Friday, 14 February 2020

My best and worst Valentine's presents

Surviving over 20 years of marriage is quite a feat, especially in this day and age.

We've definitely moved past the stage of wrecking our brains for that perfect gift and now it's usually just a dinner date or a sort-of celebrated early meal for practicality, with the entire family.

We've been through so many ups and downs, and many years, when we were mired in difficulties and fighting for survival, this day passed just like any other ordinary day.

Somehow, we pulled through the worse, the poorer and the sickness and there were some lovely better, richer and healthy times we shared.

The best present from the hubs?

This wasn't during Valentine's but it was the sweetest gift ever.

About a decade ago, the hubs booked a trip to Milan and he thought why not visit Venice as well. I've been to Italy a couple of times and wasn't particularly excited to go back to Milan and Venice. I was a huge Angelina Jolie fan then (no judgement please) and loved The tourist. I saw a confirmation slip on my table and couldn't believe he had booked Hotel Danieli, the hotel where Angelina Jolie stayed in the show!

That was surely my highlight of the entire trip, not only walking the same carpets and stairs but discovering that the hotel was once home to a wealthy noble family. The 14th century palace has been beautifully preserved, and roaming around the halls, I could imagine the lavish parties and the little princesses running along the corridors. (one tiny disappointing reality was, that BOAT ENTRANCE in the movie was not real!)

The hubs is no Angelina Jolie fan, and he would much prefer a newer, modern hotel which would cost way less, so that was really sweet of him.

And the worst present? Or should I say, the present with the most mis-matched expectations?

This was many years back, long before we had apps on our phones. The hubs was all excited and he said, "Come! Come outside! See what present I got for you!"

Wah, from his earnestness, I thought it must be something really nice.

He led me to the car, opened the door and tada!

I was baffled. "Er, where's the present?"

"There. The navigator! Isn't it great?"

The navigator??! Why would I want the navigator for a present? I mean, c'mon! How could a GPS even count as a present!!

He saw my OH expression, and went on. "It's not just any old GPS. It's the authentic navigation system that I got fitted. You are always getting lost. Isn't this most useful for you?

At that point in time, I wished he had spent his money on something else. Anything else. A good book would have been greatly appreciated.

Anyway, it was months later that it dawned on me that indeed, the GPS turned out to be indispensable and those frustrating days of going round and round in circles getting lost were over!

Beyond these thoughtful surprises, it is the everyday things he does that show his love for us.

Do I get annoyed at him?

Of course. And vice versa. But isn't it better to focus on the good instead of the irks? Because what you focus on grows.

It is in the ordinary, the mundane, the struggles, the victories, that a contented life is built. The extras, the gifts, the vacations, they are but high bleeps in the big scheme of things. For me, it's not the extraordinary that dazzle. But the everyday moments that matter.


About MummyWee

Michelle is an Occupational Therapist by day and mum of 6 by night. Besides the already very demanding job of managing 5 teenagers and one 6-turning-16 tween, she is also Founder of The Little Executive, a nurturing centre to develop children in their 4Qs to survive today's volatile world. She also makes time to volunteer with children and the elderly in her community.

Friday, 10 January 2020

The Stuff I Don't do

I am constantly asked, how do you find time to do so much for your kids? 

With 6 kids and a business to run, I have to consciously decide what to prioritise and where to focus my time and energy.

I used to try to accomplish too much and ended up running myself to the ground, always high strung and frustrated with everyone and myself.

Now, I aim to keep myself in a zen-like state, where the world can spin around me but I still hold firm and not get sucked into doing what everyone else is doing.

Honestly, I don't do a whole lot!

I don't drive them to school.

I don't even wake up at 6am to wave them up the school bus. Kate comes to me every morning and gives me a goodbye kiss before leaving. Yup, she's ready to be the mum around here!

I don't help them with homework in the evenings.

I don't nag them or test them their weekly spelling.

I don't send them for tuition.

I don't coach them for their exams. In fact, I don't even know exactly when their exam dates are!

I don't drive them around for enrichment classes. I find it incredibly stressful to be on the road, frantically watching the clock to get everyone on time for classes.

I don't expect them to win medals or awards. Anything they come home with are always a big surprise and greeted with great claps on the backs and a celebration!

I don't compare them with other children. Heck, I don't even bother to know what other kids are up to in their spare time. I'm more interested in how others are bringing up their kids well, not what they are doing or achieving.

I don't fret if there isn't a proper dinner on the table some days. Porridge with ikan billis and spring onion makes a complete meal, no?

I don't pretty up pictures for social media. Too time consuming. I know, my pictures are probably the worst out there!

I don't worry very much.

I don't feel guilty about being a lousy mum or not doing "enough" for them.

So, what DO I do?

I take time off to attend all their parent-teacher meetings, performances and important school events.

I guide them well, then expect them to be on top of things in school and to be completely in charge of school-related matters, including their weekly spelling and revision for exams.

I teach them to be independent from a young age.

I encourage them constantly. I am their biggest cheerleader.

I tell them they are good enough.

I guide them to find their strengths and interests.

I support their dreams and passions.

I open their eyes to what is possible.

I love them a whole lot. Unconditionally.

I let them take responsibility for a lot of things.

I allow them to make their own decisions.

I provide a listening ear.

I guide them from afar.

I close one eye when there is a need to.

I let them figure things out for themselves.

I let them fail.

I'm always ready with a hug, and never with an I-told-you-so response.

I don't talk down to them. I talk with them.

I don't do things for them. I do things with them.

I teach them to be grateful.

I believe in them.

So, if you are feeling guilty, don't. We know that all mamas are trying their very best, and wouldn't our families prefer to have us sane, happy and energized instead of being overworked, tired and snappy?

We ARE ENOUGH.

We are stars in our children's eyes. Sometimes, all they want is to have us there, sitting beside them, listening to their stories of the day and feeling like they are the most important people in the world to us and we are not looking at our phones or rushing off to the next errand.

And that isn't too hard to do, is it :)

About MummyWee
Michelle is an Occupational Therapist by day and mum of 6 by night. Besides the already very demanding job of managing 5 teenagers and one 6-turning-16 tween, she is also Founder of The Little Executive, a nurturing centre to develop children in their 4Qs to survive today's volatile world. She also makes time to volunteer with children and the elderly in her community.

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