A year ago, I made a tough decision to leave my full-time job so that I could spend more time with Titus who entered Primary 1 this year. For a long while, it was unsettling thinking about the loss of a stable income and I had to consider how to shrink the family’s expenditure: doing without a domestic helper, less extravagant holiday plans and eating out at hawker centres or food courts when we have to dine out. I find myself lingering longer at the shelves in the supermarkets, making careful calculations and comparing prices. I soon develop a nose for sniffing out plum bargains and freebies. Some people even commented that I have acquired a higher level of ‘auntie-ness’.
At the start of 2018, I approached my new role as a homemaker with much trepidation. Would my sacrifice pay off? What if my boys do not turn out to be any better despite my presence at home? Would I end up mollycoddling them because I have more time? These unknowns often plagued me. But as I come to the end of 2018, I have no regrets and here’re why:
I choose to fetch Titus home on most days (I still work occasionally) and it is a privilege to capture his emotions and stories while they are fresh. I relish those moments when he was perky and chatty, filling me in with all that had happened in school. I also remember picking him one day. He looked really distraught from afar and he moved with hurried and unsteady steps towards me the minute he saw me. When he reached me, he buried his face in my clothes and burst into tears. In between heavy sobs, he told me that a friend had rejected him. For now, the doors to his world are still wide open and I have full access to his emotions and experiences. One day, I might have limited access to his world. I have been warned that boys become more reticent when they reach upper primary and by then it would be difficult to even wedge a foot into their adolescent world. I will be glad to be part of his world for as long as I can.
I treasure the many afternoons I could read the bible and many piquant stories with him – giving him the values and principles that should guide the way he lives and relates with others. We started the year with the book of Proverbs and had many enjoyable times reading stories from Wisdom and the Millers. I think Proverbs is a wonderful book to read with your children. There are so many principles and values about practical living on friendship, handling money, managing emotions like anger and so on.
Holiday projects were fun. In March, Titus and I baked and prepared meals for people. He learnt that when one gives freely, there can be great blessing.
Proverbs 11:24 One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want.
We visited families and distributed bottles of cookies that we baked. He made a sharp observation after a family we visited treated us to a feast, that we were indeed ‘richer’ because we gave. In June, he learnt skating and clay modelling. In December, he went for a Children’s Camp and wrote his reflections on a blog. We learnt about poems, wrote one and did video editing together to share about Jesus during Christmas. These days he is also helping me with more household chores like cleaning the toilets, folding the clothes and clearing the table after meals. Engaging him in these ways is very time-consuming and energy draining but they are worth every modicum of my time!
Nope. Titus is still far from being a responsible and caring boy. In fact, rough times with him are pretty frequent: he resists his piano practices, protests against doing the chores and negotiates for more time on the phone or TV. I had initially disliked confrontation and arguments with him but soon discovered that these unpleasant moments are great opportunities for teaching values, problem solving and building character.
I am glad to have spent this year with him. It is a work in progress and I look forward to more fruitful times in 2019.