I thought, with all the roles I’ve played so far, saving lives and limbs, teaching doctors and doctors-to-be, the carrier of bad and good news, a sister, a daughter, a friend, a mutant in rebel’s clothing, being a Mom would be a walk in the park. I was dead wrong. Motherhood is a whole new universe with its own unique culture and language. I am both awestruck and overwhelmed.
When I gave birth to my two kids, a boy and a girl,now 8-years-old and 12-years-old respectively, I thought I have conquered the most challenging part of being a Mom. That is of course beside the fact that I barely slept when they were infants; that I panic when they are sick, nevermind if it’s just cholic and I have been an acute care physician for years; that I can not make myself leave the house for even a few minutes because I fear not being there when they need me; that I rush home after 5 rings and the nanny hadn’t yet pick up. Since the birth of my children, I ceased to own myself, and it’s alright.
Now, I have reached another milestone. The challenge is to keep up with my kids in spite of the generation gap. I learned to play Minecraft and Roblox. I tried to listen ( and like) One Direction and Big Time Rush. I try to learn their language, which amazingly is like learning Martian. I made myself see what is not obvious because they have reached the age when telling Mom that it hurts is unacceptable. I learned to really listen when they talk, and listen even more when they are silent.
I remember a time when my then 9-year-old daughter phoned me while I was busy in the clinic, frantically asking me to help her find her “nipple” because it’s gone missing. I had to excuse myself and tried my best to calm her down with a promise to help her find it as soon as I get home 😁.
I discipline by teaching, not by punishing. I do not believe that children should be physically hurt for them to learn. They are intelligent beings and they are as capable as anyone (if not better) to learn by mentoring. I stopped supervising my daughter’s study time when she reached 4th grade. I started giving her more freedom to explore study techniques that worked best for her, but I make sure I am always available to aid her in tasks she finds difficult to do alone. It meant so much to her that I trusted her more than her brother when it comes to school works. It gives her a sense of autonomy. It’s a badge she wears everyday with pride. Freedom equates to responsibilities, I often remind her, something every child should understand and take to heart.
Being a Mom meant banning all inappropriate movies and channels from our home. It’s childproofing web pages; books and magazines; it’s watching Emoji The Movie instead of IT. It’s going out with friends less and staying at home more. Vacations are often an educational trip, not just leisurely stays. We visit places that would stimulate our children’s minds and reinforce their love for learning, not only for test score’s sake.
I still have lots of popsicle sticks, learning blocks and play money to teach my son division. I have devised ways to teach him topics he finds difficult by quizzing him every now and then using fb messenger or viber when I’m at work. I leave reviewers I labored on the night before so he can study systematically even when I’m away. He still needs someone to guide him when he studies. He gets overwhelmed easily. Boys develop later than girls, a bit less organized, and are easily distracted by their surroundings. As his mom, I need to constantly remind myself that he is not his sister. Boys and girls are two very different beings, therefore, approach should also differ. Teaching my son demands more creativity from me. He needs to see to understand, he needs to touch, and do. He is experience based. I remember him playing a new game and I noticed he kept failing to get to the next level. It turned out he does not know how the game works. I told him, “why not learn the game first before you play it so you won’t get frustrated?”, He simply said, “I am trying to learn it now”. Boys learn best through experience.
I have lots of things to share about my being a Mom, but for now, I’ll just say that there is no self help book that would detail how to be good at it. It is a lifelong journey and every step is a learning experience. It is definitely the hardest and most delicate role I have played in my entire existence. It is also the most rewarding 🙂.