Sunday, February 2, 2014

Sunday Times - Tee Hun Ching's column

My tears welled up as I went through the paragraphs written by Hun Ching. They sounded extremely familiar and exactly what I went through. Towards the end of the article, I was all snort and tears and my hubby was exasperated. "It's the Sunday papers for goodness sake!" I flashed him a grin, you'd think he's used to it by now.

I have been a SAHM for a grand total of.... 9 months now. The first 3 months went by quickly. It was all crying and feeding, sleeping then crying, then more feeding. Before I knew it, it was almost time to go back to work. Just when I finally thought baby and I had established a good routine and I am finally able to enjoy him instead of just feeding him. Not forgetting I was expressing my milk every four hours - you do the math: pump milk, feed baby, play, naps, pump milk, baby wakes, feed baby, play, naps, pump milk.. yeah, you get the gist. Whatever happened to enjoying motherhood and baby and witnessing all the milestones? I was (still am) so attached to my baby I cannot imagine going back to work. They say baby get separation anxiety bad - I think they got it wrong, its the mums who can't let go. So hubby and I decided that I will do the "unthinkable" - I will resign when my maternity leave is up. Shocking, how could I do that to my company? Thankfully I had a very understanding and supportive boss and it made what was supposedly a very difficult task, well, less difficult.

Yay! I am now a self-proclaimed tai-tai! I don't need to drag my feet up when the alarm rings in the morning! I don't need to work anymore! Finally, after so many years of bugging hubby, I get to be a housemaker, I get to spend all day with my baby. Yay! Or not.

For one, people have always associated SAHMs as well-manicured tai-tais sipping skinny lattes while their bubs quietly and happily sit in the pram or high chair. I wake up everyday before its considered decent (its still dark outside), I don't need to work in front of a computer or handle difficult clients anymore, but instead, my office has expanded to my kitchen, bathrooms and anywhere my baby crawls. My multi-tasking skills have never been better - I wash and prepare the ingredients for dinner while baby is napping, the porridge is sitting in the slow cooker. Baby wakes and its play time, then meal times, then its nap time again. Out comes the baby carrier and baby dozed off while I do the dishes and throw the dirty laundry in the washing machine.

Like Hun Ching, I had a routine and schedule in mind. Every baby book I read said baby thrives with routine. I worked hard to stick to it and get very upset when baby messes with it. Instead of sleeping for 30 minutes, he decided to sleep for 47 minutes and hence his lunch time is dragged, which in turn will drag his next nap time. How can?! What if he turns cranky in the car? I beat myself up desperately and sometimes go a little crazy when baby messes with the schedule. It happened one day when I spent about 1 hour trying to rock my baby to sleep, futile attempt obviously and I was losing all my patience that I decided to let him out and into his play yard when I saw the happiest smile on his face. Then, it hit me. For goodness sake, I'm raising a baby, not a puppy, not a robot. Just like us adults, there are days where we simply don't feel like eating so much, there are days where we aren't tired and just wanna use up our energy! And just like that, over tears and snort again, I tried to let baby tell us what he wants. Of course, we still stick to a schedule, but with plenty of flexibility. That in turns, brought me much more joy of being a SAHM.

Yes its extremely tiring, I'm severely lack of sleep and if allowed, I think I can sleep for 24 hours straight. My nails are in desperate need of a good mani/pedi, my body a good strong swedish massage, my feet perpetually needs a good rub. It is the most difficult job I ever had (as opposed to a flight attendant, hospitality, management consulting) But given a choice, I choose this all over again. Nothing beats waking up to my baby's coos coming through the baby monitor, going in to see him flash the sweetest smile. Nothing gives you the sense of satisfaction when baby gobbles down the food you prepare every day and asking for more. More importantly, witnessing every milestones from his first flip, first crawl, first babble, his first tooth (though that came with a whole load of teething problems) and the first time he crawl to you and cling onto you like you are his favourite person. Its all worth it. 

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