My priority ring (An actual ring)


One night about a year after I had Q, after a particular harried day trying to balance my incredibly full plate of obligations, errands and what have you, I had a massive meltdown. It was not your average huge cathartic cry type of meltdown; but a real questioning of “what the heck are you doing?” that I think shook the depths of my very being.

The full gravity of motherhood (having a tiny little thing fully depend on you is a scary scary reality to behold), the massive weight of growing a company, the colossal undertaking to constantly keep it together was simply too much to bear. I think most new moms, or even more seasoned ones, sometimes hit that kind of mountain. It makes you doubt who you are, what you are doing, your self worth and it’s a slippery slope.

Anyway, I waded through THAT quagmire and somehow found my footing again- yay to my amazing mummy support system; but I felt like I needed to find a physical anchor, like a reminder of what I needed and decided to design myself a priority ring. Also, another excuse for new jewelery (yay!).


The design is fairly simple: two distinct but connected bands (at the base). One thin and gravelly, one broader and smoother. The thinner band was to represent me and my “me life”. I asked for it to be sand blasted so that it was gravely to touch and textured to look at which represented my imperfections.

The thicker band was to be in smooth gold (though it’s now sporting a slightly more worn look) and represent my other identities: my being a wife to W, mom to Q (and now Ev), a daughter to my parents, sister to my sisters and a friend.

Both bands are joined at the base, ultimately, a connected life of personal space and growth and my life’s obligations, duties and priorities.

I deliberated over the order of the words for those became my priorities and it took me a long while to decide that my first priority is to be a WIFE, then a MOTHER. That whilst mummy duties take a lot of time, energy and effort, it is important that my better half is, well, my better half and kinda my partner in the whole parenthood business so, it makes sense that I remember that.

Of course, not to say I’m going to run off to do frivolous things with W while our poor kids languish at home like unwanted latch key kids. But that the husband has to matter. That its dangerous for a marriage to simply get caught up with being a mom, or parenting. So, yes, WIFE, then MOTHER.

I had wanted to write child-of-God right in front, but it wouldn’t fit hence I made the ring out of gold because I have always loved Job 23:10 that says:


So, the ring reads:

Wife. Mother. Daughter. Sister. Friend.

I never used wear the ring much, but I find myself wearing more and more, even daily, these days as I find that life today so often means we so easily lose track of what is important to us. We are so caught up with doing stuff, we forget to give weight to the things that should matter.

That amidst all the doing, I’d always be reminded of the being.

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Our firstborn is off to school!

Because we were ill when the new school term started, Q only started school this week. Since we knew he would not have the luxury of parent accompanied orientation days like the rest of his classmates, we did our best to psych him up as far as we could. We talked about how fun school would, be, that there would be playground time, oodles of new friends and, most importantly, it would only last three hours and he would still have time to go do all the fun stuff we used to do, like the zoo.

All things considering, he weathered his first day at school fairly well. He had never been to an accompanied class before after all. There was the usual waterworks but we claim small victories like the fact that he didn’t kick up a fuss on day 2, wearing his uniform happily and trotting off to class albeit in a more somber mood. Teacher reported some intermittent tears but we think he’ll get there at some point. He burst into tears when I came to pick him but calmed down by the time we got home and was quick to tell Evan he had a great time in school even if he cried.

The decision put Q in school was a deeply deliberated one as we considered homeschooling for a long time. After considering our family’s needs and lifestyle, we decided we would send him to school, but to one that was a more relaxed and play-orientated one. And most importantly, a school that understood that loving the kids is always more important to educating them, however crucial that was.

We were originally attending the accompanied cherrytots class at Cherrybrooks- which we loved, but their kindy at 4.5hrs, was longer than we liked. We settled on Gracefields Kindergarten @Gilstead. We really liked the school even if it is not Montessori. (We figured maybe I’d just go get certified. Heh.) The school is a Christian school and runs slightly more like an “old style” kindy with a more relaxed approach to education. The fact at they have three playgrounds and fees that did not cost an arm and a leg didn’t hurt. Also, seeing as our housing plans are still up in the air, their more central location suited us well.

So, In what seems like a twinkling of an eye, we begin this long journey of school. And because we live in a tiger mom rampant age of tuition center placement horror stories, school pressure related child mental meltdowns and suicides, and an incessant barrage of enrichment class ads that tell you that good parenting means packing your child’s day with classes; I do worry for my children but take heart that we are acutely clear that that is not how we want our children to grow up.

A child psychiatrist friend (and soon to be godfather to my kids since he’s marrying Godma) once reminded us that in the face of rat races that can sometimes begin as young as birth, it is our duty as parents to protect our children’s childhood. That they are still meant to climb trees, wade in rivers, catch ants and run through open fields of hope, freedom and unbridled joy.

To our dear son Quentin:

As you embark on your schooling journey, it is our deepest prayer and hope that you will never lose your sense of wonder about the world around you, or your natural curiosity for new things, your tenacity to keep at something till you succeed and the humility to know when to ask for help. And most of all, that you will always rest secure in the knowledge- deeply embedded in the depths of your soul, that you are loved unconditionally and supported unequivocally.

World Day: Suicide Prevention Day (10th Sept)

I only know this cos I am an avid follower of www.postsecret.com : September 10th is the annual day the world observes as World Suicide Prevention Day.

Global figures seem to suggest that almost 3000 people commit suicide daily and for every person who completes a suicide, 20 or more may attempt to end their lives. It is more likely someone will die from suicide than from homicide. For every two people killed by homicide, three people die of suicide*.

In Singapore, over 350 people commit suicide annually; more males than females and aging people are at the greatest risk. In China someone takes his or her own life on average every two minutes. China accounts for nearly a quarter of the global total of suicides with between 250,000 and 300,000 suicides a year*. In America, someone attempts suicide once every minute, and someone completes a suicide once every 17 minutes. Throughout the world, approximately 2,000 people kill themselves each day*.

Over the last decade, the suicide rate among young children has increased dramatically. In 2002, suicide was the sixth leading cause of death of five- to 14-year olds and the third leading cause of death in preteens. Suicidologists are alarmed that children as young as age two are also increasingly attempting suicide.*

(*Evans, Glen, et. al. 2003. The Encyclopedia of Suicide. 2nd ed. New York, NY: Facts on File, Inc)

I happen to be a talk my friend was giving on the 10th and at the end of the talk, he led everyone in a moment to remember Suicide Prevention Day by writing the word LOVE on our wrists. Some of the students at the talk asked if I had lost anyone to suicide, I have- unfortunately. A young life, gone too soon. An older one that saw no future.

The stories are never quite the same, but its usually rife with despair and, when we look back, there were signs. And we are all always left wondering “what could have been.”

 

 

World Day: International Literacy Day (8th Sept)

We take it for granted, the ability to read and write. In fact, most of us take education for granted. That we and our kids would go to school, learn to read and write; most likely go to university and beyond is something we actively plan for, not (just) because we are so confident in their (and our) ability, but because its a given.

That our kids would read- enjoy books, magazines, read school notes… and write- letters, emails, assignments… hey, even, text messages; are something we take for granted.

Over my many trips to Myanmar, it has always been very evident to me that there are kids that cannot read and write. Some probably never will. And no matter how much we support literacy programs there, there will be many that fall through the cracks. Around the world some 775 million adults lack minimum literacy skills; one in five adults is still not literate and two-thirds of them are women; 60.7 million children are out-of-school and many more attend irregularly or drop out.

To commemorate International Literacy Day, we took Q to the bookstore to use some of the book vouchers we’ve been saving for one of our “book drought” days.

We have several favorite authors we “collect”. One of our favourite-est is Sandra Boynton who wrote the famous Pookie series. Q’s favorite is Fifteen Animals and he recites it like a little comedy act.

We also love collaborations between Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler  the team behind the famous Gruffalo books. They also wrote Stickman and Room on a Broom. His all time favorite is Monkey Puzzle which he reads and re-reads and re-reads.

Q, who’s is way into Ironman and the Avengers, picked out a new Ironman book, complete with moveable arms at the bookstore and has been lugging the said book everywhere!

Because our nights are usually kinda haphazard, we moved reading time to first thing in the morning. And its been great. Before the day descends upon us, we spend time reading. Evan joins us with his picture and touch-and-feel books too!
So, on International Literacy Day, we remember those that may have never even seen a book or have books readily available to them. We have several friends working on community library projects and over the next few months, maybe I’d run a drive to collect books from all of you guys!