The last time I reflected on a milestone of parenting was when the Kao kids were at age 5, 3-half and 2. I wrote about the exasperation and the growing pains and that new season of mothering where I had to be attuned to needs like potty training, mealtime routines, sleep training and weaning and the fact that I became conscious that I was the role model and chief influencer for three very young minds who needed to be taught values and guided in every way.
Well, all those are over, and yet again a new season of mothering is here.
These days, there is no baby nursing, no potty training to do, and no bums to clean. My kids can feed themselves, help with household chores, write me love notes and paint me beautiful pictures. They can also sing, dance and clown around for me – very much the reverse about three years ago where I was the one singing and dancing and clowning around to make them laugh and tickle them silly.
These days too, the eight-year-old dishes out advice on more occasions than not, telling me to sit up straight, eat my meals on time and come back early before bedtime.
These days, my seven-year-old can very much hold in her emotions, resist a tantrum and be taken in by reason and logic. She has a reservoir of emotions but unlike what she was like at 3-half with the crazy tantrums and hair-tearing, she draws, writes notes and paints them out.
These days, the baby in the family is baby no more. He is tall, dashing, super cheeky and full of humor. He can buddy up with bro anytime, and become best friends with his sister the next minute, and is an awesome team player who binds the siblings together. He helps Mama when her hands are full, he holds lift doors and orders his own food.
Oh gosh, how much they have grown.
What I hear these days isn’t the sound of whining, crying or babbling. What I hear these days at home are long conversations, silly banters and lots and lots of opinions and feelings flowing freely.
As I look back on these years my kids have grown and have become so close and dependent on one another, I am often glad for those years of “hardship” and the frazzled-ness I suffered doing these kids back to back without taking a break. My break is happening now, and while there are still needs to fulfill, I can now do a host of so many things, from pursuing entrepreneurship and taking nights out to learning a new language and getting couple- and me-time for my sanity.
And as I move forward to this new season where the needs are vastly different from a couple of years ago, I must remember to do well in these two things:
Find time to get to know each child one-to-one
Every pocket of time spent with each child has become so precious in having one-to-one conversations with each of them. The drive home with Ben on Wednesday night for English class, the bus ride with Nat every morning to school, the pedicure sessions with Becks once a month, running errands with whichever kid that wants to join me… — those times let me chit chat with them and get to know them better. They tell me what’s on their mind and things that are for my ears only.
More pockets of one-to-one time next year, we must find.
Find time to just watch and listen to them
I really sometimes have a lot to do. I’ll be honest: I can’t say no to screen time all the time myself. But I’d always make it a point to watch them for a while. Or listen in to some parts of their conversations. Just today, the three of them lay on my bed and sang Uptown Funk three times. It’s amazing how they have memorised the lyrics just by listening and I never knew that they loved this song to bits. I did whip out the phone to take a photo and some vids. But I watched them. And laughed at them. It was funny. I also love listening in to their squabbles and wait out how they would negotiate their way around each other’s demands and expectations.
And I need to do more watching and listening. Much much more in the days to come.
Bring it on 2018, I can’t get to know these kids more, and I can’t wait to relish this motherhood season.