Archives for category: Imperfect Mom

 

Yay for Sunshine!

We had another of pure, unadulterated sunshine today. 

So yay!

This is totally off-tangent but the thought of having a child at my age really stuck with me all day today. I am afraid of having a child with Down Syndrome. Is it totally irresponsible for me to even try? It’s like a one in 22 chance these days. 

I am a little sad.

So Lokes and I have been “discussing” another baby. More like me telling him my time is almost up and him claiming he’s not heard of it until now (“I knew you wanted three but not like, really want it.”).

Why do I want a third baby? To be honest, the reasons are not practical at all. I think having babies has stopped being practical the day we hit 1 million unwanted babies in the world, thus procreating has been selfish since 1952 so I’m NOT the first woman in the world to want a baby because I’m hormonal and craving for that new baby smell again.

Perhaps it’s because I’ve been photographing new babies.

Baby E 

Perhaps it’s because I am reminded everyday when I look in the mirror that I’m getting older (36?! ARGHHHHHH).

And that some things really can’t be postponed indefinitely. Perhaps it’s because Sky is going to be five end of the year and Rae has been asking for a baby sister or brother and only God knows why because she seems to despise the one sibling she has (as all firstborns do).

And because I’ve always wanted three. Three, I think, is a great number. The triangle is the most stable of all geo structures. I’ve always had two best friends. I love P Ramlee’s DO RE MI. I am a big fan of the word “triumvirate”. The occasional threesome can be fun if I’m a more secure person. 

THe only practical reason I think for having a biological child is – and I know this sounds horrible but practical is rarely romantic – to save its cord blood. And it’s not even FOR the baby. It’s for the rest of its family. I told you it’s horrible but if you want a practical reason for having a baby, there it is – longevity. 

And yet, I am unsure. I am at a point right now where I’m comfortable. Contented. The girls are able to play nicely without accidentally killing themselves (but they ARE in danger of killing each other). Pretty soon, both will be in school and I’ll have more time to focus on my photography. Lokes and I can have a sitter over nights so we can take a nap at the theatre. 

But there’s the fact that we are raising two females in the household, which actually takes more maintenance than males. We have to contend with social pressures much earlier (“BUT ALL MY FRIENDS HAVE JONAS BROTHERS GLITTER STICKERS!”), worry about body image issues (“WHY DO YOU WANNA LOSE WEIGHT MOMMY? IS THIN BETTER THAN FAT?”), making sure they understand why they can’t sit with their legs wide open like Daddy (“THAT’S JUST THE WAY IT IS!!”). What will having a third child do to the already state of perpetual panic Lokes and I are in raising two girls in a strange land with strange people who believe that children are equal to adults and that it’s crucial for kids to take 15 minutes to work out why five plus five is ten

So the question is still hovering up in the air above us each day, mocking my rickety ovaries and causing Lokes to break out in cold sweat each night. Maybe with enough new lenses and assignments I’ll realize that I really don’t need another addition to my bevy of self-produced models. After all, Lokes is turning out to be quite good at following orders:

Jowling fun

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Power. Parenting is all about knowing how much power you have, and when, and where.

Oh, was that too sudden? I don’t show up for what, three months and just drop out of nowhere and start ranting about power-play in parenting?

I know how to alliterate, if nothing else.

Ok, so how’s everyone (everyone being YOU two there, still lurking around. I am pretty sure there are one or two other blogs out there more worth your time than this derelict that should be called a…webpage, not a blog)?

Ugh. Cringe. God. Haven’t heard that in a while.

What’s been happening with me? Let’s see:

1) My photography business is doing well, which is why you haven’t seen my sorry ass around. I have a Facebook page to maintain and a website and of course, the business of actually taking and processing the photographs, so yes, it’s been distracting.

2) I’ve also been busy working out. I’ve lost 22lbs so far, knock on wood. I know! It’s like I’ve gone insane.

3) The girls are growing up, fast. Skyler is able to dress herself now although this morning she put her panties on sideways and walked around for a few hours with one butt cheek hanging out because she’d put her right leg into her waist hole. Raeven is joining the presidential race in 2012. 

4) Lokes is good. We’re good. Which is always good.

5) We have plans to go back to Malaysia summer 2009. Yay!

I know I should probably write more but life is much more interesting these days. 

Although I was inspired to blog today because last night, in bed, I had this amazing old feeling I used to have, lying there in the dark. It was really strange and I’d wanted to write about it. 

But not now. Maybe tomorrow, I’ll tell you about this time of my life when the smells and sounds of night made me alive. Sort of like a vampire.

Or maybe I’ll talk more about parent power.

A few days ago, at our preschool’s Parent Ed night, we were taught the four styles of parenting, something I’d gone through two previous times when my older daughter was at a co-op.

You know, the whole Helicopter/indulgent parent, the Drill Sergeant/Authoritarian (Asian) parent, the Skeleton/Indifferent parent and the nirvana of good parenting, the Authoritative parent who’s loving but firm, who knows how to set boundaries but also allow the slow, transfer of power from parent to child, and so on.

As we went through our notes, I could not help but notice the so-called negative results of the other three styles in my first child. Self-centeredness, because sometimes Lokes can be too indulgent. An inability to deal with failure, because sometimes I can be too hard on her with the rules. Insecurity, because perhaps I don’t pay enough attention to her feelings. 

However, she was also a confident child, top of her class and has many friends, my Raeven. These were the results of good parenting – an Authoritative parent. 

And then it dawned on me.

This class is for my parenting of Skyler, my second child – not Raeven. Not that it matters but I was surprised I was actually thinking more of Rae than I was of Sky when it came to “behavioral challenges”.

Skyler really has nothing in the first three columns mainly because perhaps it’s still too early to tell. She IS confident, because she’s never cried a day in class, even from the first day I’d dropped her off. She is very trusting of her teacher, the other co-op parents, her friends. She is easy-going and secure. 

I began thinking about my parenting styles with both my kids. And the parenting styles of my parents.

As the older sibling, I’d always been subjected to unrealistic standards by my own parents and even though I knew they meant well, it was hard to take as a kid. Luckily for me, I have a great younger sister and with time, the value of my tough upbringing gave me the tools I needed to deal with life and love. Still, I have my flaws. I can be self centered. I don’t like to fail and sometimes don’t admit to my mistakes. I am insecure.

I was also top of my class in school (I have a 4.0 GPA in my two semesters of college last winter and spring) and popular.

Raeven and I are so much alike, although Lokes’ and my parenting style and my parents’, are so different.

This makes me wonder how much really is genetic and how much of it can we change and nurture as parents, these traits and flaws. And why are both my kids so different since my parenting style is the same with both of them.

Or am I just seeing what I want to see? 

In any case, I know I am doing some things right, and there are some things I need to correct before it’s too late (like when she’s 12 and will call me on my dorkiness – “Why are you acting all weird, Mom? Oh, don’t tell me. It’s a parenting class thing.” *roll eyes*).

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I am pretty sure there are Impatience and Easily Bored genes. If one of you Human Genome scientists could just find them, I need someone to do some sort of a splice on my daughter because man, I am running out of ideas on how to make her more patient and extend her attention span beyond two minutes.

We are trying to get through her summer homework and I’ve been telling myself to go easy, but man, we still have an inch more of all that paper to go through. Everyday, right before lunch, we sit down for two pages of beginning math (which I supplement with a Nintendo DS game called Professor Kayegama’s Cell Math – I think) and two pages of writing (all from the big pile her kindergarten teacher gave us right before summer hols) and at bedtime, we usually read a chapter from a chapter book (Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator is on now) which she has no problems with since reading is her favorite of the lot. But man, the math and writing is driving me up the wall because my daughter is, to put it nicely, spirited.

For example, she likes to “do things her way” – her exact words – rather than do things the right way, such as writing along the guide lines or counting with her fingers when counting in her head does not work. It’s all great but then she gets frustrated when the words don’t fit onto the page because she didn’t follow the lines and can’t get her math answers right because she counted it wrong in her head. And then she throws a fit and begins to sob over the fact she’s frustrated and refuses to finish. 

And YET, the very next day, she STILL decides NOT to follow the lines or use an abacus or her fingers.

Now a lot of people will say, “hey she is spirited, not wanting to be limited by lines!” or “she’s spirited, doing subtraction in her head!” and pretty soon, some will even say, “hey, getting it right is overrated!” but I am pretty sure simple subtraction and writing in straight lines are relatively standard expectations of a six-year old who could discern that five minutes is not as long as half an hour when she was four, especially when I gave her the warning to turn the TV off.

I am someone who values methodology and process. Not everyone does but I think at the very least these things should be respected. You may be a genius but the laws of the universe, and sometimes, the laws of man, still apply to you, whatever you may think.

Now I am proud to have a daughter who WANTS to be creative and spirited and wants to add a little challenge or fun into mundane things like homework but I believe there’s a time for everything (especially when you’re a SAHM!). And I think that it’s high time someone told my six-year old that her first grade teacher may not find it very funny when she decides to do things her way, writing vertically instead of horizontally, or takes all day to subtract three from ten because she insists on using her head, a head that is probably filled with, “If I buy THREE Barbies from the store which has TEN Barbies …hmm, how would life be with THREE more Barbies?”

And that was exactly what I told her this morning.

“Now you have to do what Miss A says. You can’t just do it the way you like, that’s not how it works,” I’d said, a little pissed off by then.

My six-year old thought about it for a while and went, “I’ll do what my teacher says.”

“Good. So do it the way I told you to do it. Use the abacus.”

“But you’re not my teacher.” she’d answered crisply.

And then there are days when you want to drive to the gas station and buy a pack of cigarettes and pay a visit to the liquor store next door. 

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As some of you may have noticed, I’ve been taking a lot of pictures.

I’ve also been exploring the possibility of turning this hobby into a business. I’ve built a site. I’ve read close to ten books on the fundamentals and then some. I’ve camped Photo.net, Flickr and Digital Photography School for perhaps twice as long. I’ve practiced my behind off in recent months on my kids, the kids of my friends, gone on photowalks, bugged the hell out of more experienced photographers, and basically just photographing anything that’s not strapped down.

And yet, I’ve been a little afraid of calling myself a photographer. Much as I’ve been afraid of calling myself a writer (and I’ve been writing a while). Heck I can’t even call myself a blogger without feeling like a fraud because there ARE people who actually BLOG regularly who don’t even claim that.

When I go out with Lokes for his social gatherings with business colleagues, I say I’m a stay-at-home mom, and then Lokes will let slip the fact that I blog, write and is now a “portrait photographer”. I cringe because they all make me sound like I am doing everything and therefore am not good at anything. Really, a writer? One miserable short story, that’s all I’ve published the last two years. A blogger? I am perhaps the laziest, most inconsistent blogger in the history of lazy inconsistent blogging. A portrait photographer? This is the worst because I’d have my camera with me and people will start asking to have their pictures taken and my fingers get clammy and I’d stutter a little when I say, “Okay…ss-say…cheese?” and I’d start thinking, “Great, now I have to spend my evening trying to save my semi-semi-pro photos…”

Usually, the photos turn out great (without the help of Photoshop too!). Sometimes, I also blog or write something worth reading. And yet, my self esteem is taking a very very long time to catch up on whatever it is I’ve set my heart on doing. That is why I’ve had problems “marketing” myself beyond building a blog. How do I get rid of this fear of feeling like I’m not worth getting paid for my services?

The only thing that motivates me is a practical consideration: that times are getting harder, and one income may not hack it much longer, and I will need to GET OVER myself THIS MINUTE before it’s too late.

Nothing like a little tough love.

Wise words

So I just finished Muffy Mead Ferro’s Confessions of a Slacker Mom.

This may as well be the book I was supposed to write, the book I would’ve written had I gotten my act together. Then again, I’m not just a slacker at mommying.

Highlights:

  • The example of making-do, photographed here. It’s so true that we parents give so much to our kids, thinking more is “better” – more technology, more toys, more room, more praise (but not necessarily more time or attention). Are we slowly taking away their resourcefulness? Their ability to “make do”, to improvise rocks and sticks into flying saucers and magic wands?
  • Providing more also takes away their ability to share. I’ve always been advised to buy two of everything to minimise fighting, for my peace of mind, to promote fairness. What about teaching my kids the importance of sharing, taking turns? When we assign cutlery and plates, toys and books, rooms, computers, books and cars to each of our children, are we slowly and subconsciously not just enabling the culture of entitlement (“Rae has one, I deserve one too!”), but also the “Mine and mine only” attitude?
  • Lastly, does real and sustainable self esteem really come from heaping praise upon glowing praise on our kids for the tiniest of accomplishments, or should we nurture a sense of self-driven pride and delayed gratification by remaining neutral (i.e. we don’t praise nor do we show are disappointment or criticise if the opposite occurs) unless we are really, truly impressed?

Someone needs to give Ms. Ferro an award, if she’s not already gotten one.

On the drive home after a looooong day in the city today:

Me (pensively): Skyler said “chocolate” today.

Lokes (dazed): Huh?

Me: She said “chocolate” when I gave her chocolate. Usually she says “shlocklate”, remember?

Lokes: Oh…

Me: And the other day she said “watermelon.”

Lokes nods, smiling a little sadly.

Me: Right? She used to say “waterlemon”.

Lokes: Yea…

Me: Sigh…

(Pregnant pause)

Lokes: No, we’re not having another kid so you can hear “shlocklate” again.

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