Category: Thoughts & Emo-ness
|August 23, 2013||Posted by Mabel under Parenthood, Thoughts & Emo-ness|
The photo above is of me (in red) doing an Indian dance during a school concert. I was around 11-12 years old at the time. Next to me was my best friend – she’s Indian, btw – and my two Malay classmates. Our choreographer, trainer and instructor was none other than our Indian math/class teacher. I don’t really remember how I got roped into the whole thing except that my best friend told me that they were performing for the school concert and that I should try it out. At that time, I was hanging out at her place quite often and sampling Indian food, being exposed to Indian culture so I thought why not? Turned out to be one very interesting and memorable experience.
I grew up in a multicultural environment. I studied in a multicultural environment both at primary, secondary and tertiery level – my good friend in college were Malay and Maldivian respectively. I worked with people from different backgrounds and ethnic groups – I had lunch with my Malay and Indian colleges. In fact, at one office, I ate more chapatis, dhaal and Malay mix rice than I did Chinese food!
When I moved to France and Switzerland, I said goodbye to this and settled for a predominantly white-European environment. While there are a myriad of different cultures and communities in these two countries, they are not as prominent as in Malaysia or obvious – perhaps because I live in a small town and not in the cities where it is highly diverse and dynamic. In France, Eva was one of the handful of kids who had immigrant parents (me la) – there was a child whose parents were from Madagascar, another one from Algeria, one from China but that was it. Traditional costumes are not commonplace – in fact, at a school carnival, Eva was the only one dressed in one (a Nyonya outfit).
A far cry from my experience where people wore Punjabi suits and baju kurung to work, baju Melayu during Hari Raya, cheongsam for Chinese New Year, saris and lenghas for Deepavali, etc. Credit must be given to my hubby for being utterly supportive and even persistent about me exposing the kids (and others back in Europe) to Malaysian culture and heritage. He would insist that I wear a kebaya to a friend’s wedding even though it would have been cheaper for me to just go out and get a regular dress. Even made Eva wear the same Nyonya outfit as well.
So when we moved back to Malaysia, I jumped at the opportunity to expose my children to the very same things that I grew up with – the different foods, culture, festive occasions and so forth. Her kindy is filled with not just expats but locals as well (in fact, locals outnumber the expats) and her teachers are locals too. We arrived just before Hari Raya and got a chance to look at the various Raya decorations at shops.
A few days ago, I got a note from the school stating that they would be having a Raya party and children were asked to come in a traditional outfit. I had missed the Raya sale and while I could settle for a normal baju kurung and baju Melayu for the kids, I went and got the kids a lengha/lehnga and punjabi/ali baba-styled outfits. As Eva paraded around in her lengha/lehnga, I am reminded of my own multicultural experiences.
If there is anything amazingly awesome about being in Malaysia, it is this – a Chinese girl can dressed up in a sari and perform an Indian dance with both Indian and Malay dancers.
*Cross posted on the baby blog*
|May 1, 2013||Posted by Mabel under Parenthood, Thoughts & Emo-ness|
…from this coming M’sian General Election.
Always keep your head on your shoulders.
In the words, don’t let your emotions cloud your judgement. Fear can make people do crazy things…and so does anger and frustration. Always remind yourself that you are capable of rational thought and self-awareness.
Be informed at every step of your journey.
It’s important to know your environment, the situation and the people involved. Read up, question what you already know, talk to the RIGHT people (don’t just talk to any Tom, Dick & Harry) and form your own opinion. Herd mentality is very dangerous.
Have faith and courage.
A lot of things in life are out of our control. We can only do our best and leave the rest to God. Have faith in yourself, the people around you and God. It doesn’t hurt to have some faith. Do not be afraid to live even if it means facing challenges and conflicts that may hurt you or your family. Living helps us build character, memories and experiences – yes, as cheesy as it sounds, it is true. By living, we end up growing too – for better or worse.
Talk alone equals inaction.
Don’t just complain and rant if you’re unhappy. Do something. Channel your frustrations and annoyance at the situation into action. Be proactive. Be the change yourself instead of expecting others to change the situation for you. This is YOUR life and no one else’s.
Running away is not an answer.
Life is full of challenges and tests. Running away is not an answer to life’s conflicts and tests. It is easy, yes, no one will deny that, but a journey fought and fought well is something to be more proud of than a journey that you hide from.
I hope that one day, my children will look back and remember how my husband was there to support me as I casted my vote as a postal voter & how we try to set a good example for them.
|September 17, 2011||Posted by Mabel under Just Noah, Parenthood, Thoughts & Emo-ness|
It came without “much” warning. Why I place the word in quotes? You’ll read later on once I get more time to properly blog about the birth with pics and all. Right now, I’m juggling milk pumping sessions every three hours, visits to a town 45km away just to see my son, home life with a two year old (thank goodness for some help in the form of my parents) and running errands.
In summary, I popped on Sunday with Noah at 32 weeks in Besançon because the hospital in Dole cannot handle premies that young – their limit is 34 weeks. Since then, Noah has been in neo-natal care while I’ve been busy pumping milk out for him. Recovery was not a problem since it was a natural delivery (I had contractions at 3am and Noah was out by noon sharp!). On that note, I LOVE natural deliveries – the recovery is way much faster and easier!
I’m back at home in Dole now – I miss Eva and the hubs too much plus I don’t fare well in hospitals – who does? The only problem is that I’ll have to go to Besançon every morning to drop off my milk to Noah. Otherwise, he would have to starve. Talk about major motivation. In fact, it was the same thing I told myself when I had Eva – the breastfeeding HAS to work otherwise my child will starve! Despite the nights (I wake up three times during the night) and constant pumping sessions, I’m happy when I see bottles of milk sitting in the fridge awaiting the trip to the hospital.
What helped greatly was the rental service they have here for breast pumps. I managed to get a hold of a Medela Symphonie (the service also sent another double pump for me to try out and for free too! WAHOO!) – a recommendation from one of the docs who is still breastfeeding her 9 mth old – and since then, I’ve fallen in love with this particular pump. Still, I must say that nothing beats direct latch ons – I find the sterilisation of pump parts, and setup to be quite tiresome but hey, it’s better than nothing!
Anyway, I will work on the birth story later – right now, my breast pump calls.
|January 15, 2010||Posted by Mabel under Info, Parenthood, Thoughts & Emo-ness|
I never really gave parenting much thought, much or less on what kind of parent I wanted to be as in the Chinese culture, parenting is a community affair to be undertaken by grandparents. Parents don’t really step in until the child is much older.
But after being married to an angmoh and experiencing another facet of parenting, I have come to realize that the kind of parent I want to be is very different from what is expected from parents here in Asia. I can’t say this for sure for ALL Asian parents, just myself and the few people I do know – mothers who have had to clash with their in-laws over their child’s welfare, mothers who send their babies to their in-laws or parents in another state for care and only return during the weekends or holidays…the list goes on and on.
Recently, we were approached with the proposition of sending Eva to Malaysia and one of the reasons was because it is a grandparent’s duty to care for their grandchild. I am afraid I beg to differ.
In situations where the parent is not around due to health reasons, abandonment and death, yes, the care of a child will fall on the grandparents’ shoulder. That is way preferably than a foster care system. But while the parents are still around, the responsibility of day to day care still lies with parents even if it means having to look for a babysitter.
And this is why…
Grandparents are people children go to when they need a break from mum and dad, when they need someone to mollycoddle them, spoil them and so forth. When a grandparent becomes a parent, this avenue is shut as a grandparent has to become a disciplinarian and provider. You can be either one but not both simply because there is no room for it. Spoiling them one minute but disciplining them the other minute can lead to confusion as to what a child should follow or ignore.
It may lead the child to question the motives behind their grandparents caring for them and not their parents. They may wonder if their parents wanted them in the first place. Ultimately, these emotions and thoughts can have an impact on how a child interacts with their own parents.
A grandparent has been a parent before and when one becomes a parent, one loses certain freedoms and privileges. These are gain back when a child reaches adulthood and becomes independent. Grandparents who care for their grandchildren suddenly find themselves being tied down again and having to put up with the needs of a growing baby, which in turn can hamper their sense of independence and freedom.
Yet, there are benefits to having grandparents around – especially when a parent like myself needs a break or an extra hand. The problem only arises when there is a clash of ideas, desires and goals between grandparent and parent. These must be tackled quickly if one wants to parent a child well with happy parties all around. I have come to realize that the following is important:
Rule One: Keep it behind closed doors.
Whatever your dispute may be may be, NEVER discuss it in front of a child. Children are keen observers and can pick up easily on the undertones and nuances of relationships. If there is a dispute, settle it OUT of sight of a child. It sets the tone for how the future generation will treat his/her parent.
Rule Two: Be clear from the start
Parents ought to make their parenting goals clear from the start and grandparents ought to respect that even though you may think it’s bollocks. Remember that parenting today is very different from parenting during the 60s, 70s and so forth. Current times need current answers and grandparents may not always know what’s best for their grandchildren.
Rule Three: Parents are the authority and no one else.
When a parent punishes a child, a grandparent should not step in and undermine the parent’s authority. It only sends the wrong message – that mum or dad’s word is not the law. It may not be evident or can even seem trivial now but in the later years, when teenagers begin to rebel, the parent will often be seen as someone who doesn’t need to be respected or obeyed.
Rule Four: Wait for parents to ask for your help
Parents will come to a grandparent for advice but if you keep up the pushing, the soliciting, the so-called “suggestions”, the nagging, the “I-told-you-so”, you do nothing but drive people away. Plus if you interfere all the time, it won’t take long before the visits start dwindling and the conversations reduced to precious few words. Learn to let go and take a step back.
There are more rules to this whole matter and these are discussed in numerous articles available on this site here.
At the end of the day, the answer is the same – Grandparents, you’ve had your chance at parenting; let Mum and Dad do the work.
|November 12, 2009||Posted by Mabel under Parenthood, Thoughts & Emo-ness|
Those of you who have been following my personal blog here would have read something disturbing yesterday. I talked about how I felt that I was slipping into post natal depression and about how I wasn’t coping all that well with being in a new country (that I truly didn’t like – no offence to Singaporeans out there) and having to choose between what I wanted for myself (and Eva) or what would be better for my family at her expense. I was very candid and I don’t plan to be otherwise.
I have always been frank on my blogs, especially this one. I started my blogs with the aim of opening up people’s perspective about many things – life as an expat, motherhood and so forth. It isn’t just all about the good stuff, fun or roses; I wanted people out there to know that there are two sides to an experience and that they don’t have to feel alone in the things that they go through in life.
I am not going to write about how being a mother is the most glorious and wonderful job in the world because to be honest, there are just days when I ask myself what the heck was I thinking of when I planned for this baby, and when I just want to give it all up and go back to my old self. But I can’t. Because being a parent is a lifelong commitment and like it or not, I’m stuck to her and she to me.
A lifelong commitment – I knew them previously as just words. Like how a marriage is about two people sharing a burden yet maintaining an identity. Like how being a mother is all about making sacrifices and such. All the things we know, we hear, we learn about these experiences are nothing until we experience them fully for ourselves.
And I can tell you that it won’t be easy being a wife and a mother.
It won’t be easy trying to share the load with another person. At least not for someone like me who is used to tackling and solving problems on her own. Sometimes it’s hard to admit that I need help, that I can’t do everything all by myself, that my partner in life doesn’t want me to do all these things all by myself because that isn’t what a marriage is all about.
It won’t be easy trying to find the fulfilment of motherhood when your child is throwing the biggest tantrum of the year or when you’re required to make certain sacrifices that you don’t really want to make. Sometimes it’s hard to admit that motherhood is a double-edge sword, that it’s not all fun and games, pink roses and such, that the ultimate step into adulthood is when you give up the things you want for someone else, especially your own child.
The difference between the ones who manage to find the joy in their marriages or children despite the lemons that get thrown at them and the ones who don’t is whether we have learnt to accept our new roles wholeheartedly and willingly…with some help from our spouses, family and loved ones. There will always be people who think otherwise, who feel otherwise, who will want to share their well-meaning advice. I can’t say that I’ll always ignoring them and not feel the pinch – it’s just not how I was built.
What I do know is that I am slowly embracing my new role as a stay/work at home mum with the support of a loving and understanding husband. Perhaps at the end of it all, that’s all that really counts not what other people think I should do or be.
|October 26, 2009||Posted by Mabel under Parenthood, Thoughts & Emo-ness|
One of the biggest challenges I face as a new parent is trying to convince a number of people on this side of the planet that the idiot box is exactly that – an IDIOT box. Even Nil and myself notice that we communicate less when we’re in front of the TV. After 1.5 years of no TV, the effects of suddenly having cable is noticeable. We spend less time with each other and no, sitting in front of the TV, eyes glued to it, is NOT spending time together.
I am not too sure about other mums out there, but Eva has recently discovered that we have a TV and every time I breastfeed her in the hall, she’d turn to face the TV and tune everything else out, even FOOD! Now, that’s just bad, IMHO. I’d rather she stare at the pictures we have hung on the wall or even the ceiling because we can get her attention when she stares at those things. With the idiot box, it’s just impossible to get her attention unless we forcibly turn her head!
Anyway, so one of the parenting rules in my house is this – NO NO NO TV for the little one and less TV time for mum and dad. It felt strange imposing this because I kept getting people tell me that I should let her watch TV because it’ll help “educate” her and so forth. :/
When this came onto my FB feed, thanks to Sharon, I felt somewhat relieved. No, babies don’t become smarter after watching the idiot box – at least that’s what this New York Times article had to say with regards to Baby Einstein programmes being taunted as educational.
Parent alert: the Walt Disney Company is now offering refunds for all those “Baby Einstein” videos that did not make children into geniuses.
They may have been a great electronic baby sitter, but the unusual refunds appear to be a tacit admission that they did not increase infant intellect.
“We see it as an acknowledgment by the leading baby video company that baby videos are not educational, and we hope other baby media companies will follow suit by offering refunds,” said Susan Linn, director of Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, which has been pushing the issue for years.
Did you know that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screen time for babies below two years old and that some governments around the world are considering banning screen time for these babies? According to the same article above, “television exposure at ages 1 through 3 is associated with attention problems at age 7”.
Now I know some people will go “we were exposed to TV when we were growing up and we turned out okay”! But that was then, and now is now – TV just isn’t the same these days. Educational programs? For a baby Eva’s age, I’d prefer to take her out on a stroller and let her stare at her surroundings or better still, I’d rather she focus her attentions on Nil and me! Not only will it be interactive in every sense of the word (unlike the TV), it will be great for bonding as well.
So move aside, idiot box, coz parent-child bonding time is here to stay!