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The Big 3!

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Happy 3rd birthday princess!

My precious girl turned 3 exactly a week ago and it’s probably because the birthday week has been so fun- filled that I haven’t had a chance to blog.

I am filled with so much joy and gratitude when I think of the past 3 years. Miss Sunshine’s been a true miracle… When I think of her earlier years and how afraid I was because of her poor health and then I look at this robust, vocal, independent and very happy girl, I am amazed. And so thankful.

I know every child is unique, an angel and yet I feel this so wholly with Miss S. I look at her great ability to empathize and feel another’s pain and her need to make everyone happy, I think of how many times she has the ability to change my frown into a smile, I remember how many of her prayers are answered so instantly and I see how she can do anything to make the people she loves happy… Her generosity of spirit, her sensitivity and compassion never cease to amaze me. And that’s why I wish I could give her the world, because she asks for so little and is content with any little thing.

This year, her birthday had an animal theme. She has always loved animals- especially wild animals; but now she loves rabbits as well and loves playing with them at my work place. So everything, from the house decorations to her cake and activity for the day was animal related. And from the minute she walked down and saw the house, her face was euphoric; hearing her say ‘wow, God has given me so many gifts,’ was worth every hour spent preparing. For months she’d said all she wanted for her birthday was a tree, so for her actual birthday she had a flower tree from my parents to plant in a special pot; and she will still plant her trees so she can see them in years to come. Even now, I don’t understand where she got the concept of a tree from, and how that could be all she wanted. Her thoughts surprise me every single day. Needless to say, the rest of her day was perfect for her- visiting the animals at the orphanage, receiving birthday calls from so many people, seeing her animal themed cake and cutting it and having dinner with family… and still her birthday month goes on.

But I don’t mean to say that Miss S is not an ordinary pre- schooler with her own fights for independence, frustration and tantrums… she is. And I think because so often she’s so mature I tend to forget that she’s still a young child and has the right to behave like a small child. So it helps me to take time and remember that despite being mature for her age, she is allowed to just be 3. And her birthday week and birthday month give me a long time to celebrate her and be thankful for her and appreciate that I have the most special gift in the world.

So this year my dearest Sunshine I wish you sunlight as bright as you, family and friends who are as loving and supportive as you are, dreams that make you soar… I pray you are always surrounded by God’s grace, love, joy, peace and utter contentment and that you will always see the beauty in everything like you do now. I pray that you will always have a song to sing and a voice that can be heard. My dearest S, I wish you success…your own version of success… May your light always shine bright, may your voice always be as sweet, may your heart always be as pure, may you always know unconditional love… I wish you the best of everything…from my mouth to God’s ears.

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Blessings sweetheart!
You are incomparably loved

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Reflecting on the past three years

The more things change, the more they remain the same…

My precious girl,
It feels like we’ve spent a lifetime together because I can hardly remember a time without you. And as I sit here I realize even though you’re growing older and so much has changed, a lot remains the same. Being almost 3 means you’re more fluent and vocal, more independent and strong willed, toilet trained, ready for school and you sleep easily through the night. And something new that amazed me about a week ago was watching you draw your 1st person. Looking at that picture makes me smile so much because it shows me how you’re steadily growing and learning so much every single minute.

Yet what amazes me even more is how many things remain the same as you grow:

I thought by the time you were this age I’d know more, be an expert on parenting…but what I’ve discovered is that even as you grow, there’s more to learn, more challenges to face, more growth. You’re growing daily, changing daily so I’m getting to know a little new part of you every day. So I’m sure, even when you’re 12, I’ll still feel the ‘newness’ of parenting.

Separation anxiety- thought we were through with that whole phase and then a couple of months ago, there it was again. One day I was getting ready to go to work and you insisted you didn’t want me to leave…and that became your usual mantra whenever I was leaving for work. For a few weeks it was so heart wrenching leaving you, it felt like we were back to a year ago. It’s so easy to forget the past until it happens again. Things are back to normal now but what keeps me going even during the periods of separation anxiety is the thought that you don’t want me to leave just because you love me and want to be with me. And as long as I’ve prepared you and you know I’ll come back, you will always get through this.

Your cries still have the power to break me. They still pierce me. It’s taken a lot of adjustment to accept that it’s okay and healthy for you to cry. To accept that not wanting you to cry is more about how I grew up, in an age when children were encouraged not to cry or told to ‘stop crying.’ I’m still learning to hold you as you cry and let you feel and let out whatever emotions you’re feeling without trying to distract you or ‘make you happy.’ I’m learning to accept responsibility for how I feel when you cry as opposed to unconsciously making you feel guilty for my helplessness in that situation. I want you to grow up knowing that it’s okay for you to feel any emotion, so as to deal with it and express it healthily.

When you were younger, you were sick a lot and you falling sick became one of my greatest fears. That hasn’t changed at all. In fact, I need to work on that. As a result of the constant sickness during your infancy, how much I love you and how helpless I felt each time you were sick or we were in hospital, each time you have even a minor flu or a recurrence of any of your previous symptoms, I’m helpless once again. My life stops, at least mentally. I go through the motions but internally I’m just suffering, trying to protect you, even when you don’t need protecting. I know that’s about me. All that traumatized me and I need to deal with that so I don’t project my powerlessness to you.

I love you so so much, more every day. I didn’t know that was possible but when I see you in the morning, watch you sleep at night, I’m still amazed that you are mine. I want you to know that I mean it when I tell you are such a special gift to me and it is an honour to be given the job to be your mama.

Your love, your warmth,your sensitivity; just grows in leaps and bounds. You have a heart of gold my Sunshine and that hasn’t changed, it just keeps growing.

You still love gymnastics and reading, but you’ve found time to nurture more passions- dancing, singing, gardening… Guess that’s why all you want this birthday is a tree. It always strikes me how you’re inherently your own person, developing interests that aren’t necessarily mine. I have little or no interest in nature but you love trees and animals. I cannot even somersault but you taught yourself that and much more. I hope I’ll always help you be the best version of yourself and not just a copy- cat version of anyone else. I love you just as you are.

You still make the biggest difference in my life. Time hasn’t changed that, I doubt it ever will. You made a difference when you were born, you still make a difference in My life. You changed and are still changing my world.

Even now, when you sleep, you want to hold my hand. That is the best feeling. Your little hand wrapped around one finger, or part of my hand. That is enough to make my day.

You still love giraffes. And you’ve added rabbits and flamingos to your animal loves.

I know there is still so much more I can’t remember right now, but the most important thing, you still are and will always be my precious baby, my Sunshine, my adorable girl and my blessing.

Happy Birthday Eve my love

I love you, always and forever

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What August means to me

It’s August once again, Miss Sunshine’s birthday month and I’m reminded once again why I started blogging. She is the reason, my precious almost 3 year old who has been teaching me so much.

Before Miss Sunshine, I was sure of my life’s purpose- mental health awareness. I was driven towards alleviating mental distress and suffering. I thought I was prepared and knew most of what parenting would be about. Enter Miss Sunshine and I realized I knew nothing! (At least practically.) I know this is said all the time; that parenting is wonderful and challenging but I think what is forgotten is how unique and different each journey is. So since Miss Sunshine, my passion has subtly changed…I am passionate about being a gentle, respectful parent; a loving mother… I am passionate about having the best relationship with Miss S and growing with her…I am passionate towards helping her discover and reach her potential… I am passionate towards helping in creating a generation of children who have been taught that they are loved, respected, worthwhile and grow up believing this. I am still just as passionate towards mental health awareness and intervention, but now I also realize that one of the many ways to do this is to give Miss S and her generation of other little ones the best emotional start so that they have a holistic development. So, this is why I write.

As I said despite the beauty of being a parent, there have been challenges. Challenges because parenting doesn’t come with a guide book. What’s worthwhile about the challenges is what you learn from them. You learn what works and what doesn’t. So another reason I love blogging is because as I write I’m able to see when I’ve messed up and what I’ve learnt, and hopefully help others too.

If you had asked me 5 years ago, what my goals in life were, they were mainly driven by my career as a psychologist. But now, today, and as of 3 years ago, this is why I know I’m here:
To be the best mama to Miss S, to parent her with love and respect.
To always recognize how special she is, appreciate her and show her so she’ll always be aware of her self concept-her uniqueness and individuality and appreciate it.
To show her every day that she makes a difference, to me and the world.
To laugh and learn and play together as we grow.
To acknowledge when I’m wrong, apologize and make things right.
To make a difference, first to her, then to the world.
Most importantly to let Miss S always know that now and forever I’ll always be her cheerleader, always support, always encourage, unconditionally love. And that means whether she’s good or bad, smart or not, ‘successful’ or not, she’s my Sunshine, and the way I feel about her will never ever change.

And as I’m impacting the life of my Sunshine, I’ll still strive to make a big difference in mental health awareness. It’s just that she will always come first. Each and every person needs someone who will put them first, be their no 1 fan and cheerleader…and I choose now and always to be her person. I know how much it means to feel loved and cherished unconditionally. So daily I strive to worthy of the title ‘Mama Sunshine.’

My Sunshine, thank you for this momentous role!

Happy Birthday month!

I love you

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Annie and Farm Heroes Saga… A long way to Self- Control

I think as parents we operate on the premise, ‘do as I say but not as I do’, a lot of the time. Yet research has proven that from the time they’re infants, children model our behaviour. That’s how they learn to talk, socialize, express themselves… So we are teaching much more from our actions than our words.

I have a practical example, since my sister- in- law introduced me to Farm Heroes Saga (the mobile application), I have become an addict 😦 So I spend lots of my spare time playing the game, as I strive so hard to win and move up a level. And I will be up many nights struggling to complete a level I’ve been stuck on, even after convincing myself that I’ll only play for 5 more minutes. The desire to win just keeps pushing me and of course because there’s no final end, it means I could just go on and on and on. So where’s my self control and will power? The part of my brain that will say “that’s enough for today, this is just a Time- Waster, do something more productive, like sleep, for example.”

I thought of this yesterday because of Miss Sunshine. She’s never been a television child, she prefers books or music. The only videos she likes are sing- a- longs because she gets to sing and dance. So I’ve never had the problem of her being glued to the TV, and I’ve been grateful for that. However, lately there’s one exception- the musical ‘Annie.’ Both the old version and the 2014 version. She loves them because of the songs. I introduced her to Annie, because I’ve always loved it, but I didn’t think she’d take to it like she does. Most mornings, she’ll wake up and ask me, “can I watch Annie today, mama?” and most days I’ll say “no, you only watch it once a week.” She doesn’t ever watch the complete movie, she watches it in bits so she doesn’t spend over an hour on TV. Yesterday when she asked me, I found it hard to understand why she asks every day when I’ve already told her it’s just once a week. Then I remembered how she’ll also ask for just five more minutes in the shower, or one more story, or one more book or five more minutes in her favorite play area. I know that at her age, her self control isn’t developed yet, which is why I have to do it externally, but I think I was magically expecting that the more I say it and put reasonable limits, the easier it is for her to develop self control. And that’s what got me thinking of myself and Farm Heroes. I’m already an adult, with a mature brain so I should be able to exercise self control and yet I can push myself for hours playing a game which I’d promised myself to stop an hour before, so how do I expect my 2 year old with a still developing Frontal Lobe to be so self disciplined when she’s constantly watching and modelling my behaviour?

That was a huge Reality Check for me. Right now, I’m Sunshine’s biggest role model, chiefly because of the amount of time she spends with me. And that’s true for most infants/ toddlers and their parents. They come to us as open books and soak up all they see, just like sponges. So, if I tell her I’m watching my favourite series for just five minutes, which then extends to an hour, how will she learn how to be self controlled, if she hasn’t seen me do the same? How will she learn that she doesn’t have to eat a whole bar of chocolate but can save some for tomorrow, if she hasn’t seen me save some of my ‘chocolate’ for tomorrow? How will she learn to be calm when she’s angry, if she sees me shout when I’m angry? And it all starts with the small things- the Farm Heroes, in each of our lives.

It’s a compliment to have a little ‘shadow’ in our lives, mirroring all we say and do. But with the compliment comes the challenge of making sure we’re worthy of that great role, portraying a life that’s worth reflecting. Children learn what they live, so right now, it is up to me to start living the way I want Sunshine to live, instead of just saying it.

Gandhi was right when he said, ‘Be the change you want to see in the world.’ We can keep complaining about the world but if we do nothing, it remains the same. Our children are the greatest gift and we can change the world by being the best version of ourselves so that our children reflect that and are the best version of themselves.

And I start now. With Farm Heroes saga. Only to be played for limited minutes a day, and whenever I feel like carrying on to ask myself if I want to expose Sunshine to 1+ hours of Annie every day. I have to make a difference starting now.

Once again, thank you my Sunshine for helping me want to be a better me, not just for you, but for myself as well. Love you always

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I’m still learning

The little miss is now almost 3 years old, yet the more I think I know I realize there’s so much more to learn. So much more growth, possibly more growth for me 🙂

Today, I lost my cool, I may not have shouted but internally I lost control. Sunshine lied to me and I kept asking her to just tell me the truth. I kept getting frustrated that she couldn’t say the truth and stuck to her ‘truth’. That should not be a big deal, she is still so young after all, she cannot be perfect, but for me to take it so personally! I felt like she was letting go of all the values I’m trying to inculcate in her. And that’s not true at all because whenever I look at her I’m amazed at how centered and whole she is. She is already the best she can be at her age, and I am always so proud of the girl she is. So, for me to have felt so frustrated today…that definitely wasn’t about her, it was about me. Her tiny lie was just a trigger for me and I got hurt because I was already worn out and overwhelmed, so that was just the last straw.

I’m always talking about self- care, especially for mums; because if you don’t take care of yourself, you cannot take care of another. But often it’s hard to practice what you preach. When you’re tired, overwhelmed, worn out, stressed or sleep deprived, you start operating from the emotional part of your brain as opposed to your rational part, so all your decisions and actions, will not be the best. And it’s so easy at this point to make any small mole hill a mountain.

After taking a moment today, I acknowledged that my frustration was not about Miss Sunshine or her ‘half- truth’, I was just worn out because of a series of late nights, poor sleep and a whole week without taking time to do things that nurture me. I’ve neglected nourishing me-time and that’s what brought me to this point. So, see why I’m the one who’s still learning? I have to keep reminding myself that for me to be the best me and best mum to my Sunshine, I need to take care of myself. The only way she’ll also know how to take care of herself is by modelling what I do.

Additionally, being overwhelmed made me make today about me. Why did I need her to tell the truth so badly? Probably so I could affirm that I’m bringing her up to be honest. But that’s about me, and that’s what made me keep asking her over and over again. If I was more relaxed and calm, I would have approached it in a different way and because I wouldn’t have internalized any hurt, I would have shown her what I wanted to teach her in a different way. When we’re reacting from our emotions, we forget that children are their own persons and we shouldn’t be controlling them but guiding them. and just like us, they do have flaws, and that’s perfectly okay.

And because there’s no time like the present, I’ve taken some time out today to refresh and re- energize, and that will be a priority every day. My Sunshine, once again I apologize for making a big deal out of nothing. Thanks for being part of my growth process, for teaching me something new each and every day. Remember, you make a difference in MY world.

Love you sunshine!

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My promise

You’re a little human, just come into the world
You’re now just learning everything I’ve always take for granted
You’ve learnt how to walk and talk and smile and laugh
How to just exist in this great big world
And it’s my job to lead and guide, take my time, slowly and patiently
While giving you time and space to grow and be
It won’t always be easy but it’ll be fun
And when I make mistakes I’ll apologise each time
Every day will be a day to start again
Because just like you,I’m only human
Learning something new each and every day
It’s the effort in this journey that counts
And I make a promise to learn from you
How to be a better parent every step of the way
Because the day you were born as my baby
I was also born as your mum
And so even though I cannot promise perfection
What you can always be sure of
I will always treat you with the utmost respect
Offer my understanding, compassion and empathy
Will always offer you a helping hand
And I promise to love you,always and forever

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A whole new world

This…motherhood, is a whole new world…a beautiful place…unimaginable…indescribable. I think I’m enjoying childhood more now than I did as a child. And it is fun! And all thanks to my little Sunshine. I laugh more, smile more, enjoy more, experience more; and this is from the little things. Who knew how much fun bouncing castles were, or bumper cars… Finger painting and making salt dough ornaments… Toilet roll crafts… Baking together… Even just rolling on the bed, dancing like a child… What about tickling each other, giggling and singing at the top of your voice? Do you know how interesting toddler books are? I had no idea pre- Sunshine.

The past weekend, we were at my niece’s Family Fun Day at her school and at the end of the day I said that was the highlight of my week! It was just a series of family friendly competitions, dancing, lots of cheering and a picnic. Yet you could tell that the parents were enjoying the eventful day even more than the children…we probably even cheered our teams more, I remember my sisters and I were creating cheers as we went along…all in all this con that there firmed that there is so much fulfillment we can get from the childlike things, yet we look for our joy and happiness in the big things. I remember taking part in the tug- of- war, I felt like I could fly; just a simple tug- of war. 🙂

So I know one of the lessons children are here to teach us more than anything-to enter this new world of theirs, this simple and easy yet so- fulfilling world.

So to Sunshine, my nieces and nephews, thank you for helping me experience your beautiful world.

Love you Sunshine, always and forever

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Forgive me Sunshine

After a very long period of silence (who knew how busy toddlerhood would be :-)) I finally write. Little miss turned 2, has become a Miss Independent who believes she knows everything and her favourite phrase is “let me show you” or if you want to help her “Let me help me” and this applies to even things like my phone that belong to me. 🙂 It’s fun to watch her assert her independence, though sometimes that strong will is so overpowering and leads to unbelievable Sunshine-trums (Tantrums.) And actually, that’s where this post stems from… Sunshine is so loving and sensitive and acts so mature so when she behaves her age, it catches me off guard and I want her to sit and listen to me and for us to come to a working compromise. But, she’s just 2, a little girl who’s still at the age when it’s hard for her to define and express herself well (despite her great vocabulary), a little girl trying to deal with all the emotions she’s just learning to explore and experience, a little girl who is not yet grown enough to have adult self control…so of course many times she will have her tantrum, her way of expressing herself… and I’m meant to be controlled enough to help her get through that and show her gradually how to express herself healthily. Theoretically, sounds easy and totally manageable. It’s the practical bit that’s hard. And most times I manage; I manage to be empathetic, to give understanding and support without letting it get to me…but sometimes, like the past couple of days, it reaches the point that I feel torn by her pain and powerless and completely overwhelmed and I lose control. I cry or raise my voice, then feel so bad and so guilty. I know I’m human but I want to be better than that, I want to be ‘perfect’ for her, a rock for her.

So this is my apology to you Sunshine. I’m sorry my Sunshine. I’m sorry for the times I’m less than I should be, the times I’m not able to be the adult you need me to be. And I want you to know it’s never about you. You’re doing what you should be doing, you’re growing, you’re learning, you’re being a child…and my job is to help you along this journey so you can always be the best you. I also want you to know that because I’m human, I’m not strong all the time, sometimes I’ll be weak, many times I’ll make mistakes; but I’ll get up from there, try to be and do better and hopefully show you that even you will never need to be perfect. It’s okay for you to be weak, tired, to stand your ground, express your thoughts and emotions…and all I want to do is show you how to express them in a healthy manner whether you’re sad, mad or grumpy.

I try to learn something each time I feel very overwhelmed. Kind of what I do to avoid your tantrums- eliminate the triggers. So I’ve realised that when I don’t get time out for myself, I don’t get a chance to relax, breathe, let go… That’s why I took time out for myself today, to recharge. And I owe it to you to be the best me, so I promise to steal some exclusive ‘me- time’ every day, not time working or planning for you etc…time spent just relaxing, even if it’s just a half hour walk. I guess I’ve been ignoring that because I like spending most of my free time with you but now I see that if I’m not recharging on a regular basis,even that time spent with you will end up being futile because I’ll let small things get to me. A happy mama is a happy Sunshine 🙂

Darling Sunshine, here’s to you and me! I love you always and forever (and really missed you today)

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Mama! Open door…..pleeeeeeeease

It’s been toooo long since my last post… I don’t even have an excuse. I keep writing posts in my head…but in my head they stay…probably there are too many memorable Sunshine toddler moments 🙂

But today I’ve committed to writing, maybe because I’m so unused to this alone me- time in the house? See a long time ago privacy became non- existent, because as long as we’re in the same place, the little miss wants to be wherever I am. But today she’s out with my sister, so I got home to a quiet house, and even though it hasn’t even been an hour I miss the being followed everywhere and endless chatting.

Any minute now, I keep waiting to hear a knock on the bedroom door and a sweet voice saying, “Mamaaa! Open door….pleeeeease.” The ‘please’ is always pulled, high pitched and said with the sweetest smile ever. Trust me whenever she uses her ‘please’ it’s impossible to deny whatever request she has.

Before, she just used to reach the door, whichever door it was, bathroom, toilet, bedroom… and shout “dooooor!” and sometimes, “Mama, door!” Then moved to “Open door,” until she realized when she adds that sweet “please” the door opens faster. And now after the “Mama! Open door, pleeeeease,” she adds, “Belle, here,” just in case I didn’t recognize her adorable voice. 🙂 How sweet is that? See why I miss her so much?

You know sometimes I wonder, because that sweet ‘pleeeease’ melts my heart so much, isn’t it possible that she could say, “Mama, throw phone, pleeeeeeease,” and I’ll let her?

Honestly I can’t believe she’ll be 21 months on Monday. Cliché as it may sound, she is growing up so fast! I’m already missing my little girl…considering that my baby is now becoming a very independent, wanting-to-make-her-own-choices/ decisions toddler and we have to come to a compromise on almost everything (no more blindly following mama and just wearing a jacket because she says so :-))