It’s 10 pm and I’m rocking baby Vicky to sleep in my gliding chair while Irene is reading bedtime stories to Zoey before getting her to sleep. We have adopted the divide and conquer methodology for parenting now that we have two children and it seems to be working out fairly well.
I’ve officially been a stay at home parent for about 7 months now. It’s not an easy job and there are moments when I wish I could just go back to Singapore, slip into my comfortable work environment where I know what I am doing, can see tangible results and feel valued for the work that I do. This is not to say there are no rewards for being a stay at home parent. However, it is hard to stay motivated when this is a job where the job scope is immense, the project brief is constantly changing and project completion is in 20 years.
When you’ve spent an hour facing this:
And despite your best efforts, she continues to cry, it makes the most patient person want to give up. There are times I am tempted to hand her over to Irene and say “you settle this.” In fact I did that last night. I swapped bedtime duties because I couldn’t handle the constant crying after cuddling, coaxing and feeding her for almost 2 hours.
In a way, I’m glad I’ve matured and understand myself better now that I’m in my late thirties. I can gauge my limits and know when I need a break. I’m also more self aware and can spot signs of unhappiness. This has helped me avoid slipping into the dangerous realm of depression. Instead I’ve quickly reached out for support when I needed it and have managed my post natal depression this time round. If I were younger or if this was my first child, I think it would be incredibly hard to be a new mother, while being overseas, without the natural built in support of home, which to me, is Singapore.
It’s so easy to fall into the trap of feeling inadequate as a stay at home parent, especially in a new city. When you are not contributing financially, the general expectation is you have to take care of everything at home. This is why many stay at home mothers are such superb multi-taskers. There is a never ending list of roles a mother has to play. In a single day, even with the assistance of my helper, I am driver, teacher, chef, cleaner, planner, playmate, accountant and personal assistant.
The tasks never end and you can’t clock out at the end of the day. It’s almost like you are trapped with no way out.
So now whenever I begin to feel down, I log onto Facebook and check out what others are doing. Staying connected to my family and friends through social media has kept me sane during this transition away from Singapore and into Seattle. It provides a sense of connection to the people I could have easily met up with on any given day. Now that I can count with one hand the number of people who I can call up and meet within an hour, it’s been comforting to at least remain in contact with my tribe online. I don’t post a lot these days, much of what I post are photos of activities with the kids, but when I do post, I often find loads of engagement from my friends. I also find myself surfing through my friends list, checking to see what others are up to. It’s amazing how much you can learn about your friends if you learn to read between the lines. I’ve found out about pregnancies, new partners and even divorces through subtle stalking of my friends.
Yesterday, I tried to trim my Facebook friends and went from an initial total of 889 to a grand total of 888. I only removed 1 person who happened to have deactivated her account. This exercise made me realise how important my connections on social media have become for me. Each and every one of the 888 are people I care about. I enjoy reading about their days, their struggles, their triumphs, their thoughts and most importantly I appreciate staying connected to them. Even though we may not speak to each other every day, each time there is a like, a reaction or a comment between us, it fills my little friendship bucket and reminds me that there are people out there who care, no matter how remote they may be.
So thank you, all 888 friends on Facebook for keeping me sane in the past 7 months and I hope you will continue to share your lives so I may partake in whatever journeys you are on as well.