Thank you Mummy for everything!

Day 1 of Phase ONE.

“Mummy, wake up!”

“I have something special for you.”

Kate led me downstairs and she had prepared breakfast for me.

“Thank you mummy for everything that you have done for us during this time at home.”

Homemade bread by #2

Such a surprise.

She tried to make it look nice like an airplane meal, with tea, water, and fruits in an upturned glass bowl!

“What has mummy done for you?”

“You take care of us, play games with us, and sometimes when you cook for us, and it is so yummy everyone asks for more, you give all of your own until you have nothing to eat. You sacrifice so much for us.”

I was actually surprised that my youngest is the one who noticed.

As mums, sacrificing like that is really no big deal. An empty stomach can easily be filled.

I asked her if she was happy that her brother was back in school because they have been squabbling over the 2 months and to be honest, I enjoy the peace and quiet with them apart.

She said, “I miss gor gor. I asked him to wake me up at 5.30 but he didn’t.”

“I told him not to. You need your sleep. Why do you want to wake up so early?”

“I wanted to make him breakfast before he went to school.”

I was flabbergasted.

Sibling relationships are such.

They can fight one moment but are best pals soon after.

So precious.

About MummyWee

Michelle Choy is an Occupational Therapist by day and mum of 6 by night. Besides the already very demanding job of managing 5 teenagers and one 6-turning-16 tween, she is also Founder of The Little Executive, a nurturing centre to develop children in areas like resilience and adaptability, to survive today’s volatile world. She also makes time to volunteer with children and the elderly in her community.

Thankful for… both sides of the family

I love that we live next door to my sister-in-law. And that she can cook, and bake… haha, that’s besides the point.

Kate can just pop over for lunch every day after school, and when they take their kids out, they simply holler over the wall and ask who wants to tag along.

So glad to be relieved of those full-on outings like taking them to the zoo (for the 100th time), science centre or night safari, yet my younger kids get an opportunity to go.

My other sis-in-law also lives close by, and #4 plays with her younger cousins quite often. Yesterday was the first time Kate joined them to take the MRT into town and #4 did a great job taking care of her.

On my own side of the family, my 6 kids have been the only grandchildren all these years.

Finally, finally, my brother and sis-in-law had their first child. They come over every weekend and Kate always looks forward to their visits.
Big sis

My other sis-in-law also had her first baby last year and Kate is so fortunate to have several cousins around her age. Sadly, that is something my older kids have always wished for but will never have.

Kate loves taking care of her little cousins and calls them her ‘babies’. Although sometimes, she doesn’t quite do a good job.

Such a blessing to have harmony in the family, and it is something that should never be taken for granted.

I’ve learn a lot from the hubs side about living with a kampung spirit.

Thankful for so much support and thankful that our lives are enriched by one another.

“He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has” – Epictetus

Thankful… for the hub’s cooking

Thankful… for our helper
Thankful… for my family
Thankful… for my mum-in-law

~ – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

Thankful… for the good and bad

As we approached the Christmas season, so much went through my mind. The past few months have been tough. A family member had a relapse of his mental illness and was warded in IMH. We went through a cash crunch and for the first time, the kids had to be denied things they were used to.

I looked around at our excesses and wonder if all these are necessary and I remember a time long ago when I wanted to be a nun, as I yearned for the simplicity of a zen life.

My kids, on the other hand, get sucked in to the commercialism and wish they were rich and can buy everything they set their eyes on. It accelerates into complains about everything, from our uninspired home decor to the boring dishes our helper serves up. Yes, they’ve been on too much Pinterest.

I keep telling them that if they constantly look at others with better things, they will be dissatisfied and unhappy. There will always be people who have more than us and people who have less. This holidays, they have had much less than past years, and I guess the silver lining is that henceforth, they will be more appreciative of the good life that we have been living all these years.

Thinking back to 2 Christmases ago where I couldn’t even walk, I knew I had so much to be thankful for. Being mobile and able to go wherever I wanted to, healthy children, a big family around us.

A few days ago, we accompanied the hubs up to K.L. for a meeting since the kids were on holiday. I was happy to be there but was griping about the horrendous traffic and for having to sit for hours in the jam.

My dad-in-law on the other hand, insisted on being picked up early so that he could spend time in the car with the kids. His priorities struck me. The inconvenience was irrelevant. He chose his priorities and stuck to it.

What a wonderful way to live our lives, instead of constantly being swayed by other people’s priorities or not even knowing what our priorities are.
Pavilion Mall in KL

We had some time to while away, and as we took in the extravagant display of thousands of sparkling crystals, something gnawed inside me.

What a show.

Are our lives a show?

In these very ‘showy’ times of Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest, my first response was to upload a pretty picture. However, it made me feel superficial at best and fake at worse.

Is this reflective of what our lives are at the moment? Or is it just to paint a picture to friends and readers?

On Christmas Eve after a beautiful service in church, we adjourned to my mum’s place for dinner, the same way we have celebrated for as long as I can remember.

It is a simple affair with family and close friends and it always feels like home. A place and time where we can be ourselves.

Big sis
I snapped this photo of Kate and her newest cousin.

She looks sagely matured and seems to know what is important.

Our relationship with one another.

I love how she grabbed hold of the little baby’s hand.

I will stay by you. Hold on to you. Pull you up. And everything will be a-ok!

May the joy and peace of Christmas fill your homes and hearts.
Merry Christmas!

“He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has” – Epictetus

Thankful… for the hub’s cooking

Thankful… for our helper
Thankful… for my family
Thankful… for my mum-in-law

~ – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

Thankful… for my eldest child

Of all my kids, I found it hardest to write a thankful post about my eldest. Partly because she was rather rebellious during the last 4 years in secondary school, and partly because she speaks what she feels and doesn’t mince her words. Sometimes she comes across as being too brutally honest for me to accept, and sometimes, speaking to her is like speaking to a porcupine.

During those difficult years, I usually left her room bordering between feeling like I have failed as a parent and wondering why I had such an insolent child.

Comfort on big sis’s shoulder

This year, I can see a change in her. She is more caring towards her younger siblings, and family has taken on a greater significance for her.

Throughout the teenage years, friends were very important to her, and she wasn’t very close to the other kids. She was busy with school and her own schedule and when we went out as a family, she found them too noisy and pesky.

She is more sensible now and I can go to her for her opinions which are well deliberated and usually sound. In fact, I love our chats as I gain a different perspective on issues from her youthful viewpoint.

During the holidays, she took #5 for a day out and allowed him to choose wherever he wished to go. He decided on the Lego cafe because he could eat fish and chips and spend the whole afternoon playing Lego. He came home elated.

I can also count on her to help me pick Kate up from preschool if I can’t make it. She has been such a dear to readily accept such responsibilities.

We’ve found that she has a soft spot for the vulnerable, such as the elderly, disabled children, or abandoned animals. Once, she saw a stray dog which looked rather sickly, and she packed some food and went hunting for the dog.

Whenever I share with them my plans for our next volunteer activity, she never fails to respond enthusiastically, which sets the tone for the younger ones, who may not be that keen.

She has also been indispensable in helping me with the technical side of the blog, for setting it up, and advising me on ways to improve my non-existent photo skills.

During our recent family photo shoot, she took charge of the outfits and zipped around the mall to find coordinating colours for all of us. She even drew 8 stick figures on her phone, and colored one by one in when she found a suitable piece so that the colours wouldn’t clash.

I have never felt old but that day, it hit me that I don’t have the energy level like before, and I have to admit there are things my kids can handle much better than me, with their vigour. Time to gradually hand over the reins!

Most of all, I still appreciate her objectivity, for voicing out what she believes in, and thankfully, she has learnt to moderate her comments while keeping her honesty.

“He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has” – Epictetus

Thankful… for the hub’s cooking

Thankful… for our helper
Thankful… for my family
Thankful… for my mum-in-law

~ – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

Thankful… for the teenagers and the toddler

#1 always manages to get Kate to pose for her. They spent a carefree evening at the playground together.

“If I can’t see you, you can’t see me too!”

Hide & seek

Learning to pout?

Or pretending to be sad…

That’s more like our Kate.

This precocious child became a part of our large family a short 3 years ago, but it’s hard to imagine life without her.

When they are young and needy, we can’t wait to have our peace and wish they would play alone instead of bugging us all the time.

All too soon, they morph into sullen teenagers and want their space. The tables are turned and now it’s us trying to inch our way into their lives.

How ironic.

The strangest thing is, we never see the transition coming.

My eldest & my youngest

I’m glad that I have the teenagers to remind me how precious everything about Kate is, and how fleeting the moments are.

Yes, even when she whines and throws tantrums. Even when she keeps pushing the boundaries and drives me mad.

And I’m thankful to have Kate to bring out the best in the older kids, in nurturing and caring for her.

“He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has” – Epictetus

Thankful… for the hub’s cooking

Thankful… for our helper
Thankful… for my family
Thankful… for my mum-in-law
~ – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

Thankful… that #3’s surgery went well

#3 is back home and recuperating nicely. Actually, after the accident, I had taken her to see a GP but he assured us that everything was fine, and it was only 5 days later that we found out her bone had been fractured. I’m so thankful that the op went well and she was able to be discharged the next day.

The stay in hospital was much better than we anticipated, in most part due to the caring nurses at Ward 76 of SGH. Both the eye and paediatric wards were full, so she was placed in the orthopaedic ward.

Kate ‘sayang-ing’ her jie jie

Snr staff nurse Tai Saw Ying saw me trying to sleep on the chair and made the effort to go over to the paediatric ward to find a mini deck chair so that I could rest properly. It was all taken, so she brought over 3 chairs and made a makeshift bed for me. How thoughtful.

The morning nurse was also a very cheery young lady who never lost her patience no matter how busy she got. Maybe she was sent to demonstrate to me how we can still serve with a smile even though we are demanded to be octopuses.

We made friends with the aunties on the other beds and found out that one spritely old lady works from 3am to 3pm selling fishball noodles at Tiong Bahru market even though she’s in her 70s! Inspirational.

We are indeed very thankful to Dr Chan Choi Mun and Dr Audrey Looi over at the National Eye Centre who handled her so professionally.

And of course, grateful to all our family and friends, and her teachers for their concern, encouragement, advice and prayers over the past few days. We know we are loved! 🙂 Hmm, finally I see the benefits of social media. Friends from far and wide sent us their healing wishes and prayers so quickly. Haha. Yes, I know, I’m slow. My kids never fail to point out I’m from the ‘old times’.

I’m real glad that #3 has been holding out so well. She is in a cheery mood despite all that she went through, and all the pain, aches and limitations post op. It was so sweet of her classmates to come over after school today to visit her and keep her company.

I guess there are always silver linings to be found.

Wishing all of you a wonderful weekend my dear friends.

“He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has” – Epictetus

Thankful… for the hub’s cooking

Thankful… for our helper
Thankful… for my family
Thankful… for my mum-in-law

~ – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

Thankful for… my parents

When people find out that I have 6 children, the first question that pops up is “How do you manage?” As much as I would like to take credit for being a supermum, I have to admit that it was only possible because I had a lot of family support. The hubs worked from home and was a very hands-on sort of dad, and my parents were also very involved with the raising of the kids.

There was one period when we tried starting our own business and we were very busy. My mum used to come over daily to take care of the children even though they were living all the way in Pasir Ris and we were in the West. It took her more than an hour of commuting and by the time she reached home and finished her housework, it would be close to midnight. I kept asking my parents to move closer but my dad refused as he was accustomed to living in the East. Finally one day, when I realised the toil was getting too strenuous for my mum, I prayed fervently that my dad would change his mind. 

Miraculously, the next day, there was a front page article in the ‘Home’ section of The Straits Times about a woman who committed suicide due to post natal depression after giving birth to her first child. My dad was very shaken and told my mum, “She is about to give birth to her fourth child, we better move closer to her.” Within the month, they had rented a unit in our condominium and moved over.

Doting grandma

About 2 months after I gave birth to #5, I was waking up every 2-3 hours to breastfeed him and I remember feeling extremely tired from the chronic lack of sleep and very sick of being a ‘cow’ for so many years. It was one of my lowest points and I was almost going crazy dealing with a newborn and 4 other kids. The hubs had to go away for 2 weeks for a business trip and asked if I could manage. I looked at him and said, “Yes, go. I’m coming along too.” We asked my mum to come over to stay and left all of them to her. She had to carry the baby most of the time as he kept crying because I had suddenly stopped breastfeeding him and just disappeared. My mum understood my need for a break and never complained.

When my mum accompanies us on holidays, she is always the one who volunteers to stay behind in the hotel to accompany the baby who is sleeping, or any other ‘job’ that is most uninteresting or unsavoury. To her, being around her grandkids brings enough happiness and she doesn’t mind any part of it. My dad encourages her to tag along even though it means he has to take care of his own meals. He knows it is better to have an extra pair of hands and an extra adult to watch over the kids.

During parties, I am usually busy either entertaining or enjoying the food to take notice of what the kids are doing. I can do that simply because I have taken for granted that my mum is always around to ensure the younger kids are properly taken care of. And whenever she comes over, if one child is sick with fever, she will automatically give the child extra care, sometimes even carrying and rocking the child the whole day. She knows that I would have been exhausted staying up all night with the sick child and she would tell me to take a rest while she takes over.

And so the saying goes, “Mothers are the best”. I couldn’t agree more.

Or is it, “Mother knows best”? I couldn’t agree more on this one too.

(Unfortunately, none of my kids think so. Yet.)

Linking up with:

Thankful… for our helper
Thankful… for my family
Thankful… for my mum-in-law

~ – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

Thankful for… school

Last year, when I was invited to the Ministry of Education for a dialogue session, I met Petunia Lee, an educator whom many parents are familiar with. While walking to the car park after the session, knowing that we both felt the same way about the education system, she asked me why haven’t I considered homeschooling my kids. I looked at her in mock horror and replied, “Can you imagine having 6 monkeys at home the whole day, every day? I am so thankful they go to school!”

Many of us love to complain about this highly stressful education system and are quick to point out the flaws in the system. When #1 first entered primary school, I used to be outraged at finding out that in many instances, the children do not come first, and true learning does not seem to be the focus. However, the more I understand what really goes on behind the scenes, the more I am grateful for all those involved who really do care and are trying their best to do what they can for our children. 

Here in Singapore, we tend to take school for granted. Today, I will take a moment to be thankful.

Thankful that school is accessible to all.

Thankful that our kids are safe in school.

Thankful that our kids do not need to travel distances just to get an education.

Thankful for the facilities and comfortable environment to study in.

Thankful that schools are free of negative influences such as drugs.

And above all, I’m thankful that school keeps the kids out of my hair for 7 hours every day! At the tail end of every December holidays, I can’t wait for school to resume. 6 weeks with them at home is about all I can take.

Happy schooling, kids!

Thankful… for our helper
Thankful… for my family
Thankful… for my mum-in-law

~ – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~