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

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

Two Years Later

I do not feel the pain of the wounds any more. But the scar of my father’s sudden departure is still visible. Two years ago today was an emotional day of saying my earthly goodbye to my earthly father. Two years flew by just like that but not without watering and nourishing my soul.

Reflecting upon the time of my mourning and finally coming to a total letting go has been a great blessing to me. I recall my time of mourning the loss of my father and I realised I went through that time in gratitude. I am grateful and very privilege to be born in this family that my father and my mother built. I am grateful that I had him for 32 years before seeing him off to our Heavenly Father. I am grateful for the ups and downs we had when I was growing up. I am grateful that my father chose to fight for our family and stayed as the head of the family. I am grateful that I am just like my father (indeed proud of it). I am grateful for the times we fought because through those times we grew to understand and love each other. I am grateful to be able to see how my father tried his best to be supportive; to be a father to the best of his ability.

Mom, Dad and I My parents and I (2013)

Most importantly, I am grateful that he is given the gift of salvation in the eleventh hour of his life. Two years later things are still looking kind of rocky but I have peace of knowing that my father is in the good place. Since dad’s death, I have been reflecting a lot about death and how it teaches me about life. Death brings people together; the masks went down and true emotions arise. But how long would this sincerity lasts? More often than not, people forget easily the lesson of death, most especially when the dispute of money is involved. Family broke apart and ended up not seeing each other eye to eye. My family has not been spared from disputes as well and that has placed a deep sorrow in me.  Some part of me felt that I should be conforming to the demands of the family and stay back at home but deep within I knew I could not deny this call to mission God has placed in my heart.

Being far from home put me in a position of helplessness. This helplessness is also an opportunity to trust. The experience of exercising my trust have given the peace that surpasses all understanding. The more I cannot do anything physically, the more powerfully God can work. It is not a logic that is easily understood, rather it is an experience that teaches me about who God is and who am I in Him.

There are heaps of time that I wished things are a little smoother and easier but I learnt that anything worthwhile has to go through purification. Any precious gems or pure gold can only come to the true state of pricelessness through rigorous purification which I believe are not pleasant. These two years has been a time of rigorous purification for me. I learnt about the value of letting go and letting God, the beautiful freedom of trusting God fully and the amazing life of allowing myself to be loved by God. Coming to term with God’s will has taken me a journey of discovery. In the journey, the road can be really rough and tough but as I look up, I can see that the scenery is beautiful and the destination; makes the journey worthwhile.

SiblingsWith my siblings – re-enactment of of childhood photo (two days before our father died)

So, looking back from two years ago when salvation came to my household (Luke 19: 9); I am filled with a sense of gratitude. My father’s death has definitely impacted my life deeply and it has also encouraged me to live my life to the fullest. I realised the importance to die well by living my life well. I want to leave a legacy on this earth and I began to realise how important it is after saying to goodbye to the man who gave me my life. I also began to realise how true the word of God is when He said;

“Heaven and earth will pass away but my word will not pass away” – Matthew 24: 35

Things on this earth are temporal even the best of our relationships. In our best relationship we know that one day it will be a goodbye. Therefore it is so important to build our lives upon the rock of Christ. In view of the temporal nature of our lives, I choose to appreciate my relationships. I choose to love the people God has placed in my journey of life. I choose to cherish moments of my life that would enrich my journey. I choose the purifying part of loving others, loving myself and allowing others to love me. So, thank you for making a positive impact in my life.

For my father, I would say;

“Pah, even in death you are loving me. Thank you for shaping my thought and praying for me. I love you and will always cherish the gift of life you have given me. I pray that you are dwelling in your eternal rest with Jesus”

With lots of love,

Irene