No Such Thing As Wasted Education

My husband sent me a link to this excellently written article about how stay-at-home moms actually don’t waste their education, to encourage me. A secretly sweet man¬†he is. ūüėČ

As I read through the article, I had a flash back to one truly memorable event. It was during my parents visit in Chinese New Year 2016, when I finally, and rather awkwardly, popped the question.

“Pa, Ma,¬†aren’t you actually disappointed with my decision to put a halt on my career and¬†stay at home, not generating any significant cash, to care for the kids?”

My three years of education in a private university cost them half a kilogram of gold worth of money of the time, and my living cost in an expensive Singapore would have easily incurred at least another half of the amount mentioned above. The total sum is definitely not an amount I can generate back with mere three years in workforce post graduation. And truth be told, that question had been plaguing my conscience ever since I decided to quit my job and be full time for my family.

“Does your decision¬†make you feel inferior yourself that you ask this?” My father asked back.

“I am concerned¬†about what people would say¬†about and to you back in hometown,” I¬†replied.

In a culture with Chinese-influenced¬†gender-based hierarchy, my parents would have been¬†seen¬†as ‘putting their eggs in the¬†wrong basket.’ Why throw such a huge amount of money for a female child who finally ends up choosing making meals in the kitchen and not¬†dollars in the workforce? And I have two younger male siblings!

“Surely,¬†you have heard something like ‘Aiyoh, isn’t it so wasted to have spent so much money, earned a university degree abroad, and now¬†stay at home taking care of children, things we leave¬†for the maids to do here?’ or something like ‘Jauh-jauh sekolah ke Singapur, ujung-ujungnya masuk dapur‘?” I continued.

“Well, actually Mama did¬†have doubts initially, there were friends asking, or commenting,¬†too. But slowly, Mama has come to see the value of what you are doing. Sometimes, monetary investments do not give you a return¬†in monetary form, but something priceless, it’s a gain all the same, if not more,” said my mother.

To which my father added, “There is no need to feel inferior. Papa’s¬†duty as parent is to support¬†Papa’s children’s¬†education as far as you want to pursue, while we are still able. This is¬†a¬†principle. Whatever you decide to do afterwards becomes¬†your own¬†responsibility. You must¬†remember,¬†there is no such thing as wasted education.”

Both of my parents barely tasted the privilege of formal education. They had to work in their early youth so their siblings could go to school. Yet they understand the values of things often unseen in dollars, and have an accurate view of the purpose of education.

How tremendously liberating and empowering has this short conversation been to me! As a daughter. As a mother to my children. As a woman.

There is no such thing as wasted education. After years of learning and wisdom that made me the person that I am, in whatever I decide to do, in any time and stage of life, I seek to do them proud.

Just as they have done me very, very proud.

Happy grandparents and happy grandkids. Blessed me. ‚̧

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A Husband’s Love

hubbyandkis

A husband may show his love for his wife in many ways; he may buy her¬†flowers, telling her “I love you”s, taking her out to romantic dinners, the list is non exhaustive. But it doesn’t always need a fancy expression. Sometimes, loving his wife means helping her¬†with her chores after a long day work. Sometimes, it means accompanying her little kids up and down the slides so she can sit at the playground bench.

It may sound simple, but every love expressed is every self denied. Sacrifice and self denying are unusual and counter intuitive. To the observers, it is an anomaly, for before long they begin to ask:

“Why is your husband very different? Men don’t usually come fetching their wives and kids at the playground straight after coming back from work.”
“Oh, there’s no one else at home so…”
“Well, they’ll love it all the more when there’s no one to bug them at home. They can sit all they want in front of the screen. It’s their me time.”

Or make remarks,

“Your husband is a rare find. I seldom see man so willingly do child care. Even if they do, most do it with face glued to their phones.”

“He helps you scrub the toilets? For real?”

Surely, all husbands will love to enjoy their down time and do away with the house chores. But there are those who choose to put down their pleasure and roll up their sleeves to love their wives and children. Not because their wives and children are always lovable, no no, we wives know this better than anyone else. It’s because they have themselves been loved by the great Love. In denying themselves they say, “we love because HE first loved us.”

As husbands emulate this Love, the world will but notice and wonder:

“What prompts him to do so?”

Husbands, love your wives. For your love will tell of the greatest Love story, in which a GOD once laid down His life to love the fallen mortals.

Mommy, Can You Hug Me?

hugme

Our eldest daughter loves to pose this request multiple times a day. Sweet as the request should sound, I hate to say that often in the midst of a hectic day, I find it borderline a nuisance, a constant distraction to my flow of work.

But let’s admit it, little children¬†is¬†distraction. We cannot effectively hug them, or talk to them, or tell them we love them while at the same time carrying on with whatever busyness we are in.

Hugging a little child requires us to get down on our knees and use both our arms.

It’s this constant distraction that acts as a reminder to what our principal duty as parents is. Lest we get too carried away in the busyness of providing for our children¬†yet¬†fail to respond timely to their need for our presence.

After all..
The messy house will soon be free of scattered toys and crayon marks.
The overtime and endless office works aren’t¬†likely to cease.
And the company we are building may not even be there to accompany our graying, lonely souls.

It’s just a matter of time, when their little bodies, little souls, are no longer so little, that we are needed to kneel down and hug them no longer.

“You know that the beginning is the most important part of any work, especially in the case of a young and tender thing; for that is the time at which the character is being formed and the desired impression is more readily taken.” – Plato’s Republic

Ah Po, I Have Come Home To See You

Apho with "Dua bui dom"

Ah Po with the then 5.5 month old “Dua bui dom”

We first heard about it from my mom, “Ah Po was admitted to the ICU,” she texted. My grandmother, of Dad’s side, had had a stroke that Sunday morning which resulted in blood clot in 70% of her right brain. With such brain condition, the doctor said, Ah Po might face respiratory failure anytime. Hence, we were to prepare for the worst.

I flew back for my hometown immediately upon receiving such urgent news, bringing Baby along. Hubby could not join us though, his teaching schedule didn’t allow him taking leave. My mind was filled with a storm of thoughts during the journey home. Amongst them are memories of childhood, but many¬†of the thoughts that came swirling were.. regrets. When one realizes that the time, of one’s self and of others one loves, is indeed very short, one can not help but feeling that one should have done better with it.

I should have called more often. Should have come home, visiting her, more often. Should have shown love more boldly. Should have brought her great-granddaughter back earlier, when Ah Po was still well, strong, and conscious.

I should have talked to her about Lord Jesus, much earlier, and often.. And this, is my greatest regret.

I saw her lying on the white bed with intrusive pipes all around her thin figure. Ah Po looked so much different in my memory of our last meeting. It hurt to see her in such a state.

She was drowsy and could only lift her eyes up occasionally for some short time.

“Ah Po, I have come home to see you. Do you recognize me? I am Ting Ting, and here is Kana your great-granddaughter, ” I carried Baby up leaning close to her side. She shook her head signaling her inability to recognize us, then she gazed deep and long into my eyes and muttered “Dua bui dom,” which means ‘fatso’ in Hainanese, a nickname she have been using to address me since my babyhood. I had to muster up all my strength to refrain from crying in front of her at that very moment. Ah Po then lifted her weak hand in what seemed to me require her putting up much effort, waved to ask Baby to get within her reach and pinched Baby’s thigh and cheek. It was very moving to see this gesture of elderly love towards the little one, even more so that we knew it was no easy pinch for Ah Po to do.

Occasionally she would mumble “Ah Po is fine and healthy. Don’t worry.” She was still the tough woman I always knew her to be. Having lost her husband to illness when her youngest son was not even one month old and having had to raise all eight children up by herself, life has shaped her into a strong and independent person. Often misunderstood as harsh and unapproachable by those who are not close to her. I myself used to dislike my Ah Po and favor my Ah Ma (my mom’s mom) over her for obvious reason. My Ah Po is just not the type that will spoil any brat, not even her grandchildren.

Looking at her now, I could tell that it would be the last chance I have to tell my Ah Po about Christ and His salvation. Despite the slim possibility that she would be able to hear me clearly, let alone understand me, I spoke close to her ears,

“Ah Po, would you put your faith in Jesus? He has promised to save those who believe in Him, cleanse their sins, and give them eternal life. So even though our body should pass away, we will one day be resurrected and live forever, and we shall meet again in the coming life in the house of God. Ah Po, would you believe in Him?”

I had to say that I was disappointed I couldn’t see any visible or confirmative response from Ah Po. She could only stare at me long with teary eyes. So I told her I would pray for her. Honestly I hate myself even now for not being daring enough to challenge her in a more direct way to accept Christ as her Lord and Savior.. =(

Ah Po has since been having less wakeful time. On the day before we flew back to Singapore we went to bid her farewell, it was unfortunate that Ah Po was unconscious. As I am writing now, her condition has gotten worse. Doctor’s advice is for her to stay in the ICU but Ah Po has requested to be allowed to return home. We are all well aware that the time is not much left¬†but how could we ever prepare ourselves for the departure of someone we love? I personally can’t, I do not want to, not when my Ah Po has yet been in Christ.. And so the regret stays.

Dear Readers, may I plead with you should you still have the chance, cherish the ones you love. While they are still healthy and well and around, tell them the good news their souls desperately need, tell them about Christ and His salvation. Spare yourself this bitter feeling of regret.

And may I have the privilege to request if you, dear Readers, would please join me to plead with the Lord for His mercy on my grandma’s poor soul. May the Lord grant me the assurance that I, one day, can see my Ah Po again in the Lord’s house and say to her,

“Ah Po, I have come home to see you again.”

Body and Soul

It is a most wonderful truth that the Lord God would delight in human body as much as in the soul. So much so that He took it on purpose to create human as spiritual and material being, and as if that weren’t enough, He gave His promise that when He returns in glory, not only our soul will enter the eternal blessedness but our very flesh too, reunited with our soul, be made perfect and glorious!
Praise the Lord for His unfathomable wisdom and love! (Think: literal heavenly culinary experience guaranteed for an eternity! :D)

On the flip side of the coin, back here at home, we are routinely absorbed in the care-taking of the bodies under the roof. Winning the bread, filling the tummies, clothing the naked. The needs of the body are many, urgent, and obvious.
Let us not forget that these bodies too, are one with their souls. And while the bodies thrive, well-fed and well-sheltered, let us also see to it that the souls are well nourished. For these souls need nothing less, if not more, of such care.
May God help us!

Special Days amid the Married Days

choc

In the dating period, birthdays, Valentine’s days, anniversaries, and many other special days are really¬†special.¬†Once married, they become.. Monday, Tuesday – or Wednesday, depending on which day they fall on the calendar.

They say the ‘promotion period is over’, if you know what I mean ;).

My husband turns 30 today. And it is Saturday.

Well it was supposed to be just like any other Saturdays before I thought maybe, probably, something could be done to turn it into a more special Saturday. To be honest, I had already convinced myself to just leave it and let it be a Saturday. There are soooo many valid excuses for a busy mom like me not to add anything extra into my plate which already is full to the brim. And any extra expenditure on unnecessary gift would not be wise to our finance (and because he is the bread-winner, the thought of spending the money he earned on some birthday gift for him is a bit strange to me). And anyway I told him about my thought of this matter, and he said that he was fine with it, there was no need for anything fancy. And the list of defense goes on. And, perhaps, it was the lazy me..

I thought about it for some time. Very likely it was the lazy me.

The plate is not as full as I thought, if I am willing to squeeze some things surely there is still ample space. It’s not like I am throwing a grand birthday party. And about buying gift for him using the resources from him, I shall wish that my kids would do the same for me in the future (it must be sweet to see them come to you and ask money from you to buy you a present!), and for many many times hopefully. Isn’t it the same principal with our offering back ourselves, resources and soul, to our Heavenly Father? All the resources we have is given by Him, none is self-achieved. We offer them back to Him as a token of gratitude, token of love.

So we gave it a go, Baby and I sneaked out from home when Daddy is out working. Daddy loves sweets so we bought him chocolate (they did the wrapping for us too! :)). It was simple, it was possible. I hid the gift in the fridge and intended to surprise him when he opened the fridge door first thing in the morning.

Did I succeed? I think so.. the night before his birthday¬†(of all days!), he suddenly wanted to tally our expenditure’s record with the bank’s account balance. I used NETS for the purchase and inevitably he found out about it. But he was sweet enough to let the surprise still be a surprise.

Lesson learned: secret makes good friends with cash. I will be sure to remember it for the next ones, many more special days to come apparently!

Happy birthday, Love. Indeed a happy wife I am.

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What are the special things you do for your loved ones for those special days?