As mums, we are always seen as the one who should be self-sacrificing and present for our families. After all, we are the ones that our children turn to when they can’t go to bed, when they need a kiss on their boo boo or when they are back from school with a growling tummy that needs to be fed.
I’m not complaining about motherhood and there is nothing in the world I would trade it for. But some days, I feel so tired of playing mummy that I wish I could escape from all my mummy duties; and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only mum who feels this way.
And as you have it, I did get a little escapade when my group of girlfriends decided to head for a short weekend getaway to Thailand, sans husband and kids. Thankfully, my hubby was more than happy to step up and take care of my little one, giving them extra bonding time.
It turned out to be a weekend of shopping, eating and shopping some more; something that I hardly do with a little one who’s too inpatient to get out of the malls. And I could eat all the spicy food I wanted, which I usually avoid since I end up sharing most of my meals with my daughter. Nights were spent staying up late, chatting with friends and watching movies back in the hotel.
Did I miss my child? Of course, I did but you know what, it was refreshing to place myself first and not worry about my family during this break.
Sadly for mums, being selfish or putting ourselves first is regarded as a sin. And that’s why there are so many tired and depressed moms, who feel that they have no choice but to be dutiful and ignore their own needs.
Happy Mother = Happy Family
Never for a second did I think that I was a bad mom for going on that trip. I think that as moms, sometimes we need to choose ourselves over our families to ensure that we are recharged in order to go the distance and be a better spouse and better mother.
I love being a mom and while I’m far from being a perfect or super mom, I can say that I’m doing my best every single day.
My mantra has always been Happy Mother = Happy Family. And might I add for my hubby, Happy Wife= Happy Life.
So go ahead, take care of yourself. Pursue your personal happiness and take time to nourish yourself, body, mind and soul. Trust me, you’ll benefit from it and your children will too!
This is an original post to World Moms Blog from our “super mom” of one in Singapore, Susan Koh.
The image used in this post is credited to the author.
“From Technicals to Tummy Time: Inside My Decision to be a Stay-At-Home Mom”
Rebels, instability, armored vehicles, curfew, and no-go zones. Four short years ago, those words dominated my daily life. Fast forward to today and it’s diapers, infant Tylenol, Boogie Wipes, potty training, and “Dinosaur Train.” I think we can call that a pretty significant life change. Was it one that I saw coming? Not at all.
My husband and I always knew that we wanted to have children – definitely two and probably more. We were excited about traveling the world with them, raising them abroad, and teaching them about the importance of being open, understanding, and tolerant of other cultures. Our Foreign Service lifestyle was perfect for this. At the time I became pregnant with my first, we had already lived in Africa, Asia, South America, North America, Australia, and the Middle East. We were looking forward to the adventures that lay ahead with a family in tow. We could have a family, continue our careers, and introduce our children to so much of the world.
All the while, I could remain doing the very unique and powerful work that had defined not only my career, but me as a person. My role included participating in demining campaigns along the Mozambique-Tanzania border, serving as an independent observer in Mozambique’s local and national elections, barring Venezuelan drug dealers from entry into the United States, visiting and speaking with rebel groups and refugees in Darfur, Sudan, and being baffled – ad nauseam – by the lack of progress in U.S.-China climate negotiations.
I never thought much about leaving my career to be a stay-at-home mom. Before I was pregnant, a distant family member lambasted me for entertaining the idea I might continue my career after children came along – a judgment which deeply offended me (and still does). Working as a U.S. diplomat, and perhaps becoming an ambassador, is always what I had wanted to do. I didn’t believe working full-time and being a mom were mutually exclusive (and for the record, I still don’t).
My dad – a captain for Pan American Airways – and my mom – a flight attendant for National Airlines – continued to work after I was born for several years, carefully arranging their schedules so that one of them could be at home with me while the other was away. Why could my husband and I not continue our careers in the Service, alternating times we might need to work late to accommodate receptions and presidential visits, and raise our family in the way we wanted to? We could. So it was with that mindset I worked until the day I delivered my first baby. In the final weeks before delivery I worked until midnight, defining U.S. South China Sea policy – assured that I would be back to work after the standard three-month maternity leave period ended.
However, after the birth of our son, something changed for me – something visceral; something very basic. Once I held our baby in my arms, it became clear to me that no visits to U.S.-funded rural hospitals, Darfur peace negotiations, or U.S.-China strategic dialogues could convince me to be away from him.
While I had loved my job, my calling in life had changed to raising him – and other children we might have – in the best way that I could, making myself available to him as often as I could. I had changed my mind; my whole outlook on my career, and pretty much – life. I resigned from the U.S. Foreign Service and became a stay-at-home mom.
My husband and I were extremely happy with the decision, but there were many others that weren’t. My own dad called me a quitter and repeatedly voiced his “disappointment” with my decision. “I thought you’d be an Ambassador,” he said. At work, others tried to call my bluff. Why would I quit my career with the seniority I had accrued? That wouldn’t make any sense, right?
I write this not to judge others for their decision to continue to work after the birth of a baby – only to share my story.
I, so dedicated to work and ambitious in my career goals, chose to walk away from it all after our son was born. It was a decision that shocked me. It was not something I saw coming – not even at 39.5 weeks pregnant; yet, this was something that was crystal clear when I became a mother. I realize how important it is for parents to make their own decisions about work/life balance. Many moms, several of my closest friends included, feel the need to balance work and parenthood equally. I admire them for the ability to juggle both so beautifully and successfully. I also realize that many families cannot afford for one parent to choose to stay at home. To those families, I have the utmost respect, because I can only begin to understand how hard it might be to want to stay at home with your children, but not be able to do so.
Parenthood, motherhood, fatherhood – they change you. You might choose to remain in your same working pattern, but you will have become a more sensitive soul. You might decide that a Saturday trip to the park is far more enjoyable than dining at your favorite brunch spot. And you will begin to cherish sleep more than you ever thought possible. Welcoming a baby into your life is powerfully transformative. Things you never gave a moment’s thought to before become incredibly important – and may even change your path, and that of your children.
So, what changed for you?
Loren Braunohler and her family moved to Bangkok in November 2010. A former U.S.diplomat who served in Mozambique, Venezuela, Sudan, Washington DC, and Thailand, Loren resigned from the U.S. Foreign Service in July 2011 to be a full-time mom to son Logan, now age three and daughter Katelyn, age fourteen months. When parenting permits, Loren is a freelance journalist and regularly contributes to Travel+Leisure Southeast Asia, CNN Travel, and Bangkok Mothers and Babies International Magazine, among others, and guests blogs for premier parenting websites such as World Moms Blog. In 2012, Loren started Toddle Joy, an online blog and resource for expat parents of young children who are new to Thailand and the region.
Samples of Loren’s work are available on her website www.toddlejoy.com. Photo credit to the author.
Today we have a special World Mom Feature post by Loren Braunohler in Bangkok, Thailand of Toddle Joy. If you would like to contribute a post and be featured on World Moms Blog, contact contribute2@[at]worldmomsblog[dot]com!
“In Asia, It’s a Fair-Haired Child’s World”
Whether I want to accept it or not, I’ve become Kris Jenner. Yes, if being a full-time mom and keeping up with my children’s schedules, meals, nap times, and need for love and attention wasn’t keeping me busy enough, I am now their “momager”. Quite by default, to be honest.
In the U.S., my children are just two more fair-haired toddlers bumbling down the grocery store aisle. There is no additional pomp and circumstance; no extra drama to add to the already chaotic toddler lifestyle. They are just themselves – Logan and Katelyn – growing up and doing typical toddler things – amidst a sea of other toddlers: some of whom look like them, some of whom look very different from them, thanks to America’s melting pot phenomenon.
But hop on a flight across the Pacific, and my two fair-haired children are received very differently. So differently, in fact, that it is striking. In Asia, they are rock stars.
They are mini-celebrities. They are novelties. And everyone, from the noodle soup guy on the street to the wealthy Mercedes-wielding apartment building owner, wants to get their hands on them. And kiss them. And squeeze them. And talk to them. And hold them. And show them off to their friends.
There is our daily walk to and from the grocery store, which should take about five minutes each way, but instead takes ten or fifteen because of friendly people on the street who want a chance to entertain my children. There are the constant photos, anywhere and everywhere really, taking pictures of my son ambling down the street with his sunglasses on or my daughter “helping” me shop at the Tuesday clothes market.
There are the restaurant servers who happily whisk my children away for a walk back to the kitchen to show them off to the chefs (bonus: mom and dad actually get to eat together for a minute or two). And there is the occasional passerby who videotapes my son as he indulges in a soft serve ice cream cone.
In the U.S., this kind of attention would be creepy to the point of suspect. In Thailand, however, it is 100 percent normal and accepted. In fact, to be completely honest, it would be odd if no one were paying attention to your fair-haired baby.
Although I had read about the attention that Caucasian children received in Southeast Asia, I was not prepared for the deluge of attention that would be lavished upon my children when we arrived. At first it was difficult – and at times onerous – for me to deal with, but after two years in Thailand, I have learned to appreciate and understand this unique cultural difference. Thai people really love children, and they really, really love to interact with Caucasian fair-haired children. We have had similar experiences when traveling in Hong Kong, Bali, and Cambodia.
If you plan to visit or make a move to Asia with your fair-haired children, be aware that this, too, will likely happen to you. And as a parent to newly-minted mini-celebs, you have to figure out how to manage the overwhelming amount of attention your children receive, how they deal with it, and above all, how you deal with it.
Do your children meet their new-found “fame” with laughter, confusion, fright, boredom, or all of the above? And what about you? How do you deal with strangers going gaga over your offspring? What about holding them? Photographing them? Videotaping them? Are you out of your comfort zone yet?
If I could offer you some tips, they would go something like this:
- Factor in more time to do, well, anything when you have your children out in public with you.
- Always, always be polite, even if you find the attention annoying or overwhelming.
- Learn to relax a little – you are in a new place and the rules are different.
- Don’t let it keep you from exploring the new things around you.
It took some time for us to get used to managing the attention Logan and Katelyn receive. There are days I wish we could walk down the street unnoticed and make it to our destination in record time. But for the most part, I am so thankful to be living in a part of the world where children are cherished, adored and loved – even if mostly for their novelty factor.
The constant personal interaction has shaped Logan and Katelyn into social and confident young people, and for this, I am eternally grateful. Our only concern at this point is how much of a dive our children’s egos will take when we move home. But that, my friend, is a bridge we will cross when we get there.
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Loren Braunohler in Thailand. Loren and her family moved to Bangkok in November 2010. A former U.S. diplomat who served in Mozambique, Venezuela, Sudan, Washington DC, and Thailand, Loren resigned from the U.S. Foreign Service in July 2011 to be a full-time mom to son Logan, now age two and a half, and daughter Katelyn, age eleven months. In 2012, Loren started Toddle Joy, an online blog and resource for expat parents of young children who are new to Bangkok.
Through her blog, she hopes to inform and inspire others about the joys of raising a toddler, both in general, and in a place like Thailand, where children are continuously adored and amazed by the world around them. Loren is also a freelance writer and has published pieces in Travel +Leisure (Southeast Asia) and Bangkok Mothers and Babies International (BAMBI) Magazine. On the web front, she regularly contributes to Expecting Expats.
Photo credits to Loren Braunohler.
This week’s Friday Question comes from World Moms Blog writer Eva Fannon of Washington State. She asked our writers,
“If someone gifted you tickets to travel anywhere in the world, where would you go, and who would you take with you?”
Here are some of the exciting places some of our World Moms would love to visit…
Asta Burrows of Norway writes:
“I would take my husband and wee lad to Western Australia. We have been there several times; I love the wine tasting and my husband loves the windsurfing. However after reading Tara’s article about flying with kids, I am not sure I could handle such a long journey – but it would probably be worth it!” (more…)
Shortly before I met my husband, I spent three years living abroad. Two of them in one place and the final in transit back from Kumamoto, Japan to the east coast of the United States, the slowest way possible.
Three months after I met my husband, he invited me to join him for a destination wedding in Brazil. Four months later, he lost his job and decided he wanted to see more of the world too. He spent the next six months traveling around China and SE Asia and for five, blissful weeks during the holidays I joined him in Thailand and Laos.
In our four years together pre-kids, we traveled to nine different countries. Our attraction to one-another had a lot to do with our mutual desire to live abroad someday and raise our future kids that way too .
So it comes as somewhat of a surprise to me that here I sit, ten years later, just 11 miles from where we first met. (more…)