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I wrote this to my daughter’s class teacher this morning.
I appreciate all the effort you put in to update us on the expectations of the school and the progress of our children.
May I offer some feedback as a parent. Both my child and I have found the year particularly burdensome in terms of expectation and amount of homework and assignments. There is hardly time left for us to relax and just be, and to have some good fun together without the burden of homework, assignments, spelling, oral and various class assessments and exams hovering over us constantly. When I come home from work, I really want to be able to enjoy my child but find it very difficult because there are bound to be some school related task to complete, be it to guide her in certain class assignments or helping her with her spelling, or preparation for oral assessment and various class assessments etc etc. Even art projects have become a chore. The list goes on and never ends. All of these have killed the joy in learning to a very large extent. Both of us get frustrated with each other when we realize we could not keep up with the demands and expectations of the school. I do not know how my child is internalizing all of these. Sometimes she seem to be able to shrug them off, sometimes she just accepts them as the way things are, sometimes she is able to rise above them but sometimes, more often than we like, both of us are exasperated to tears. I feel like an incompetent parent a lot of the time and I am not even the sort of parent who compares herself or her child with others. Neither does my child has any enrichment or tuition classes to further compete for time. This is just trying to keep up with the expectations and demands of the school alone and already we are both worn out. I really do not want my both of our lives to revolve around school. There is so much more in life that we want to enjoy but we are finding it increasingly difficult.
Please do not take this personally. I understand the school wants to provide the best education for the children and I appreciate that. Teachers have their own share of goals and demands to meet and a lot of you have the children’s interest at heart and I appreciate that too.
I don’t even know why I am saying all these. I just know I need to say them.
(This is an email exchange between me and a friend. After all my ranting, I thought it was quite funny. Please forgive my language. It is written in typical Singaporean-speak. Don’t report me to the Singapore Speak Good English Committee hor.)
how are you my friend? have not been able to catch up for a long time. now school reopens liao, very sian. have to watch over their studies again. when will it ever end… how are you and family?
hello my dear friend, talking about SIAN… mine still a long long way to go man. Ya, when will this ever end??? dealing with no.1 is already stressful. plus another 18 mths old no.2, I am like a crazy woman everyday. No.1 is in K1 now and I can feel the study stress and demands already. can’t imagine when she gets to primary school. how are your kids doing? work is ok for me and family is ok too. i am going for a break with hubby to Bangkok on 28/1 to 1/2. I need this badly. luckily I have very supportive sisters to help to take care of the gals during our absence. I really miss those carefree days when I can travel as I like…. why nobody warn me about loosing FREEDOM + Financial Burden + STRESS + WORRIES = kidS!!!
My dear, i feel the same way too. sometimes i fantasize about “running away from home” for a while just to see how they will manage on their own. <evil grin>
i am having a hard time with my teenager. hai…talking about it will only upset me more, so i won’t share. he is in Sec 3 now. no. 2 is in P3. watching over their studies makes me hate studies all over again. with this type of mind-set how to be positive and encourage them? last Friday i attended the parent-teacher meeting at no.2’s school. lagi sian. one parent commented (after the teacher’s presentation) that the curriculum and expectation is too tough for p3 but the teacher said, bo bian, nowadays it’s ike that. if they don’t push up the standard, we will loose out. i think they meant, the kids + SG. it’s like every school is training their kids to be geniuses in every field. this trend is not only in SG hor. my nephew in KL has to take exams for certain papers in 2 languages! mind you, it’s the same paper and same questions but in 2 languages (english + chinese) to show that they are proficient in both because he is in a chinese school. she sends her 1yr old boy to brian-training classes every week! at 1 year old, i could only eat and shit. looks like my countrymen has caught the singapore kiasu bug. makes me just want to be a farmer lah!
these days schools always talk about parent’s involvement in a lot of the school-based programs. i know it is supposed to be a good thing and i know it is probably true that it is better for the kid’s learning journey BUT poor parents! we have to do school all over again! just when i thought i am finally done with school, projects and exams! sigh… can somebody just kill me!!
this trend looks set to continue or get worse. you think the current situation is bad? wait till you hear this. our dear MM feels that we are getting complacent and distracted and falling behind children of immigrants. said something about us having too many CCAs and not focused enough in our academics. so you see my friend, it is survival of the fittest all the way.
looking at the way things are going, my kids may well end up as farmers.
Dad said something about soul mate when we were back for the Christmas holidays. I thought he had a little too much to drink and so did not give much heed to what he was babbling about. He was in a merry mood, that much I know. My sister however was able to pick up all the clues. It turns out that Dad is having another affair. He is already in his sixties. By now, we have all accepted that Dad has an insatiable need for a level of companionship which he unfortunately did not find in my mother. So he finds himself some alternatives. I believe Mom as a women, has such a need too. She however, finds them in her children, grandchildren, friends, family and God. She has many hobbies and they provided some form of distraction. I don’t know if Mom ever felt lonely and needed a soul-mate-like-companion the way Dad does. Although they find each other seriously lacking in terms of being able to meet each other’s emotional needs, they have stuck together all these years. It is not that Dad does not love Mom. He appreciates her for her devotion to the family and her other qualities. He may not love her the way we normally see love but she is a crucial part of his life. She is the anchor in the family. Without her, his life would loose bearing. I suspect both of them knows it even though they might not be conscious of it. Mom is not an unhappy and miserable women. Yes, there have been lots of tears especially in the earlier years of their marriage but she has learned to find her own happiness while staying married to a man who openly confesses that he finds greater emotional satisfaction elsewhere. Despite the pain and craziness of it all, they still watches each others back and cares for each other. They joke and laugh as much as they quarrel and fight. Dad is always the loud, intimidating one of course. There is a lot of disharmony and dysfunction within this union. It can be very disconcerting to witness if you do not understand my family well enough. I can’t blame my sister-in-law entirely for wanting to severe ties with my parents. It takes time to adjust. Love it or hate it, we the children, took it all in our stride. For some strange reason, we still look forward to our yearly reunions, accompanied by some apprehension for the unexpected. At the end of the day, we know this is home. This is family. This is where we can be free to be ourselves, to make mistakes, to be vulnerable and still be accepted.
For all my parent’s failures, they must have done something right.
Marriages are dissolving at alarmingly rapid rate these days. With divorce being so common, I do sometimes wonder why am I still in a marriage that is long dead. A few people I know whose marriage started breaking down later than mine is already divorced or seperated. They have moved on and start life anew. Why exactly am I still in? That’s a huge question. Too big for me to pick apart and describe in detail. Hell, I might not even know! I thought Susan Lapin made a very realistic but sadly true observation of divorce in the current economic situation.
The Only Option?
I have been reading that the divorce rate is down, with some speculation that the reduction is due to the bad economy. Seemingly, couples who had been planning to split are realizing that they can’t afford the lawyers, separate housing and other expenses that divorce entails.
If true, then at least for couples with children, an incredibly profound and rather sad statement is being made. Obviously, each couple’s story is unique, but somehow the implication is that when faced with data showing that the cost of divorce is too high, husbands and wives either make a strenuous effort to resuscitate a failing marriage or at least learn to co-exist. A life that had been unbearable becomes bearable for a while longer.
The data shows that children’s lives are overwhelmingly negatively impacted when their parents divorce. There are emotional, academic, social and financial implications that last well into the future. Surely, few parents would take steps to deliberately harm their children. I can only conjecture that a high proportion of divorcing mothers and fathers convince themselves that their family is the exception to the rule, in the same way that a smoker might tell himself, quite accurately, that not every one who smokes gets cancer.
While I don’t think that any honorable person makes the choice to divorce frivolously, exactly what does it say about society’s priorities if one effect of these economically troubling times is the realization that, when it comes to money but not to children, the decision to break up a home simply costs too much.
I am most happy to be back. I had been busy getting the kids ready for the new school year since my return. I have settled nicely into the new year now and is good to go!
Our reunion-holiday in Malaysia didn’t turn out as well as we hoped for. Due to an unforeseen situation, we had to make some last minute changes to our plans. But the more disappointing part is that there was a little fall-out between one of my brothers and our parents. Under pressure, feelings of regret and disappointment that were suppressed for many months erupted into a full blown confrontation. Okay, maybe “a little” was an understatement. It was uncomfortable and awkward for a while and I found myself caught in the middle, trying to play peacemaker. It’s grieving to see hearts broken in the process but at least there is no longer any repressed hurt. Hopefully healing can begin, now that everything is out in the open. The saving grace is, I am confident that as a family, we will always consider what is best for the other, employ our deepest understanding and make every effort to offer grace in a very delicate situation. It’s not easy, neither is it instantaneous but I know my family enough to know that no matter what challenges we face, we will not throw away the sacred bond we have as a family. I particularly hated to watch Dad’s bubble burst. I could sense his anticipation in celebrating his first Christmas as a believer with the family. I know it means a lot to him by the silent effort he made to make this a meaningful celebration.
My brother is back in UK now and I am home in Singapore. A brand new year is ahead and I am feeling optimistic. It really does pay to go to church every week. Whenever I feel overwhelmed by life, it allows for God to adjust my perspective and refocused my vision. He is the bearer of good news.
“The dektos (acceptable) year of the Lord, when the salvation and free favors of God profusely abound.” In spite of the many predictions of doom and gloom in the secular world, I say AMEN to God’s proclamation to his people. So be it unto me and my family.
We closed the first Sunday of the new year with a graceful song, rich with meaning. Although it was more of a Christmas blessing song, it works just as well for the new years. May I pronounce these blessing unto you too.
The Blessing Song by Dennis Jernigan
I am sorry to disappoint some of you with a password protected post in my last entry. If you’ve read the about segment at the top of this blog, you would already know that these are posts that contain too many intimate and private details. Either that, or I need to protect certain parties involved in the story. I know some of you are waiting to know what my decision is.
That post was a word-for-word email I sent to my in-laws a couple of weeks ago. It was the first time I made my thoughts and feelings known to them in a clear and honest manner about the situation at home. My in-laws have been very nice and supportive all these years, whatever little they know of our situation. My mother in-law had invested so much to help her son over the years. It will not be right for me to withhold my intentions from their knowledge after all their sacrifices.
I have decided to start working towards leaving an emotionally oppressive environment and a person who clearly has not grown up after all these years and who continually puts his family in grave financial risk. I have known for a long time this was what I wanted but never really had the resolve to act on it in a consistent manner. I want to do better this time. Here are a few things I want to accomplish by end of this year.
- learn about personal finance and investments
- engage an independent financial advisor and start planning for a future as a single parent
- see a counselor
- get in touch with an attorney familiar with divorce and family law
- start working with my husband towards an amicable solution with regards to custody and
splitting of assets etc. in case of separation or divorce (this will be the toughest challenge as he still doesn’t think I will go through with it)
Recently I discovered that being a permanent resident here has it’s disadvantages when it comes to housing, which is a big consideration for me. There are a lot of other practical issues I am still trying to sort out. I read somewhere the other day that many couples choose to remain in their current position for practical reasons. Now I can understand why. Then there is the emotional side of things, not so much my own feelings (we have been living separate lives for as long as I can remember) but those of my children. Surprisingly, I feel a tinge of sadness for my husband as well because I know we are everything he has. To deprive him of that feels somewhat cruel and heartless. He had his chances and blew them, what can I say? I cannot continue to allow him to be irresponsible without consequence. It is not fair to me and the kids. We deserve a stable environment.
I have something to share which I have not shared with anyone before. A few years ago, my spiritual strength was at an all time high. It was a time when my faith and passion for God overshadowed every problem and every challenge and I had felt that I was ready to deal with more. So one morning, with legs crossed and hands opened in worship, I told God how much I appreciated Him and then with quiet confidence I declared (to Him) that I am ready for whatever challenges He may have for me ……. as long as He walks with me. It was as good as saying, “Lord, I am ready for more shaking. Come and test me out.” I can’t decide if I was being naive or arrogant, probably both! And come they did. Sometimes in a trickle, sometimes in torrential thunderstorms that shook me out of every false impression I had of God, of myself, of my circumstances and my faith. Now many showers and thunderstorms later, I discovered that He is still walking with me and I learn to trust and appreciate much more His loving provision and gentle guidance. Over the weekend I watched Schindler’s List for the second time and asked myself’ “What could possibility be worse than that?” and I realized I am blessed and protected beyond measure. I can’t help but notice the ending comment that Oskar Schindler, for all the good he did, wasn’t protected from failure in his marriage and subsequent business ventures after the holocaust. It can be an unsettling thing to see that the reward of our faithfulness might not come this lifetime but thanks be to God it does not depend on our goodness but on the unsearchable richness of God’s grace.
This will be my last post about this gloomy topic, at least for now. My life is more than my marriage. It is more than my children, more than my problems and certainly more than my husband. I will be busy living it and live it well I will, for the glory of God. I invite you to do the same.
Here is a song to encourage all those who are walking through the valley of the shadows. Footprints in the Sand by Leona Lewis
Here is a post I wrote on footprints back in 2004.
Of Footprints and Failures
In my last entry, I shared about how a movie motivated me to take a more active role in a situation as old as my daughter. A few things unfolded along the way during that period, including my husband’s debt coming to light and the possibility of giving up our current home in order to service his debts and cut expenses. Around the same time, I was trying to get my finances in order which included reviewing all our existing policies with insurance companies. I have to start planning like a single parent. Then came the devastating news of the financial meltdown in the US. The majority of our policies are with a subsidiary of insurance giant, AIG. I have some investments which, though were not directly affected but Lehman’s fall, they were nevertheless bleeding due the global economic downturn. Surely all these couldn’t come at a better time, no?
As if that wasn’t enough, my own brother’s marriage was on the verge of a collapse and they had sought my help to mediate things, not knowing of the uncertainty lurking in my own backyard. Is it by chance that family and friends came to share their relationship woes at a time when my own was down in the dumpster? How ironic is that. Try as I may, I just did not feel qualified to say anything let alone dish out advise on relationship issues. But I was able to empathize with them and maybe that was what they needed at that time.
Although I do feel let down sometimes, especially when people around me are living prosperous, victorious life while I seem to be stuck with the same issues after all these years, I do not despise the refining fire of God. I know there is value in it and I have seen what it can do. It can humble us and help put things in the right perspective. Regardless of the reasons why I am where I am and however it may end, I hope I will bring honor and glory to God in the midst of it.
Many people will not agree with the decision I have made. I do not know for sure myself if it is God’s will but I figure any decision is better than no decision. As I go about it, I will trust God to lead the way, to open doors and to close doors. I hope the path ahead will become clearer with each step. Whether He should lead me to a U-turn or an expressway, I pray I will have the courage to follow.
So what exactly have I decided? I will leave that for the next entry.
The past couple of weeks had been the most challenging period of my life this year, so far. A few significant events unfolded at the home front and I have been busy trying to stay on track. Then came the news of the financial crisis in US which really came at the wrong time, or maybe it was the right time depending on how you look at it. In short, it was an emotionally charged week which left a lot of uncertainties in it’s wake. I wrote an entry in May about God shaking the foundations of the world and along with it, our trust in all things we hold dear. Nothing is safe anymore. Relationships can disintegrate, the earth can split, banks can go bankrupt, even insurance giants, the people whom you thought could give you a measure of security can be shaken. We live in uncertain times. What are we to do?
As for me and my house, we shall worship the Lord our God. In Him, we shall wait and trust.
Over the next few posts, I will share a little about what had happened even as I am still working through the details of certain decisions. Among the many things that unfolded, some were concerning my brother’s side of the family. I will leave those out of respect for their privacy.
My Dad has not always been an easy person to deal with. He can be extremely senstitive and has difficulty letting go of old grudges. He particularly takes issue with relatives who have wronged him in the past. Whenever our family has a reunion, there will be a retelling of old bitter stories of betrayals and wrong doings from so and so, so much so that it became a sort of sacred family ritual whenever the family meets. We have all grown used to it and will just listen. Luckily we, the younger generation, did not let our father’s unforgiveness carry on to the next generation. Surprisingly Dad did not expect us to either. He can be both wise and foolish like that.
There is an uncle of ours (our Mom’s sister’s husband) whom Dad had refused to fellowship with in more than a decade. Dad refused to attend any family events, from Lunar New Year visits to wedding dinners, if that uncle was present. You can imagine the awkwardness we had to deal with trying to juggle between them. It’s hardest on Mom because that sister is the closest to her since they both live in the same town. I have never been sure how that uncle and aunt felt about the whole issue. I don’t know if that uncle held the same grudge towards my Dad, or if he felt justified or remorseful in whatever wrong my Dad felt he did him, or if he had been hoping for a reconciliation all these years, I have no idea. If I had to go by my childhood experiences, I can only say that both my uncle and aunt were not exactly easy-going people either. Basically, they all (our elders) have their hang-ups.
Then earlier this year, Dad fell ill. Not gravely ill but the symptoms persisted long enough to worry him. Mom had to leave him to take care of her own ailing mother in another state. Dad was all alone. Worried upon hearing of Dad’s persistent condition, Mom called her sister up and asked her to look-out for my Dad. Imagine the awkwardness. I do not know how exactly things unfolded but it appeared that my aunt called Dad regularly to show her concern and support during those uncertain days. All these I did not know until Dad called up one evening, over a week ago, and said that he will be reconciling with my aunt and uncle and that they had arranged to meet up over dinner the following night for that purpose, to put aside old wounds and start anew.
It came so unexpectedly that it did not register with me at first. As he went on to explain how my aunt put aside her pride to reach out to him during the period that he was ill, it began to dawn on me that Dad is finally able to reach forgiveness. When that thought hit me, all I could hear was my own inner voice silently giving praise to God for doing what the family had deemed close to impossible. When I came around, Dad was just finishing off his account of what he thought of the whole situation.
“….and I tell you Ling, I truly believe God has a hand in this.”
That was such a precious thing to hear from my Dad. I understand a little better now what was meant when people say that it is only on hindsight that we are able to see the hand of God behind the arbitrariness of life. Nothing is random anymore when we give our life to God.
All praise and glory to Jesus, the Master Redeemer.