Wednesday 23 May 2012

A Gift of Time

On this mother’s month of May, I salute my mom, my mother-in-law, and all the other full-time moms who have given so much of their time to make a house into a home.  They are called homemakers for a reason.  I also thank my husband who has worked so hard to give me this opportunity to stop work and be with our girls.  It’s the best gift I can receive on mother’s day. 

Making the decision to stop work and be a stay-at-home-mom was not a hard thing to do.  It definitely had its roots.  My mom was also a full-time homemaker.  She chose not to pursue of what could be a promising career - a corp commander and an honor student back in high school (while working part-time as radio deejay to support her studies) and a student body president graduating top of her class in college.  She put it all aside and instead concentrated on us growing up.  She truly gave us one of the greatest gifts - the gift of her time.
Now that I am officially a stay-at-home mom, a lot of friends have asked me how my life has been so far.  Technically speaking, being at home and taking care of the girls full time is not really new to me.  I have had 4 months of maternity leave doing just that - staying home, breastfeeding round the clock, changing diapers (round the clock too!), playing, reading, giving baths, the whole nine yards.  The only thing that is different now, in a very pleasant way is that I don’t dread the pressure-pack and rushed life of a working mom anymore.  
When you have been working like there was no tomorrow for more than 10 years, the sudden change of pace definitely need some getting used to.   I can still remember working on a masterplan project in China which almost brought me to a breaking point.  I was going home very late everyday, without weekends for almost a month.  It culminated on a 6-hour midnight flight to Shanghai arriving there at around 7am, going straight to office and working the whole day.  That night, we travelled a 4-hour road trip to Yangzhou and arrived at around 11pm only to continue finalizing the designs, which was to be discussed on a breakfast meeting at 7am the very next day!  Whew!  No wonder I was popping pills for migraine like they were vitamins!

In Shanghai office, after an overnight flight
In Yangzhou, still managed a smile after 2 days of no sleep.

So I am sure you’ll know what I mean when I say I am a lot happier now.  I am certain the girls feel that too, which is very important.  I believe having quality time with the kids without your mind wandering to work is one of the biggest challenges.  Now that work is out of the equation, we can truly take our time and genuinely enjoy the play at hand.   Our hours and imagination stretch, bringing characters to life beyond “they lived happily ever after”.  Our play is no longer interrupted by constant clock-checking and you-have-5-more-minutes-to-go warnings. On the flip side however, the bad news for Ava is - mommy also has unlimited time to enforce time-outs!
One time, Ava kept on bugging me to watch cartoons again.  I normally let her watch for a maximum of 30 minutes, just enough to get my sanity back.  The usual all-knowing parenting spiel would be (which of course I have inherited) “there is time for everything and now is the time to eat, or sleep, etc... After you have finished eating your vegetables (slide in delayed gratification too!) then you can watch”.  Depending on which side of the bed she woke up from, my reprimands were sometimes met with bouts of crying and squealing, worthy of a “terrific” two.  Since we have pretty much established who the boss is (I have all the time now remember?), she figured the cows are never coming home.
So as I was watching her eat, an inspiration suddenly lit.  There is indeed a time for everything.  If you look at life in its entirety, 3-5 years of being with our children at their tender and formative years is nothing when you live a life of, God-willing, 80 fruitful years.  And when you do in fact live that long, I’m pretty sure reliving those 3-5 years back will bring so much pleasure and contentment.  Yes, I am happy I made the time.  Work?  That can definitely wait.  My girls?  I don’t think so.

My thirsty cyclist.

Who couldn't resist staying at home with an adorable face like this!

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