Long before marriage entered my mind, there are three things that I desire to do with my child. This is my journey so far.
It happened for a few months with a lot of struggle, sleepless nights and a lot of crying. We also spent thousands of money just for breastfeeding. I even attended a breastfeeding talk twice. One was when I was only 3 months pregnant. Second was when I already on my last quarter of pregnancy. I don’t know what went wrong. Maybe I didn’t have the same determination or perseverance that other mothers have. And because I wanted to purely breastfeed Nate and not giving him any formula, he became dehydrated and totally lacked feeding. At first, I blamed my husband but in the end I blamed myself. Even after he was hospitalized and almost had a blood transfusion, I was still stubborn. Nate has to be breastfeed. But I knew before we went to the doctor that something is not right. Nate doesn’t look healthy at all. I wondered if he will even get fat because I kept on looking at his legs and wondered why there are so frail. We were confronted by the doctor so we mixed fed after that. But after a few months, my milk is not enough to keep him full so he drinks more on the formula until he’s no longer taking any breast milk. When J would mention that his friend’s baby is fat because of breast milk, sometimes I become envious or when his relative would tell me that the more the baby will suck the more milk you will have. Those were the days when I wish people would just remain quiet. I got used to it after awhile and just surrendered the outcome to the Lord. Although Nate eats home-cooked meals most of the time, it’s not as easy as people might think. But I want to make sure that he’s well-fed.
FULL-TIME HANDS ON MOTHER
I’ve been taking care of Nate for the past 12 months. It was tiring but that’s already a given. It’s expected and I was prepared for it.
I was told that you will become dull if I take care of Nate 24/7. It was a good statement. In fact, it was a valid statement. It made me think and reflect on what I’m doing for the past year which taking is care of Nate the whole day. I was not angry with the statement but it made me think. That statement or whatever comments people would like to blurt out (there were lots of them) is just the tip of the iceberg. And many people don’t know what’s underneath the surface. I may be the “babysitter” of Nate because there is no one else. But remember I am also the mother. Aside from giving him a bath, feeding him, putting him to sleep or watching over him, I also read to him, I play with him, I laugh with him, I cuddle with him, I watch him grow, I see his development and milestones. Looking back, I might have regretted resigning from my job, but now I don’t regret it in exchange for spending time with Nate. No, I don’t feel that I’m getting idle from taking care of him 24/7. In fact, I’m actually learning something new every day. I may have missed the opportunity to work and connect with other people or hone my skill and upgrade as a chef, or even expand my small unstable, God-given business. I’m okay staying at home and still be sane. I took care of dad for 7 years remember? And I’m still sane. I thought the business can wait. Nate will need someone to look after him. For me, it’s not the babysitter, but it's me, his mother. The first few years are very crucial for me. I heard a lot of parents telling me that they miss their sons and daughters who were once a baby. I know I will miss it. I might as well be with him as much as I can. You can’t turn back the clock. When this day is over, it’s over.
I was able to travel and lived abroad. I was able to work. I was able to get married. And now, I was given the chance to be with my baby. But there were many days when I cry out to J telling him my regrets in life.
I should have been the first person doing that.
That was my idea few years ago.
All the ideas that I have before has been materialized already.
She has gone far with her career.
And J would remind me not to compare myself with other people and that I only have one audience which is God. I have no idea what other women are going through. They might even want to have a family and take care of their own baby .
Maybe that business is not supposed to be yours.
When people say that you should be doing this, do you really want to do it? No.
Then, maybe God has something better for you.
So, while waiting on the Lord, just continue what you’re doing right now.
Reflecting on it, I’m blessed to be able to spend time and see Nate grow and can still work at home. Some would say that you might lose your identity if you stop working. If I'm no longer the chef instructor, then who am I? Oh, you’re a full-time mom, but what do you do at home? I believe that my identity is not based on what I do but for who I am in Christ alone. As I’ve mentioned before, motherhood is seasonal. It changes as the baby becomes a toddler. Sooner or later, he would be a teenager. I know what some women are thinking, whether you are single or married. You’re thinking that we not doing enough with our lives. We think that we are a failure. You might be finishing your master’s degrees and pursuing a career in an international bank or you could be studying for your board exam or you just opened your own coffee shop. But despite all these accomplishments, we worry that we’re not doing enough or we felt that we’re failing in life. I am guilty of this do. I’ve decided to be a full-time hands mother but on the sidetrack, I kept thinking, I should be the one doing this or that instead of them. I’ve beaten myself up with those negative thoughts by constantly measuring myself against other people's progress but that’s not supposed to be the case. We are unique because God created us Himself.
Don’t even get me started. I know the first question that you’re going to ask. What about socialization? Well, I thought, I went to a traditional school and it didn’t help me with my socialization skills either. I would hide inside the room whenever we have guests at home. It didn’t help me to interact with other people wherever I go or wherever I might be. I thought this is ambitious. Can I really home school Nate when the truth is I’m already having patience deficiency with him sometimes? That’s why God placed us in a situation where we can learn more about being patient. And it gets tougher most especially when people ask you WHY? It’s a question with a lengthy answer but if you’re thinking it’s a 9am-4pm sit down scenario where the child sits on his table and you’re in front with a blackboard, then you are completely mistaken. I believe it’s more exciting than being in the classroom the whole day thinking that you’re exposed to the real world. Instead, the world is their classroom and that’s where the real experience and learning is.
When we talk to other people, we always compare. The three things I’ve mentioned above are very common. If you breastfeed your son, that’s great. If you formula feed, that’s great also. With yaya or not, homeschool or not, only son or 2 kids, that’s the parents’ decision. Many times we try to impose on parents what to do instead of giving suggestions or advice. We are tongue-tied because it’s either we want to defend our decision or we just want to be kind by remaining silent. There are also many instances where we feel ashamed because of the things we didn’t do. And in some cases, we feel that we didn’t do enough because they did more than enough. But as we learn to grow from this experience, we have stories to tell and share to other people. There’s kindness and understanding and even compassion and sympathy. Yes, we share because we care but share with gentleness and warmth without being so proud that we are right. Every child is different, every experience is unique and every situation needs a different approach and decision.
The journey continues..