About the post:
This post is written as part of a blog train celebrating parenthood. It is part of a blog train started by Deborah of Owl’s Well on how “Mothers make it work”. She has invited a handful of Daddies to share their views on how Daddies help Mummies make it work. Here’s my story:
Unlike Robert’s Frost’s famous poem, ‘The road not taken’, we didn’t choose the road less travelled. It was thrust upon us. But like his poem, yes, it had made all the difference.
Our journey to parenthood is not what a typical married couple would experience. In fact, it is anything but. For this post, it’s hard to talk about how I support my wife in her roles as a wife and mother without talking about how we each play our part in the marriage. Marriage and family to me, coexist.
Rain, shine or funerals:
The pivotal part of my marriage didn’t start from out courting days…nor did it start from the wedding day, taking the wedding vows etc…The smiles, wishes and Yum Seng (wedding toasts) didn’t even come close. Don’t get me wrong, those were good times but as fond memories fade, marriage is real.
David, the choice is yours but if you continue (treatments), it may potentially threaten Angie’s life…”
Photo circa 2007, where Angie was warded for 3 months trying to save our twins…both of whom didn’t make it out of hospital alive. We celebrated her birthday, my birthday and Mothers’ Day there in this tiny room…
These words from our OB-GYN doctor (a highly respected one in his field) pierced through the cloud of conflicting emotions which engulfed me. Like how a Christmas tree of yore would draw a lost traveller to a warmly-lit cabin away from the howling winds of winter, his words struck home the stark reality that had been staring at my face: My wife or my child.
That was the pivotal point for me – seeing my wife lying on the hospital bed as the team of doctors raced against the clock to save her life from septicemia after losing our very last twin.
Seeing my wife willingly go through multiple rounds of IVFs opened my eyes to the extent of love she has for our marriage and me. The invasive treatments and subsequent heart-breaking child-losses were taking their toll not just physically but psychologically, emotionally and financially. When we had to bury our babies, we tried so hard to see God’s purpose in the whole scheme of things. It seemed that our road to parenthood is a road to perdition, without us knowing why we had been picked to walk this journey.
“It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings.”
Proverbs 25:2, NIV
Fast forward 9 years later, we were blessed with 2 lovely children. And thus began our journey of parenting.
However, parenthood is by no means as ‘rosy’ as government propaganda sets it out to be. Parenting comes with its own set of ‘pains’ – from logistical challenges to financial commitments, from philosophical differences to societal expectations. In fact, my wife and I differ on many aspects of parenting but the lessons which we gleaned from our early years of marriage had enlightened me to some important principles which I now live by:
1. Cleave: We have but one another…and God. She is as much a part of me as I am hers. My wife is a full-time working mother. As her husband, I try to remember how I can support her emotionally, physically and spiritually in her roles both at work and at home. I pray for her and with her. I affirm her when she feels insecure or inadequate….I listen to her offload her struggles about politics at work without trivializing them….I try to keep her perspectives and priorities consciously in mind. I am mindful that marriage is not about how she fits into my life or how she must submit to me; it’s about how she and I can fit into ‘us’.
“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united (cleave) to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”
Ephesians 5:31, NIV
2. Cars and Chores: I try to make good use of every opportunity where we can be alone together…to talk, even if it’s just a verbal commentary of the kids’ schedules for the upcoming week. I would specially take a longer route to fetch her back from work first before picking the kids so that we can have uninterrupted ‘private’ time together. Sometimes we go out for car rides after the kids have gone to bed…usually leveraging on the need to run that urgent errand or replenish a grocery item that’s running low. No matter how tired we are or how brief the drive, those car rides are when we can chat in private, without our inquisitive kids listening in.
3. Chill: No matter how many car trips we take, there are times we need time alone for self-care. I recognize that as much as she loves being around the kids, she needs time-off for herself, to be with her colleagues and friends from other social circles. So when she takes time to go for dinners with her colleagues or Jay Chou concert with her Mommy Blogger friends or attend baking/floral arrangement/watercolor calligraphy lessons, I don’t ask questions (vice-versa). Besides, I see these opportunities as time alone for me to have some ‘Daddy time’ with the kids.
4. Chill some more: Do we argue? Do we quarrel? Of course we do! Ours is not a marriage without flaws and imperfection. Unlike math equation, two negatives don’t make a positive! But two imperfect people can still strive towards a good life together…Often it’s after chilling-out and trying to see each other’s perspectives by talking…or rather after a period of NOT talking! For me, it’s tough but I do try to be the first one to offer the reconciliatory ‘sorry’ – trust me, it gets better with age.
5. Creator: It doesn’t matter which religion one has, having one is important. For me, I believe that worldly values are only as stable as the shifting winds but religion offers a solid spiritual reference, which forms an irreplaceable compass where we can grow strong roots and values in our kids and in marriage.
Our Christian faith and relationship with God has brought us through the darkest storms and barren deserts in our lives. As a husband, father and head of the household, I try very hard to maintain a sound spiritual discipline and presence at home. It’s tough but thank God I have a wife who is understanding, loving and long-suffering. I can never thank God enough for her sacrifices for the family.
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”
1 Peter 4:8, NIV
We recently celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary in Copenhagen, Denmark. It was the last leg of our DIY Iceland trip and we were due to fly home to Singapore the next morning.
That night, lined up along the walls of our room were our luggage, neatly packed to the brim with laundry from our trip. Packed by the wife no less…who fell asleep soon after from sheer exhaustion. Not too far from her are the kids, peacefully asleep too.
Earlier on, we had a simple dinner at the hotel’s lounge where we quietly toasted one another and gave a silent prayer of thanks to God for 18 years of marriage before quickly reverting our focus back to our kids…one of who was going to stuff an entire pickle into his mouth while the other was going to let it happen…bemused.
This was how we celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary – we’ve always travelled with our kids near or far. By God’s grace, we look forward to taking many more anniversary trips to come.
We are not perfect parents and certainly not the model of a perfect marriage especially since we are 2 imperfect people who are quite the opposite of each other. But the fact stands that we have chosen each other and we have chosen to start a family. One thing we can’t choose though, is that we only have this one life to live, as husband and wife. And for that, we owe it to one another and to our kids to make our marriage work and to live a life as perfectly dedicated as possible.
Godafoss, Iceland. 2017
Our Wedding Verse:
“Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”
Eccleciastes 4:13 NIV
Related Posts: We share other bits and pieces of our road less travelled here:
1. Mothers make it work: http://www.lifestinymiracles.com/2017/05/mothers-make-it-work/
2. Offering help and support when a child dies: http://www.lifestinymiracles.com/2017/04/child-bereavement-help-and-support/
3. Supporting bereaved parents in Singapore: http://www.lifestinymiracles.com/2015/07/supportingbereavedparentsinsingapore/
4. Adoption in SG: The joys and challenges of child adoption: http://www.lifestinymiracles.com/2015/06/the-joys-and-challenges-of-child-adoption-in-singapore/
5. Adoption: Where God seemed silent: http://www.lifestinymiracles.com/2016/06/god-and-adoption/
Next up in the blog train:
Last week’s blog train post was contributed by Angie from GrowingHearts123. An educator at heart and by profession, Angie blogs on her home education activities and is passionate about the visual arts. For this blog train, Angie gives a special insight from both husband and wife’s honest views on: How she grew in slowly becoming a support to hubs! She also shares how she handles the kids when she was a Stay At Home Mum and now as a working mum.
Next week, we will hear from Yann, a mother to two little men who, unfortunately, believe strongly that sleep is for the weak. Therefore, she sleeps too little (for her liking) and drinks too much teh-si. She suffers from Acute Mother Guiltilitis and is also addicted to writing and photography. She blogs at bubsicles.com (on all things parenting) and Yannisms.com (on all things, well, Yann).