LIfestyle, Musings

The unexpected gift from my second child

19 Jan , 2018  

When I had my first child four years ago, my maternal instincts kicked in instantaneously, surreptitiously. Dedicating my life and centering it around the little human that I’ve only just met was as natural as breathing. I could not imagine myself doing less for him, heaven forbid! The little guy only had me. He needed to rely on me, his mother, to survive in this vast world. I was charged with a duty, and I took it very seriously.

Whilst snugly in my tummy, I played Mozart and Les Miserables ever so often for the wee one to hear. He must have a cultured beginning to life, I thought, even as I was swishing the mahjong tiles vigorously while pregnant, occasionally cussing when I did something stupid and had to pay ‘tuition fee’ to the rest.

When he was out, I read stories to him, forbade any sort of TV exposure and stressed myself out on his naps and sleep. Gone were the days when I met my friends for drinks after dinner. Heck, I even gave up on dinner outside with the girls because my son HAS to sleep BY 8.30pm. On the rare occasions that I was out till late with hubs (late being somewhere around 7pm LOL), I would hurry us home so that we could quickly pop the kid off to bed. His sleep was not an art, it was science, and this mama liked to be very precise.

Yes, get to sleep child. Pronto

I gave the kid breastmilk because I read that it was the best (nothing but the best for my child!) and to that end, I kept a precise logbook detailing each and every milk intake, and how long he fed at each boob. For three entire months, everywhere I went, that dingy book followed faithfully, curling at the ears, yellowing at the edges, smudged in different spots.

As he grew older, I obsessed over his food intake. I started reading up fervently on first foods, and refused to give him rice cereals as it wasn’t nutritionally optimal. Eschewing traditions and elderly advice, I gave him avocadoes, fatty fish, veggies, all cooked lovingly without sauces and seasoning. When traveling, I even brought an electric lunchbox along to prep food for him where possible.

Lovingly prepared homemade food only for this lucky bugger. The lengths I used to go to lol…

Even as he turned two, I was still pretty strict with his food. I needed to train his palate so that he would love healthy foods, and have as healthy a start to life as possible. Once, when we were with an acquaintance who fed her 1yo fried rice from a Zhichar stall, I was internally aghast, thinking to myself what unhealthy food she was feeding him. Thank god I had the cow sense to keep my fat mouth shut, because how the tides have turned!

With the birth of my second, my understanding of motherhood changed tremendously. My second child gave me an unexpected gift – the gift to love myself a little more and put my needs and long quashed desires a little higher up the priority ladder.

Thank you #2, for entering our lives 😍

For almost three entire years, the times when I didn’t put my firstborn to sleep could be counted with one hand, and that included exigencies of work, which of course, took priority since I got paid for it haha. My social life was pretty much naught – i still kept in close contact with my circle of friends, but it was limited to times when the sun still shone. I’d recused myself from all night activities, which was huge because most of my friends were still single/unmarried then.

The birth of Sarang changed that. It’s not that I love him less; I love him every single bit as much as his older brother. It’s amazing how my love simply has this rubber capacity to love even more and beyond, to grow beyond measure to love both kids. I suppose it’s an innate talent that resides naturally in all parents.

Whilst my love has multiplied and increased manifolds, time unfortunately hasn’t. The 24hours that I have in a day could no longer be wholly focused on big brother. I had to use my time efficiently to love my children equally, while handling the basic tasks that required attention so that we could survive the madcap days with a toddler and newborn in tow. I could no longer give only my best and my all solely to Ray. He had to learn to share the time that I have with his brother, and for me, I learnt that it’s not the end of the world if Ray doesn’t have my all. It’s alright if I don’t dedicate my life’s solitary goal to ensuring that he gets every ounce of my best. It’s alright, because I still love him, and that’s enough.

Yes, it’s ok to love myself more 😘

Sarang is growing up slightly differently from Ray. He doesn’t get special foods specially prepared for him. He eats whatever we are having – table food. Fried rice? Not a problem. Fried noodles from Zhichar stall also can. I try to let him nap to a schedule but I no longer bust my butt and guts ensuring his naps and night sleep are STRICTLY ADHERED to, unlike with Ray. As such, traveling with the kids is mentally easier on me now since I no longer stress about the kids’ food and sleep. While Sarang doesn’t get immersed in the world of classical music, he gets to listen to Ed Sheeran and Disney, so I reckon his music tastes may be more modern and varied heh.

I still generally forbid TV for the kids, but there’s a little leeway now when there used to be none. Pips gets to watch soccer on TV these days, a luxury he never got when we only had Ray. When traveling, sometimes we will turn on the TV to have a bit of breather and I won’t beat myself up over it. I never kept a feeding logbook for Sarang, and if he doesn’t eat well, I don’t kill myself trying to ensure he finishes every single morsel. After all, this adorbs Michelin baby has some reserves to last him for quite some time LOL.

Indeed, my comprehension of motherhood has changed. It has widened and become a kinder, bigger world. I’ve done a couple of things that I never imagined I could do – leaving Ray with my mom for five days while traveling with Sarang and Pips to scope out our accommodation in London, leaving the two kids with my mom in the evening while I enjoyed a night out with Pips and his colleagues, where my star of a mother managed to put both kids to bed (albeit with some fuss, blood, sweat and tears).

The question I pose to myself now, is that with the benefit of hindsight, would I have raised Ray more liberally in a chiller fashion? Truth is, I doubt it. It was probably a rite of passage that I needed to go through, and that with the birth of two kids, finally understand that living my life ONLY for another human being is (while) noble but crazy, and not entirely necessary.

So thank you my #2 kid, for helping mommy to put myself and daddy a little higher up the priority ladder. You and big brother will always be more important to me than life itself, but I now know that it’s okay to also pursue what I wish to do. It’s ok for me to have my own life and not be besieged by guilt. Thank you for helping me to realise that and enjoy motherhood in a slightly different way than with your elder brother.

So for those of you hesitating to have a second child because you’re worried about your first, or your capacity to care for all whom you love, hesitate no more. I can assure you that having a second child will not only increase your capacity to love, it also redefines the meaning of love and expands it in such generous ways that you’ll love yourself and treat yourself a little more kindly once more. A beautiful and precious gift from your second child to you.

Love,
Jas

 

Do follow the Jashuat family as we zip around town and the world (currently, we are living in London now, which is perfect for our souls that yearn to travel yay!) on facebook and we will share with you our grandmother stories, insta adventures, giveaways, reviews, contests, parenting tips, lifehacks and more!

You may be interested in some of my other articles here:

(1) Taiwan Travel (broken up into a few posts covering Taipei, Taichung)

(2) Best apple crumble recipe

(3) The very real disease that’s killing more and more mothers

(4) Why you should love your spouse

(5) Tested and proven ways to increase your breastmilk

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