Wednesday, April 27, 2016

My Responsibility

The breaks between each post on this blog is getting longer and longer. Time is a luxury for every mom with a baby and blogging just isn't a priority anymore. There are so many things that fight for my attention each day. Baby aside, there's the husband, work, chores, Facebook (guilty as charged) and devotions for the ladies' Bible study held at my place now weekly. I hardly even have the energy to go do the things I enjoy these days. Chinese calligraphy, skating, DDR, running, hanging out with friends... By the time 7pm rolls around and Brendan is in bed, all I have energy left for is to eat and finish up whatever I didn't get to do in the day.

Sometimes I get weepy and sick of the mom/work routine. Is this life even worth living when it's no fun at all? Why can't I have 100 hours in a day and unlimited energy to do the things that need to be done, and at the end of it, pursue my dreams and have tons of fun to top it all off?

Ironically, I have many reasons to be grateful. Brendan sleeps through from 7pm to 7.30am (thanks to the whole Babywise routine) and that gives me plenty of freedom in the night. Not only that, but he also takes consistent naps in the day, so you won't hear the usual "mommy complaints" from me like "I can't take a shower at all because my baby won't let me put him down!" or "I'm so exhausted from my baby because he won't play by himself and needs to feed constantly". I'm really really really grateful daily for all this. Truly, I am! I guess I'm just yearning for more... Is it greed?

Since Brendan was born, work has really taken a backseat too. Instead of prospecting heavily for clients, I only service my existing pool when needed. As a result, the amount of sales has dropped tremendously, much to the disappointment of my manager and doubtlessly, my overachieving dad (who I feel always has sky-high expectations for his children).

I often ruminate over whether my choice to spend the majority of my time on Brendan is a good one. Many women in Singapore in this day and age are expected to work alongside their husbands since the cost of living here is through the roof. Many are struggling just to feed one or two children, with both parents working. I know many of them may not look like it from the outside, but when you do the math, you'll realize that a lot of people are living on the edge with no retirement plans in place. I do receive judgmental silence/talk when it's revealed that Brendan is by my side almost 24/7. I bring him along with me to appointments if I can and even some meetings in the office. The usual question asked is, "why don't you put him in infant care or hire a babysitter or a maid so that you can work during the day instead of letting your sales suffer?". This is usually posed in a way that implies work and earning money is superior to actually looking after your child. I was even told once by a Singaporean aunty that my choice to watch Brendan on my own instead of putting him in infant care was going to turn him into a dependent softie of a man in the future. LOL! But my kid is the one who is able to sleep and play on his own right now as opposed to your super-clingy grandson- so where's the logic/evidence?

I don't bother to explain to anyone anymore why this is my choice. I simply realized that doing so would expose our differing fundamental beliefs instead of coming to a good conclusion. But for the sake of blogging, I will pen down my beliefs here.

I believe that children are not only a blessing, but also a responsibility from God. We are told in the Bible to "train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it" (Proverbs 22:6). In Proverbs 29:15, it also says "The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother." 

With these verses in the back of my mind, I always look back to my own experiences as a child. Being raised by a single working mom meant that I was always either in the care of a babysitter, relative or in daycare. In my teens and young adulthood, I've been a babysitter and fulltime caretaker myself. I came to the conclusion that nobody besides your own parents will ever put in as much care and effort in disciplining you. I grew up with inconsistent discipline and a general lack of parental guidance. People who knew me as a child and teenager can surely attest to the rebellious and impulsive behavior that in some part, resulted from that.

It did not matter that there was always an adult in the vicinity who made sure that I ate, bathed and did my homework on time. What I needed on top of having my physical needs being met, was to have my spiritual, mental and emotional self developed in a godly way that only parental authority can. Different caretakers meant different belief systems were imposed on me at various times of the day and years. I was punished for certain things in one place, but not another. But the worst pain of all, apart from inconsistency, was the lack of my parents' love. As a child, love simply meant to me that they were there. I used to look on in envy as other children had their moms or dads pick them up from school, drop them off at daycare, show up for performances and sports days in school. Mine were always working. I took it to mean that they didn't care. I know better now, but it doesn't undo the tremendous hurt that brought my young heart at the time.

Knowing all of this, how can I willingly give my child up to another person's care for the majority of the day? I know a grandparent's love can still never replace the soothing presence and consistent training of a parent. Our parents have earned the right to be grandparents now. Why should I ask them to discipline on my behalf when they yearn to spoil? I will not take that pleasure from them, nor do I expect them to be able to withhold it!

As the days pass, I grow in my conviction that this is the right thing to do. Earning money may be a priority for most, but I believe God gives us exactly what we need for each day. I do not need to worry about tomorrow. But what I do need to do is to take up this responsibility that He has given to me. It would be easy, and selfish in my situation to throw myself into work and let Brendan be in someone else's care during the day so I can enjoy life the way my unmarried self would have intended. But I do not feel that is my calling...