Maturing into Parenthood

“Are you ready to take care of our child?” My husband casually asked me and I responded with a nervous giggle. Part of me felt ready and part of me felt there are heaps of unknown. Part of me felt relaxed at the fact that we do not have to know it all and the kiasu (fear of losing in SEA jargon) part of me wanted to know as much as I could. Principally we have decided to raise our children being totally reliant on God and that is probably why I can be at rest.

We know for sure our baby is arriving without a manual, hence it is on the job training. In my more idealistic younger days after learning about the effect parents has for their children, I set my mind to be the perfect parent. I want to be the superhero that absolutely shield my children from any hurt. As I mature in my Christian journey, I began to understand that perfect human parenthood does not exist. How liberating is that! More so now that I am actually in parenting journey, patiently waiting for my baby’s entrance to the world outside my womb.

I get it – we do our very best as parents but the reality is that we are going to make mistakes. After all we are human and there’s absolutely no way we can control everything. We have some clue as to how tiring it will be at the newborn stage, how challenging it will be at the boundary setting stage and how difficult it will be for us to let go. I am aware of my tendency to be super protective and super tiger mom. But I also know there are times I need to step back and just allow my children the space to learn. I guess I shall find out and enjoy the struggle when the time comes. Meanwhile I am to enjoy my present journey and not miss out of the blessings of the moment.

What was really interesting recently was an assurance in my heart from God on the question of parenthood. Being in a Worship Night that focused on our identity sparked an assurance of my Heavenly Father’s protection over my life. So I asked the question: Father, how do I parent? It was interesting that the invitation was to draw my parenting from my identity as His beloved daughter.

Wow! The most logical starting point – our unique identity as sons and daughters of God. Because we are first a child, then a spouse and then a parent. When we get the order right, our priority would be right too. The awareness of this reality keeps us grounded and empower us in every areas of our lives. It is so freeing! Some of us may ask what if a person stays single? I had that question too when I was single. And I decided that should not stop me from maturing into adulthood; choosing responsibility and meaning over recklessness and instability because I do not know if young people are silently looking at my lifestyle as a reference. Besides, none of us are exempted from the role of spiritual parenthood.

Deciding to grow up and ditch my childish ways was a great decision but certainly comes with a price. It means I no longer am “entitled” to entirely blame others for what’s going wrong with my life. It means I have a part to play and I need to own up my mistakes. Without that transition into responsible adulthood, it would have been so challenging in so many areas of my life now especially relationship. As amazing as the journey of growth has been, I am even more amazed that every growing day is a discovery of areas in my life that still calls for some “growing up”.

Dear friends, how was your experience of maturing from a child to an adult? Did you find yourself with an increased desire to honour your parents? Did the desire and struggle to forgive intensify at the same time? Did you experience overflowing grace like never before? Whatever you are experiencing, I pray that you see the hands of God in all these and give your highest praise to Him. May your journey ahead be one that is filled with meaning as you take responsibility through the lens of Christ love.

With lots of love,
Irene

Father – the Source of Life

Hearing those words from my parish priest on the reflection of this week’s gospel reminded me of something I read recently. Placenta is a temporary organ in a mother’s womb to nourish the growing baby, attach the baby to the uterine wall and also the means to excrete waste. What fascinated me was the fact that the father’s sperm is responsible for creating the placenta and the umbilical cord.

The father becomes the source of life for this growing baby – providing protection and bridges the mother to the child. How wonderful and awesome are the designs of God! How very reflective is this to our spiritual life! Our Heavenly Father is indeed the Source of Life. Without Him thinking about us, we would cease to even exist. It’s so humbling to realize that we are indeed loved into being from conception to natural death.

It makes me wonder how great it would be if our men are empowered to enflesh the truth of fatherhood – be it physical or spiritual. My earthly father was far from perfect – not the most faithful husband nor was he the most gentle father. I am so blessed to have started the journey of reconciliation with my earthly father the year I was baptized. The journey that involved forgiving him of his shortcomings; forgiving myself for judging him and making the best effort to rebuild our relationship. Despite being closest to my dad amongst my siblings, I still experienced hurt from him. I am very glad that I dared to walk the path of forgiveness and today I can look back at the memory of my late father with a heart full of gratitude. That’s the grace of being courageous to embrace my father in totality – his love and his failures. In fact, he was the reason I started this blog.

My heart goes out to numerous people who did not have the best experience with their earthly father. It’s my prayer that men will rise up and take fatherhood seriously. This is a path of holiness and I also pray that all of us in society will support and empower our men to be real men with authentic masculinity. One way of doing that, I believe is for women to have Christ centric standard. The standard that we set for ourselves would influence the world around us. As we help each other in our path of holiness, let us be bold to ask Our Father for His Holy Spirit to guide us.

With lots of love,
Irene

Chances

25 February 2018 marked 4 years since my father’s passing into eternal life. I still miss him every day but the pain of losing him does not sting anymore. I am still eternally grateful that God has led me to grieve the death of my father in GRATITUDE. Things has changed over the years and I am glad I made a journey deeper into the heart of the Father ever since.

On the anniversary of my father’s passing into eternal life, I celebrated his fatherhood by honouring a spiritual father God gave me. I was privilege to stay at Brendan’s for 3 weeks as a special arrangement that enabled me to serve the community I was in and as a gap before moving into my next journey. Brendan is a prayerful man of God who is generous beyond words and has really blessed me through my stay.

When I was staying at Brendan’s, I prepared dinner for him as a sign of my gratitude. In the beginning, he was assuring me that I do not need to worry about his dinner but as time goes by, he began to appreciate my little gift. On the day prior to my father’s anniversary, I prepared 7 meals for him (some of which were frozen). While I was preparing the meals, it dawned to me that I would not have the chance to honour my own father that way. God must have thought about that and He gave me a chance to honour a spiritual father who took me under his wings for 3 weeks.

Brendan
With Brendan

I was again overwhelmed with awe at God’s generosity for allowing me the chance to bless my father through a father figure on earth. He knew I would miss my dad and as much as I am generally positive, I still have some moments of regret. Regrets of things I never get to do with my father. One of those little regret would be to honour my father with service and love – just the way he preferred to be loved. I so wish that he could see how far have I come in my journey.

At that moment of reminiscing the memory of my father, I could almost hear him whispered in my ear; “I am so proud of you, Irene. Proud of the woman you have become and how far you have come”. That was a God moment of consolation and I sincerely believe my dad would have said those beautiful words to me.

Dear friends, if you are in state of grieving the loss of a loved one, I encourage you to grieve with gratitude. The grace of God will bring you to a place where you will experience His glory in your life. I pray that your journey towards healing be filled with grace and love.

May you be blessed.

Love and blessings,

Irene

My Mother – My Hero

It has been three years since dad left us. Three years ago today, our lives were forever changed. As I remember this important event in my life, my heart swell with gratitude for my mother who has been heroic at that time. The memory of that day and the days preceding my father’s death is still fresh in my mind. I remember the fateful Sunday, 23 Feb 2014 when dad had a hypertensive bleed in his brain that caused his death, mom was pretty calm when she told us that things were not looking very good.

The bleed has been deep seated and the medical team was not too keen to try as the chances of survival was really slim. But we, the children could not let go and mom was the hero at that time. She was in her role as our mother at that precise moment when it would be so easy for her to be weak. After all, she was losing her husband, she has all the right to be weak and needy. After spending some time in prayer, we decided to give dad a chance by releasing the blood in his brain through surgery. I knew mom was not very keen as she knew what chance my dad stand through her experience working as a nurse. She was however respectful of our decision when she told us; “if all of you want to give dad a chance, I will sign the consent for surgery”.

Through the longest 72 hours of our lives – from the drama of the hypertensive bleed in the brain to the surgery to the 50 minutes of reviving my dad due to a cardiac arrest to the moment we let go of him; mom has been MOTHER. She was the one who provided us with comfort and consolation. I was the one who could not let go and she was there to listen to me. Never once had I experience an inversion of role through the death of my father. Having had some knowledge of inner healing principle, I know how damaging parental inversion could be and it is really likely to happen in times like this. Although as an adult, I would probably be less affected should it happen. Looking back, it was kind of funny that we were trying to be strong for our mother but it turned out the strong one was her. Strength found in her vulnerability.

At the time of mourning, she learnt to pray the rosary for the first time and she is open to share with us how much she misses dad. Mom have to relearn and readjust to life without her life partner. I can imagine how hard it was! She has been dependent on dad especially in terms of transport and after 30 years of not driving a car, my mother started driving again. How amazing is that! She went on to grow in her faith and she was baptized into the Catholic Church on Easter of 2015.

I have the privilege to witness her growth in her faith thanks to technology. I would love to be with her physically but I would never trade it for anything. God knows me enough to know that if I were there with mom physically through these 3 years, she may not have the opportunity to experience what she had experienced. I would be way too happy to be her driver and my physical presence may have prevented her from driving again. She gets to make new friends in the circle of faith and if I were around, that may be a different outcome.

Siblings
Re-enactment of our childhood photo

Today my relationship with my mother has grown so much closer; partially thanks to technology but most importantly thanks to the grace God has showered on us. I am grateful for my siblings who are taking care of my mother. Without you; Simon, Olivia, Martha and Bartholomew; who would I be? Thank you for your relentless care towards mom. Mommy, thank you for being our MOTHER!

With lots of love,

Irene