#4 has always been a very sensitive child. Unfortunately, I didn’t notice it when she was younger. During the crazy days when it was a daily challenge taking care of the 5 of them, I would scream at them when I got angry. And that happened ALOT. Poor #4 was the most affected because of her sensitive nature. Thank goodness children are resilient, and are able to bounce back even when assaulted by our bad parenting.
These past few years, I have gradually come to see her beautiful nature. She has become my morale compass. When I am mean or getting too wound up and treating everyone around me harshly, she will write me little notes which never fail to stop me in my tracks and re-centre me. A few weeks ago when I was feeling down, she wrote me notes with such sincerity and concern that it made me feel better.
When I watch her looking after Kate or her little cousin, my heart fills with pride and joy. She handles them with such gentleness, patience, and care. This child has a heart of gold. I’m so ashamed that for most of the past 10 years of her life, I haven’t helped her to blossom and shine but instead have neglected her in my busyness. Even her kindergarten teachers noticed it and advised me to spend more time with her. I kept telling myself to do that, but life has a way of pushing you around with more pressing things which need your attention. She was never demanding and quietly followed along in the background. Yet, despite all that, she has still managed to cling on to the beauty of her soul.
There was one time, when she first entered Primary 1. She cried every single day for about two months. Not only because of the transition into a big school, but I had made the very tough decision to put her in a different school from her 3 older sisters. To make matters worse, the adults kept praising her for getting into this ‘good’ school, and her siblings retaliated by telling her “what’s so good about your school, etc” and gave her a hard time. Her crying spells got on everybody’s nerves and #2 said in exasperation, “You are her mum. Can’t you make her stop?!” I tried all means to get her to stop but to no avail and I ended up ignoring her because I was at my wit’s end. I wished she could be more like her sisters.
One evening, the whole family had to go for a dinner party and we left her at home with our helper as she had a fever. I scolded her for not listening to me and drinking enough water and sleeping on time, and added in harsh words for good measure about always crying and being so hard to handle. The next morning, her fever broke and I said “Oh great! Your fever’s gone.” She told me that when she went to bed, she prayed that she will get well the next day. I asked her what else did she pray for? And she quietly replied, “That all of you will enjoy yourselves at the party.” I was stunned. A sick 6-year-old, home alone, having been miserable for weeks, yet her concern was still for others. I’m sure if my boss had given me a good dressing down and told me to work overtime while he went off for a party, wishing him a good time would be the furthest thing from my mind.
As I am writing this, the memories are slowly returning and it saddens me to think that I have been such a horrible mum to her and how much emotional turmoil she must have gone through. I spoke to her about the past and was dismayed that she remembered many of the incidences (which some I have even forgotten). Sigh. I must guard my harsh words more carefully as it could stay on with them forever. I asked her if she will forgive me for being a bad mummy in the past and she nodded.
Indeed, I have much to learn from her.
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~ www.mummyweeblog.com – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~