Every motherhood journey starts with a blank page, and how each fills those empty sheets would depend on their individual upbringing and experience. I believe motherhood is a unique privilege that has its own timing, and most women try their best to manage this phase of their lives. Like some who had taken the opportunity to make some reflection, here are some valuable lessons I learnt from being a mother.
Lesson #1: Develop motherhood instincts
Just like many who have developed their skills and knowledge from young, I believe motherhood instincts should be cultivated from young. I encourage women to acknowledge and contemplate this maternal instinct even before marriage as some may take a longer time to be ready for children. In addition to having a basic desire to have a family, I believe there should be a personal, family planning as well. I didn’t have such planning in place, and I didn’t think too much about this maternal instinct until much later in my adult life. I believe this is due to the fact that I didn’t interact with many children while I was becoming an adult. As a result, I was not prepared for motherhood in many ways. In retrospect, I should have taken more initiatives to get ready for motherhood. Despite all the readings and research that I did prior to having my son, I still feel that I have not adequately prepared myself for motherhood. Motherhood is such a tremendous undertaking, and I strongly think that many would need a much longer time to prepare for the journey.
Lesson #2: Support is critical
I didn’t have much support in the beginning, and I found the first few years rather tiring when I had my son. This is one common issue faced by new mothers (like me) who stay overseas as our families are not able to provide much or consistent support. Fundamentally, I feel that the initial support is very important, and new mothers must find ways to line up resources for their new babies or themselves. I believe motherhood should be enjoyable but unfortunately, many women struggle on their own, and they fall out while trying to do their best. In addition, I also feel that motherhood doesn’t have to be a long, draggy journey, and it can be combined with different activities that adults like to do.
Lesson #3: Consistent training
In order to cope, mothers (like myself) often find ways to stay current or enriched. Over the years, in order to take care of my son, I have learnt so much about children’s health, nutrition, and physical growth. Most of the time, I read up to find answers for those queries that I have. As such, I feel that motherhood requires a personal undertaking, and that is to stay continuously educated or trained. In addition, mothers need to be equipped with different set of skills to handle their growing children. Commonly, mothers learn to manage their children’s emotional and mental well-being (among other growing requirements) by enrolling in classes, researching or simply reading up. These days, parenting programs are also available at children or youth councils, family and community organizations.
Lesson #4: Do it at your pace
I sent my son to a preschool when he was about three years old. In those earlier days, I observed what other mothers did, and I followed. However, I realized many years later that he wasn’t ready at that point. The preschool wasn’t equipped to handle younger children adequately, and as a result, I believe my son wasn’t well taken care of. New mothers often feel pressurized and unsure initially, and they are convinced that certain routes should be taken but in reality, every child matures at a different pace, and they cannot be fitted into the standardized mold.
Lesson #5: Cherish now
I know some may not agree but children can grow up very quickly. Though I didn’t feel this way when my son was younger but I find those initial years the most impressionable now. Continuous feedings seem tiring when the children are younger, and often, new mothers cannot find time to stand aside, and cherish or capture those moments or interaction. Consequently, they let those initial years slip, and most will realize those precious times when their children get older. Above those personality traits, younger children are more likely to listen (than when they get older), and this obedience is valuable. In addition, younger children tend to look to adults for more guidance.
I know some friends who have taken a longer route to become mothers, and they tread their much valued, motherhood journey with great humility and appreciation. In addition, I also know of other women who have decided that motherhood is not for them, and I learn to respect those perspectives. Whatever the experience, I believe motherhood is an individualized journey that only the beholder can truly acknowledge, appreciate, and cherish.
Caroline and her son | Photo: Courtesy of Caroline Yeung
By Caroline Yeung
Caroline has over 18 years of communication experience and she has worked with technology and consumer companies. Her recent interest in Early Childhood Education has led her to work towards a certificate from The UCLA Extension in California. Caroline’s previous teaching experience also came from working with junior college and polytechnic students in Singapore.