Happiness is... letting go when it's time to

Posted by ~Summer~ on September 12, 2018

~Learn to Let Go. It's the Key to Happiness.~

It's hard to admit but I think I struggle with learning to let go. Letting go of past hurts, of painful memories, of heated arguments, of heartbreaks, of trying to control what I ultimately can't control, of my kids whom I feel that I can't let go because they need me.

Many a time, I realise I do it not because of others, even if I might say so, but I do it for myself. For wanting to feel loved, feel needed, feel important and not just someone that the world can do without any time.

The month of August, with all its ups and downs, was a good time for me to let bygones be bygones, to let myself be free, to not be bothered or dwell on the necessary and to better learn to let go. Yup, makes me want to sing "Let it go" at the top of my voice every time I say so but trust me, I jolly well know that singing those words is easy but doing it is tough. That doesn't mean we stop trying, right?

I made a resolution to spend one-on-one time with the kids this year because I think it's long overdue, especially for the elder two, and they each deserve to have all of me every once in a while. If you know me, then you know that this is tough for me because I never like to ask for help in babysitting my kids. Yup, the hubby says precisely because I like to take on everything myself when he's not around, it makes me more tired than I should be yet I remain headstrong about this matter.

So, it wasn't easy for me to learn to let go but I knew that if I wanted to carve out quality one-on-one time, then I needed to do so. The firstborn was the first one to get her time with me and since she had no school one weekday, we sent the sister to her preschool, asked the grandpa to help look after the toddler and hand in hand, we went out on our mother-and-daughter breakfast date.

It was just for a short couple of hours and everything was kept simple - we ate at Subway which she loves but hardly gets a chance to because the siblings don't love, we went to Times to read books and for the first time, I finished a whole Geronimo Stilton book so I could discuss the contents with her, we went to the outdoor playground and ate her favourite muah chee too. For the first time in a long while, my eyes were fixated on her only, my hands needed to hold her only (how many times did she have to let go because of the younger ones or because she had to help me with the stroller or grocery bags?) and my attention was on her only -  her likes, her dislikes, her school, her friends, her stories, her thoughts and everything about her.

I know that morning meant the world to her and she was reminded of just how much I love her. Yup, one-on-one dates work wonders for relationships so I now know I need to learn to let go so as to bond closer. The kids just gotta take turns to be with Mama and I'm hoping they will cherish our dates as much as I do too.

The last time I lost my phone was over a decade ago when I partied too hard and went home half drunk, even though I remembered I still took care of a friend who puked on the cab, took a plastic bag for her, and sent her home before I went home myself. Haha. Since then, I might have dropped and spoilt a few phones but I never did lose one. Till last month. Read my full story here.

Well, it was really unlucky that the phone ended up in the hands of a dishonest chap but I can only blame it on my oversight from being exhausted after a whole day of solo parenting where I took the kids for their first rock climbing and laser quest experience. I felt terrible that night and even though I didn't tear, I did feel the heartache, pain and guilt from it all and was unable to sleep, especially so since I had to go and lodge a police report in the middle of the night without the hubby, who was out of town. Heartache from losing a new, good phone, pain from losing the memories of the kids, and guilt from wasting the hubby's hard earned money.

Luckily, it didn't take me long to move on because I think I'm good with letting go of tangibles in that sense. Thankful for an old Oppo phone which came in handy and will tide me through the next year, kids who consoled me, a mum who worried about me, a father-in-law who accompanied me to the police station and a hubby who never blamed me in the slightest but told me to cheer up instead. Memories, I just have to create more of you, I guess.

You know what's an even harder thing for me to do, other than letting go of two kids so I can focus on one? It's letting go of all three kids.

Yup, I am so bad at getting me-time and even when I do, I never make it through without the guilt and I'm always worrying about something. Anyone of you feel the same? It's not that I don't enjoy it or I don't think I need it, it's just that I find it hard to let my hair down when my kids are still at this tender age and will wake up in the middle of the night looking for me.

That said, I did take a bold step last month and that was to go for JJ's concert! Woohoo! Thanks to a dear friend who got us Cat 1 tickets just two days before the concert and who was kind enough to think of me since she knew I was feeling down over the loss of the phone, not to mention that she knows I'm a huge fan of JJ since he first started out (I went to his first concert with the hubby and that was because I auctioned for the tickets on eBay!) and his ballads are what get me through the tough nights.

I screamed myself hoarse that night and enjoyed it so much, even tearing up at some moments because it all felt so surreal to me and his voice was just too dreamlike and the all too familiar songs tugged at my heartstrings. Was it worth letting go of the kids for a few hours and spending my precious savings for that one ticket? Oh yes, absolutely.

I've also learnt to let go of the fact that some nights are just too tough for trying to cook and do the chores and tend to the kids' needs at the same time. Yup, cooking has never been a passion or forte but I try to do it because of the desire of wanting to let my kids eat healthier food and because of wanting to help save some money. That said, I live with the fact that we will dine out every few days or order food delivery because there's just so much my pair of hands can accomplish.

Thankfully, the kids don't complain about it because going out usually means we get to go to the playground, visit the library or just scoot and cycle in our neighbourhood. That makes them happy which in turn makes me happy too!

I used to try to pack activities into our weekends or at least take the kids out to someplace new to explore or to one of our favourite hangouts to play. It's only this year that I've realised that it's okay to learn to relax and just enjoy being home, go for a swim or simply watch a movie on Netflix together. It's really not so much about where we are or what we do, it's more of who we are with.

Messes are part and parcel of any craft project and even after all these years of crafting with them, I am still learning to let go of the fact that we will have a huge mess to clean up, my floors might get dirtied with paint or that there will be paper and plastic scraps everywhere. It's the same with playing with Play-Doh or kinetic sand or sensory bins filled with beans, I tend to procrastinate on taking these out because I'm just lazy to clean up after that and no, the kids don't do a good job at cleaning up yet.

Nonetheless, I'm trying to work out more time for art and craft because I think we are all deprived of it recently and I need to find ways to unleash their creativity and imagination. Well, at least we spent many days working on their celery stamped flowers last month and that was quite a good experience for all of us.

The same can be said for letting the kids help out in the kitchen because they end up making a bigger mess than if I had worked alone. Not to mention doubling the time too. Nonetheless, I wish to give them more learning opportunities at mealtimes and have been roping them in to help me with vegetable peeling, pizza making, jelly making, cutting, slicing, frying and more. Let go of the mess, Mama, just let it go and don't derive the kids of the chance to learn.

We were out with friends one weekend at Cafe Melba and due to the rainy weather, there were no bouncy castles to jump in but plenty of puddles, balls and hula hoops to play with. The kids don't often get my permission to play in the rain but that day, we closed one eye and let them run around though it was drizzling and they were so happy to be able to take off their socks and shoes and splash around in the muddy puddles. A little rain doesn't hurt anyone, I guess? Haha. I hear you, wait till they come down with a flu and I will regret it. Oh well, I guess I chose to take that risk anyway and I think it was worth it.

August also marked a huge milestone for me because I went on my first vacation with only one kid - the toddler (because he is my superglue and he has no school)! Yup, it took a lot for me to make this trip happen and you can read all about the hooha I had to deal with when I first announced it to the girls, from the tears and bickers to the celebrity welcome at the airport and amazing gifts they made when I was gone for that 3D2N.

It meant a lot to me being able to catch up with my good old (not old as in old lar, you know) friends from secondary school and being able to chat, eat, talk, play tai tee and more under the same roof. It reminds me of the good old days and tells me that no matter how busy motherhood gets, I must never lose sight of myself, you know what I mean?

This was definitely the biggest learning-to-let-go lesson I had and even though I am still glad I did it and was able to spend quality one-on-one time with the boy in Phuket, I am just so relieved to be home too and to be back in the arms of all three of them.

Our second family run this year was Shape Run 2018 where we had to complete a 1.8km run together. What I love so much about it is that you get to enjoy picturesque views of the Singapore skyline as you take your strides along Gardens by the Bay and it even made us stop in our tracks just so we could admire the scenery too.

I am usually pretty firm with the kids during runs because I try to encourage them to keep running and not stop in their tracks. That is because I wish for them to be resilient and learn to persevere when the going gets tough, and never quit till you get to the finishing line.

This time round, things were different because of the toddler, who at times was happy to remain in his stroller but at times wanted to try running and would get down to chase after us - while getting easily distracted in the process. I saw how his sisters would turn around, slow down or even run back so that they could be with him and suddenly, it just dawned on me that it's okay so long as we finished the run together. I should applaud them for wanting to reach the finishing line together as a family rather than telling them to dash for it with all their might, right?

When we were at the media preview of Sentosa Sandsation, I remember the kids were asking me if they could go around barefoot and I said yes, thinking that we didn't need to walk much and would be on sand most of the time. Well, I was wrong. It was quite a long walk to get to the starting point and we had to walk on a slabbed path which could be burning hot at times - which totally made me regret taking off my slippers just so I could be like the kids. It didn't help that I was the only adult out of the dozens to do so and a friend came up to say "Wah, you don't even have shoes on!" or that the toddler demanded to be carried the whole time.

Let go, just let go and have fun, I told myself. Thankfully, we made it into the shade soon and even though the toddler never came down for a split second because he would bawl even before I tried, we still had fun posing with and taking pictures of the amazingly crafted MARVEL superheroes sand sculptures.

Which brings me to my last point. Whenever people comment on why I still carry the toddler when he is, I quote, "so old already", "so big boy liao", "so heavy still want Mama to carry meh" and give me all sorts of reasons on why I shouldn't be carrying him, I try to be good-natured and smile even though deep in my heart, I beg to differ.

Firstly, you are not me and you don't know how many times I've tried, how many times I've let him cried and how good of a superglue he can be. He is the most clingy of the trio and I'm even having trouble weaning him off, let alone telling him that Mama cannot carry him anymore. He comes to me for comfort, for assurance, for solace, for love - and who am I if I deny him of it all just by saying he shouldn't need me? In any case, no matter how I've tried, people might still deem it as not trying hard enough so I don't really bother about explaining my case.

Secondly, if being a toddler is so old already, what happens when he goes to primary school, become a teen or a father eventually? That will be the time when I will be unable to carry him even if I want to, you know that? Gosh, he might not even want to give me a hug, let me kiss him or even hold my hand by that time because our dynamics would have changed and that would be, to me, when he is all grown up and big boy liao. So for now, while he still asks for Mama and I still have the strength to carry him and he still fits snugly in my Tula toddler carrier, let me enjoy those moments with my lastborn, will you?

And when the day comes to let go of the kids because they don't need me anymore, I will. I might cry buckets of tears secretly at night, but I will nonetheless.


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