When I was a little girl, I had many dreams. One was to be an author, but even from an early age, I really wanted to be a mother. By God’s grace, both dreams came to pass.
I was working as a copy-editor, planning for my next trip across the globe to attend a conference, when I discovered I was pregnant with my first child. That was the first time I had to choose between career and child, when I decided to cancel the trip on the doctor’s advice to ensure the safety of my unborn baby.
So it was natural that after her birth, I started to think about whether I should cut back on work to spend more time with her. What if I miss her first step, her first word? Should I return to work full-time, or be a stay-at-home mother? Would I be wasting my education? How would we cope financially?
Give Us This Day 12
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Redeeming the Time
As I struggled with these thoughts, a fierce debate raged within me. During my maternity leave, I heard a still small voice whispering: Redeem the time.
These words reminded me of Ephesians 5:15–16: “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.”
I saw it as a clear call to cut back my work hours and make the most of every opportunity to disciple my child. I felt that God had placed in my heart a burden to raise my children such that they would not be consumed by the culture of the day, but fulfil God’s purpose for their lives.
Downgrading my career was one of the best decisions of my life.
In faith, I put in a request to my bosses to work part-time. By God’s grace, they gave me the green light. I went on to have two more children, and after each round of maternity leave, my workload actually decreased—but I still have a job today, working a few hours from home! Ask any Singaporean mother, and you will know how rare such a work arrangement is.
Downgrading my career was one of the best decisions of my life.
On difficult days, however, I’ve found myself tempted to throw in the towel and go back to full-time work. I’ve sacrificed my career, status, the bulk of my pay, getting to dress up, proper adult conversation . . . all for what I saw as the lowly call of motherhood.
Yet, in return, I’ve caught every one of my children’s milestones. My kids know my expectations. And if they are well behaved, it’s probably because I’ve been able to spend more time disciplining and moulding them.
Getting the Kids Involved in Chores
After I had my third child, other parents began asking me: “How do you cope?”
This is how our household is structured: my husband works full-time, five days a week, and I work part-time, about three hours every night after the kids go to bed. I do most of the mothering—night feeds, diaper changes, meal preparations, and organisation—and my hubby chips in with baby care and housework. We also recently hired a weekly part-time cleaner.
In our home, we don’t wait on the children hand and foot. Each member is a servant, but we as parents lead as servants-in-chief, just as Jesus would. (Yes, my hubby scrubs the kitchen sink.) We believe it is healthy for our children to see us doing the dirty work, and to learn that the tedious and mundane are part of normal life.
As we model servanthood, we do not nag or guilt trip the kids into helping out, but shower our kids with praise and encouragement when they serve others.
At the start of the year, I lay down expectations by drawing up a “chores chart”. The eldest is tasked to keep her own clothes, and the older two have to set the table and place their soiled dishes in the sink. We use these as guidelines and are not religious about it, but gently remind each other until they become routine and habitual. As we model servanthood, we do not nag or guilt trip the kids into helping out, but shower our kids with praise and encouragement when they serve others.
My kids offer to mop the floor, wash the dishes, and pick up after themselves. Once in a while, they offer to scrub the tile grout with a toothbrush as if it’s a game. They are not yet rostered to do more difficult chores like mopping the floor, but know how to fold the clothes and do other housework, and carry them out willingly when instructed.
Of course, kids being kids, they would rather play than do serious stuff, and sometimes refuse to chip in. When that happens, we try to be firm but gentle in reiterating our instructions. We try to keep in mind that good habits are not formed overnight, and bear with our children in love and patience.
Finding Joy and Contentment
Cutting back on work meant that I had to try to scrimp and save every cent. That’s how I started learning to reuse things and find low-cost ways to entertain my kids. We also welcome hand-me-down clothes, toys, and books with open arms.
I’ve not had to buy a single garment for my third child, and hardly buy clothes for the other two, thanks to very generous friends and family. Sometimes, I look at my children from tip to toe and marvel at how nicely dressed they are. God feeds the birds and clothes the flowers beautifully, so why should I worry (Matthew 6:25–33)?
In return, I pay it forward by blessing the next mum. With whatever we have, we have attempted to be generous towards others. We are content and lack nothing.
And while I may not have the extra cash that comes with a full-time job, what I do have is time with my children. Kids don’t need more things or entertainment. What they need is our time and love.
Kids don’t need more things or entertainment. What they need is our time and love.
In fact, I am constantly fending off toys, and so many people have blessed our children that I am constantly giving their toys away! When it comes to kids, less is more.
While I have sacrificed a full-time salary, I have gained quality and quantity time to provide my kids with a nurturing environment. I get to spend time doing enrichment activities with them, such as learning to play the piano, playing games (which sometimes disguise academic work), or just sharing silly, happy moments with them.
More importantly, as the person who spends the most time with them, I can impart my value system and God’s Word to them.
Super Tired, But Super Loved
Whenever people say I’m a “super mum”, I joke that I’m actually a “super tired mum”. There have been times where I’ve curled up on the couch crying, raged at my kids over small stuff, burnt the pot, caught vomit with my hands, been pooped on, puked on . . . you name it, I’ve probably experienced it.
When my third child was an infant, there was one night that he woke up over 20 times. He kept crying as I carried, rocked, and walked him around the house, before he fell back to sleep.
Before, I used to think parenting was pure suffering and groaned through it. But now, I’ve learnt to go through it with God’s strength, knowing that “this too shall pass”. I call it “parenting skills honed through fire”.
On days that I don’t have work or chores to finish up, the first thing I do is flip open my Bible and read God’s Word like a love letter. Then, I pour out my woes to my Master. I pray constantly throughout the day. Yet, on some days, all I can muster is a whispered prayer: “Lord, just help me get through today.” He has never failed me.
God, who has called me to the lowly yet high calling of motherhood, has never failed to provide.
Once, I was hunting for a specific second-hand scooter for my middle child, after his youngest brother commandeered his. “God, please, we pray for a blue scooter with blue handles. I could buy a new one, but you know we don’t have that kind of money,” I prayed.
I spent an entire night scouring a second-hand goods app, to no avail. The next morning, I was prompted to change my search terms and found the exact model—blue scooter, blue handles—exactly what my son wanted.
This is just one example of how God has showed up for me in real and tangible ways. God, who has called me to the lowly yet high calling of motherhood, has never failed to provide. He has given me everything, from physical strength to spiritual nourishment; from baby clothes to the perfect scooter.
At the end of the day, I’ve learnt that I am a beloved daughter of the Most High. He is our loving Father, who longs for His children to simply ask Him for what we need. And through this process of motherhood, He has shown me His love—an abundant love that has brought me thus far.