“Motherhood is a great honor and privilege, yet it is also synonymous with servanthood. Every day women are called upon to selflessly meet the needs of their families. Whether they are awake at night nursing a baby, spending their time and money on less-than-grateful teenagers, or preparing meals, moms continuously put others before themselves.” – Charles Stanley
Motherhood has completely changed me. The past 11 months has been the most completely humbling experience that I ever had. It has placed me in a position to always address the issues that I claim to believe in, and if I fail to stand up to those principles when raising my child, I can totally forget it. Regardless of the roller coaster ride in the journey of motherhood, I have at least 7 things to be extremely thankful for.
1. Being a SAHM
To those who knew me for a long time, they would know I used to be a career-crazed lady. Throwing all the world of corporate ladder under the rug, here I am, a SAHM (Stay-At-Home Mom). I would love to do a market reentry but my baby girl needs me more than ever.
Sometimes when making a trip to the mall just to take a walk (you know I hate being at home all the time) I would run into this Vietnamese lady who owns a nail parlor. She would act friendly to me and my baby, and then interrupt the conversation by saying, “Hey, why don’t you ask your mom to come over to babysit your girl? You should be working and earn more money!” I understand her good intentions, but hey, it’s okay to tell me once, but not every time you run into me at the mall. Look, who’s to say what is better. I admit I did not try very hard to look for jobs. Occasionally, I will just sit in front of indeed.com and click away for something that appeals to me. Months after months, there isn’t any reply from any job I sought. I gave up.
There must be a reason why this is all happening. Perhaps, God wants me to enjoy the precious moments with my little one. I recently came across this article and I find it offensive to mothers who choose to be SAHM. I do agree that money is important, but isn’t raising up my child equally significant, too? Money can be earned all over again when it’s spent, but time is priceless because we cannot turn back time to cherish those valuable minutes of holding your little one.
To say we cannot live with a single income, is a subjective matter. Don’t get me wrong here. I am not against working mothers, especially those who are trying to make ends meet. To me, it also depends on what kind of lifestyle you want to lead and if you are willing to sacrifice your luxury (clothings, vacations) in order to spend more time or even in exchange for their safety. I may not have the latest iPhone5, or TV cable or a thousand-dollar couch, but I am very much grateful that my husband can provide food on the table, shelter upon our head, and eating out during the weekends. I have seen families with 4 children surviving with only $40K salary.
At the end of the day, it is all about the time being spent at home, allowing me to see my baby grow each day. I get to hear her first words, feed her first solids, know her likes and dislikes, and watch her developmental milestones achieved little by little. For this, I am very grateful to be able to be a SAHM.
2. TV, The Occassional Babysitter
Being a mom of a little monkey angel, it is extremely difficult to stay unattached to her just for a minute. You read it right. She is an angel when she behaves perfectly, but her halo and wings will be missing when she is all over the place. Ever since she started to be on all fours, I never had an easy time juggling to keep my eye on her or to do my house chores. It is a constant battle.
When she was about 8 months, I tried using the superyard playard with 6 to 8 gate panels. She doesn’t like the imprisonment idea. She would be so frustrated and would not stop crying if I ever placed her in that superyard. That forced me to return the superyard after a week.
Annakate is a free spirit. She would rather roam around freely and I fear for her life as I have not entirely baby proofed the apartment. She would reach for greater heights, pull things apart, and tear things down. Consequently, I just make her sit at her walker and play Veggie Tales or Hillsong Kids on the TV for her. It keeps her quiet and glued to the Veggie Tales, while it keeps me NOT INSANE to do my house chores. I get to clean and cook. So, no complaints.
Occasionally, I have my mom on Skype (connected to the TV). She communicates with my baby and tries to get her attention while I do my own things. Thank you, mom! I figure that it is so wrong to allow an infant under the age of 1 to be babysit by a TV. But, I have no other choice.
P.S. I see those judging eyes from here and there, but hey, I got to do what I had to do.
3. Overcoming A Messy House
A dirty house is neither a sin nor a crime when you have a baby. I’ve got to admit that my house isn’t perfect all the time. I do try my very best. When my house is messy, it feels like I can’t keep it together—like I’m a bad wife and mother. I grew up in a house where my mom cleans all the time, and I guess I have inherited that cleanliness gene. I can’t stand it if I see a cluttered mess.
Before Annakate was born, it was an easy job for me to ensure the house is spotless. Now that I have her, I have to give myself some leeway and procrastinate a little. I always have to juggle between spending time with my baby and doing house chores. I feel guilty if I neglect her and only care about the neatness of the house. But hey, that doesn’t give me the green light to endorse a dirty house, as we all know a dirty house will breed illnesses. In order to allow myself to embrace sweet happiness with my little one while enjoying a noble home, I made up a roster of what to do on each day.
For example, I will always remind myself to do laundry on Mondays, dust on Tuesdays, clean the toilets on Wednesdays, vacuum on Fridays, and wash linens on Saturdays. If I miss an act, I would often regret, because I would have to do two things on one day. We are not asking for a house to be spic and span, but I do agree not to wait until the clean-up list is too overwhelming before we get together and act. With all is said and done, I am thankful that I have the strength to overcome the messy house.
4. Strength Despite Sleep Deprivation
“Mothers are basically part of a scientific experiment to prove that sleep is not a crucial part of human life.” – Unknown
Sleep deprivation is no joke. During the first few weeks of the newborn phase, lack of sleep was the worst thing I had to endure. I felt like a zombie trapped in a twilight world, trying to make it through each day even though I had only few hours of sleep the previous night. I really assumed that I could bravely tough it out despite having warnings from veteran mothers.
It is clear that everyone needs sleep so that their brain cells can dispose of waste and store up energy for the next day. Without it, the brain simply cannot function properly. I was on the brink of madness. I would snap and even scream with a pillow on my face if I was kept awake a few times throughout the night.
Time passed, and my baby learned the art of sleeping through the night at the age of 8 weeks. Unfortunately, the blissful nights did not last forever. She started waking up again at 4 months old, and until today, she still needs her midnight snack (read: breastfeeding) at least once or twice in the middle of the night.
I guess our body works in an amazing way to adjust to the new lifestyle of having a baby. I may feel like a zombie, but as days and weeks go by, it is perfectly normal not to have 8 hours of sleep. Now, having a cumulative of 6 hours of nightly sleep, to me, is already a blessing which I am constantly thanking God for.
5. Post-Baby Day-to-Day Lifestyle
I must admit the day-to-day tedium of my domestic life has me wanting to get out and have fun. Does it make me a bad mother to have such a thought? But when I made the decision to have children, I sort of gave up ‘the right’ to be a crazy partying young adult. My child instantly comes first.
I do go out in the daytime with Annakate just to kill boredom on mundane days. I have fun with her in the children’s museum or stroll her around the mall. It makes me happy to see her smile when her little eyes explore around the store with me. As often as twice a week, I would go on playdates so that my baby can learn to socialize with another bub. Besides that, I get to interact with moms and learn from each other on maternal skills. There are also days that she just could not nap at home and the only time she would fall asleep would be on a car ride. It might be an expensive way to get her to nap (read: fuel isn’t cheap), but I just had to make her nap.
Having said that, I have missed the good old pre-baby days of a friend calling me for a night out at the ice cream hut, or hanging out at a friend’s house for a board game up to midnight. I feel upset at times when I often get left out in social activities which is usually held around Annakate’s bedtime. But hey, I had to do what I had to do.
I also missed those movie date nights and weekly dinner dates with my husband. Annakate is almost a year old, and I have only gone on two movie dates and two romantic dinner dates with Mike. Wow, I just realized it’s countable with one hand. I guess it’s not that bad, huh? I think a lot of new parents hardly find time to go dating. So I should be thankful to be able to have 4 dates so far.
We have resorted to movie dates on the couch lately and I believe it is also a form of intimacy to be cuddled up together while watching a chick flick or an action-packed film. Once in a while, we would go on a TVB (Hongkong dramas) craze and ended up in bed at 2am. Call us crazy but we are thankful not to have a boring post-baby lifestyle.
6. Successful Breastfeeding Journey
I always wanted to breastfeed. It never crossed my mind not to breastfeed. I guessed it was because of my previous job in the healthcare industry, I was very aware of the health benefits for the mother and child with breastfeeding.
Before I got pregnant, I was surrounded with countless stories of working mothers who successfully breastfeed their babies for at least 6 months to a year. Being influenced by the exclusive breastfeeding journey that some of my ex-colleagues and my cousin have experienced with, I made up my mind instantly when I got pregnant, I had to breastfeed my child. My cousin got me connected with The Breastfeeding Advocates Network (TBAN) on Facebook when I was about 5 months pregnant. I googled and researched everything that I should know about breastfeeding. I learned to understand how mothers fail their breastfeeding journey because of lack of support and self-sabotaging methods. I needed all the tools, resources, and support to embark on a successful breastfeeding journey.
With much enthusiasm on this, it is very important to tap into family members and friends to learn and understand their breastfeeding experiences. My mother did not breastfeed me because she claimed that she had no supply (which is a myth). On the other hand, my mother in law nursed my husband for a year. I also hooked up with old friends who has chosen to breastfeed their babies (who are about my baby’s age). This is essential because they provide a good support system mentally and emotionally.
However, the very first latch was honestly a weird feeling. I’m a very self-conscious person and the thought of a little person sucking on my breast at first freaked me out for a while. My baby did not have a good latch and it hurts the hell out of me. Although I am thankful that my milk supply came in at day 4, like I have mentioned in TBAN before, my first 2 weeks of nursing was not enjoyable at all. I cried when Annakate could not latch properly, and it was worse when her gums bit me. I was on the brink of giving up when she bit me really hard on the 8th night. The soreness of my horrible-looking nipples were totally unbearable by then.
My cousin and my friends came to my rescue, sending me text messages to encourage me to persevere. They told me if I could endure the pain for 2-3 weeks, it will be all good after that. (Thank you Tamera, Melissa and Erin for your wonderful support.) Never underestimate the power of surrounding yourself with a supportive group of mothers who have already been there and are more than willing to offer tips and advice. Because of them, I pushed through the hardship and I am very proud today to say that I am still exclusively breastfeeding my baby girl.
My initial target was to breastfeed a minimum of 12 months in order to reap the best benefits for my baby. Now that we are almost at the finishing line, I am not ready to let go. I want to breastfeed as long as I can. If possible, I would love to do it for another 6 months. I adore the special bonding of breastfeeding with my baby. I get smitten each time I see her pair of lovely doe eyes staring at me while she gulps down her milk. Oh, how thankful and blessed I am to have abundant milk supply for her. Thank You, Heavenly Father, for the successful breastfeeding journey.
P.S. *Please note that this post is not intended to be an attack on mothers who choose to feed their babies formula. I totally respect your choice and the circumstances you face with your little ones.
7. My SuperHusband
First of all, for families where the wife chooses to stay at home instead of pursuing a career, sometimes men act superior in their ability to, bring home the bacon. For instance, I know some women who are given a limited budget by their husbands, but then the husbands buy whatever fun things they want since “they brought home the money.” I also know men who have said things to their wives like, “you’re lucky that I provide for you.” I am super duper THANKFUL that my husband is NEVER like that.
I must proclaim that I have the world’s best husband and he is such a doting father. Mike is not only capable of providing the necessities for this family, but he is also extremely helpful at home. During the first few months as new parents, I simply could not juggle well between babycare and house chores. Mike was always there for me throughout my postpartum pains. He was also my postpartum confinement nanny that took care of all the cooking and washing while I concentrated on resting and nursing.
Even until this day, he volunteers to help out in little things like cleaning the kitchen after dinner. Most of Annakate’s bath time sessions are done by Mike because, for him, it is the only time he gets to bond with his daughter after a long day of work. That is unless his back injury is causing a strain on his regular activities, in which case I will take over.
Besides the physical support, he is the ultimate cheerleader for my mental and emotional sanity. He keeps me in check and provides unlimited verbal assurance that I am doing a good job as a mother. He never fails to uphold me in prayers and constantly encourages me when I’m feeling trapped in my emotions. I know he has a tough day at work, especially with the long working hours, but he is without a doubt, a very loving husband to me.
In other words, I am ultra thankful to God for blessing me with a superhusband whom I adore tremendously. It is because of his relentless dedication and commitment to this family which makes my journey of motherhood even more enriching.
Yes, yes, you heard me loud and clear that I am thankful for every second and every minute of my journey. Pregnancy and motherhood has been significantly one of the most life-altering events I have ever experienced; and I am loving it.
P.S. I must also give thanks for my wonderful mommy who prays for me all the time.