mentally and emotionally.  Often sleep deprived, we continue to entertain the little people in chirpy voices, singing the same song every time they say: “Sing again, Mama! We want to hear it.” and reading the same story until we’re able to rattle off every sentence without looking at the page.

On top of that, we handle “Hulk” moments a.k.a. spontaneous meltdowns and skilful negotiations.

Throw in cleaning, washing, cooking and picking up Lego pieces.

All these at an average of 12 hours a day. Every day.

Clearly, this isn’t going to end anytime soon.  So what’s a mother to do?

God reminds me that my children are fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalms 139:14)

Look past the “Hulk” moments, the fidgeting as if they had ants in their pants, and past the “you can’t catch me…” even though you specifically told them to stop…

Those little hands and legs….their heart….them.

They are God’s masterpieces.

Fearfully and wonderfully made
Source: Darlene Schacht (Time-warp Wife)

It is extremely difficult to keep thinking the good when faced with a terrible, no good, very bad day.  It’s almost impossible to think that your child is God’s masterpiece when he/she is screaming right in your face.

The good news is, we aren’t to do everything on our own.  God promises us to be the source of help. (Psalms 73:26)  God is faithful. He will never give us more than what we can bear. (1 Cor 10:13)

God is the strength of my heart
Source: be-the-change via model me girl

As for my friend and I, we concluded we would make the very same choices, when given a second chance.

So why bother having such a conversation when the choice remains clear?  I’m not sure.  Perhaps, it’s just one of those things we had to talk it out of our system. 🙂

To you, weary mom who ask yourself the same question and yet raise your children anyway, Happy Mother’s Day!

Not forgetting you, yummy mummy, Happy Mother’s Day!

Happy Mother's Day 2016

 

Sitting on a Seesaw with God

Source: jmettraux via Flickr CC

I’ve been silent for a couple of weeks. I have been contemplating whether to post this; it’s scary to be honest.

There’s an inner struggle within me. I’ve been seeking answers; hoping for solutions and having radio silence from God for a short period feels like forever…

Have you been through a dry period?

It doesn’t help when current reality shoves its ugliness in your face. When you’re feeling drained and weary, and things aren’t looking your way. You try to talk things out but “good advice” often feels like boiling water splashed over your wounded soul.

“Did you pray about it?”, “Oh, I’m just blessed that God heard my prayers…”, “Maybe you should pray like this…”

Of course, I’ve prayed a zillion gazillion times! Am I lacking in faith? Is there really a right prayer?

It gets to a point where I’m afraid to pray. Afraid I’d be upset with God when things seem worse after praying.

Like, I prayed for the baby to sleep a longer period at night. Instead I get woken up every hour or two.

As I rock him to sleep, my mind replays every little detail that happened during the day to figure out what went wrong: “Could it be this…. Or maybe…”

Have you experienced this before?

Source: Debbie via Flickr CC

When everything makes no sense, and I’m tired of gritting my teeth and dealing with things.

Right there, I’m back with God again. Surely there’s got to be some end to all these?

Over the past days, I am reminded:

Amidst the confusion and anxiety, He is God.

Amidst the weariness and mundane, He is God.

Amidst the loneliness and disappointment, He is God.

He has borne it all on the cross.

That is undeniable.

Surely He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

Isaiah 53:4

I’m still in the process of reconciling my inner struggle.  Your prayers are much appreciated.

Reflections of a Mom: Hannah Turns 4!

Happy Birthday, Hannah

Just like that…my little girl turns 4! It’s crazy how children grow up right before your very eyes.  As I posted pictures of our birthday celebration, I looked back at those taken several months ago.  And boy, did I realised how much Hannah has grown! Not just her outward appearance, but also her budding maturity.  I guess, sometimes, we get so caught up with the everyday that we haven’t had the time to stop, look back and see the progress we’ve made.

Of course, as I reflect on the days, I can’t help but have regrets and guilt.  I wish I’m able to spend more time alone with her.  I wish I didn’t say some things I’ve said out of anger.  I wish I could take back some of my actions.  I wish I could have done more.

But what’s done cannot be undone.  I pray for strength to overcome the challenges I face within myself.  I pray for wisdom for the days ahead.  I pray for love…love that keeps us going day by day.

Over the weekend when we celebrated Hannah’s birthday with her Sunday School friends, her teachers (at least 2 of them) assumed I baked the birthday cake.  I was embarrassed to tell them that it was done by my friend.  That guilt of “I should be doing everything” haunts me every now and then.

As I search within myself.  I’ve come to realised that being a good mother isn’t about doing everything on your own.  It’s about seeking help when you need to.  It’s okay that I don’t bake or sew…and that I’m guilty of having takeouts every now and then.  But that doesn’t stop me from me a good mom.

In fact, I’m a GREAT mother to my children.  Simply because I am THEIR mother..there is no other.  No one can take that special place in my children’s heart.

Hello Hannah

As I thought about the things I wanted to pen down, the words to Lee Ann Womack’s “I hope you dance” filled my mind.  So I shall make the lyrics of the song as my closing.

To my firstborn, my little princess…

I hope you never lose your sense of wonder,
You get your fill to eat but always keep that hunger,
May you never take one single breath for granted,
God forbid love ever leave you empty handed,
I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean,
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens,
Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance,
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance.

I hope you dance….I hope you dance.

I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance,
Never settle for the path of least resistance
Livin’ might mean takin’ chances but they’re worth takin’,
Lovin’ might be a mistake but it’s worth makin’,
Don’t let some hell bent heart leave you bitter,
When you come close to sellin’ out reconsider,
Give the heavens above more than just a passing glance,
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance.

Dance….I hope you dance.
I hope you dance….

How Do I Carry On?

Turned Upside Down: Homeschool Crafts

I’ve been very quiet as life’s been turned upside down.  After the Lunar New Year, everyone in the family came down with a bad bug. Baby had the worst hit.  He was terribly sick for more than 2 weeks; coughing so hard every night and unable to drink well due to his blocked nose.  We had to see the pediatrician every 2 days for suction.  Nights were long and Hannah was often awoken from Elijah’s cries.  Nobody had a good sleep for several weeks…that didn’t help with our recovery at all.

Besides dealing with sickness, we’ve been having discipline issues with Hannah.  Probably the lack of good sleep made things far worse than it is, but every day at some point, there would be disobedience or outright defiance.  People often talked about the terrible twos.  For me, it’s the frightening fours (well, soon-to-be).

Every evening, I’d be so exhausted physically, mentally and emotionally.  I have little energy to blog, prepare curriculum or as a matter of fact, do anything at all.  I’ve stopped homeschooling to focus on appropriate behaviour, getting as much rest as I can, and keeping the house clean to stop the flu bug.

Baby Smile: Homeschool Crafts

Things were seemingly better until today.  Right now, Elijah’s down with fever.  Hannah got into trouble this week.  I just snapped.

I can’t hold back my tears.  I’m at a loss.  How do I carry on from here?

I’m stuck in a rut.  Desperately searching for answers but finding none.

Let It Go…

Let it Go: life at home with a newborn

Let it go, let it go…

Incidentally, as I was thinking of a title for today’s post, I realised it’s been a year since the movie, “Frozen” was premiered.  But the craze hasn’t fade away…(please just melt away!)

It’s hard for me to let go of stability. For the past month or so, I try to get my life back to “normal”.  Under the DiSC profile, I’m high on “S” (steadiness). People with “S” style often dread changes and loss of stability.  We expend much energy to adapt quickly to change and multitasking.

I’m adapting to how we homeschool now. I try to pick up where we’ve stopped. In the past, I plan specifically what I want to do for the week.  Now, we follow the lesson plans quite loosely.

These activity books have come in handy on (many) days when I just have no energy to do anything.  It’s another way to spend time with Hannah while feeding Elijah.  We do craft, revise our bible stories, learn Mandarin and Math with these books.

Preschool activity books for homeschooling

I’m learning to let go of our homeschool routine too.  Instead of having lessons in the morning, we have pockets of short lessons.  Often our lessons are disrupted by Elijah’s cries.  And though I try to wrap up our lesson before attending to Elijah, it isn’t easy for Hannah to pay attention (and me to give my attention) with a crying baby in the background.

After 3 weeks of staying home, I was excited to bring Hannah to meet our friends again and re-join our co-op.  But I’ve realised much haste meant less progress.  My stitches didn’t heal nicely, and I’m home bound again. 😦

Plus, the recent wet season meant more stay in too. It can get quite crazy staying home all day so  I try to bring the children to the playground before 9am and stay home in the afternoons, when it usually rains.

Then we do things like finger (or hand) painting…

Wet-weather activity: finger painting

…making gift cards for Christmas. Hannah enjoys stamping with Ikea’s Mala stamp pen.

Planning for Christmas: Stamping gift cards

And colour coordinate clothes for her baby brother.  By the way, this is a great way to revise one-to-one correspondence and colours.

Coordinating clothes for the newborn

All in all, I’m taking baby steps to adapt to changes.  Sometimes, it can be overwhelming.  It feels as if I’ve exhausted all my energy but I’m completely clueless as to what I’ve accomplished.

To help ease my anxiety and assure myself that things are moving, I start by tackling one task at a time.  Setting a to-do checklist helps too.

If all else fails, I take a deep breath…and just focus on the task at hand.  Then end the day with a hot Milo and reminding myself: things will only get better.

How do you cope with changes? How do you find your sense of balance amidst the chaos?

The First Few Weeks…I Have A New Sibling

I’m back again!  Time sure flies…Elijah’s turning a month old next week.  It’s scary realising how time just whizz by.

Friends have been asking how things have been with the new addition to the family.  I’ve been coping by…really, just coping by.  There are good moments and bad ones.  While I see moms posting smiling faces of their preschooler and the newborn on Facebook, reading the loving things the older sibling does for the younger one.  I’m experiencing the complete opposite.

Managing Hannah has been a roller-coaster ride.  She could be hugging her brother one moment, the next she’s demanding me to kiss her “ouchie” now as I try to comfort the baby.  I feel as if I’m fire-fighting throughout the day, rather than being control of each moment.

I wonder how the other moms do it? I’ve read countless articles on easing the new sibling transition but I’ve not been able to put them into practice (not when the baby is crying for milk and the older one is whining for attention).

People have told me to tend to the older one first but I just can’t hear Elijah’s wailing…I’ve tried.  Some said that we should ask the older sibling what we should do if the baby’s crying (the ideal response from the child is to carry the baby).  Sometimes the answer is, “Nothing.  Mama, just play with me.”

First Few Weeks - Reading to Baby

There are, of course, good times when Hannah plays the big sister.  She reads to her brother, sings to him, helps wash him up.   This is one of those good times.  It’s not easy to capture a picture when both are happy.  One is usually irritable and fussy, the other sulky or teary.

By evening, I’m exhausted!  Bedtime is a challenge.  Hannah’s always try to delay her bedtime routine, and I can’t get the baby to drink properly without dozing off on my boob.  To friends who posted lovely pictures of their kids smiling in bed, please enlighten me on what I’m doing wrong.

Oh, and let’s not talk about the condition of the house…or the amount of dust bunnies under the bed.

As I sign off to clear that vomit on the floor, I’d welcome any help and tips! 😉

Hello, World…

IMG_4288.JPG
This is Elijah!

Things have been quiet here since all the excitement is at home!

We’ve been busy changing diapers while Hannah’s learning to adjust into her role as big sister.

Oh, the pain, drama, laughter and tears! I’ve long forgotten what’s it like to wake every few hours, the time spent nursing, the long cries in the wee hours.

I’d have to keep this short but I promise to return with more updates and fun when I can. 🙂 Thanks for sticking by.

Holding It Together: Coping with a Sick Child

This week, Hannah came down with stomach flu that caused her to throw up after every meal.  I’m not sure why, but she’s been sick so often that I’ve developed a phobia whenever I hear her cough or sneeze.  My mind immediately triggers “Alert! Alert!” and I feel my stomach flutter.

It’s hard to get by each day with a cranky, feverish kid who looks green about the gills.  By the end of the day, my patience is wearing thin. I’m exhausted, sticky and my back hurts terribly (from all the squatting and bending to clean up the mess).  I’m waving the white flag…waiting for any help to arrive!  I’m grateful that my husband takes over as much as he can, whenever he’s back from work.

Coping with a sick child: Steadfast love of the Lord

By Thursday, I just didn’t know how to carry on. I was worn out but couldn’t fall asleep.  As I sat on my bed with my head bowed, the lyrics to the hymn, “The Steadfast Love of the Lord (Never Ceases)” flooded in my mind.  I’m reminded to let go of the day’s troubles and find peace in God’s love and faithfulness.

I struggle to let go of my anxiety, troubles and fear even after I’ve said my prayers.  I pray for help but instead of leaving my burdens at the foot of the cross, I take them all back.  That night, my husband and I poured out our hearts to God.  We needed much encouragement and peace.

On Friday, Hannah was feeling better.  She wasn’t as fussy as the other days, and her vomiting has stopped.  You have no idea how relieved I felt!

Ever since I’ve become a mom, it’s through circumstances like this that render me helpless that I’ve learned to cling to His word.  I’m grateful for a faithful Father that sees us through every situation.  There’s still a long, long journey and I hope to be a better mom through life’s little lessons.

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

John 14:27