Sunday, 3 February 2013

A Lonely Journey

Many times, I feel lonely as a parent.

I had Coco when I was 25 or 26. My friends were either enjoying their singlehood or had only started dating.

When I took Coco to her first music class when she was 4 or 5, I was possibly the youngest mother there. Or at least, I looked the youngest.

Most of the time, mothers prefer to socialise with mothers around the same age, so that leaves me out of the picture.

I think the only time I felt accepted as a mother was during Coco's P1 orientation days. A young-looking mother in her forties was friendly to me and initiated the talks. But I am such a clumsy person at face-to-face conversation that I didn't know how to continue the small talks. On and off, I met her at different events in Coco's school - P4 Immersion Programme, Mid Autumn Celebration and other occasions. She lives very near Coco's school, yet is always very unassuming. Her daughter was a Gepper and eventually scored more than 270. A very humble mother indeed.

Years on, I had another baby. This time, I was 33. Kind of old for the first-time mothers who have babies in the same year. So I don't get to have any playmates for my little one either.

I wish to have playdates for her, but for someone clumsy with verbal communication, I don't know how to go about doing it. Had tried to join the gatherings for the mothers who gave birth in the same year, but were not fruitful. This time round, I felt awkward because the mothers looked much younger than I was.

Although my friends in real life have kids now, since more than a decade has passed, their oldest kids are P1, P2 or in kindy.

The only friend who is close in age with me and has a kid with the same age is an ex-colleague. However, she has some problems with her kid and it would be cruel of me to share my happy stories with her while she struggles with her kid. The last I heard from her was that she no longer had any expectation of her kid and would be most happy if she could just make it to the Express stream.

Parenting is a very lonely journey for me.

Most of my sisters are single. The only one who has kids doesn't seem to share the same idea about child-raising with me.

There are so many times I have doubts about my own ideas about child-raising, discipline and boundary issues, I can only grope in the dark and trial-and-error with the different methods. Some methods I keep, some methods I try and throw away. Not sure if they would have worked in the long run. Sometimes I give up on it myself because certain methods require perserverance and consistency which I am not really an expert at.

I make a lot of mistakes on this journey. I know people will say '天下无不是的父母', loosely translated as 'There isn't a perfect parent on Earth', but the guilt of having said the wrong things, or done the wrong things with your kid sticks with you. I wish I had someone to help 'mentor' me along the way. Parenting is a very much unsupervised path. Sure, it doesn't come with an instruction manual, but having someone who talks sense with you about parenting helps. She can be someone who doesn't have a kid, but even a slight reminder about the ideal scenario helps. Too often, I forget to praise Coco. I chastise too often.

Parenting is like a jackpot to me sometimes. I am not sure what I am doing is completely right. I just hope it is right even when it doesn't seem so right now. When I get it right, I hit the jackpot and the contentment is absolutely gratifying. When I don't, I just have to keep trying and hope that the next attempt is a successful one.

I think it's nice to have friends who have babies the same age as yours to share the parenting journey together.

A load divided is definitely lighter, and it makes the journey less lonely.


Anonymous said...

Hi. Just want to let you know that i am a fan of your blog. I can so identify with all your feelings. Thank you so much for your honest sharing. I dont know if this is the correct place to post but my parenting journey has been one filled with loneliness and inadequacy. I have only one daughter. I had two miscarriages after that. I feel inadequate because among all my friends, i am the only one with one child. I ask God Why Me? Am i less deserving than others? I had her when i was 30. For financial reasons, i didnt try till i was 34 thinking it would be fine. Yes my journey is lonely cos my friends still have a pre-schooler to play with. I miss buying baby things....I misd walking to the infant section. There is a lump in my throat everytime i hear someone is pregnant. I have had to see a psychiatrist too due to depression. It has been 5 years since the miscarriages but the feelings of inadequacy have not gone away. There is also feelings of guilt towards my daughter that she has to grow up alone.

Rain said...

Hi Anonymous,

It's such an honour to read that someone claim she's a 'fan' of my blog! Thanks for sharing your feelings of inadequacy and loneliness with me. I don't think many people understand how they are really like.

Please stop beating yourself up over not giving your daughter a sibling. I for one didn't want another baby before she came along. If you had read my posts when I discovered my pregnancy, you'd know I had contemplated abortion, and I'd explored the prospect of getting someone to adopt her before she was born.

Coco grew up with lots of love precisely because she was the only child. She was never lonely. My parents, sisters and I had alot more time for her then. It was only when my nephew came along that the love for her was divided and it was keenly felt by her. Even an 8-year gap between her and Baby doesn't make her feel secure. Now and then, she still complains of me favoring Baby over her. I would say she feels lonelier when she has a sibling than when she did not.

Be very thankful that your only child is a daughter :) I may be biased but daughters really do make such wonderful children!

Anonymous said...

Thanks Rain.
I guess you havent walked the road of infertility yet so u have no idea what it feels. But i figure you must also have had your own set of problems to arrive at your own view.
But from my perspective, and every time i see my family potrait of three, i just feel the family is incomplete.
But i have also come to realise, although it doesnt remove the desire, that having just one child allows a certain depth of relationship. Its also less financially taxing. My gal's tuition a month is $900. If I decide to stop working, all that has to stop.

Rain said...

Technically and logically, yours can't be termed as 'infertility'. I got friends who haven't got pregnant once in their 8 and 9 years of marriage and they are still trying. If you are 'infertile', what should they call themselves?

We have our own ideas of a 'perfect family', but having not fulfilling it doesn't make our family less than perfect.

I once came across a quote: A perfect family is made up of three persons: husband, wife and God.

Anonymous said...

Hi Rain,

Mine will be termed secondary infertility.
And thank you for the quote.......reminding me to put God first in everything!

Please continue to post. I love reading your blog!

And you can call me Spring.

Rain said...

Hi Spring,

Thanks for being so supportive!

Anonymous said...

Hi Rain, understand how you felt.. My first boy arrived when I was 25... Second one 18 months later.. My friends said i am a rare breed - married young and had kids young! Till today, I am still experimenting my parenting skills - like you said trial & error!