SINGAPORE: Being a Why Not Mum
As mothers, we hear these questions on a daily basis
Why must I go to sleep when I’m not tired mummy?
Why do I have to go to work while you stay at home?
Why can’t I marry Daddy when I love him as much as you?’
There are days when I get asked innocent questions by my daughter that make me chuckle inside, like why can’t I marry you or Daddy when I love both of you so much? Then there are some days when her questions fumble me especially when it comes to the injustice, pain and suffering that she witnesses in the news and it’s hard for me to try to explain.
I’ve thrown all sorts of responses at her questions. They are sometimes right and sometimes wrong answers. Just for fun, I’ve even given absurd responses while I can still get away with it. She is naive and none the wiser at 6 years old.
While some of her questions call for a logical and scientific reply on how things in the world work, I’ve slowly come to recognize that there are “”why questions that call for a heart response.
Why can’t I sleep in your room anymore?
Why do I get to spend so little time with you during the day?
Why can’t I stay up late to chit chat with you a little more mummy?
While my natural responses is to give answers like
“Because you’re a big girl now”
“Mummy has to work just like you’ve got to study”
“You’ll get tired if you don’t sleep now”
they don’t quite address what her heart is longing for, which is
Affection, attention and love
After all if I were to put myself in her shoes, I’d feel disappointed to only see mummy for a few hours before bedtime. I know I can be the worst person to be around if I’m feeling tired after work. It is then that I shoot her replies like, “Give me 10 minutes”, when I secretly desire to have dinner, shower and run off to sleep. Unfortunately each time I turn down her invitation to play, to hear about her day at school or to see a drawing that she made, I’m sending her a message that she doesn’t matter.
I’m not talking about revolving our lives solely around our little ones to the point that they feel entitled and spoilt; but rather being conscious that our responses frame their identity when we neglect their little hearts.
These days, I’m learning to tune into my daughter’s emotions and be a more spontaneous mum by responding with
When she asks me to take her to the playground after work
When she requests to go out during the school holidays
When she asks to stay up for 5 more minutes just to tell me about her day
When she asks for movie night and we curl up in front of the TV with chips and popcorn.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying let’s throw schedules and routines out of the window and just give in to our kids whims and fancies. Schedules and routines are important to keep a child regulated so they know what’s expected of them.
Instead, when we surprise our kids by saying Why Not when they least expect it, it makes it even more special and memorable. That’s how I intend to keep building my daughter’s memory bank, with lots of spontaneous, crazy fun moments.
This is an original article by Susan Koh for World Mom’s Network