Tag Archives: parenting

How to Train Your (Little) Dragon

30 Apr

a couple of weeks ago, my family took a trip to ikea.  if you are a parent of young kids, ikea is probably one of your favourite places to bring your kids.  they not only have babysitting service (for older kids), but their washrooms even come with diapers and kiddy toilets for babies and kids.

my daughter has been throwing tantrums lately and her whining and crying has gotten so much worse than before, that her dad and I are afraid to take her outside.  whenever we go out, she often “acts out” in public and in all honestly, it’s darn embarrassing!

so, at ikea… she decided to go on this full-on tantrum. first, she lied down on the floor… and she waved her legs and arms as if she was making a snow angel.  then, she flipped over and started to ‘swim’ on the ground, as if she was in a swimming pool.  all this, while screaming and crying at the top of her lungs.

everyone’s watching.  i’m tempted to pick her up and soothe her to escape from the embarrassment.  however, i don’t want to encourage this kind of behaviour and i know that picking her up and soothing her is exactly what she’s asking for.  so, i didn’t give in.  i kept calm and asked her to stop and of course, she didn’t even hear me.  i told her very firmly to get up.  after repeating myself for awhile, i told her i’m going home and she can follow me if she wants to.  then, i turned and walked away.  meanwhile, everyone’s eyes were on us.  i prayed that she would follow me and if she does, i was willing to hug her and comfort her.

less than a minute later, i turned around and i saw her get up.  she stopped crying.  she looked at me and smirked.  then, she ran the other away.

OH MY….. i was beyond mad.  how can this be?  she’s only 16 months, not even 2 years old and she is already acting like this??  what is wrong with her??

i eventually ran after her and held her tightly, which caused her to begin her cries again. she tried her hardest to squirm out of my arms.  eventually, ikea ice cream was able to calm her down.

yes, one thing after another.

toddlers from 13 months to 18 months are very cute and they will make you laugh and smile.  i have often heard many parents say, “awww, that’s a good age!”  it is, in a way that they are starting to experiment with new things and imitate you.  they learn so much and they will show off what they’ve learned and it will melt your heart.  however, because they are getting smarter… they will test you.  they will push you to your limits, little by little, until you throw in the towel.  after a ‘battle’ with your child, you are mentally, emotionally and often times physically exhausted!

oftentimes, i think… are all kids around this age this difficult?  or is it just my child?  am i doing things wrong?  if i become a strict and disciplining mom, would this trouble go away?

one thing i would hate is to have a spoiled, undisciplined and bad-mannered child.  i do not want to be a helicopter mom or a ‘yes’ mom, who spoils their kid.

after much thought and much observation of my daughter, i have learned that she was ready to understand her limits and ready to be disciplined.  at first, i had a talk with my husband to make sure he was on board with me.  when i discipline, he was not to interfere or to comfort her saying daddy will make it all better.  i got his agreement.

the next day, later at night, her tantrums began again.  nothing i did was satisfying to her and she wanted more and more.  she wanted to watch tv, eat while lying down and even then, she wanted me to turn on a different video every minute.  anything other than that, she ran around crying and screaming.  so for the first time, i turned off the tv, took away her food and told her until she behaves, she wasn’t going to get anything.  she understood everything i had said and so her screaming got louder and she cried so hard that her cries were silent.  she was very angry and she tried and tried to get her way.  i didn’t give in, nor did her dad.  then, she wanted to be held.  i walked away a couple of times saying that she needed to calm down first.  after a while, i held her and explained once again, why it’s not good to behave the way she did.  shortly after, she was calm.

omg.  after that incident, she became an angel.  she behaved so well the rest of the night and she even went to bed without a fuss and fell asleep within 10 minutes.  no resistance, no crying.  she tossed and turned, trying to fall asleep and she fell asleep all by herself.

the next day, she listened to us much more than she ever has.  for the first time, when you told her no, she actually listened.  then, monday began and once grandma spent a day with her… back to square one.  i had to be firm with her once again on monday night and tried to set boundaries again.  she must have been so confused, but i was hoping that she would learn some consistency, at least with me.

anyways, after this crazy experience, i thought… perhaps, it’s time to send her to a good daycare or nursery school.  maybe being with grandma isn’t helping her to learn limitations, manners and independence.  i felt that she’s now entering to an age, where she needs to learn acceptable social behaviours and independence.  perhaps, i’ll need some professional help – someone who is educated in teaching her these things, in the most constructive way.

thus, started my search for a good nursery school, once again.  we found a great private school.  yes, it’s gonna cost us an arm and a leg, but i feel like it’s going to be worth every penny.  from their curriculum, the teachers, the facilities, their teaching beliefs to organic lunches and snacks… it would be worth it.

i guess our next step is… can we afford it (for years to come, since the price will only increase as she moves up to higher grades)?  is she ready to go and spend a whole day without grandma or mom?  if she goes to this school, she has to wean her pacifier; can she do this?

much discussion and decision making will take place in the next few weeks.  on top of packing and getting ready for a new house… the work never ends!

Dragon Snow Angel

Daycare vs Homecare

4 Mar

one of the biggest hinderances to my decision in returning back to work was child care.  who will take care of my child, while i’m at work?  i’m very lucky and thankful that i had an option to have my parents take full-time care of our little girl, which made my decision much easier.

it was an answer to my prayer.  being able to have a job, my daughter being taken care by someone who loves her as much as i do and also to help my parents financially, which i’ve been wanting to do for quite a long time.  if all of these points didn’t work out, i would have been a stay-at-home mom, whether i liked it or not.

although my child care option was going to be grandma’s home care, my husband and i still contemplated daycare/montessori/nursery school options.  one of my husband’s close friends referred a great nursery school that his mother-in-law works at and also sends his son to.  we were pleased that it was a nursery school where they have programs to teach kids different development skills, and not just a daycare,.  we visited this place and we liked it.

we considered this nursery school because we wanted our daughter to develop social, language and other skills.  however, since our girl doesn’t do so well in a new environment and with new people, we didn’t really want to make her go there.  they did have part-time options, so we considered it, but the school highly recommended a full-time option because with the part-time option, we would not see much improvement.

my husband and i gathered all the information and started to research and brainstorm to see which option was best for our daughter.

i read some of the studies done by different early educationists on the effects of daycare (centres) on child development. different research found one consistent result.  they found that the children who attended daycare were much more advanced in language, reading, writing and mathematical skills than children who stayed home with a family member or nanny.  however, they also discovered that the earlier a child goes to daycare and the longer hours they stayed in the daycare, the more social/behavioural problems they found later when the kids went to school.  they did find that the academic advancement and behaviour problems averaged out by grade six and there weren’t many differences between these children.  (sources: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/11/01/national/01child.html?pagewanted=all, http://www.familyfacts.org/briefs/43/the-effects-of-day-care-on-the-social-emotional-development-of-children, etc)

i believe that every parent/family has different parenting goals and values.  no one can judge or tell a parent how to raise their kids.  for us, even before our daughter was born, we agreed that we would put a higher value in character, morals and happiness over intelligence or academics.  in another words, we want to discipline our child to become a good-hearted, honest, responsible and happy person, rather than disciplining her to become a lawyer or doctor or scholar.  if becoming a scholar makes her happy, we will support her in that, but our hope is not to influence her to focus only on academics.

so with these sorts of goals and values we hold, we decided to have my parents take care of our girl full-time.  as much as we want our daughter to grow (well) in her development (which nursery school would definitely help with), we thought she needed love and care, more than anything else.

now that it’s been 3 weeks, are we happy with our decision?

there is always good and bad.  i don’t think there is a perfect situation.

the good; she is loved and cared for… probably more than what she needs. 🙂  she’s been sick for a couple of days and i was very relieved that she was in good hands.  i knew my mom would take care of her well and i didn’t need to take days off work.  there are countless good things… i can’t write them all!

the bad; she’s gotten very spoiled and has become much more whiny.  my mom picks her up as soon as she cries and makes sure that she gets her wish.  by friday night, my daughter doesn’t feel like my own daughter anymore, because she’s become so spoiled and undisciplined.  i try to be firm and discipline her during the weekend and by sunday, she’s gotten much better and i feel like she’s back to her old self.  however, next friday rolls around and it’s back to square one.  the inconsistency worries me since consistency is the key to discipline.  however, i think my daughter has learned some consistency in that she knows that she can get her way with the grandparents, but not with mom and dad.

before i returned to work, we took our daughter to the nursery school for a couple of hours for a tour and during this time, the principal/owner lady taught/conditioned my daughter on how to sign for ‘more’, as in i want ‘more’ food.  it took 2 tries and my girl learned ‘more’ right away and she continues to use it everyday.  even now, she doesn’t have much vocabulary that she can speak, but one of the words she knows is ‘more’ (sounds more like ‘mow’).

seeing such rapid learning, i wondered if my decision to have her at home was the best option for my daughter.  perhaps, she will reach her full potential if she was put into a nursery school… i don’t know.

for now, i’m happy with our decision and i’m thankful that i can have peace of mind while i’m at work.  i never really worried about my daughter’s development, maybe more so because she was fast at everything, but in any case, i hardly push her.  i want her to take her time to grow and develop.  i was a late bloomer.  i didn’t know how to add until i was in grade 3 or 4 and i turned out fine.  i ended up excelling in math and in science, so i know that my daughter will be just fine too.

and i really don’t think in the future, she will challenge my decision to not put her into nursery school… so, it’s all good.

maybe when she turns two and shows interest, we might consider putting her into a nursery school for a half day… but… i really don’t mind having her at home until she goes to JK.

Life After Returning to Work

28 Feb

it’s been 2 weeks since i have returned back to work.

the first week was pretty fun; getting dressed for work, taking lunch breaks and being able to eat without distractions and in quietness. there were moments of extreme sadness due to missing my little girl, but all in all, it was nice to have my ‘own’ work and feeling accomplished at the end of the day.

however, ever since i returned to work, i feel overwhelmed physically. i feel like i get no breaks over the weekend. Doing errands, catching up on housework and playing with our daughter. it’s exhausting at work and at home!

this week has already been very difficult. on top of feeling exhausted (already!), it’s been hard adjusting to my team members at work. most of my coworkers have been working at my company for many years and it’s been hard getting used to the culture they have there.

i think the hardest part is missing my girl. i have 3 pictures of my daughter at my workstation, but i try not to look at them too long or too often. there are moments when i have to take some time to control my emotions, tell myself to be patient and that it will become easier/better soon.

i never thought that this transition would be ‘this’ hard. i wonder if and when it will become easier… i need some advice from other moms who have returned to their work. i really need a better perspective… at this rate, i feel like i won’t last very long!

He KNOWS Me.

8 Feb

these days, i tend to gaze at my daughter much more often and longer than usual. i don’t just look at her, like i look at a traffic light before crossing the road. i ‘look’ at her and try my hardest to remember that moment and in that moment, something magical happens – it feels like that time stops for a couple of seconds and everything moves in slow motion. just like in the movies, my daughter remains in focus and everything else becomes blurred. i’ve never experienced it before, until now. this moment passes by so fast, it almost feels like water slipping through my fingers. i want to capture it, if i can.

tonight, while putting miss ej to sleep, it happened again. time stopped and i took a good look at her. her tiny body, arms, legs and fingers… as i looked at her, i said to my myself, this is my ej. i ‘know’ that this is my little girl.

i know her. i’ve known her from the time she was in my womb. her movements, her hiccups and her stretches, i recognized them from the time when she was in my belly. after she was born, i learned to read her and understand her. now, i can tell what she wants from her expressions and her grunts.

and this wonderful experience reminded me how god ‘knows’ me, even more than how i know my daughter.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
before you were born I set you apart;
I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5)

i know that this is in the context of god speaking to jeremiah, but i want to believe that it applies to me too. i know that he formed me and made me the person i am and knowing this, i can’t be more secure.

i hope that one day, ej recognizes that she is also made, formed and ‘known’ by god and i wish i could exemplify the extent of god’s love and care to her.

“This is what the LORD says—
he who made you, who formed you in the womb,
and who will help you:
Do not be afraid, Jacob, my servant,
Jeshurun, whom I have chosen.” (Isaiah 44:2)

there is no reason to be afraid. he’s got my back.

Leaving is Difficult

7 Feb

ever since i’ve made up my mind to go back to work, it’s been extremely hard.  i don’t know if other moms understand how i feel, but it’s very difficult to explain with words how hard it is.

it honestly feels like i’m going through a very difficult break-up where i’ve been extremely attached to someone.  actually, it’s even harder.  breaking up with my husband during our dating days didn’t feel as bad as this.  it’s a mix of negative emotions; fear, anxiety, heartache.  at times i feel depressed and other times, i feel like i’m having an anxiety attack.  i wish i didn’t have to go through this and i also want this to pass quickly.

everyday, i see my daughter’s precious face and think, how am i going to survive a whole eight hours without seeing her beautiful face?  can i really do this?  is she going to be ok?  am i going to be ok?  i’m going to miss her and i’m going to miss holding her.  gosh, it’s much harder than i anticipated!

recently, my daughter started this phase where she is starting to favour her grandma and her dad, over me.  at first, i was happy that she was no longer very attached to me and it felt good to get a break but i quickly felt sad and wanted that closeness with her again.  it saddened me more because i didn’t have too much time to spend with her before returning to work.

i have spent more than a year taking care of her, loving her, being delighted by her and at times frustrated by her.  for a whole year, i haven’t really done anything other than taking care of my daughter and putting her first before anything, or anyone else.  and now, all that’s going to change.  so fast.

this is such an uncomfortable place and i’m holding tightly to god’s promise;

‘trust in the lord with all your heart.  lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways, submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.’ (proverbs 3:5-6)

i wish time could stop.

I Wish I Was a ‘Mom-type’

3 Feb

most of the time, i consider myself as a secure and confident person. however, there is one area i feel very insecure and not confident about. it’s parenting. it hurts my pride to admit it but it’s true.

my husband is good at many things and one of the things he is good at, is saying things “freely”, without much thought or consideration. i’m not any better and i’m also guilty of saying mean things to my husband, without being considerate. after being married to my husband for almost four years, i have learned to ‘filter’ my husband’s inconsiderate comments and try to take in what he really means to say, rather than focusing on every single word. however, there are times when i’ve got mad at his careless comments and when i get mad, i get really mad. my husband calls it ‘the rage’. it’s like another side of me comes out (holy… that sounds scary!) and i make sure that my point get across, usually by yelling really loud. i’m not proud of this character flaw that i possess and it is one area i wish to change. it’s also an area that steers me away from the image of christ and i’m sadden by this fact.

ok, so. one time, my husband made a very careless, non-intentional comment. he said, ‘honey, i don’t think you are meant to be a mom. you are definitely not a mom-type. my boss’ wife is a true mom. it’s like she’s meant to be a mom. when i hear about her, i can tell that you are definitely not the mom-type’. when i heard this… i was confused and became defensive. it hurt a bit.

i know not to get mad at this type of inconsiderate comment because he doesn’t really mean what he says. i tried to keep my composure and proceeded with ‘oh, why do you say that? and why do you think your boss’ wife is a great mom, but i’m not? what does she do that i don’t?’ ok, i didn’t say this very calmly. it probably sounded very defensive and my voice probably shook a bit. i was trying hard not to be emotional and be rational. my husband answered, ‘oh, it’s because my boss’ wife loves every second that she spends with her son. she wanted to get pregnant as soon as she had her first. btw, she is pregnant again with her second and it happened without her husband’s consent! (apparently, he wasn’t too keen on having a second child so soon). my husband continued, ‘she wants to give up her career and stay home with her kids when her second child arrives’. that really stung. i think at this point, my rage started to kick in a bit.

so i drilled my husband with my ‘defensive’ questions – ‘what’s wrong with me? how do you know that your boss’ wife enjoys every second? come on, every single second? are you sure? how can you be sure? did you see her interact with her child? i do not ‘not-like’ being with our daughter. i love every single second too, but you are never there to help. you come home late, never feed her or take care of her by yourself. what do you know about parenting and being a mom?’ so on and on… the more i spoke, the louder i got. i became very emotional and irrational. you get the picture.

in response to my so called rage, my husband, often times respond by saying, ‘omg, what is your problem?’ yup, that’s it. he doesn’t explain himself or apologize. he just says this one sentence and stops talking. sometimes he adds, ‘are you on pms?’ come on, i need more than that… he can’t just stop talking about it! however, i do know why he responds this way. he’s shocked by my emotional response to something so minuscule and ambiguous.

oftentimes, i shut down at this point. i say, forget it, i don’t want to talk about it because it’s not worth it. i say this because i feel like he won’t understand how i feel, even if i explained, so i don’t want to waste my energy trying to explain and be hurt by the disappointing result.

however, i argued with him this time. i felt that i was misunderstood by him. i didn’t want him to think that i don’t like parenting or taking care of our daughter. i wanted him to authentically view me as the ‘mom-type’ or i wanted to be that ‘mom-type’, although i didn’t really understand the criteria. after a heated discussion, i realized that what he meant to say was that he views me as a career-driven person and not a stay-at-home mom. he doesn’t think that i’m less of a mom or that i don’t do a good job. he knows that i’m a good mom and i do a good job. he was simply commenting on how he perceived me, that’s all.

i knew his intentions were not bad. however, it still bothered me a lot because of these reasons;

1. the fact that i want to further my career and have a job, other than housework and parenting. perhaps, this desire disqualifies me from being that ‘mom-type’

2. i was happy with having just one child. at this point in my life, i do not want a second child. i hope to have a second child in the future, but not right now. maybe the ‘mom-type’ constantly wants more children, because they enjoy it so much.

3. perhaps the reason for feeling this way (point #2) is because there are so much risks in going through pregnancy and labour. due to my condition, portal vein aneurysm, pregnancy and labour are the most dangerous times for me. there is a chance that i may not survive through it. i’m not afraid of dying, but after having my daughter, i’m very scared that i might not be there for her or she may have a very sick mother. i need to live and be healthy for her. so unconsciously, i became very hesitant to be pregnant again. i love kids and as much as parenting is hard, i would totally go through it again because it’s so worth it. my husband’s comment was more hurtful because it seemed like he didn’t care about my concerns. not that he wants a second child right away (he doesn’t either) but i wanted to be understood and comforted by him. i don’t know how he can comfort me but i wanted him to understand that having another child isn’t an easy decision for me, not like other healthy women.

4. in all honesty, part of me does not want a second child at this moment because of my future plans. i want to do and accomplish a couple of things before having another child. i want to enjoy a bit of rest and enjoy my daughter before getting overwhelmed with a needy baby. i worry that this is a big disqualification point in becoming a ‘mom-type’. perhaps, good moms or the ‘meant to be moms’ don’t think about their comfort or their own future plans (or their future plans are more babies). they’d rather spend ‘their time’ with a needy baby.

all these insecurities elicited such an emotional response from me to my husband’s comment. it was a mix of guilt and fear of judgement. and it was also wanting to seem like the perfect mom who is good at parenting.

i’m not good at this mom stuff. it’s hard and i feel like i can never master it. i know that i can only grow from it and i am happy with that.

update: i’m still on the fence with my decision to go back to work. if i do, i would be starting work in 2 weeks. for now, i’m almost sure i’m going back to work.

Moms, We Can All Relate!

19 Jan

i stumbled upon a blog and i just loved this post.  i laughed, nodded and even cried at some parts.  i am certain that every mom will appreciate this post!

Source – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/glennon-melton/dont-carpe-diem_b_1206346.html

Don’t Carpe Diem
Glennon Melton | Jan 14, 2012

Every time I’m out with my kids — this seems to happen:
An older woman stops us, puts her hand over her heart and says something like, “Oh, Enjoy every moment. This time goes by so fast.”
Everywhere I go, someone is telling me to seize the moment, raise my awareness, be happy, enjoy every second, etc, etc, etc.
I know that this message is right and good. But, I have finally allowed myself to admit that it just doesn’t work for me. It bugs me. This CARPE DIEM message makes me paranoid and panicky. Especially during this phase of my life – while I’m raising young kids. Being told, in a million different ways to CARPE DIEM makes me worry that if I’m not in a constant state of intense gratitude and ecstasy, I’m doing something wrong.
I think parenting young children (and old ones, I’ve heard) is a little like climbing Mount Everest. Brave, adventurous souls try it because they’ve heard there’s magic in the climb. They try because they believe that finishing, or even attempting the climb are impressive accomplishments. They try because during the climb, if they allow themselves to pause and lift their eyes and minds from the pain and drudgery, the views are breathtaking. They try because even though it hurts and it’s hard, there are moments that make it worth the hard. These moments are so intense and unique that many people who reach the top start planning, almost immediately, to climb again. Even though any climber will tell you that most of the climb is treacherous, exhausting, killer. That they literally cried most of the way up.
And so I think that if there were people stationed, say, every thirty feet along Mount Everest yelling to the climbers — “ARE YOU ENJOYING YOURSELF!? IF NOT, YOU SHOULD BE! ONE DAY YOU’LL BE SORRY YOU DIDN’T!” TRUST US!! IT’LL BE OVER TOO SOON! CARPE DIEM!” — those well-meaning, nostalgic cheerleaders might be physically thrown from the mountain.
Now. I’m not suggesting that the sweet old ladies who tell me to ENJOY MYSELF be thrown from a mountain. These are wonderful ladies. Monkees, probably. But last week, a woman approached me in the Target line and said the following: “Sugar, I hope you are enjoying this. I loved every single second of parenting my two girls. Every single moment. These days go by so fast.”
At that particular moment, Amma had arranged one of the new bras I was buying on top of her sweater and was sucking a lollipop that she must have found on the ground. She also had three shop-lifted clip-on neon feathers stuck in her hair. She looked exactly like a contestant from Toddlers and Tiaras. I couldn’t find Chase anywhere, and Tish was grabbing the pen on the credit card swiper thing WHILE the woman in front of me was trying to use it. And so I just looked at the woman, smiled and said, “Thank you. Yes. Me too. I am enjoying every single moment. Especially this one. Yes. Thank you.”
That’s not exactly what I wanted to say, though.
There was a famous writer who, when asked if he loved writing, replied, “No. but I love having written.” What I wanted to say to this sweet woman was, “Are you sure? Are you sure you don’t mean you love having parented?”
I love having written. And I love having parented. My favorite part of each day is when the kids are put to sleep (to bed) and Craig and I sink into the couch to watch some quality TV, like Celebrity Wife Swap, and congratulate each other on a job well done. Or a job done, at least.
Every time I write a post like this, I get emails suggesting that I’m being negative. I have received this particular message four or five times — G, if you can’t handle the three you have, why do you want a fourth?
That one always stings, and I don’t think it’s quite fair. Parenting is hard. Just like lots of important jobs are hard. Why is it that the second a mother admits that it’s hard, people feel the need to suggest that maybe she’s not doing it right? Or that she certainly shouldn’t add more to her load. Maybe the fact that it’s so hard means she IS doing it right…in her own way…and she happens to be honest.
Craig is a software salesman. It’s a hard job in this economy. And he comes home each day and talks a little bit about how hard it is. And I don’t ever feel the need to suggest that he’s not doing it right, or that he’s negative for noticing that it’s hard, or that maybe he shouldn’t even consider taking on more responsibility. And I doubt anybody comes by his office to make sure he’s ENJOYING HIMSELF. I doubt his boss peeks in his office and says: “This career stuff…it goes by so fast…ARE YOU ENJOYING EVERY MOMENT IN THERE, CRAIG???? CARPE DIEM, CRAIG!”
My point is this. I used to worry that not only was I failing to do a good enough job at parenting, but that I wasn’t enjoying it enough. Double failure. I felt guilty because I wasn’t in parental ecstasy every hour of every day and I wasn’t MAKING THE MOST OF EVERY MOMENT like the mamas in the parenting magazines seemed to be doing. I felt guilty because honestly, I was tired and cranky and ready for the day to be over quite often. And because I knew that one day, I’d wake up and the kids would be gone, and I’d be the old lady in the grocery store with my hand over my heart. Would I be able to say I enjoyed every moment? No.
But the fact remains that I will be that nostalgic lady. I just hope to be one with a clear memory. And here’s what I hope to say to the younger mama gritting her teeth in line:
“It’s helluva hard, isn’t it? You’re a good mom, I can tell. And I like your kids, especially that one peeing in the corner. She’s my favorite. Carry on, warrior. Six hours till bedtime.” And hopefully, every once in a while, I’ll add — “Let me pick up that grocery bill for ya, sister. Go put those kids in the van and pull on up — I’ll have them bring your groceries out.”
Anyway. Clearly, Carpe Diem doesn’t work for me. I can’t even carpe fifteen minutes in a row, so a whole diem is out of the question.
Here’s what does work for me:
There are two different types of time. Chronos time is what we live in. It’s regular time, it’s one minute at a time, it’s staring down the clock till bedtime time, it’s ten excruciating minutes in the Target line time, it’s four screaming minutes in time out time, it’s two hours till daddy gets home time. Chronos is the hard, slow passing time we parents often live in.
Then there’s Kairos time. Kairos is God’s time. It’s time outside of time. It’s metaphysical time. It’s those magical moments in which time stands still. I have a few of those moments each day. And I cherish them.
Like when I actually stop what I’m doing and really look at Tish. I notice how perfectly smooth and brownish her skin is. I notice the perfect curves of her teeny elf mouth and her asianish brown eyes, and I breathe in her soft Tishy smell. In these moments, I see that her mouth is moving but I can’t hear her because all I can think is — This is the first time I’ve really seen Tish all day, and my God — she is so beautiful. Kairos.
Like when I’m stuck in chronos time in the grocery line and I’m haggard and annoyed and angry at the slow check-out clerk. And then I look at my cart and I’m transported out of chronos. And suddenly I notice the piles and piles of healthy food I’ll feed my children to grow their bodies and minds and I remember that most of the world’s mamas would kill for this opportunity. This chance to stand in a grocery line with enough money to pay. And I just stare at my cart. At the abundance. The bounty. Thank you, God. Kairos.
Or when I curl up in my cozy bed with Theo asleep at my feet and Craig asleep by my side and I listen to them both breathing. And for a moment, I think- how did a girl like me get so lucky? To go to bed each night surrounded by this breath, this love, this peace, this warmth? Kairos.
These kairos moments leave as fast as they come- but I mark them. I say the word kairos in my head each time I leave chronos. And at the end of the day, I don’t remember exactly what my kairos moments were, but I remember I had them. And that makes the pain of the daily parenting climb worth it.
If I had a couple Kairos moments during the day, I call it a success.
Carpe a couple of Kairoses a day.
Good enough for me.

Sacred Parenting…

15 Jan

kids are so wonderful. they bring so much joy and warmth to our hearts. they are so innocent, affectionate and amazingly adorable to look at and to hold. i love the way they smell, even their sweat smells much more sweeter than us, adults.

but having your own kid is quite different from occasional babysitting.  it requires a great amount of patience and sacrifice.  in the book, ‘sacred parenting’, the author mentions how we, as parents often have kids for narcissistic reasons.  it’s like marriage.  we have a romanticized view of what marriage is like, but in reality, it’s far from the what we ever imagined it to be.  in the same way, we might have kids to feel that we can be a hero to our kids or to obtain a sense that our kids would validate us as a man or woman.  although these motivations, as noble as they may sound, are still narcissistic at root, based on an idealized notion of children and a romanticized view of what family life is really like. (paraphrased from sacred parenting by gary thomas)

one of my friends wanted to have a kid for a long time, a couple of years or so.  she finally got pregnant and when the awful pregnancy symptoms kicked in with full force, she was unhappy and said, how come no one told me how difficult this was!  i told her i understand her pain.  i wanted to warn her that it gets even worse when the kid comes out, but i bit my tongue because i didn’t want to scare her.

i don’t blame this friend.  i felt similar way when i was pregnant.  i knew i was in for a rough ride once morning sickness kicked in with the body pain, headache, backache, fatigue, breathing difficulties, bloating, heaviness… and the list goes on.  i remember feeling that i wished someone could carry my baby, just for one day, so that i can get some rest.

then there is labour.  i don’t think i need elaborate on this…

and when the baby arrives, there are sleepless nights, growth spurts, teething, feeding issues, sleeping issues, spitting up, hours of crying (without particular reason) and illness.

of course, pregnancy, birth and parenting do bring good things, but i write these things to explain what it’s like… i mean, really like, to have a child of your own.  it is my hope that every mom-to-be understands and expects that there will be hard days, more often than good days, and really questions themselves, if they are ready to sacrifice their life for their child.  why do i care?  because, my own mother was not ready to have a child when she had me.  it was a tough time for my mom and due to many difficulties in her personal life, i was left to live with my grandma.  i grew up not really having a mom around, and even when i came back to live with my parents, my mom was still not around.  it gets pretty lonely and sad when you are left home alone.  probably the worst feeling for a child.  my mom thought i will eventually understand why she had to do the things that she did, but in all honesty, i don’t really understand.  i would never do what she did.  she’s a wonderful mom now, but her neglect in the past did affect me in many ways.  that is why i strongly feel that a parent should only have a child when they are mature and ready.  ready, in a way that you are willing to sacrifice your own life for your child.  isn’t sacrifice a mother’s instinct?  doesn’t it come naturally?  i would like to think that it does come naturally, but in reality, i don’t think it does for everyone.

a close friend of mine is studying to become a doctor.  she just finished med school and during her rotation, she interned at one of the big hospitals in toronto.  during her internship, she encountered an infant (probably a couple of months old), who came into the hospital because she would not eat or stop crying.  after the examination, the doctors found that her tiny ribs were broken and further examinations revealed that her arms and other bones were broken as well.  not only that, her esophagus was punctured.  my friend explained that for babies, their rib bones can only be broken by physical trauma/abuse.  also, the puncture seemed like it was made by a hard object, while forcing food down into the baby’s throat.  the doctors suspected physical abuse and they reported it to social services.

when i heard this story, it absolutely broke my heart and it literally made me sick.

i’m not a perfect parent or mom by any means and i’m in no place to judge.  there are times when i lose my patience and it feels like i can’t control my anger.  at those times, i have walked away from my crying daughter to calm myself down.  and a few times, i have gotten angry at her and have yelled ‘no!’, instead of talking to her gently and calmly.

parenting is difficult because your words and actions could affect and shape your child’s behaviour, habits, personality, character, values and many more.  raising a child has to be one of the biggest responsibilities that god has given us and although we, as parents can’t be perfect, i believe that we should try our best, not for anyone else, but in obedience to god.

having all these things in my mind, my husband and i have decided that i will not return to work and stay at home with my daughter until i receive my tesl certification and find a part time job teaching esl.  one of the reasons for my career change was so that i could be there for my daughter, as much as i can.

my previous career was within the purchasing industry.  i enjoyed being a purchaser and the type of work i did.  and for the past few weeks, i’ve been torn because i’ve been missing it.  i love being with my daughter, playing with her all day, but i began to miss the creativity and challenges that i faced while working as a purchaser.  don’t get me wrong.  working full time in the corporate world is not easy.  it has struggles of its own and now with a child, it would only be harder because i now would have to juggle work and parenting.

i also pondered about my pursuit in obtaining the tesl certification.  would i really enjoy teaching esl?  would i feel fulfilled or like it better than being a purchaser?  i do have experience in teaching and i did enjoy it and felt accomplished while teaching students, but i can’t say that it was the best experience i’ve ever had.

i finished (and passed) two of my tesl courses and i’m currently enrolled in my third and fourth courses.  if i give up now, it would be a waste.  however, if i don’t end up teaching or like teaching esl… then, it would even be a bigger waste.

so out of curiosity, i have looked at job boards to see what kind of opportunities were available in the purchasing industry.  as i searched and contemplated, a feeling of guilt settled in…  if i apply and get a job, i can no longer be there for my daughter for most of the day.  i would only see her for a few hours a day and on weekends.  would she feel neglected?  am i becoming my own mother, leaving my daughter to her grandmother?

and i thought about the sacrifice that i wrote earlier… is my career or the feeling of wanting to work, one of the sacrifices that i need to make in order to become the mom that i aspire to be?

i don’t have answers and have not made a decision yet.  i’m praying and praying, seeking god’s direction and wisdom.

all i can say at this point is that sacred parenting, more specifically, making decisions that honour god, your child and family are not easy.

while washing dishes this afternoon, i wondered how other moms make their decisions.  how about moms with 3 or more kids?  they not only have to consider one child, but two more.  how do they do what they do, day in and out?  being a mom has to be the most difficult and under appreciated job in the world.  for moms who have 3 or more kids, i honestly, from the deepest part of my heart, believe that they deserve some kind of reward, regardless of how they parent or how their kids turn out… a big, fat reward which consists of a month long holidays at one of the best spas in miami should be sufficient.

The ‘Dreaded’ Sleep Training and How We Did It

29 Dec

merry christmas and happy new year!

unlike last year’s christmas, which we spent at mt. sinai hospital getting phototherapy treatment for miss ej, this year’s christmas was… just perfect!

we spent christmas day at my in-laws with 10+ relatives, eating loads of food and drinking merrily. miss ej usually finds difficulty adjusting to a new environment/house. the last time we went to my in-laws, miss ej cried for hours, non-stop. surprisingly, this time around, she was an angel. she spent hours chasing after their 2 cats, which are the apples of my father-in-law’s eyes. she even tried to use one of the cats as a pillow, putting her head down on the cat’s prone body. she must have ran/walked around the house at least 20 times.

i’m allergic to cats and i was worried that miss ej would be too, but she wasn’t and she loved them! i’m worried that when she grows up, she will ask to own a cat one day. i was also worried for her sleep because she usually needs our bed in order to fall asleep and she has a hard time falling asleep when there are a lot of people or noise. so, i didn’t even bother to try putting her to sleep, even when she showed signs of fatigue. however, her dad, without even consulting me, took miss ej to her grandfather’s bed and tried to put her to sleep. eventually, i lied down with them, not believing that she would actually fall asleep. however, to my surprise, 15 minutes later, miss ej was deep asleep. it was unbelievable! 🙂

we came home really late and although miss ej awoke from her deep sleep, she didn’t shed a single tear, said goodbye to her grandparents and then sat in her carseat quietly, all the way home. i ended up falling asleep because she was so quiet.

speaking of sleep, a couple of weeks ago, my husband and i decided to ‘try’ sleep training miss ej. as i have mentioned in a previous post, miss ej has been co-sleeping with us ever since she was 4-5 months old. now that she’s a year old, we knew sleep training her wouldn’t be so easy, so we decided to try it out during my husband’s 1 week vacation, which is this week. we were dreading the day. ideally, we wanted to start from monday, but things got busy that we forgot. then, wednesday came along and i felt the pressure… i felt like it was going to be now or never. when i discussed my concerns to mr. jq, he felt the same way and all of a sudden, we were extremely fearful and anxious. ok, we were scared to our wit’s end!

we must have discussed a million pros and cons. the good outweighing the bad. the bad outweighing the good. we thought about every possible scenario and examples of other kids. i purposely didn’t go to google search because i knew it will only make me more confused. finally, the decision was made. thank god for my husband who possesses the ability to make a decision (more often good than bad). so we decided to start sleep training and we chose the most debatable ‘cry it out’ (CIO) method, which is also known for its cruelty.

for those who do not know CIO, this is the method we used;

1. bed time routine – bath, read a book, pray together, hug, kiss and say good night and we love you.

2. put the baby in the crib and leave the room. the baby will cry – miss ej cried hard (as hard as she could).

3. you let your baby cry (it out) for about 5 minutes – miss ej wailed.

4. after 5 minutes, go to your baby, say comforting words (without making it sound sad or guilty) and without picking up the baby – miss ej wanted to be picked up and she cried so much that she was shaking a bit. it was incredibly hard to witness and i also cried a bit. i know i wasn’t supposed to show any sadness or guilt, but i ended up putting my face against her crib so that she can touch my face with her fingers. she poked and stroked my face, begging me to hold her. i told her i was sorry and i love her but it’s her bed time and she needs to go to sleep. i repeated those words many times before leaving the room. it was the toughest thing i ever had to do.

5. leave after a couple of minutes. the baby will continue to cry or cry harder because you left again – i stayed with her for about 3 minutes and then left the room. yes, she screamed and cried the whole time.

6. this time, go to your baby after 10 minutes and repeat stage 4 (for each subsequent time, add 10 mins and stay with your baby a little less each time) – i didn’t have nerve to go through it again, so this time, my husband went and did what he had to do. i don’t honestly know what he actually did and i didn’t want to know. mr. jq stayed with her for a minute or so. he left fairly quick and she continued to cry hard.

we repeated stage 6 once. we waited about 2 minutes and we noticed that miss ej’s cries became weaker and in 5 minutes or so it died down. i urged my husband to go in and check but he waited until 20 minutes were up and went to see miss ej. apparently, she was trembling a little and sniffling as she was falling asleep. all in all, she was asleep.

sleep training day 1 was successful and it surpassed my expectations by far. i was thinking it would take hours and i would experience continual wake up cries, but it only took less than 30 minutes and she got up only twice, once at 4 am and once around 7 am. at 4 am, she was standing up in her crib, so i held her for a couple of seconds and put her back in her crib. she didn’t cry or get up. she went to sleep right away. at 7 am, my husband simply looked at her as she was lying down and was still sleeping. at 8:30 am, miss ej got up, cried for us and we all got up and had breakfast.

my husband’s and my biggest fear with this method was the damage it might cause (if any) to a baby. would she feel abandoned? will she develop some kind of phobia? will she hate us? will she develop high blood pressure for crying so hard? would it affect her heart as her heart rate will increase for a long period of time?

maybe it did cause some of these things. we don’t know as we have no way of gauging it, but we decided to observe miss ej carefully the next day, which was today. she seemed fine and we didn’t notice any changes. it felt like it never happened so we were relieved.

today was sleep training day 2. i’m happy to say it went well, even better than yesterday.

today, we only got to stage 5, i mentioned above. she was asleep in 10 minutes. i never thought she would do so well. my husband said to me, “why didn’t we do this before?”

hopefully, we will only get to stage 1 tomorrow.

and i really hope and wish that she or we (me and my husband) will not regress (especially, when she gets sick or is teething).

i also hope that this post doesn’t come across as i’m bragging or i’ve experienced a complete success. i know that there are many more trials and difficulties ahead for us. every baby is different and every parent is different. there are different ways to sleep with or without your baby. i’m simply writing about what we (my husband and i) decided to do. we decided on co-sleeping until age 1, then tried the CIO method after the 1st birthday. personally, i’m happy with our decision and if i ever have a second baby, i would choose this option again.

i’m a proponent of co-sleeping. i still am, even more so now because i feel that co-sleeping allowed her to feel secure enough to sleep on her own, when the timing was right. i feel like for miss ej, age 1 was the correct time because i sensed that she understood a lot of things like cause and effect, the meaning of ‘no’ and good and bad (up to a certain point).

mind you, we tried a couple of times previously and it was not successful. perhaps, the timing wasn’t right or it was because we didn’t follow the ‘correct’ method (we never left the room, when we tried previously) or maybe it’s a combination of both. i don’t know.

what i know is that the decision to not co-sleep when the baby is no longer a baby, but a toddler, is up to the parent (and the child) and the timing depends on the child. in another words, there is no correct way and it’s really dependent on you and your child. i’ve said that i will choose this method again with my second child, but who knows, it might be out the window with my second.

My Current Parenting Struggles – Top 5

19 Dec

motherhood is a wonderful experience, but it is also an experience that brings numerous struggles. i often say, “one thing after another”. you think you’ve overcome one thing, then there is another one awaiting.

the first 3 months were the toughest time for me. my girl wanted to be held, nursed and wanted to sleep in a particular way. until this day, i am in awe of those moms who are able to nurse their baby in public (with a cover over their shoulder). it was very difficult to nurse my daughter away from home, because she didn’t like to be covered and wanted my full attention while nursing. for some reason, whenever i looked away, she immediately stopped suckling and cried.

now that she is one year old, i no longer have theses struggles that i mentioned above. however, i must have traded those struggles for others and here are my top 5;

1. weaning the pacifier

when my girl was born, i made up my mind that i would not let my baby use a pacifier. however, my girl loved to suckle. before introducing her to a pacifier, she wanted to be nursed continuously. she obviously had a need to suckle and it seemed like her suckling needs were much greater than most babies. so i gave in and it made my life much easier. however, she became very dependent on her pacifier and it was in her mouth all the time! when she was awake, asleep and even when she ate. she would take a spoonful of her food, then suck on her pacifier. this repeated throughout the entire meal. i tried to take it away but she screamed and cried until she got it back. she even has a name for it; it’s “mamamamama”. she says this word a lot more than umma (mom in korean) and abba (dad in korean). not only that, her pacifier is in most of her pictures. you can’t hardly see her lips in any of her pictures.

i researched “how to wean pacifier” and read many mom’s blogs talking about their success stories of weaning the pacifier. many used a “cold-turkey” method and surprisingly, it often led to successful results! well, not for me. i tried. i tried to get her to use it only during her naps and sleep time. i almost succeeded… until, she got sick and it went back to square one!

none of the kids in her class use pacifiers. often times, the kids in her class pop my girl’s pacifier out of her mouth. i think it’s because they find it very interesting that my girl has it in her mouth all the time. most kids are usually limited in their pacifier usage… their pacifiers are kept inside their crib to be used only for nap and sleep time. today, a mom glanced at my girl and said to her baby daughter, “you only use your pacifier in your crib, right?”.

2. co-sleeping vs sleep training

some of my friends know that i am a proponent of co-sleeping. i believe that co-sleep allows a child to feel safe and secure and in turn, enhances their self-esteem (i hope). my husband and i decided to co-sleep and placed her crib right beside our bed.

i’ve tried different sleep training methods early on, until my girl was about 5 months old. it worked well until she started to have teething pain during the night. around 6th month, she was up 4-5 times throughout the night and i ended up bringing her into our bed. she was much happier and slept better (even with the teething pain).

when we started to co-sleep, we were all happy. the baby slept well and i slept well.

then… my girl started to crawl and walk. she crawled up to our bed, crawled over us and ended up sleeping in our bed. this repeated and eventually, the 3 of us slept together in a cramped queen size bed.

one night, i got up from my sleep because i was certain that my nose was broken. i heard a crack and tears were rolling down uncontrollably. i woke up my husband and said, i think my nose is broken. thank god, it wasn’t, but all this happened because my girl dropped her head on top of my nose while sleeping. incidents like this happened quite a bit.

so, i began to think… perhaps, she is too old to co-sleep and it’s time to sleep train. OMG…

i heard that the older they are, the harder it is to sleep train. i don’t know where to start…

one day, we put up the side of her crib which was down, previously. so, she was trapped inside her crib for the first time. we were still in the same room, right beside her. she cried and cried, wanting to come out of her crib. we ignored but still kept our eyes on her. maybe 5 minutes passed. her cries got stronger, became more like wailing. she became more and more angry and then… she threw up.

we had to change her crib sheets, wash and change her. she ended up sleeping with us in our bed, once again… she won.

me and my husband have no idea how to resolve this issue. we do not even know where to start. it’s scary to even think about it.

i think our only choice at this point is to put her crib in her room and try the cry it out method. we are thinking about setting aside 4-5 days during the holidays to try it out. i wonder how many times she will throw up…

3. how to parent a spirited child

while i was pregnant, i’ve looked at many different parenting books. one of them was called how to raise your spirited child. the author of this book defined a spirited child as a child who is sensitive, intense, perceptive, persistent and energetic. miss ej is definitely all of these. she has always been very sensitive, even as a newborn. she liked or disliked certain houses, she didn’t like certain soap that i used and until today, she favours certain people. some people, she refuses to even look at, but to some people/strangers, she will not hesitate to go hug or play with them. when she’s angry, i can’t get mad at her because that will make her more angry and her anger becomes uncontrollable. when she’s upset, i need to talk to her gently and give her hugs and kisses. this is the only way she will compromise or even consider listening to me. don’t get me wrong, she doesn’t cry or get angry very often. it takes a lot to get her upset.

the scary part is that when i was growing up, i behaved somewhat similar to miss ej. i wasn’t as strong and energetic as her, but i was a sensitive, persistent child. thus, i understand her to a certain degree and i know it’s important to work with her rather than just correct her.

i would love to read more about raising this type of child or even to learn from a professional. i don’t believe that miss ej has an issue and i know that spirited children are smart, loving children who have a special place in this world, accomplishing great things. i just want to help her and direct her to become all that she can be.

4. sleeping habits

miss ej slept through the night from her 2nd month, sleeping 9-10 hours straight, every night. i stopped night feeding from her 2nd month and never had to be up to feed her in middle of the night. it was a little different when she started to teeth but all in all, she’s been a good sleeper. on average, she has slept 10-11 hours a night and took 2-3 hours of naps.

ever since she turned 1 year old and started to walk on her own… everything changed. she no longer wants to take naps and getting her to fall asleep has been soooooo painful! i said to my husband, this is worse than labour and giving birth (and i had 26 hours of labour!)

she fights her sleep so much that it takes 2-3 hours of fussing and crying before she actually falls asleep. we even tried letting her play longer, thinking that she might not be tired, but it got her more tired, over-stimulated and then more fussing and crying. before she falls asleep, she has to have 2-3 crying sessions, 1-2 laughing sessions and 6-7 walking around the house sessions.

we take her to our bed several times. she gets up and gets out of the bed an equal amount of times. then, when she’s ready to go to sleep, she crawls over us several times, rubs her face (more like drops her head on top of my face) several times and kicks my face a few times… then, ends with a final cry.

it is the most frustrating thing, ever!

5. extreme attachement

i usually spend a whole day with miss ej, everyday. it’s natural that she’s attached to me. however, she has a hard time playing by herself or being alone for even 5 minutes. even when she plays, she has to make sure that i’m attached to her (physically). she make sures that i’m holding her hand or my leg is touching her back or leg or any part of her body. she cries when i go to the kitchen or go to the bathroom. she’s always been this way and i thought she would eventually grow out of it, but it hasn’t happened yet. the worst is when she refuses to stay/play with anyone else but me, not even her dad. i often take a shower when my husband comes home so that he can watch miss ej. at times, my husband had to stay in the bathroom with miss ej while i take a shower because miss ej didn’t want to be away from me, not for a second.

my daughter has numerous characteristics that are amazing. she is a healthy, happy, good hearted and affectionate child who loves to play with other kids (sharing toys and taking turns). she possesses many good characteristics (although kids’ personalities change many times) and she is a joy to be around. so, i hope people don’t misunderstand that my struggles are not due to her inadequacy, but they are struggles that most parents go through around her age.

i am writing this post, not just to complain, but i write because the struggles are part of parenting and i want to be able to look back and remember everything – the good parts as well as the bad.