My sister first taught my mother and me how to do a simple bead weave the year she started Eden + Elie. Growing up in a family with a tradition of sewing, it was natural for us to take to beading especially when the bead weaves we make lead to such beautiful pieces of jewelry created by Eden + Elie.
There is something therapeutic about making a piece ofjewelry by hand, something mindless yet focused about hand beading with a needle and thread.
We were three mothers -- my mother, sister, and I -- bonding together over bead weaving, sharing our journeys of motherhood with an unspoken camaraderie.
Beading a piece ofjewelry by hand is akin to bringing up a child. Both require hard work and time investment, not forgetting love and patience. Hand beading a piece of jewelry may be laborious work but it brings about a rewarding end. Similarly, mothering is a tough job but the rewards are ample.
As my hands are busy with beading, my mind takes off on another tangent as I begin to reflect on my own motherhood journey.
These are my five personal reflections:
Even while I am writing this blog, I heard a distant cry, “Mama!” coming from kids playing at the swimming pool. One of the little children had fallen down and grazed his knees. Isn’t it so common to hear little children calling out “Mama” (not papa) as their first word uttered whenever they face pain or trouble?
Similarly, the first person my children (now in their late teens) look to for comfort would be me. Although their Dad has always been a hands-on father throughout their growing-up years, Mommy gives them the emotional and moral support they often need. To be honest, I find that when they come running to me, it is God’s way of telling me that I have done a good job as a mother. I am the safe haven for them to seek refuge and comfort.
Being a mother means becoming more other-centered. It means learning to make sacrifices for those I love more than myself, and to put their needs before mine.
As a mother, I have to become stronger and more resilient in life, both mentally and emotionally, for I am my children’s pillar of strength when they face the storms of life.
Moreover, becoming a mother makes me more appreciative of my own. Whenever I felt let down by my children, I realized that my mother must have felt the same way too whenever I found fault with the food she cooked for me, or when I took her sacrifices for granted. I now see my mother with new lenses of appreciation and therefore recognize that I need to express this gratefulness to her now before it’s too late.
Global birth and fertility rates are falling. While for many married couples, not having children is not within their control, others chose not to have them, citing various reasons such as their work and lifestyle.
Besides being a union between husband and wife, marriage is also a partnership and parenting is an area of “work” they partner in.
Raising children deepens my relationship with my husband. We both learn to make sacrifices for each other and for our kids. Having children brings a whole new dimension to our marriage. In my case, it deepens and matures my marriage.
Just like how we do not compare our kids with their siblings or other kids, we should not compare ourselves with other moms. It is so tempting to be envious of those glamorous working mothers lauded for their contributions at their workplaces, and have children who are equally successful academically and professionally. How can one excel both as a working professional and a mother? Why can’t I be like those career moms? The comparisons never stop - in fact, the negativism got worse.
Hence, I have to be good to myself. I am not and will never be a “perfect” mom. I must therefore not be too hard on myself when I make mistakes in mothering or when I lose my temper with my kids. I must and will stop comparing myself to other moms.
There’s a saying: “Being a mom means that one is perpetually on-call 7 days a week, clocking daily 24-hour shifts”. Is that even humanly possible? Even robots need the occasional maintenance and servicing.
During the recent Covid-19 lockdowns all over the world, surveys have shown that ‘women spent much more time on unpaid household chores and childcare work than men and thus suffered increased levels of psychological stress’.
Like these working moms during last year’s Circuit Breaker (the period of lockdown in Singapore), I find myself bearing the burden of household chores including taking care of all meals, especially when my husband is working in essential services.
I need to call for regular time-outs. I need to get away for a personal retreat, a time of solitude with nature or simply to hang out with a few close friends. And it is perfectly alright to do so.
It is also perfectly alright to treat myself to something pretty and special. I tell myself I deserve a break; I deserve a gift for myself.
I found the perfect piece of artisan jewelry as my own gift: a handmade classic from Eden + Elie -the everyday necklace- whose beaded weaves were the first I learnt how to make.
This is anaccessory I can wear daily whenever I feel stressed out about mothering and need the reminder that I am doing a good job as a mother.