Right now, I am sitting at a Starbucks in Canary Wharf, writing this post. The children are in the creche as I had a chiropractic session in the afternoon. E and I will pick them up at 5.30pm if he knocks off early. This is not my typical day.
It has been slightly past 6 months of living in London. I have been a Stay at home Mom (SAHM) for six months and counting. And, fortunately, I loving every single day of my life. It is not an easy job. Sometimes it is mundane… like having to cook, wash and clean almost repeatedly. Sometimes, it is intense… when the kids are demanding when I am trying to cook. However, it is not about the daily activities but the happy and fulfilled feeling that I get that keeps me motivated everyday.
While I know there are some people (like my parents and my parents-in law) who feel that I am wasting my education and I could be working (and saving more money), the truth is money cannot buy me the time I have with my children now. I am just thankful that E earns enough for our family now. I don’t think we will be able to do more luxury shopping or spend as frivolously but both of us are okay letting go of those aspects for now. It is nice to have more money but it is nicer to have memories of my children growing up.
How has 6 months of being in London changed me:
1. People are generally nice.
Before I came to London, I was worried about making friends. In my head, I could hardly think of any reason why people would want to be my friend. I mean, by our 20s/30s, we would have a strong network of friends from our schools and work places. There was very low impetus to know more people. Or at least from my point of view. So, when we got invited to play dates, house parties and birthday parties, I felt very thankful. If it were me, back home in Singapore, I really do not think I will make any effort to get to know anyone new. No kidding. I suppose, London, being a cosmopolitan city, there are many mothers with similar profiles as me(except we are from different countries), hence it is relatively easy to get to know them.
When you treat people with sincerity and genuine kindness, the feeling will most likely be mutual. The first few people I got to know in London are the post women and the good people from the Waitrose nearby. When we were living in Singapore, I don’t even know who delivered my letters. I thought they just magically appear in the mailbox. No, I am kidding. These days, I have a proper conversation with my post women. They know about my back condition. I know about their holiday plans. It is nice. We also know a few people working at Waitrose. They know me and my children. Trust me, the shopping experience is much nicer when you know these people who are helping us. Over time, we got to know our community better and the place just feels much friendlier.
2. Watching BBC shows improved my understanding of the language.
I know that are people who are opponents of the television. But the watching the telebision helped me alot. Even though English is our first language in Singapore, it is quite different when you are speaking to a English person because of the accent. When E made me watch Sherlock, I was shocked that I could barely understand the show(Sherlock was speaking too fast and was murmuring too much!) and I needed subtitles. I can safely say I am able to understand the people here quite well.
3. Appreciating my husband more.
When I was a working mother, earning my keep, I tend to speak my mind too fast and too often. Sometimes, it is offensive to the person listening but I did not really care. Being a SAHM makes me value E’s work and worth more. In the past, I would have just got E to settle his breakfast on his own and if there was no dinner at my Mom’s, we will just dine out. Now, I try to prepare a proper breakfast for E before he heads for work and ensure that dinner is done before he returns. That is my way of showing my appreciation for his hard work.
4. Education vs Education.
I have been thinking about this for some time because of the huge differences that I have observed in the education style in Singapore and London. Being a teacher, a product of the Singapore education system and a mother, I am naturally anxious about my children’s learning. It does not help when I look at my Facebook and read constant updates of my Ryan and Gillian’s peers. Children of their ages in Singapore are attending expensive pre-schools, going for enrichment programs, starting on music/swimming lessons. They are able to speak well, colour within the lines, memorise, spell and whatnots. On the other hand, Ryan’s current school(which is a state nursery) focuses mainly on play. Through play, the teachers said that children will learn social and communication skills. The skill sets that are being learnt are very different. Ironically, I have noticed that a significant percentage of parents in the UK are very into making sure their children do not start school too early. I can imagine the number of parents who will be more than happy if their young children are able to jump grades. In the UK, it seems that parents are not very keen on their little ones attending school too early for fear that school might kill their interest in learning.
E has heard me whining about education on so many occasions. I am very torn between what I grew up with and what I see happening for Ryan and Gillian. E has always asked me, “What does education mean to you?” It is a tough question. Being a kiasu mother, I want the best for my children. I want them to have the head start in life. E often reminds me that being first at the start does not guarantee that they will be the first at the end of the race. What matters the most is that they have strong values to guide them in life. The rest will eventually come. Is it true? Will the understanding of arithmetic and Science just be implanted into the brains of Ryan and Gillian’s? Right now, I am not doing anything at all. I stopped making Ryan do his jig jaws(since he does not like them). I stopped doing the Kumon books. The children are always playing, going for play dates, going to the playgrounds and parks. All I am doing is just reading to them. Quite extensively because books are quite cheap in London. They are happy and always smiling. Does happiness equate to education? I am not quite sure and feel confused on most days. For now, I will just have to trust in God for this.
5. Started going Church.
OMG. I know. It is almost unimaginable in my mind. We hardly attended Church in Singapore! Like hardly. It took us a huge move to us in Church. Surprisingly, E is the one who is more interested in Church than me. We actually listened in sermons instead of zoning out. I am not sure if it is a “age” thing, “family” thing or a “move to London” thing that brought us to Church. E and I thought that it is important that we have a common set of values and beliefs. The thought eventually brought us to attending to one service in Church and a few more others over time.
E does not like the prosperity gospel and the church that we are attending is anything but that. Sometimes, I feel it is almost like a history lesson. Hmm… but E likes it that way. He says it makes me want to read the bible(read the bible!!!)! Currently, it is a regular weekly thing for us, followed by a good lunch somewhere.
6. Started my chiropractic session.
My right shoulder and back have been giving some problems lately. I think I got slightly paranoid when one of my friends commented that I looked slightly slanted. Anyways, I saw a chiropractor and today’s my second session. Apparently, my right leg is longer than my left’s. The left side of my body has been over compensating for sometime and it resulted in some parts being very tight and strained.
He says I should be getting better with a few more sessions. After my first chiropractor session, I must say I am a convert. My right shoulder which have been very painful for sometime felt surprisingly relaxed after the session. So, if you have been having the same problems like me, do consider going to a chiropractor, it might help you as much as it did for me.
7. Cooking is not as difficult as I thought.
My first month as a SAHM, I was struggling with cooking. E had to help out on some nights. He would usually prepare pasta, fajitas or burgers. I cooked the same thing for the children almost everyday. Ryan and Gillian did not eat much and it was quite frustrating as I was worried that they did not get sufficient nutrients.
As much as I disliked vegetables, I started adding them into my meal preparation for the children’s sake. I paid more attention to cooking shows, starting reading more recipes and taken more interest when people talked about cooking/baking. Lately, I am trying to include healthier ways of cooking like steaming and boiling. I must say, it is quite interesting and exciting!
8. My concept of distance changed.
It used to be, “Wah…Jurong is so far!”, especially when we lived in Pasir Ris, at the exact opposite end of Jurong, which is probably slightly over an hour drive. After living in London for 6 months, I would an hour worth of travel to anywhere is consider near. Anything above 1.5 hour is slightly far.
Okay, that is all for my 6 months updates. Hope everything have been well for everyone. Take good care and God bless!