Unlike many other women, I cannot honestly say motherhood has made me a better person. In fact, I think it has revealed just how nasty I can be. I do not gush over how amazing motherhood has been, and I cannot say I wake everyday, excited to be gazing into my children’s cherubic faces.
No, not me.
Some women, or perhaps most, are just born to be mothers. Just not me. You know those crazy hormones that supposedly cause EVERY pregnant woman to go into a cleaning frenzy just before the baby arrives? Well, they didn’t seem to do a thing to me. In Week 39, I was still happily cuddling my colony of dust bunnies in front of my telly.
Then there is this ‘maternal instinct’ others talk about. About how I would naturally be like this tiger mom who would claw strangers in their faces if they dared put a filthy finger to my son or utter a single negative word about him. Those days have come and gone, and I have done neither. Ashamedly, I admit I have failed to protect him from germy touches and sickly folk for fear of appearing antisocial myself. And sometimes I am the one doing the criticizing.
The women I knew who were once chain-smoking, and beer-guzzling all seem to have become the Uber-Moms of the Uber-Mom Club, staying up late to disinfect every corner of the home. While I, the former middle-roader Singleton, seems to have settled into this nonchalant Motherhood mode. The reason why I keep late nights is so that I can surf or telly-vegetate or read a novel. The mere thought of cleaning the house puts me right back to sleep.
While I sometimes succumb to the ‘Kiasu’ and ‘Kiasee’ syndromes where I oscillate between worrying about whether I am providing my sons sufficient stimuli to be geniuses outperforming their peers, and trying not to hyperventilate from self-induced hypochondria over the mucked-up state of the house, I am ultimately the ‘Bo-chap’ aka ‘Cannot Be Bothered’ mom.
Those hothousing books I have crown the stacks of accelerated learning materials on the shelf as ornamental objects. I may stay at home all day with the kids, yet the only thing I seem to be accelerating is my to-do housekeeping list. My working-mom friends have diligently put their children through the Glenn Doman programme, taught them to read by 2 and do complicated mathematical additions by 3. Oh dear, whatever’s the use of my teaching qualifications!
So I ask myself, “Why do I bother even staying home?”
My answer is that I cannot seem to trust anyone else to look after my child. Motherhood has made me realize some things about myself and life.
#1 Motherhood, like marriage, is a commitment.
Just as there are highlights along the journey where everything and person seem perfect, there are also many bumps along the way that can really drive one nuts. It takes commitment to remain calm trying to feed a fussy eater who refuses to eat all you have painstakingly cooked, and commitment to continue cooking for him day after day.
#2 Being a mother has made me realize just how selfish and petty I can be, and how much more I need to learn to be generous with my love, forgiveness and time.
There has been no better model for learning to love unconditionally than from my little boy of two. No matter how much I holler at him, or even wrongfully punish him, he has enough love to forget all the nasty things I’ve done. Several times a day, he comes to hug me and to tell me, “I love you, Mummy.”
So many battles of the will could have been avoided if I took the time to understand why my son was doing something. He wasn’t just making a mess with the pencils; he was building a train track. He didn’t mean to break those spoons; he just wanted to help me set the table. Be slow to anger; slow to speak; and quick to listen. Isn’t that a lesson I could use in my relationships with adults too!
As a close mummy friend always tells me, nothing is really worth quarreling over.
#3 Indeed, I ought to stop picking on myself too.
Life is too short for me to be fretting over whether I’ve done or cleaned enough. What matters most to my children and husband is whether I have shown them love and kindness every day. Better a happy family than a clean home with a high-strung mom! Until the roaches and lizards move in, that is.
Written by Sara Lee-Wong.
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