Motherhood

Finally holding my child in my arms was a feeling that is beyond words. Our little one decided to come early and turned our world around. The idea of sleep deprivation and not knowing what to do became a day to day normal. It was truly not easy given the fact that hormones were also erratic and making my mind unclear. Tears of joy and then tears of defeat all come at once. Self doubt, spiritual warfare, lack of confidence, feeling at loss; you name it.

I thought I knew what it’s like or at least I thought I could imagine it well enough. Turned out that my imagination was not as concrete as the real experience. Never in my wildest imagination would I have seen conflicting idea of parenting would occur with my own mother. The reality of sacrificing for the sake of my child helped me to get a glimpse of what it was like for my mother to care for me as a little child totally dependent on her. I have the privilege of my mother helping me during the first few weeks postpartum; that was a great blessing as well as an opportunity for conflict to arise.

Some days were so difficult that made me say things I regretted immediately and some days were just too overwhelming that I could only cry. As I calmed down, I asked myself what was more prevalent? Gratitude for my mother’s presence or the occasional conflicts? I was overall more grateful for her presence. My husband wisely pointed out that I took most of what my mother taught me. There were just a few things that I stood my ground and not taking her way. Those were the stuffs that kept being magnified by the enemy; making me feel like a horrible ungrateful daughter.

The more I communicate with my mother, the more I see my own poverty. One instance was her suggestion to help my child sleep better. Due to lack of space in my home, I did not take her suggestion. After she left my place, there’s only me and my husband with our child. Between the two of us, I am the main caretaker and I quickly realized how valuable were the extra pair of hand. My child is not the best when it comes to sleeping, hence the idea of getting sleeping aid came into our conversation. I admitted to my husband that my mom made some suggestion but in my pride; I refused to acknowledge it.

After the conversation with my husband, I asked myself, what was happening to my heart when I refused to acknowledge that my mother was right about the sleeping aid. The words “I told you so” were sounding loud and clear. My whole being cringed to those words but how could I respond better? It was by the grace of God that I can come to a place of forgiveness, rest and acceptance. My mother was just trying her very best to be of service.

A few days after that, I told her about our decision to get sleeping aid and she was supportive; without telling me “I told you so”. That was one amazing work of grace! Threading through motherhood has taught me how much I do not know and how much I am dependent upon the mercy and grace of God. Learning from my experience with my mother I wonder if I would step on my daughter’s toes when it is her turn to be a mother? God willing, I guess I will find out when the time comes. Meanwhile, it is now time to be present in the moment.

The unsolicited parenting advice from other people is also a rather annoying thing we have to deal with. Everyone seems to be better in parenting my child than me and my husband. For this, we decided to not invest too much emotion in it. People has all the freedom to say whatever they want and I can choose to be polite and just take what is useful and chuck away what’s not. After all, my husband and I are responsible for our child not other people.

Now that my child is physically in my care, I can really say parenting is hard work. I come to appreciate every sacrifices my parents made for me. This new role of mine also opened up my heart to embrace the struggles of work from home mom. I used to think it’s the easier path until I became the main character in this story. Being so used have full control of my time, I am learning everyday to prioritize my child who is genuinely in need of me and whose survival depended on me. I want to give the best chance in life for my child and I want her (and her subsequent siblings hopefully) to grow up with our values. Hence, I am well aware that my husband and I are choosing the narrow path in such a time as this where single income household is almost impossible.

Our child has also inspired us to start a new venture with the aim to encourage parents in our parenting journey. We know now how hard it could be, so why not have some fun by seeing the lighter side of parenthood. Do check out Bountiful Potential for more info. Tell us what do you think about it and how can we serve you better.

We wish every parent grace upon grace as you raise children who are full of potential into great adults. May your journey be filled with joy.

With lots of love,
Irene

Touching the Divine in the Ordinary

It has been rather challenging to find my rhythm after moving out of the mission centre. Time is now fully in my control. I enjoyed the freedom of managing my own time and that also comes with the responsibility of managing the time well.

Heaps were happening through those months of being the “master” of my time. Part of me struggle to keep being disciplined and part of me was being open to see what God was saying through it all. It was indeed an invitation to touch the divine in the ordinary. I learnt to pray in a very different way – to connect to God through the moments of my day. Sometimes I felt like I was not praying enough, not reflective enough, not sensitive enough and the list goes on.

Rapid changes proved to be challenging even to a person like me who enjoyed the freshness of change. I struggle to adjust to the rapid changes especially the fact that we moved country – a new environment that calls for new understanding, acceptance and letting go of the lifestyle I was used to. Through the rapid changes, prayer life also proved to be really challenging. I struggle to make time, struggle to just show up even when I do not feel like praying, struggle to trust and was very restless.

It wasn’t until I received the sacrament of reconciliation that things started to turn God-ward again. I am really grateful for the open arms of the Father welcoming me back into His embrace again. Christmas of 2018 became a time of welcoming Baby Jesus into our home again. Our humble and rather empty home has space for God to come in – so was my heart!

The simplicity of the infant Jesus taught me that prayer can be rather simple. I am invited to connect to God as Irene, the beloved. It is about being open to allow God to love me – not quantify by the number of hours spent I guess. I was beating myself pretty hard for not fixing a time to pray. Life is very different now that I have other responsibilities to carry. So, what does it mean to pray then?

Nativity Scene at Tianxiang Catholic Church

I realized for this season of my life, prayer simply means showing up, choosing to praise God in all circumstances and making commitment to have my holy pauses through the day. On the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, my husband and I were talking about ways to increase our income. We are currently running a campaign to sell one of his e-book on special. So we talked about how many copies do we want to ask the Lord to bless us with? I was ready to pray small but my husband challenged my prayer. His point was; “if we are asking for God’s help, let’s give Him a big number”. I was scared and excited at the same time. If God answers our prayer according to the number we asked, a lot of our financial worries would be lighten. So, I was in and we prayed for the big number and let’s see what God thinks about it.

God is so able to answer our prayer in accordance to what we want specifically but does He agree with what we asked for? I guess we will find out at the end of the campaign. At that moment of grace, I told my husband this: “however He choose to answer to our prayer, especially if He choose not to give us the number we asked for, that doesn’t make Him love us any less”. It was a moment of epiphany for me – to have the courage to ask for something that I am not even sure will be answered and having the grace to trust in the infinite love of the Father, regardless of the outcome.

That God-moment of mine brought me to a rest from my “need” to be in control. My ideal thought may look really good for me but if my ideal does not lead me closer to Christ, I guess that would be in vain to have. Probably this is a glimpse of the heart of the Father. Yes, He desires good things for us, sometimes just not the way we envision it – probably way better than how we would have crafted it.

Dear friends, I pray that you find rest in your restlessness and may God grant you the grace to be assured of your belovedness – however He choose to unfold His plans to you, His love for you is infinite.

With lots of love,

Irene