N1D

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This morning my number one daughter (N1D) told me that she hates me.  That I’m the worst mother in the world.  I am never her friend.  And, I never listen to her.  Automatically, waves of guilt surrounded me.  I tried to remain strong and talk her through it, but I ended up crying – in front of her – and this only made her sob harder.  I was tired.  I was sore.  She asked me, between sobs, why I was crying.  I replied that she had hurt my feelings.  And, of course, I feel immense guilt.  I work five days a week, study on Thursday nights at HKU, and once a month work on the weekends.  My work is essential to who I am, what I believe in, and what I want my daughters to also grow up and stand steadfast to the world and humanity.

Later in the day, I sent a text to one of my helpers asking if N1D  was in better spirits for school.  J, my helper, replied that N1D was great – all had been forgotten.  I responded to J, ‘Meanwhile she has broken my heart’.  My other helper, M, had sent me a text telling me not to take N1D’s comments seriously because it is not true.  She told me that her daughter, who lives in the Philippines, told her that she hates her mother forever because she always leaves her to go to Hong Kong to work and that M loves money more than her.  And again, my world came to another crashing sob – at work.

The reality – once again – struck me.  So many foreign domestic helpers in HK leave their dear loved ones at home.  The heart ache those mothers must feel when they have to say goodbye.  The hollow heart they must carry every day as they serve the families in HK who are whole – complete – together.  And how lucky I am to have these two special women  (J and M) in my life.  And, in reality, how lucky my daughters are to have a present mother – in the same country.

Shan xo

What are the waves of guilt that come over you as a parent?

(10 comments is a prerequisite!)

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20 thoughts on “N1D

  1. Guilt is my middle name! We are our own worst enemies when it comes to feelings about parenting! ‘To thine own self, be true’ – and you can never go wrong….with a bit of guilt on the side!!!

  2. Love your story – and I too am a member of your club. I work six days a week – Kye (3 yo) is at daycare 4 days and his grand parents on the weekend. When I come home I have to work a little bit more on bookwork etc, but have decided to do this once he goes to bed now.
    Regardless of what I do he does not seem to be a happy child. He doesn’t care too much for his dad or big brother. He has tantrums majority of the time. I do not think there has been one day, a whole day, where he has not cried at some point. I seriously thought something was wrong with me. What am I doing wrong? How can I help this little boy. How can I be a better mum… I try to spend as much time with him. I talk to him patiently, and at times I question my parenting techniques.
    My parents were staying with us for two weeks, and she said to me – ‘something isn’t right with him’ – gee thanks mum.
    I love his spirit – he is such his own person – but boy oh boy, some moments are a test beyond a test… and I don’t think I am passing.
    Nevertheless, I wake up every morning with the hope that perhaps today things will be better.
    After all I did manage to get one child through to young adulthood… (and he only told me once or twice during his adolescence that he hated me) but these days he still hugs me and tells me he loves me – he is 19…
    You are a fabulous woman, Shan- and you’re doing a fabulous job… I read once that it is good for your children to see you upset (especially if they’ve been the instigator).
    xxxxx

    • Donna,
      How brave you are to share your thoughts with us. The fact that you worry about your son so much shows just how much you care for him.

    • Donna – your comment made me cry. I could hear you saying all this to me and El over a glass of wine of two. You are passing every test because every morning you wake up still with hope. It is when we lose hope that we need to question our mental state. On the side – have you had his hearing tested? Or just his ears test for grommets etc? I know that this can be a common issue that is linked to boys’ behaviour. I’m sure you have, but thought I would be it out there in case you had not. And Donna – you too are more than fabulous. xo

  3. Could not have put it better as Alicia did above.

    Although I’m not a mother, I can empathize with what you shared….I can only imagine how difficult it is to know you are spending a large chunk of time away from home and work. For domestic helpers the heartache must be even greater…to only get an annual oocasion to be back home and not having regular interaction with their kid(s)! :((((

    That’s why I have so much respect for FDHs. They are working to provide for their families at a personal sacrifice of happiness…..not to mention being discriminated against in hk…double : (

    on another note, you are a wonderful woman and mother and your girls are very lucky to have you to look up to.
    <3 Wendy

  4. This blog post made me cry too.
    I think most mothers have experienced mothers guilt on some level on a daily occurrence. As I was reading this post I felt bad for you that Amayas words had hurt you, then I went on to feel bad for me and how hard I find it trying to balance being a mother/wife/career woman etc and then when I got to the part about your domestic helpers I was a mess. What they sacrifice is beyond comprehension to most of us. I am glad you are helping them fight for rights in HK.
    Big hugs to you and both your helpers xxoo

    • You are one of the few women I know in Australia that ‘seems to’ manage all three so well. You manage to keep it all in perspective. I also appreciate your empathy towards the FDHs. They give up so much. xo

  5. oh Shan, my heart breaks with yours. For you, for me, for others in way worse positions than either of us. Being authentic with kids is important, showing them it’s ok to have emotions – it’s integral to them developing into healthy adults with healthy relationships. So well done – being authentic is often hard as we are told to mask our emotions. I want to be emotionally authentic with my son but for me it’s a learning curve and that has something to do with the way I was brought up.

    as to my waves of guilt… endess of course – working, child care, getting frustrated with him (inwardly or outwardly), taking him out for coffee/supermarket instead of to the park – list goes on, no doubt you know it!

  6. Oh Shan, how heartbreaking. Ditto to El’s words above, beautifully put. I was having a conversation with Lachie’s prep teacher recently and she said something that really resonated with me. Children at that early primary age are still very self-centred. This isn’t any sort of personality flaw but simply a fact that they still see themselves as the centre of the universe and are only just learning about how they can affect the feelings of others. As with all of those childhood milestones they have already experienced they go through a period of pushing boundaries. I imagine she chose such hurtful words to, on a subconscious level, see how far she could push you emotionally just as a toddler may defy your instructions to see what they can get away with. Your raw emotional response was the absolute best response you could have given. By showing her that she did indeed hurt your feelings she will be able to understand that she went too far and this will be a valuable lesson in the power of words that will go towards her development as an empathetic individual. You are an amazing and inspiring woman and mother. Your drive, work ethic and compassion sets an incredible example to your daughters and I am certain they will one day thank you. Unfortunately there will be many more tough days ahead but know that overall the good will outweigh the bad and you are giving such a gift to the world in raising two strong and compassionate women.

    As to your question of what are the waves of guilt that overcome me as a parent mine are academic for Lachie. Having been a very good student with a love of learning myself I just assumed my son would be also. Unfortunately he is struggling a little academically thus the above conversation with his teacher. The guilt is should I have done more with him at a younger age. Should I have done flash cards and baby reading etc. etc. It is not that I didn’t do any numeracy and literacy with him but should I have done more? Thankfully his prep teacher is a wonderful, committed and passionate teacher with whom I have a very good relationship as I have been fortunate enough to spend a few hours each week as a classroom helper this term. We have had some great chats and he will begin literacy intervention soon. I have also changed how we do homework as one of his main issues is that he is still a little immature for his age and isn’t good at focussing on tasks so we now do homework in three 15 minute blocks throughout the day. Before school, after school and after dinner. He has gone from 0 out of 5 to 5 out of 5 on his spelling in just one month and I am so proud of him. As for the other aspect of feeling his immaturity is due to being an only child unfortunately I cannot change that one so I am focussing on building good relationships with other parents from school to facilitate close friendships.

    Here is a fab little article I read recently on parenting, very relevant for your recent issue:
    http://www.ivillage.com.au/20-things-every-parent-should-hear/162680

    xx
    Alicia

    • Alicia – I read the article – the one point that is really stuck with me is that I am my daughters’ superhero. It made me think that I am all they have in terms of being there for them – entirely. It has really made me look at their needs differently and feeling less frustrated with them at times. As for your young man, when Amaya started primary school she was so far behind. I was shocked! But, I have taken as somewhat Asian tiger mum approach to it and I grill her regarding homework and tests. At times she gets frustrated and upset, but once she starts getting stuff right the joy that that brings her is amazing. This in turn makes her try even harder. I have found teaching her reading the hardest one because I just don’t know how to do it!! I also think the 15 minute blocks is an EXCELLENT idea. Once your man continues to achieve he will want to achieve more and more 5 out of 5 in his spelling tests. Wish we could chat further in person, but appreciate you taking the time to leave your comment. xo

  7. I love this entry. I could hear your voice through your words and was right there with you for the drama of the experience. And it is drama!!! As you know, all kids test out the boundaries and push to manipulate a situation until they are sure of what they can and cannot get away with. And they love pulling on those heart strings! Amaya, an old and sensitive soul has shown she has great empathy…. Even from a very young age. To know you were upset and she caused it would have been difficult for her….. However, I am glad you became upset by her words. Some people do not understand the power of words….. In my mind words can deliver a much more powerful blow than being physically hit! When I think back to my school days and certain times in my life, I can still hear some of the comments and remarks that have been made to me. We analyse and replay words, and they can gaunt for weeks and sometimes years and decades. It is sooooo important to teach the impact of words, and your physical reaction displaying your hurt will be a fantastic lesson for her. She of course didn’t mean it…. But now she knows the hurt that words can cause.
    I think a good tactic particularly over the next few weeks would be to share all the positive feelings that she gives you…. With things she says and does. Sometimes we forget that…. I know I do. When you feel pride… Gush with it and tell her. When she makes you laugh tell her how happy she makes you. Use her words as triggers for your feelings- and express them. When you havent seen her all day, tell her how excited you were about seeing her and finding out
    what she has been doing. It sounds silly.
    You probably do this anyway!!!!
    Love you xxxxxxx

    • I loved your last words of advice – when I feel pride gush with it and tell her. Words can trigger so much and they can make us feel so many different things. Thank you for your advice – your more ahead of the game then me. PS. Why the fuck have you moved to Melton?! I sent you an email – you MUST respond. xo

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