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5 things my children taught me about myself

Before I had my own children I was not the type who would be drawn to the baby in the room and be all googly eyed over her/him. I would shy away from holding a baby as I feared I would accidentally break their fragile limbs due to my inexperience. Any attempt of holding a baby would end up with me awkwardly carrying her, frozen in place and not daring to move at all, for fear of dropping the baby. Times have changed for sure, as I have three of my own now and like it or not it was a sink or swim situation, their lives now depends on you, literally. In retrospect, as much as they grew under me and my husband’s care, they have made me grow as well. Having children taught me a lot about myself, and below are what I discovered about myself since then and also how I’ve changed since having kids.

1. I am not a patient person
I am not a loud person nor do I have a temper, and I do not deal with confrontations well in general in the past, preferring to avoid it if possible. I assumed I would be fairly gentle and patient with the kids when they came. Turns out, I can get pretty hot with the children, at times losing my cool and blowing my top off at them, and after I simmer down I’d feel pretty down about how it went. I’ll end up analyzing what happened, how it happened and thinking I could have acted better with them in those situations. I am still working through myself to figure out what works best for each kid. Kid’s bring out the best, and the worst in you, and turns out managing children is not as easy as it seems. In fact it’s a whole psychological study in itself, to bring up children well while maintaining our inner peace at the same time.

2. I am a borderline tiger mum
Growing up in a Asian family and being around mostly Asians, we always hear about this or that mother who makes her kids read from age 3, take piano lessons, go for dance or ballet class, have adequate study time every day and strictly goes through their homework and examination grades to make sure they get those A grades. Though I don’t think I am near that (not yet), but I do find myself implementing some specific rules on my own kids from infancy. Some examples below:

  • No television or limited screen time ( to prevent poor attention span issues)
  • Good nutrition is important – kids have be breastfed over a year minimum (and exclusively, thankfully I had sufficient supply)
  • When solid food was implemented, their diet required daily vegetables, fruits, and protein preferably fish of low mercury content
  • Reading to them from a young age starting when baby was a month old
  • Talking and singing to them to ensure their language skills are stimulated
  • Daily tummy time and sensory play
  • Nap schedules / sleep routine to be followed
  • Dental check up starting at 6 months old and then every 6 monthly interval after. At these appointments the kids have their teeth treated with fluoride paste to prevent cavities

    The list goes on, but you get the gist. I followed through on every child’s scheduled developmental check ups required at the government clinics from infancy up to ages 3 and above. I would take off from work to bring the kids to the government clinics to follow through on their physical weight, height check up and developmental milestones progress (usually total time at KKM clinics during each appointment will be on average 2 hours). I filled in the developmental milestones charts in these books prior to each visit, I even seek for potential speech therapy at the KKM when I highlighted my 9 month old baby was late in babbling. Vaccinations? Whatever serious illness that was out there that the government did not include in their vaccination program, we got it for the kids at the private clinic ( except for the yearly flu shot, which I did not continue for the kids).

    Looking back it does sound like I am quite strict and adamant on these areas. On the other hand, I’ll admit the my strictness level dialed down the more kids I had and I relaxed a little more with my youngest. Nevertheless we still emphasized roughly the same basic requirements and routine for all three of them. At current, I am now learning the Montessori method for bringing up the kids due to the long term benefits, but more on that in a separate post. So, am I THAT mum? (or at least at the borderline).

3. I gained clarity on what’s most important to me
Having kids really makes it easier to come to realization on what’s really important to you. Maybe its due to the added responsibilities of caring for some one else needs above ours, and partly due to our time is so taken up with their well being that what left-over time we have, I make sure it is used intentionally on select key topics of interest. We no longer have the option of lazing about and letting time pass.

Another reason is because you are forced to think long term, example in 3 years ,5 years, or 10 years, what are the needs of the children then and what are your own needs and achievements within these critical years?

I’m not saying you can’t come to this realization without having kids, but if you had kids you would have a personal sense of urgency in it, and with it also comes some sense of responsibility to make society better for the children and grandchildren to live in. Referencing to below quote:

A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in

We all want a future that our children will be able to thrive in, no?

Personally my first goal is to secure the safety and well being of the immediate family (kids, husband, parents). Then our resources are spent to parent the kids well to eventually be self sufficient and capable adults, followed by our own personal achievements. Further on, you seek for avenues to have more choices with your time, to be able to take on projects that will aim to solve society’s major issues. If it were my choice, I will put emphasize on child education and health care (though I must admit Malaysia’s ‘free’ health care system is already a good step up from other countries).

It is my opinion that if society invested the time to grow and educate children well, we will be able to solve many prevailing issues in the world, poverty, child mortality possibly even climate change.

4. I am determined to have them succeed me
Which parent wouldn’t want their kids to be better than them? Any flaw or weakness I had in me, I do not wish to pass it on to my kids, and if there was anything I could have done better, I hope they do it better by their own volition. Children are a clean slate, a chance for us to program a little human to become the best versions of themselves. We do our best to teach them and guide them as we see fit, and to help them grow in both their character and in their cognitive skill set (these strengths are needed to solve society’s problems).

On a side note, that is why I think teachers are undervalued in Asia and especially in the US. Aside from parents/caregivers, good teachers are the ones who will have a major impact on the child as they grow, and in part this will affect their communities they live in.

5. I care less about what others think
Not sure if it’s the age but I do believe having the kids made me more sure of myself and the decisions that I’ve chosen, both for them and our household. It may not always be the popular opinion but if personally I see it’s the right choice, then I will push for it. Of course, all decisions are concluded between both party of husband and wife, or sometimes the husband let’s me decide as he trusts my judgement. Another reason I care less of other’s opinion is due to simply, I do not have the time to think about it in a day, between work and kids and other topics. That being said, I believe self doubt is healthy, it is needed to check ourselves periodically to make sure we are not making a mistake or steamrolling over other people.

How about you, if you have kids, how have you changed after having and living with these extra people thus far? At the very least , I think we can agree on one thing, and that is having kids will change you and your outlook on life. Thanks for reading.

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