Monday, June 17, 2019

Motherhood - a lonesome journey

As I journey into my 11th year of motherhood, I have to say that it can be quite a lonesome journey. I am not sure if it is an Asian “tiger mum” thing but seemingly, there’s tons to compare once you become a mother.

I recall during the earlier days, it was the early milestones that had parents in a fluster – which child stood earlier, walked earlier, spoke earlier, read earlier, etc. The popularity of the flashcards then and how it "coaches" toddlers to read did not help to ease first time parents’ anxiety too.

Comes preschool, it was a mad rush to getting places at the “best” (or at least most well-known) preschools with a huge emphasis on literacy. Trust me when I say that this is a HUGE concern; I was in the early childhood industry for years and my role then was in Marketing and Enrolment. I have met thousands of parents with preschoolers over the 5 - 6 years and few of the most common questions that I get are "Will my child be ready for primary school? Will she learn how to read and write and count?" 

Because such is the nature of our culture and society, the underlying current and quiet competition/comparisons start young. I have had a few run-ins with parents during workshops where there were some comments on why certain roles in drama classes were dished out to certain children, how a 5 day camp should be a 3 day camp because their kids cannot attend (though majority could attend), etc. Naively as a first time parent, and when the kiddo was much younger, I used to share more about the activities which we do and even celebrate small successes on my social media posts. However, there seems to be a backlash - I quickly realize that some were quietly comparing and there seems to be some preconceptions of Dumpling too. 

Wins, Win, and Winning: TRIU IPH SOCIETY
Classic "scary" mums that I meet 

Things did not lighten up in Primary school. As she is in a girls' school I dare say that it is more competitive than a co-ed school. In the lower years, it is much easier to attain full marks and I found myself falling into the parenting trap where I sometimes hear myself asking Dumpling who else scored full marks or what's the highest score in her class for a said subject. Dumpling was also made Monitor during Primary 1 and I recall that choice / decision was questioned by another mum - why Dumpling and not her child. So these were unhealthy as well. Fast forward to a few years on. The girls were to work on group projects and I have previously shared that they had to construct a boat individually but work as a group to present and share their thoughts, findings and rationale for the choice of materials for their boat. Dumpling was in charge of collating the slides and was repeatedly "chasing" for the slides from a classmate. After 2 - 3 weeks (nearing the deadline), the girl shared that her parent does not allow for her to email or share her slides with anyone prior the presentation for fear that others would copy her slides / ideas. 

It is no surprise that as such I do not mingle much with the other parents from Dumpling's school - as a FTWM my time is stretched and honestly, I lack the time and stamina to manage such "comparisons" and it also helps me manage my own expectations better. And maybe because of the fact that I have seen so much of these "dramas" I am often uncomfortable to comment or share much about Dumpling and how her classmates are faring when I am asked by other parents in casual conversations. I find myself guarded, worried that things that I share may be misunderstood and misconstrued. When we had small successes, I was hesitant to comment much, only occasionally sharing about fun stuff, vacations, etc. for "fear" of more backlash or further pressure from these unhealthy competitions. 

Having said that, I am very thankful that I have other girlfriends in my life who keep me sane - only a few from "outside" circle and even fewer from her school. With these mums, I do not have to worry much about sharing the bad news (where I could potentially be judged as being too pushy or am a tiger mum reincarnate) or the good stuff (where once again I could be judged as being boastful or arrogant). Frankly in the current days of social media consumption and a change in communication form (whats app), things could often be misunderstood where gossips can spiral out of control. 

So yes, motherhood can be a lonesome journey where it is a case of "darn if you do" and "darn if you don't". So, if you are wondering why I have not been blogging much, this is the reason. I do not want Dumpling to be "judged" or to have my blog infringe into her privacy especially now that she is older. People sometimes think that just because I have photos on my FB or IG sharing glimpses of our lives, they assume that they know us well and well enough to judge and comment. 

I will still be blogging randomly and will share more on my perspectives and unless the kiddo is comfortable with me sharing hers, she will not be making much of an "appearance". If she does, then it would be more of a "cameo".  :p 
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