Author Archive
Sue-Ann Lee

You Are More than “Just a Mum”

Finding your true identity in motherhood

When our first child was born almost 12 years ago, my husband’s boss at that time told him, “Remember, you are now a DAD, you are not DEAD.” Sage advice from a father of 2 grown-up sons.

The advice I received, on the other hand, focused more on my physical recovery after childbirth and breastfeeding dos and don’ts, rather than my new role as a mother. While it was not specifically addressed to me, those words of wisdom that my husband had received spoke to me deeply.

I believed then that this new season of motherhood should not stop me from my self-development and individual growth. I was adamant that I would not allow my life to revolve around my children, but that I would teach them to adapt to our household needs and schedules instead. However, the intensity of caring for young children, along with the demands of managing a household and work kept these ideals at arm’s length.

The intensity of caring for young children, along with the demands of managing a household and work kept any ideals of self-enrichment at arm’s length.

Over the years, I found myself struggling just to keep my head afloat; caught up in general day-to-day busyness while trying to meet my own standards of what I defined as a “good” mother.

The sense of mum-guilt weighed me down constantly and I was exhausted in my fruitless pursuit of being the perfect mother, wife, daughter, cleaner, cook, teacher (to my children), co-worker and friend. I felt like I was trying so hard to do everything and yet not excelling at anything at all.

I felt like I was trying so hard to do everything and yet not excelling at anything at all.

It wasn’t until an older and wiser fellow mum sat me down and told me that it was ok not to be able to do everything that the light came on. She challenged me to reflect on my priorities: Did I want to spend my time making sure that I had a spotless home or does that need for a perfectly clean house rob me of my time with my children?

Did I want to slave over preparing 3 home-cooked meals a day or did that standard hinder my ability to really be present with my family? I realised that I had been trying to portray a certain image of myself as a mum for fear that I would be seen as “just a mum”.

I realised that I had been trying to portray a certain image of myself as a mum for fear that I would be seen as “just a mum”.

I took a long and hard look at myself and realised that in my pursuit for perfection, I’d forgotten to enjoy being “just a mum”. I knew that I desperately needed a mindset change. I forced myself to accept that a household with children would naturally be messy, and found myself less irritable and bothered by little things strewn about the house.

As soon as I was less irritable, I found myself making time to spend with my children. And then I started to enjoy being with them more – it was like an upward spiral!

I could be present with them, play with them, enjoy them being children instead of ignoring them while I did the housework, checked emails or busied myself in the kitchen. This change also helped my children learn to be responsible with their own things and encouraged them to practise doing their part for the household.

I understand now that my journey in motherhood is not something that is separate from my identity and that being a mother was my opportunity for self-enrichment. It has made me less controlling, less judgmental, more patient, more humble, and more appreciative of life. It has taught me about time-management, human resource allocation, conflict resolution, group dynamics and how to motivate a team (even if it’s a team of little individuals).

Being a mother was my opportunity for self-enrichment. It has made me less controlling, less judgmental, more patient, more humble, and more appreciative of life.

Today, I am proud to declare that I am “just a mum”. It is a role that I am learning to undertake with honour. I am thankful for the counsel of the many wise mothers who have gone ahead of me and given me their time and guidance in this wonderful once-in a lifetime journey of motherhood.

 

©2019 Focus on the Family Singapore. All rights reserved.

Did you find the read helpful? If you would like to receive regular news and encouragement for your parenting and marriage, click here to subscribe. This article was first published on www.family.org.sg and republished with permission.

 

How to Encourage Your Strong-Willed Child

How can we encourage and praise our strong-willed children?

Our oldest child, Skyler, was a spirited toddler. She was vocal, determined (she started walking at 9 months), extremely active and perceptive. We thought that we had our hands full with her, until her brother came along.

Our second child, Elijah, was a strong-willed child right from the start. He was persistent and liked things done his way all the time. He made his spirited sister look like a compliant child by comparison and has kept us on our toes with his constant need to define and negotiate boundaries.

Anyone who has been a parent will tell you that parenting is hard work. After more than a decade of parenting three children with strong yet different personalities, I have ended many a day feeling emotionally drained and utterly exhausted!

Appreciate their Unique Personalities

Elijah is now seven years old, and I have come to appreciate how his thorny exterior hides a loving and sensitive interior. This little boy of mine is often misunderstood in his persistent quest to be respected. With him, we have learnt that yelling orders and demanding for absolute obedience are ineffective. Instead, giving him an extra dose of patience and affection has worked for us.

Learning expert Cynthia Ulrich Tobias explains that the strong-willed child isn’t looking to challenge authority more than the need to feel like they have a sense of control over their life.

I clearly remember one morning when Elijah was just three and a half years old. As we rushed to get the children to kindergarten, he was unhappy with everything, from having to wake up to putting on his school uniform. He fought me on my choice of school shoes for him that day and the last straw came when he insisted on eating his sister’s half-eaten kaya bun instead of a new piece. To me, it was the most ridiculous request I had heard all morning and I was adamant not to let him have his way. He ended up kicking and screaming non-stop from our front door all the way to school.

That incident taught me the importance of picking my battles — identifying which ones are necessary to ‘fight’ and which ones to let go of. In our family, disobedience, disrespect and personal safety are non-negotiables.

Strong-willed children come in many forms. While Elijah is a textbook strong-willed child, Skyler is affable, friendly and easy-going for the most part, but has shown a level of stubbornness that can be attributed to her innate strong-mindedness.

Engage and Encourage in Creative Ways

Skyler’s strong-willed nature was apparent last year when she decided to stop learning Mandarin as she no longer enjoyed the process. The night before her exam, she sat at the table refusing to revise. She refused to be persuaded, even when warned that she might fail if she didn’t make an effort to study. I realised then, that she would rather fail than alter her decision. We let her go to bed early that evening, and knew that we had to make a drastic change if we wanted to encourage our daughter to learn.

Being strong-willed ourselves, we understood the value that our spirited child placed on having freedom of choice. So now, instead of instructing her on what to revise, we ask her to choose the questions she would like to practice. For example, we tell her that she needs to complete five math questions for a specific topic, but give her the freedom to choose which questions to do. Giving Skyler a measure of autonomy helps her feel in control of her learning, and made her more receptive to our feedback as parents.

Identify Parenting Strengths and Weaknesses

Parenting has been a journey in understanding myself better. According to Dr. James Dobson, in his book The New Strong-Willed Child, “The temperaments of children tend to reflect those of their parents”. I am quite certain that our children inherited theirs from two strong-willed parents. It is not surprising then, that all three of them are similarly tough-minded!

I have become more aware of the fine line between irritation and anger, when it comes to managing my own emotions. I try to catch myself before I let my feelings get the better of me. There have been many times when my children have pushed my buttons but I have taken this advice to heart, “The moment when I am most repelled by a child’s behaviour that is my sign to draw the very closest to that child.” This reminds me to take a deep breath and offer affection to my strong-willed child. While I don’t always succeed, our children now know the routine — we always come back after we calm down. The child will come back with an apology after having time to cool off and we always close the discussion with a hug and reassurance of our unconditional love for them. Building a good parent-child relationship is paramount to us. It forms the foundation of trust that will enable us to offer wisdom and constructive feedback to our children as they grow older.

And so we arm ourselves with a sense of humour, words of encouragement, a healthy dose of affection and trust that these strongly-independent children of ours will grow up to be courageous adults who dare to make a difference in their world.

©2017 Focus on the Family Singapore. All rights reserved.

Did you find the read helpful? If you would like to receive regular news and encouragement for your parenting and marriage, click here to subscribe. This article was first published on www.family.org.sg and republished with permission.

 

Crafting a Beautiful Relationship with Mum

Even with our very different personalities, there’s still a large part of me that takes after my Mum

Dear Mum,

Thank you for being our mother—for your years of devotion and your many sleepless nights worrying over our future and praying for our hearts.

You and I cannot be more different in our personalities; you, the advocate of structure and discipline, and me, the laid-back daydreamer. You used to say that I couldn’t kill an ant even if I tried. My relaxed attitude towards everything must have been a source of great stress for you when I was growing up.

I remember when I was about 5, you signed me up for one of those colouring competitions where we had to present our best work on the spot. The room in which the competition was held in had a big viewing window for parents and I must have been daydreaming because you were so mad with me at the end of it. I never completed my colouring and obviously never came close to winning but it didn’t bother me one bit!

I may not have understood it then, but now that I am a parent, I’ve learnt to appreciate the value of structure and discipline. As a result of the foundation that you’ve given me, I know that providing my children with a structured environment gives them a sense of stability. At the same time, I also believe in giving them the freedom to discover themselves within that structure. In this way, my children get a little bit of me as well as a little bit of you!

Mum, you have been gifted with magic fingers and creativity. You must have gotten it from Grandma because she, too, was a whiz with her hands. From cooking to crafting anything out of nothing—you could give Martha Stewart a run for her money. My primary school art and craft abilities fell way short of your standards of perfection. As such, you could not stomach sitting idly by while I, in my signature laid-back, non-urgent demeanor, attempted art and craft assignments. You ended up finishing almost all of my art homework (save those that we had to finish in school) and my flawless pieces were often even selected for display by my teachers!

Even though it frustrated me growing up, I have come to admire your strong belief in taking pride in all that we do and because of you, I am an advocate of teaching my children to live life with a spirit of excellence. I hope that they glean from you the value of accomplishing things to the best of their abilities and that they, like you, take pride in the work of their hands.

I am so sorry that it’s taken me this long to say thank you for being my mother. Thank you Mum, for loving us to the best of your abilities, for giving up your career to care for us and for only wanting the best in life for us. Time has taught me to look out for the gems in others, and in you I see compassion, hospitality, selflessness and a loving heart.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Used with permission from Focus on the Family Singapore. This article was first published here.

Stay-At-Home-Mom, Sue-Ann is  hiding a ‘dirty’ little secret from her 3 children. Her idea of the perfect meal: chocolates for breakfast, cotton candy for lunch and television for dinner!

Testimony: Gift of Healing

In January 2016. Mdm. Janie Chang, 61, felt unwell and went to see a doctor. The doctor ordered a series of tests, after which she was diagnosed with stage 4, cancer of the nose. The cancer had spread down to the lymph nodes in her neck and shoulders. The news was a huge blow to Mdm. Chang who was the fourth person in her family to be stricken with cancer. The disease had already claimed the life of her mother.
When Mdm. Chang’s brother (Pastor Danny Ching) heard the news, he immediately activated prayer amongst the staff and cell group members in the church.
Mdm. Chang subsequently received treatment at the National Cancer Centre where she was recommended an intensive combination of chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments – 6 cycles of chemotherapy and 33 sessions of radiotherapy in all. The sessions often left Mdm. Chang feeling exhausted, drained and weak. However, the knowledge that members of our church were praying for her, gave her a sense of assurance even in her weakened physical state.
May 2016. After Mdm. Chang had completed  2 cycles of chemotherapy, she underwent another diagnostic test. This time, the test results showed that no more cancer cells were found in her body and further treatment was unnecessary!
God’s mighty miracle is evidenced by Mdm. Chang’s medical reports (see below). Through His grace, Mdm. Chang has been healed. Praise the Lord, our God!
Mdm. Chang and her nephew.

Mdm. Chang and her nephew.

January 2016 : Cancer cells detected

January 2016 : Cancer cells detected

January 2016. Cancer cells detected.

May 2016. Cancer cells COULD NOT BE detected!

Treasures of Time

Psalm 90:12 “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

The recent spate of tragic events in our region awakened many to the stark reminder that our time on this earth is limited. In our pursuit of contentment, many of us are lulled into a false sense of believing that we must do more, have more, and achieve more in order to be content. In actual fact, contentment is a state of internal satisfaction, that no amount of money, food or material gain can buy.

We may not have any power to control time but we can be in control over the time that we have been given by treasuring every new day as a precious gift from the Lord.

It is important to remember that life isn’t just about accomplishments or amassing material wealth. Instead, it’s about the people who have been placed in our families and our communities that matter most.

As we head into this Father’s day weekend, these tips might help us make the most use of our time with the ones we love:

#1 Be Present

To be present means to put away any distractions – devices like mobile phones, tablets and computers – so that we can engage in real conversations. Ask meaningful questions and be intent in listening to the answers.

#2 Make Time to Plan

Spending at least 30 minutes before starting your day (or before going to bed the night before) to plan your schedule can help you to use your time wisely. Without a rough plan, you could find yourself running in circles and wasting precious time.

#3 Advocate Family Time

Make a commitment to set aside a fixed day and time to spend as a family. Again, “be present” during this time together and remember that the objective of Family Time is to enjoy each other’s company.

#4 Rest Effectively

Giving ourselves enough rest is essential to making the most use of our time and being able to enjoy our time with loved ones. Rest is akin to nourishing our bodies with food, air and water.

Being grateful for our treasures of time will help us embrace the gift of each new day and count all our blessings. In the words of a good friend, “I am grateful for my wife, that I have a home, a job that I enjoy, a family and a community…for my freedom to worship, my freedom to speak reasonably freely, for the food I eat. I am grateful to live in a land where no one begrudges me the right to live.”

 

WHAT'S ON IN COOS

Events on August 24, 2019

9:00 am: Korean Style Bouquet Workshop

Annyeong! Come join us for a fun DIY Korean-styled Bouquet Workshop. We will be using fresh flowers to create a korean-style wrapped bouquet. All materials and tools will be provided.

It cost $80 per participant, or $150 for 2 pax if you are bringing a friend.
As sharp tools will be used, the workshop is suitable for participants 12 years and older.

Dates: 24 & 25 August 2019
Time: 9am to 11.30am (24 Aug), Room 302
1.30pm to 4.00pm (25 Aug), Room 201
Location: Room 302
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9:30 am: An Overview of the OT (Session 2 of 4)

An Overview of the Old Testament
For more information, visit https://www.coos.org.sg/church-life/christian-education/
Location: Room 217
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2:30 pm: English Service : Pastor Mark Tho speaking

Location: 130 Margaret Dr, Singapore 149300
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4:00 pm: COOSkidz Birthday Party - Robot

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4:30 pm: Youth Service : Guest speaker Max Jeganathan

Location: 130 Margaret Dr, Singapore 149300
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5:00 pm: Waggy Walk with Your Furkids!'

Calling out to all COOS members who own a pet dog/s to join us in this gathering to walk our dogs which will take place on the 4th Saturday of each month. Invite your friends and neighbors so that we can also promote bonding which each other! Meeting point and ending point at COOS Plaza. We will be walking along the Alexander Canal for our first walk on 24/8/19. Register through this link and QR code.
Location: Meeting point and end point in COOS Plaza
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Events on August 25, 2019

8:30 am: English Service : Pastor Mark Tho speaking

Location: 130 Margaret Dr, Singapore 149300
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10:45 am: English Service : Pastor Mark Tho speaking

Location: 130 Margaret Dr, Singapore 149300
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Events on August 29, 2019

7:30 pm: Choir Performance

Location: Church of Our Saviour, 130 Margaret Dr, Singapore 149300
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Events on August 31, 2019

9:30 am: An Overview of the OT (Session 3 of 4)

An Overview of the Old Testament
For more information, visit https://www.coos.org.sg/church-life/christian-education/
Location: Room 217
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2:30 pm: English Service : Pastor Joseph You speaking [Holy Communion]

Location: 130 Margaret Dr, Singapore 149300
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3:00 pm: Flea Market

Volunteers needed for outreach initiatives to our community for the Flea Market! Gather your family, church friends or cell members, go into our neighborhoods (Stirling, Dawson and Mei Ling) at your own time and invite the residents for the flea market event on 31/8 and 1/9. Every flyer has a $10 value coupon attached so that they can exchange for the items at the flea market! Contact Tan Choong Meng at 81235996 for any enquiry.
Location: Atrium
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3:00 pm: Flea Market

Looking for volunteers to set up booths to run a flea market in COOS! Gather a few friends or cell members, collect unused clothes and accessories, mend a stall at the atrium. Proceed of the sales will go towards the Geylang Ministry in COOS! If you are interested, please register at the admin counter or at this google link. Contact Tan Choon Meng at 81235996 for more information.
Location: Atrium
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4:00 pm: Alpha Parenting Teenagers Course

A course for parents with children from 11 - 18 years old. It equips carers of children with strategies and tools in building a healthy family life. It is relevant for people of all faith.

Date: 31 Aug, 7, 14, 21, 28 Sep, 5 Oct
Time: 4pm - 6pm
Venue: COOS

Register at admin desk or scan QR code or thru this link: https://bit.ly/2vq7ClL
Location: COOS
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4:45 pm: Evergreen Fellowship Talk

Evergreen Fellowship is organising a talk by Mr Benny Ong on "Understanding the difference between Advance Medical Directive (AMD), The lasting power of Attorney and The will.
Location: COOS AUDITORIUM
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Events on September 1, 2019

8:30 am: English Service : Pastor Joseph You speaking [Holy Communion]

Location: 130 Margaret Dr, Singapore 149300
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10:45 am: English Service : Pastor Joseph You speaking [Holy Communion]

Location: 130 Margaret Dr, Singapore 149300
Click for more events