Wow. Time does fly fast. Looking back at the pictures and videos we took, I can barely remember each day that passed by. But I miss the baby breath. I miss the coos. I miss the chubby phase. I miss the time when he would just lie down or roll over. A new phase has now officially begun. Owen is now two.
When Brian and I had Owen, I tried my best to research and to talk to people about being a parent. But I realized that it is not enough. Parenting is not just about stacking knowledge about certain do’s and dont’s. It doesn’t just stop after you’ve read a parenting book or after you’ve attended a parenting seminar. It’s a daily and lifelong commitment to your child. There are days when I would just smile and look at Owen and think that I must be doing a good job. But there are also tough days like when I would regret yelling at Owen just because he took out bowls, spoons and cups from the cabinet or when I would get mad at him because he played play-dough on the carpet. I really don’t like the tough days. It makes me feel bad about myself. Oh, the ups and downs of being a parent.
But I do learned a lot. It’s amazing how a child can teach me so many things about life. Things that I’ve forgotten. Things that I needed to accept. Things that need time.
Enjoy Every Moment
One of the things that I learned during my first two years of being a mom is to enjoy every moment – no matter how simple it is. From nursing Owen, to giving him a bath, to seeing him smile, shopping cute clothes for him, playing with him, reading, exploring our garden, taking walks to the park and a whole lot more. And there are the big moments – the first time he rolled over, sat unassisted, pulled himself up to stand, said “dada” and “mama”, first tooth, first plane travel, first trip to the beach, first birthday, first Disneyland experience…I could go on and on and on. Just take a look at my Instagram feed and you’ll see what I mean.
But I’m not going to lie. There were days when moments didn’t seem to be enjoyable. There were days when I would just go on with my daily routine as a work-at-home mom feeling drained and itching to go out for a walk (to the mall by myself). Sometimes, I would also have this awful and very selfish thought of false entitlement that I deserve to be noticed, praised or regarded for being such an “awesome” mom and wife because I do “EVERYTHING” in the house. But that thinking only made me spiral down to self-pity. And I don’t want to go there anymore. I need to remind myself that it is God who enables me to do everything with joy. And that it is only God who gives me the supernatural strength that I need to face each day. I think every mom needs supernatural strength. Not just physically but our whole being – our emotions, our spirit, our minds.
“Let us not grow weary or become discouraged in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap, if we do not give in.” – Galatians 6:9 AMP
God is my rewarder. He is my security. In Him, I find my identity as His daughter, as a wife and as mom. He is the one who blesses me and gives me joy in all that I do. All I need to do now is to REMEMBER the great things that He has done in my life so I can ENJOY EVERY MOMENT that He gives to me as a mom.
Another lesson that I learned from Owen is to be patient. Children have their own timeframe. They can be very fast. And they can be veeeeerrryyy slow. Since I’m seriously considering homeschooling Owen, I tried to start teaching him some basics like colors, shapes, animals, etc. I know at the back of my mind that each child develops at their own pace. But for some reason, I get frustrated when Owen “doesn’t get it” and especially when he doesn’t like the activity I prepared for him. But I guess, that’s part of the homeschooling idea – that you’re teaching your child according to his pace, allowing and guiding him to discover and learn things, and also being patient about it.
There has been so many other instances when my patience as a mom has been tested. And a lot of times I have failed to control myself. I did gave in to anger. I yelled a lot of times. And just like all moms, I felt bad about it. But I thank God for His grace. My motherhood skills is also in its toddler years. And being patient doesn’t just mean being patient with Owen. It also means being patient with myself.
Do not compare.
In this age of social media and Pinterest, it’s so easy to fall into the trap of being envious about other people’s lives. I see the pretty studio-shot baby pictures, the family travels, the amazingly organised playrooms and nurseries, the highly-talented and smart babies and toddlers. Those images actually got me thinking that it is tough to be a mom in this day and age. The internet has suddenly become that scary bully that you can’t seem to avoid. The once best friend that we had as first time moms (hi, Google!) has become the evil monster that’s constantly threatening us of judgement for having a dirty sink and a messy living room. Well, that’s how I felt.
“Comparison is the thief of joy.” – Theodore Roosevelt
But I also have fallen into that trap of comparison and judgement. It had self-righteous thoughts about myself on how I was raising and taking care of Owen. I also got insensitive and judgemental towards other moms, most especially when it came to breastfeeding. Galatians 6:4 (ESV) reminded me this, “But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor.” It was painful at first to be rebuked. But it was a good rebuke. It reminded me that motherhood and raising kids are not reality contests.
Focus On One Thing At A Time
I think this is probably the hardest one that I had to learn. I guess it’s also because women are naturally multi-taskers. As a freelancer, I work based on the projects that come in. My schedule is every erratic and I always have this urge to finish projects right away. And since I’m also a stay-at-home mom, I have to juggle that with all other responsibilities in the house. There were days when I wished I had hired help or when I wanted to call my parents and pick up Owen so I can have a “free” day to work on my projects. On such days, I would ping pong back and forth into playing with Owen then writing scripts, then changing dirty diapers, then answering emails. It was mentally and physically draining. It was also taking its toll on Owen because he would get cranky and frustrated. Maybe because he knows and feels that I don’t have my 100% on him.
It was pretty hard to adjust myself into a schedule that gives me only 1 to 2 hours during daytime (Owen’s nap time) to work on my freelance projects. I would sometimes make up for it by working after Owen goes to bed again at night. But it was refreshing. Focusing on one task at a time helped me become more effective and also efficient.
I know crazy days are still up ahead. But that is what makes motherhood exciting.
Take Lots of Pictures…and Videos
Taking lots of pictures and videos helped me to remember my journey as a new mom. It made me see God’s grace, love, strength, provision, and wisdom in our life. It’s always good to remember what the Lord has done. It makes me excited for the days to come. It makes me eagerly anticipate the new wonders that God will do for me and my family.
“I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
yes, I will remember your wonders of old.” – Psalm 77: 11 ESV
For now, I’m just going to soak up and enjoy everything that motherhood has to offer in this new phase of Owen being a toddler. I hear it’s going to be tough. But I believe in my heart that it’s also going to be so much fun.
Thank you, Owen. Thank you for making me feel loved. Thank you for making me see again the wonder of discovering the world – from the tiniest part of it to its vastness. Thank you for making me see my purpose. Thank you for giving joy and happiness in our home. Your dad and I love you so much.