Let’s smell the roses

An ex-neighbour came back from Japan and we had a breakfast gathering as the kids had no school today. 

Her own rose garden

About 6 years ago, a few of us mummies started a playgroup for our 2006 babies. We have all remained close till today. Our Japanese friend, Miko, had been staying in Japan for the last 4 years as she has an autistic daughter and she felt that the system in Japan is much better for her daughter. It had been a very difficult decision for her as she had to choose between 

1) Giving her special needs child a better childhood and getting her prepared for an independent future 

2) Keeping the family together

This is her story:

Miko came to Singapore to further her studies. She met her husband, a Singaporean, and they got married. She climbed her way up the corporate ladder and had a promising career earning a very good income. They have 3 children. Her 2nd child was diagnosed with autism and she made the difficult decision to quit her job to manage her daughter. It was a very challenging time as her income disappeared while her daughter’s expenses ballooned. They were spending a minimum of $6000 a month on speech and occupational therapy, cranio-sacral therapy, bio-medicine and even acupuncture. 

She studied the options available for her daughter’s future but it looked rather bleak. The special schools were either full, not ideal, or too expensive. And she didn’t want her daughter to be resigned to just living her days aimlessly at home.

On a trip back to Japan, she explored the options there and realised that the system for handicapped children was more established. There was childcare, respite care, and qualified carers to take them on outings. They had sheltered workplaces where they were trained based on their capabilities from basic corporate careers to skills like gardening or baking. They were taught life skills to maximise their independence. 

Apart from the infrastructure, there was also a vast difference in the spirit of the carers and educators. In Singapore, she felt that they were driven more by monetary gains and career progression. In Japan, they found great satisfaction in their calling to serve the special needs children and they did it with much love, patience and compassion. The fresh air and greenery around her house was also more calming for her daughter.

What a tough decision for Miko. In the end, she decided that she would provide the best shot at life for her weakest offspring. She took her 2nd and 3rd children back to Japan while leaving her eldest son and her husband here in Singapore. We as parents have to make some very tough decisions. Sometimes we don’t know if it is the right choice or not. We can only choose the best based on what we know at that moment. 

Miko shared with us that life has taken on such a different meaning for her. What a far cry from those hectic days at the peak of her career. She started growing roses all around her property to stop her autistic daughter from running off. Now, tending to her rose garden gives her such peace. The term “smelling the roses” has taken a literal meaning for her. 

Her lovely roses

Maybe we should all stop and smell the roses too.

Sane tip: Whatever our present situation in life, both good or bad, I always remember the proverb ‘this too shall pass’. Sometimes we may find that our situation is unbearable. Just hang in there.

Save tip: Sometimes the simplest things like taking a long stroll or calling a friend for a listening ear is what we need, instead of hitting the malls.

~ mummy wee – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~