Have we lost ourselves to LIFE?

My life has been transformed, in 11 days.

The past 12 months have been the hardest in my 20 years of parenting. I was running at full speed but struggling to keep all the balls in the air.

People assume that because we have a big brood and they generally look happy, we are awesome mums and are naturally nailing it. So not.

It is a huge challenge finding enough time to see to the individual needs of the kids. And I can’t say it enough, but the teenage years are a very trying time and we are back to square one, figuring out how to parent them. Add to that the stress of their PSLE, Os and As coming up, along with emotional crises and the daily squabbles of the 2 younger ones and my hands are full ensuring everyone stays sane.

It doesn’t help that with your own business, your mind is never switched off and the work doesn’t end. I’ve been fighting fires at work, at home, and dealing with family conflicts. I was exhausted and heavy-hearted.

Silence in the wee hours of the morning

Heal Ourself

I went on a pilgrimage to Italy where we traced the footsteps of St Francis of Assisi and his mission of peace. He was the son of a wealthy merchant but was disillusioned with a rich superficial lifestyle and yearned for something deeper. He gave up everything to dedicate his life in the service of the poor and needy, following the example of Jesus Christ.

I woke up at 5am and went for a morning stroll. No kids to tend to, no work to rush off to. I do so love the early mornings! The unbroken silence and stillness in the air. I walked out of my hotel to find a beautiful sight before me. Green grass stretching freely on both sides and the majestic basilica in the distance. As I sung hymns, something stirred in my soul and the tears flowed freely. I could feel God’s presence intensely and knew that for the past months, I have been so burdened that I was unable to let go and trust in God to provide.

Contemplative silence

Time in nature

Our lives are fast-paced and noisy and we need to detox our mind and spirit from all that clutter. Wish I could spend more time in solitude, to reflect and recharge.

As I pondered our lives, I wondered why we have allowed ourselves to buy into this Bigger and Better rat race. We have moved away from leading authentic fulfilled lives and it doesn’t seem wrong anymore to live superficial glossy lives for the world to see.

What has life become for us? We are so distracted by LIFE itself and have lost the courage to go deep within ourselves to search for its meaning. It scares me to think that I am running at breakneck speed, but at the end of it all, what kind of a life do I have to show for it?

Was it real enough? Have I touched people along the way? What legacy am I leaving to my children? Have they learned how to love, give and serve? These were the ideals I held on to, but have I been waylaid by the busyness of life and things that don’t matter?

St Francis’ bare room

Simplicity

St Francis’ message of peace, love and poverty is still so relevant today. Coming face to face with his bare room, and how he and his brothers lived in extreme poverty yet were ever joyful, it was stark how far we have come in this material world that when things are taken away from us, we feel upset. Though we may begrudge not having enough, we already have too much. Yet we chase after more, but at what cost?

I’ve always had this dilemma at the back of my mind, wanting to live a simple and minimalist life yet finding it hard to give up material comforts and excesses. The past few months have been very rocky for us and I feared the uncertainties of the future, but I’m not worried anymore.

Hermitage caves

Who am I?

We had time to sit in the caves where St Francis and his brothers spent days in prayer and contemplation. I used to seek out secluded spots to spend time alone when we take the kids to beach resorts and now I know it’s not an odd thing to do, but precisely what my soul needed!

As we did our Camino walk in silence, I contemplated the question “Who am I?” Surrounded by bare nature, nothing of our modern lives mattered. Not our titles, where we lived, what car we drove, what bling we wore.

I was reminded of my time volunteering at Assisi hospice where witnessing the experience of those close to death helped me to put life into perspective. Yet we forget easily and need constant reminders about what life is really about.

It was a tough trek on our long walk, and just as I was feeling tired and wishing I was back on the bus, I came to a fork and a fellow pilgrim was waiting for me with a bright smile and a flourish of her hand to wave me down the right path before hurrying off to catch up with her friends.

The uphill walk was a mirror of life. We are pilgrims on this journey and as we face the vicissitudes of life, we are here to make that journey that much easier for one another. Be gentle. Be kind. Be helpful. If we may be blessed with abundance, extend a helping hand to those in need.

Camino walk

Our response is Love

On the last day, my kids texted me an SOS! I called them and they told me what had transpired with a neighbour’s dog. Our dog saw a passing dog and ran out of the gate. She must have been excited and nibbled too hard, drawing a bit of blood. The neighbour went home and brought her mum back and they had a row with my kids. A few hours had passed since the incident, but my girls were still riled up about it. #1’s response was anger, and she argued back when the lady shouted at them. #2 attempted to use logic to win the argument while my mum was trying to keep everyone calm, saying that my kids were just kids and the dog was just a dog.

I listened and was surprised that I felt no anger towards the mum and did not feel the urge to take sides or retaliate. I simply repeated, “Peace be with you, girls.”

I told them that instead of responding in anger or making excuses, let our first response be love. They were stunned into silence hearing something so radical.

I was sharing the stories of my pilgrimage with my staff and they said, “Wow, even for us adults that would be hard!”

We try.

Keep praying

Back to Reality

The hubs took good care of Kate and the older kids left me alone for the entire trip and did not bug me with any problems except to ask if I was enjoying myself.

But it seemed like they had saved all their troubles till I returned and on my first evening back, one swallowed a fish bone, one had her wisdom tooth pushing out and her gums had split, one came down with a fever and my helper cut her finger.

Instead of going into a frenzy, I was surprised how calm I was. It was as though I was wrapped in a bubble of peace. I got them to say a prayer, then walked them through the steps. And in my heart, I knew that everything will be alright.

Daily Mass

For 11 days, time stood still. I am going to take a long hard look at our lives and eliminate everything which is unnecessary. I have decided not to continue looking for tutors for #5 as he has been showing improvement this year in a smaller banded class and whatever PSLE score he will get, we are prepared for it. The time saved rushing him to and fro will be used to live life at a more leisurely pace.

I will be guided with a different compass, and though life will continue to be messy and problems will arise, more so in a huge family like ours, I have found renewed strength to walk this path. The world as we know it could crash but we will be fine.

Wonderful lunch stop

Our Camino walk ended at La Verna, where an extraordinary event happened. St Francis had followed his calling closely and at the end of his life, he prayed that he would experience the same immense love that Jesus felt when he suffered and died on the cross. He received the stigmata – the same wounds pierced in his hands, feet and side.

As mothers, from the time of labour, we go through pain and suffering for the love of our children. And through the lifetime of our children, their pain will be our pain multiplied manyfold in our hearts. My whole perception of pain has been reshaped.

Mount Alvernia

Finding our Calling

Not many of us have found our calling, but as long as we do something about it and start moving towards it, clarity will come.

I get lots of emails from mums telling me how inspired they are but I don’t usually get much encouragement. I have been blessed by many on this trip who have shared their words of advice and stories of similar adversities and I am uplifted.

I now know how much my sharing could mean to another new mum struggling to make sense of this parenting journey or be the beacon of hope that there is light at the end of the very long tunnel.

Let us support one another in this journey of life.

Rainbow in a bright sky

It is so good to get away every year or so to rest our body, mind and spirit.

This sense of deep peace.

With stress lifted from your shoulders.

Of feeling connected with people around you.

With joy replacing worries.

Contented with what you have.

Your mind completely free to be present in every moment.

It is so elusive but I’ve found it.

And I hope you will find your peace too.

Other lessons (which I’ve learnt the hard way):

Lesson #15: What are we worth, mums?
Lesson #16: What do you do when you get sick of parenting?
Lesson #17: The tragedy of our society


~ www.mummyweeblog.com – A blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

Are we slowly killing ourselves?

We are just into the second week of January and I need a break. A vacation. The kind where you don’t bring the kids so you can chill at a secluded beach, let the sound of the waves wash over you, and let your mind wander.

It’s been a pretty full-on week. On top of working full-time, I squeezed in a JC Open House, charity event, orthodontic visit, church group discussion and met up with friends over dinner. And then there’s the weekend with a meet-the-principal session, University open house, two birthday parties and a dinner. All while juggling the kids.

We are trying to fit too much into our lives, aren’t we?

I was telling some mums who were concerned about their kids being over-scheduled that they are like sponges. There is only so much they can absorb and everything else will spill over.

It is no different with us. We are rushing from one place to another. Have we stopped to think about our lives? The quality of it? Our connection with others? Our connection with our kids? Are we always barking at them to hurry up? Ferrying them from one activity to another without spending time with them? Do we know what is on their minds and in their hearts?

It’s funny how every time someone asks us, “How are you?” Somewhere in our answer will be “Busy lor, with work, kids, and whatever million other things we have on our plate.”

Since when has being busy become a badge of honour?

Have we given much thought about how we really are feeling? C’mon, there’s so much to do, who has time to stop to think if this is what we really want our lives to be, or if we are deep-down-contented happy.

There are bills to be paid, a household to run. And say, if we did reflect on how our lives are going, do we have the luxury to stop, if we find this is not how we want to live our lives?

#2 has been doing the JC Open house rounds with her schoolmates these past few days. They have 4 days to make a decision and fill in their 12 choices. She invited me to join her to check out her top choice (yes, now mummy can’t just barge in to the teenagers’ activities).

It was a vibrant scene. The aspirants were eager-faced and excited to join the big new JC world and the seniors and teachers were enthusiastic in answering their questions and encouraging them to join the school.

As I looked around the bustling hall filled with students, parents and teachers, as much as a part of me felt joyous that #2 will be embarking on a pivotal and memorable 2 years of her life where they will study hard, play hard and form solid friendships, I had a nagging feeling.

What have we, as a society, driven ourselves to?

Hearing about how hectic their week is going to be made me wonder if there can be another way.

Seems that for the subject combination she intends to choose, classes will end at 5pm most days, and CCAs are at 5-7pm on 2 days. #1’s school was along this bus route, and even though it is 4 bus stops away, during peak hour the buses don’t stop if they are full. Thus we expect #2 to be home between 7-8.30pm. Given that they leave the house at 7.30am, that is longer than a working day for adults! Factor in dinner, shower and homework, and it is beyond what a healthy day should look like.

I’ve heard from many that the weekends are not spared, and they spend it catching up on sleep, revising their work or meeting classmates for group work. My uncles who have been teaching in JCs for the past 30 years concur that times have changed and things have become much tougher than when we were in JC.

It is the same story for #1 who is in poly. She leaves the house at 8am and on days when she has CCA, she is back at 10pm.

This, my dear friends, is our school and work culture. We start over-scheduling our kids when they are in pre-school, the schools take over that job soon enough, and we enter the workforce where it is the norm. Somewhere down the line, we pause and wonder, how did we get here? This is not what I envisioned my life to be.

It is like the speedometer where you rev the car, the pointer is going up up up, and we keep revving, until it reaches the red point. It is no surprise that we have kids attempting suicide. There is only so much a person can take.

Something is seriously wrong. We are advancing so rapidly, but getting nowhere.

What can we do?

How can we slow down?

What can we cut out?

Running at full speed for months on end with only 2 long breaks in a year is hardly sufficient. How can we put more weekly breaks into our schedules so we don’t become over-stretched. Both as parents, and for our children.

As parents, we don’t even get the break we need (and truly deserve) during the weekends. There are still children to tend to and activities to get done.

I don’t have the answers. It is even harder for us with big families as things are multiplied and magnified. The good, the bad, the busy.

All I know is I need to not stop searching for a better way. I hope never to fall into the trap of going with the flow and end up feeling tired, overwhelmed and dejected. Because if we, who are supposed to be the pillars for our children, are ourselves overburdened, how can we support them?

Everyone is running on their own treadmill. In a big family, yes, there are more siblings to share their worries and keep an eye on one another, but there are also more children, more unique personalities and a higher probability of one falling through the cracks. And I only have so many hours in a day, and too many kids who need my attention (although I hear the same cry from parents with only 2 kids!) I do worry.

I guess I’ll start with baby steps. Spending time in silence always helps me to recalibrate. I need to be intentional about scheduling that at the end of every week to remove the build up of stress that has accumulated over the week of madness. And I have to engineer the weekends to be rejuvenating, instead of cramming too much in. Some things have to be relinquished.

The big question is, which ones?

You know what comes to mind? The story of the frogs. The one where if you throw a bunch of frogs into a pot of boiling water, they will jump out. But if you put them in water and slowly boil them, they wouldn’t know any better as the temperature slowly creeps up on them.

Are we slowly killing ourselves?


Other lessons (which I’ve learnt the hard way):

Lesson #15: What are we worth, mums?
Lesson #16: What do you do when you get sick of parenting?
Lesson #17: The tragedy of our society


~ www.mummyweeblog.com – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

Lesson #9: What must kids do for us to stop pushing them over the edge

Last week, a P5 child attempted suicide in my child’s school. Hopefully after this episode the child’s parents will heed this cry for help. Last year, a Sec 4 child in my other child’s school committed suicide.


A close friend was sharing with me that her 8-year old wanted to run away from home. And take the cab to her best friends house. Of course she wasn’t seriously going to carry out her plan but she was so terrified of her mummy’s anger that she wanted to escape from it. Only then did my friend realise that although she doesn’t use the cane on her kids, sometimes, her wrath is much more fearsome and hurtful to them.

A police friend told me that kids are now running away from home younger and younger and they have found 8 and 9-year olds on the street. How terrifying. A home doesn’t seem to be a haven for some children anymore.

Many years ago, when I reached out to hold one of my daughter’s hand to cross the road, she said, “Let the car knock me down better. I’d rather die.” I literally stopped in my tracks.
Our kids are crying out to us. What must they do for us to stop pushing them over the edge?

In a recent study of over 600 primary school children in Singapore, a group of doctors from IMH found that more than 20% indicated they wanted to kill themselves or harboured suicidal thoughts at one time. I highly recommend parents and teachers read “The Day the Ball Didn’t Bounce” which is based on a true story, written by Dr Peter Mack.

A friend’s sister bravely shared her personal story of how she thought of killing herself from the time she was in primary school. It’s time we stop hushing such topics because the only way of even beginning to address it is to “recognise the existence of problems… and particularly remind parents what they can do towards preventing future tragedies among our young” – S R Nathan, 6th President of the Republic of Singapore.


Linking up with:
mamawearpapashirt


~ www.mummyweeblog.com – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

My bucket list

Following on from my previous lesson about not over-sacrificing and about sparing a thought for myself, I’ve been prompted to write my bucket list in detail. There were so many things I wanted to do over the past 10 years. But as my hands were full taking care of the kids, they were relegated to a ‘Things I want to do when the kids grow up’ list which I stored in my head. A year back, just when I thought #5 was finally going into P1 and I will have plenty of free time while they are all in school, along came dear little Kate. But since I’m hitting 40 soon, I had better start to look at my list seriously and see if I can do one or two things each year before I look back and regret.

1. Take my mum on a pilgrimage

The last pilgrimage she went to was more than 20 years ago and I know it is something she would love to do once more, but dare not even ask for. I figured that if I don’t take her soon, who knows what might happen in future? She’s already in her 70s and may not be able to walk so much as she ages. She has done more than her fair share of looking after the kids, and I think it’s time we show her our gratitude for always being there for us without a word of complain. There will be a lot of logistic issues to work out before I can go, but I’m sure the kids will step up to the plate.

2. Volunteer with Samaritans of Singapore

I’ve always wanted to be a volunteer with S.O.S. to man the suicide hotlines. However, volunteering on a regular basis is still a little tricky at this point in time. I can barely find enough time to spend with the kids especially giving them one-on-one attention, so it’s hard to justify carving out a chunk of time to commit to the training sessions and the weekly hours. Well, guess this one has to be shelved for a couple more years.

3. Volunteer with Make a Wish Foundation

I heard about this many years ago and found it so meaningful. To grant children who are terminally ill one last wish before they leave this world. Perhaps I can find out if we can do this as a family, although the last time I checked, it didn’t seem suitable for kids to be involved in this.

Pondering life’s meaning

4. Work in palliative care

Ever since I got acquainted with this aspect of Occupational Therapy as a student, I knew this was the area I wanted to work in. We were working with a lady who had a few months left to live, and she wanted to record down all the things she wanted to say to her little daughter. That touched me so profoundly, to be able to help somebody fulfil their last wishes and to have the privilege of sharing their last days.

(Baby step: I’ve started volunteering at a hospice once a week, till Kate goes to school and I have more time to work.)

5. Set up a cosy hospice for children 

There is a hospice in Melbourne where the children and their families can check in to a wonderful environment at the last leg of their terminal illness. Perhaps we can have a homely children’s hospice here too. A place where the best medical care is provided at a cosy non-medical setting. A place where parents can safely put their child at while they get some respite from the over-whelming burden of caring for a sick child. A place where there are volunteers to spend time with the siblings and extend care and counselling to them too, in their struggles in coping with losing a brother or a sister. A place where there is so much going on for the children – play, activities, fun, with a whole lot of love. A place where life is celebrated, no matter how short it is, and where the focus is not on extending life, but on bringing the most meaning to the last days of their lives. I don’t quite know how this would materialise, but still, good to have a vision!

6. Give talks

Not only do I enjoy writing, I very much enjoy talking. We used to get cold feet before a presentation, but once I got started, I couldn’t stop. When I was an undergraduate, I had the honour of giving a speech to the heads of departments of all the faculties in my university and I actually had a great time speaking to such an audience. Maybe I will look into giving some parenting talks but don’t know if anyone wants to listen to me, ha.

These are more frivolous things which I wish I had more hours in the day to do them.

7. Voice-overs

I was reading about this as a job, and I would get such a kick out of hearing my voice on some automated machine. Will try that some day, just for the fun of it! I’m sure the kids would have a great time laughing about this one.

8. Attend cooking classes

I can’t cook to save my life, but I do wish I could cook nice meals for the family. When they were younger, they were happy to eat what I prepared. But now, they can tell that their mum’s cooking skills are really amateurish (especially my eldest), although I’m slowly getting better with the help of cookbooks. I really like how in some families, the mums or grandmas can cook so well that the whole family looks forward to coming home to mum’s home-cooked meals, even when they are adults.

9. Attend talks and seminars

There are so many interesting talks and workshops going on, and I love to learn and open my mind. Be it in investing, health and nutrition, or lifestyle issues, I wish I had time to learn more.

10. Take up piano lessons with Kate and #2

I did pass my Grade 8 piano exams, but I was taught the boring rote learning way. All technical. I want to be able to play by ear, to really make joyful and exuberant music. I taught the kids some basics, and #2 seems to have a flare for it. If we have excess cash, it would be lovely to enjoy some good piano lessons as a family.

11. Stay at a wellness resort for a week

Something like Como Shambhala, with 1 or 2 close friends. The Bhutan location sounds incredible for such a retreat. How indulgent. My 45th birthday present perhaps.. when Kate would be fine with me gone for so many days.

12. Spend a weekend at a semi-silent retreat

In our lives, there’s just too much noise, too much distractions (especially with so many kids!) I really like the sound of silence, where I can think, contemplate, and grow my faith. And to listen to my inner voice. What bliss. Don’t ask me why, but I still feel guilty spending time away from the kids for my own pleasure. Sigh. Occupational hazard.

13. Take a trip on the Orient Express

I’ve always wanted to experience this since I was a teenager. There’s something just so charming about luxurious rail travel. Must be the great advertising. Someday, someday.

Ok, done. I will pin this up somewhere and like how they say, when you visualise it daily, it will materialise. 

Go ahead, write your bucket list. By penning it down, there’s a higher chance it will get accomplished. Don’t know about you, but I find great satisfaction in crossing things off one by one! And as life coaches will tell you, to make your goals happen, you need to declare it to people around you so that you will be held accountable. I’ve just declared it to so many people, hence they will surely be realised 😉 Let’s do this together, folks. Let’s live lives without regrets. Carpe diem!

“Our biggest regrets are not for the things we have done but for the things we haven’t done”  – Chad Michael Murray


Linking up with:
mamawearpapashirt
~ www.mummyweeblog.com – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

Lesson #1: What having 6 kids did to me

I was reading a post on a fellow blogger’s Facebook, about the struggles of having 3 kids, and of having parents or in-laws watch you barely surviving and telling you, “Want so many kids for what?”

So for those of you with multiple toddlers and struggling, this piece is for you. 


I totally agree that the early years are difficult, even torturous maybe. I remember the time when all 5 of them (plus the hubs AND the helper) were ill with stomach flu and were vomiting all over the place, day and night, over the course of 3 weeks.


I was so sleep deprived, tired and frustrated from cleaning up and changing sheets that I wished I could just walk away. But I couldn’t. I still had to be there for them. I learnt to find my inner strength.


However, that is just a season. It will be over before you know it (yes, even though it doesn’t seem so).

The wonderful thing is, do you know what are the 3 greatest gifts I have received after becoming the mother to 6 little human persons?

Happiness

1) I’ve got my priorities right

We race through life, chasing after so many things. This is just how our society is.

We don’t have time to pause to think.

But at the end of it all, did all those things bring us any lasting happiness?

Probably not.

Having so many kids, I didn’t have the luxury of time to do whatever I wanted. I had to scale down my lifestyle.

I was forced to sit down and think.

What exactly were my priorities?

What was important to me in life? 

I realised that it was to have family and friends around me whom I care about dearly and who care for me.


I used to take my parents and in-laws for granted, but after going through many challenges myself, I can understand what they must have gone through.

I now attempt to spend more time with them, to be more patient with them and to do what will make them happy as they are on their last leg of life’s journey.

Now, I also much prefer having intimate chats with close friends as compared to gatherings in big groups, as we share our lives and our struggles and we listen and support one another through the ups and downs of life.


I’m also trying to find time to do more charity work as a family and to help others in any way we can.

I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer. – Jim Carrey

2) I’ve learned to live

Have you ever watched kids playing in the rain?

They look like they have absolutely no cares in the world.

They radiate joy and happiness, laughing and having so much fun.

Just by being fully in the moment and enjoying whatever they are doing.

So simple yet profound.

We as adults have forgotten how to live.

We are doing, we are accumulating, but we are not living.

And we think, when we have that, when we have reached that point of success, (or for some of my single friends) when we find the right person and get married, things will be perfect and we will be happy.

How wrong we are.

Life is in the now. 

After all the physical pain I have gone through with them; sitting with one at the A&E with a fractured arm, carrying one after an eye operation with both eyelids bleeding, rushing one to the clinic when an allergy almost killed her, all these re-focused me on what is important in life.

At times, I was so physically, mentally and emotionally drained that I didn’t know how I was going to carry on.

But you do, you just do.

And only when you are stretched, when you are pushed beyond your boundaries, do you grow.

Only by emptying of yourself are you fulfilled.

The irony of it all.

I have learnt that I have a capacity to love so deeply.

Having children makes you go beyond yourself.

Be it the ups and downs of life, the happiness or the sadness, I am now able to embrace all of it. 

To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all. – Oscar Wilde


3) I’ve found true happiness

Yes, having so many kids have limited what I can do at the moment.

With little kids, my life slowed to a crawl.

But it was then that I learnt to appreciate the simple things in life.

Marvelling at the beauty of a flower, watching the ripples in the pond, sharing a mug of hot chocolate with an easily contented child.

All of which I would have never had the time to stop and appreciate, if not for the kids. 

I dare say the memories of those precious times of sitting by the kerb, hearing the delighted voices of the kids sharing their joy of seeing yet another beautiful flower “Mom, look at this one! And this!” can rival my experiences of being at the Eiffel tower, sitting in a gondola in Venice, and even skiing in the mountains, all of which I did before I had kids.


It dawned on me that it’s not so much the place, but the people whom I am sharing the experience with, that counts.


I realised that true happiness comes from being with people you love.

And it comes from living for others. Your children, your family, strangers in need.

To be truly content, I only need my family by my side.

Life becomes harder for us when we live for others, but also becomes richer and happier. – Albert Schweitzer

So take heart, as those early years are but a season.

A season where you struggle.

But in your difficulties, you learn to appreciate the simple things. I took so many things for granted before, even something simple like being able to walk, and it was only after going through difficult times that I learnt to appreciate the good times.

Before you know it, that season is gone.

No more constant cuddles and little feet climbing into your lap. No more “I wurve you mummy” every other minute.

No more having the cutest little face peeking up at you with some mischief up their sleeve.

No more hearing those belly laughs with no cares in the world.

My oldest is now 15, yet my job is far from done.

The early years of physical demands are over. Now it’s a mental challenge. Yup, the teenage years.

I hope that I can continue to raise them to be people of compassion, to have a good and kind heart to go out into the world and make a difference.

For them to embrace life, treasure it and go forth with passion.

To find their destiny and to fulfil it.

To grow into adults with the right values which they will pass on to their children.

That is the legacy I hope to leave behind.

I am far from it but at least I have charted my course and I will plod along one day at a time, never forgetting to pause and smell the flowers.

I am thankful beyond words to have the chance to enjoy another little being. I was too busy surviving to have really enjoyed the journey with the other 5.

With Kate, I will be more present to her.

Because I have realised that life is indeed made up of the little things.

Here’s to kids.

Here’s to life.

Linking up with Mamawearpapashirt:
mamawearpapashirt
~ www.mummyweeblog – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore  ~

6 resolutions for a happier year

I love lists, and I love to list down resolutions so that they act as a sort of compass for the coming year of the priorities I would like my family to focus on for the next 365 days. I must say that the silver lining from my 1 week of bedrest in the last week of the year was that I had the time to pause, reflect, and think carefully about how I would like 2014 to be. 

1. Make our lives more meaningful. 

We will simplify and slow down our lives and take on activities which are enriching in mind, body or spirit, and not those which are sapping of energy or time.

Will spend more time at home chillaxing with good company

2. Focus on building relationships. 


In the business of life, we tend to neglect the cultivating of friendships. We tell one another that “One day we must catch up” but never make an effort to do so. The theologian Thomas Aquinas goes so far as to say that “There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship”. Wise man.

3. Pay attention to our health. 

Our diets have always been too heavy on meat, so this year, we will have more salads and eat everything in moderation. Having been immobile the last week of 2013, I will remember to stop rushing around and be more aware of not over-doing things.

One of the most practical Christmas gift hampers we received

4. Spend time in the great outdoors. 

Gadgets have become too much a part of our daily lives. We need to spend more time outdoors and connect with nature, to let the stillness and peace prevail. It will be good for our bodies and good for our harried souls.


5. Be of service to others. 

Only by serving the less fortunate will we be constantly reminded of how blessed we are. And by giving of ourselves, we cannot help but find happiness. It is also a great antidote to today’s self-centeredness in our children. We will strive to be of service to others in big and small ways. 


6. Lighten up and laugh often. 

We tend to have so many things on our minds that we can’t let go and have a good laugh. Sometimes we are so stressed and tensed that we don’t see the humour in anything. Looking at the way Kate laughs, with pure abandonment, I learn to put our adult worries and problems aside, be in the moment, and see the pure joy, that is Life.

I love to hear those belly laughs from babies
And above all, I will live life with a new-found sense of excitement and passion!

Care to share your list?



~ www.mummyweeblog.com – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

A sad Christmas Eve

Every Christmas Eve ever since I was a child, we would have a small and cosy dinner party with close family and friends over at our place. It has been one of our Christmas traditions and even after I got married, we continued that tradition of going back to my mom’s place for dinner. Even my in-laws would go over if they were not away on holiday.

However, this is the first time in my life that I didn’t make it there. My C-section hurt so badly that I couldn’t even walk. It had started to hurt during our HK trip as we did a lot of walking and I guess too much walking and carrying of Kate these past few days had aggravated the wound again, although it’s rather unbelievable given that it’s been more than a year.

So the kids and the hubs and even his aunt and uncle and cousins went over. My good ol’ friends from my secondary school days were also there and one friend even brought her parents along (we are very kampung style, everyone is welcomed!) And I was suddenly left at home. All by myself. You know, it’s strange. I love being alone. I love the silence and peace (especially as I’m surrounded by chatter the whole day). But to know that everyone around you is celebrating the occasion and are making merry together while you are alone feels rather depressing.

#2 & #3 decorated the tree at Por Por’s house

It got me thinking of all those people out there who do not have family to celebrate this time with. And those who may be having financial or family troubles that they face this season of joy with a heavy heart. For me, it’s just this once. What about the elderly who have no family or worse, whose family does not bother about them and every year, it’s the same dreary existence for them.

It was a sobering thought and once again, it reminded me that we have to always be thankful for what we have, not the material things but the important things in life, like having a family (even though it may not be perfect), and having good health. And I resolved that I would try harder to instill in my kids a greater sense of giving. And a heart for caring. Not only for their family members, but all whom they come into contact with. That they may always be a light for others.

My sad dinner.. but then again, at least I had food!

It really struck me that all things are relative. If I compared my dinner of chickpeas and water with their banquet of ham and turkey, I would feel so sorry for myself. But if I compared what I had with those images I saw on youtube of little children rummaging dustbins for scraps, I had too much. And instead of feeling depressed, I felt a desire to give. 

I have never been more glad to hear the voices of my kids as they returned home, bearing gifts and food. Suddenly, the gifts were immaterial. I just longed for their presence and to be surrounded by their childlike joy. Having my hubs and all my kids around me, I felt peace. And happiness. Wow. The simplicity of it all astounded me. 

Kate overwhelmed by so many presents

I got the kids to make up some Christmas parcels and instructed the younger 2 to give them to the ‘Uncles’ working on the garbage truck and to wish them a Merry Christmas when they come around in the morning. #5 was initially reluctant to do so as “the garbage truck is so smelly!” But I explained to him that those uncles have to bear with the smell everyday just to help us remove our trash, so shouldn’t we show some appreciation to them?

I opened all my gifts, and the gifts that touched my heart the most? Definitely the handmade ones. #2 spent an entire day making up these ‘pyramid of kisses’ for all of us.

Lots of hard work and sincerity went into her gift

What a beautiful and sweet gift. 

A labour of love

And #4’s handmade card takes pride of place in our bathroom, a place where daddy will see it everyday!

#4 took a lot of effort to craft this card

Sane tip: In my incapacitated state, perhaps I’ve stumbled upon the key to true happiness. By changing our perspective when faced with difficulties, by putting our priorities where it really matters, and by giving. And of course, by being thankful for all that we already have. Easier said than done? Hopefully I can embody this in the coming year.

Save tip: It dawned on me (again) that we have way too much stuff (maybe I need a 1 year family ban on buying stuff, although I know the hubs will be the first to flout the rule) and that Christmas should be about giving of ourselves to others more so than the giving of presents. May the true meaning of Christmas be in our hearts this season.

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~ www.mummyweeblog.com – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~