Nothing can quite prepare you for motherhood. It’s simply something you have to experience for yourself first-hand. Prior to becoming a one, I had all these expectations and ideas of what kind of mother I would be, yet all those preconceived notions disappeared into thin air the moment my firstborn, Isabelle, arrived. Never had I known the capacity within myself to love someone so fiercely and instantly, with such awareness and fear at the same time.
Being a mother is one of the best and toughest jobs I’ll ever know. As it was a path unknown to me, I looked up to my own mother as my source of wisdom. The journey has opened my eyes to see our similarities. For one, I think I inherited my kan-cheongness from her. We both can’t stand our baby crying and would immediately bend our backs to carry the baby the moment she cries. Most of the time, we overpack diaper bags in case of emergencies. Occasionally when dealing with Isabelle, I catch myself thinking “Oh my gosh, I’m so much like Mom!”. It’s funny to draw these parallels now!
Never had I known the capacity within myself to love someone so fiercely and instantly, with such awareness and fear at the same time.
As I journey into motherhood, I developed a greater respect for my mother and am thankful for the many important practices she’s instilled in our family—to be open to affection and affirmation. Every time before we hang up on the phone, she would make us say “I love you”. Else, we will be sure to receive a call back immediately with her saying “You forgot to say I love you!” She was very consistent! Though it was awkward initially, I’m now more than thankful to be able to verbalise our love for one another. Because I have seen her do it, I am inspired to cultivate that culture in my own family. Every day, I constantly tell Isabelle that I love her and remind her that she is loved. I pray that when our second bundle of joy arrives, she will be a big sister and carry this tradition on.
As each day passes, watching Isabelle grow up makes me reflect on myself and my own share of insecurities. During my pregnancy, I had no control over my body weight and it made me dislike seeing myself in the mirror. During one of those days when I was staring in the mirror, I realised Isabelle was looking at me. It was such a poignant moment because I realised that my self-perception will inevitably affect how she sees herself. Since then, I have been refocusing my life to be the best it can be through God. Learning to be happy with myself before I can teach her how to be happy with herself. Learning to see myself in a positive light before I can influence her to see that of herself.
Every day, I constantly tell Isabelle I love her and remind her that she is loved.
I know she will be bombarded with all sorts of influences in life, and that she will face her own share of insecurities. As a mother, I cannot shield her from all this but I can and will raise her to be strong and courageous enough to face these adversities head on. To not be belittled by the words of others, but to always see herself through His lenses—that she is beautifully and wonderfully made; she is the head and not the tail, above and not beneath; she is a princess; and most of all, she is loved by the high and mighty God.
It was such a poignant moment because I realised that my self-perception will inevitably affect how she sees herself.
Since becoming a mother, I’ve learned to appreciate my own mother even more. I now understand why she did the things she did and why she would react the way she reacted. I used to always tell my mom that when I grow up, I want to be just like her. If I’m half the mother to my children that she was to me, I would be very happy.