My Parenting Journey – A Reflection

I am a mother of 3 children (ages 10.5yrs, 9yrs and 9.5 months old) and a wife to my husband (Jason) of 14 years. It has been quite a journey since Jason and I got married in 2002. We did not have children immediately and upon reflection I think we made the right decision to do so. Joanne (our 1st born) only came in June 2005 and it was after about a year of trying for child that I finally got pregnant with her. We were so happy back then when she was born. Joshua (our 2nd born) came shortly after in January 2007. As they were very close in age gap, it was really tiring. Luckily for us, we had help from extended family from both sides.

Then, it was the big move to Melbourne, Australia in September 2007. Jason got a good work opportunity which allowed him to transfer within his organisation from Singapore to Melbourne. Joanne was 2 years old and Joshua was only about 8 months old. It was truly brave of us to do it now that I think about it.

I really do not know how we would have managed it without the help of my mum. I cannot thank her enough. It was a new place to us and I had to make adjustments.

Jason had a job so financially it was fine but like most working women I want to be doing something too. Not just for the extra income but also for some sanity. I managed to secure full time work within 3 months which I was so grateful for but it was tough with no domestic help here and my mum can only do so much looking after 2 young children. It was difficult and I did feel like giving up and returning to Singapore. I finally switched to part-time work which helped to ease the stress a bit.

However, Joanne also had a hard time adjusting to childcare here. She did not like the food at childcare and will often go hungry. She does not socialise easily. Jason and I often had quarrels about her not greeting elders (which is important in our family given the Asian mindset of respecting elders). Well, we later found out that she has Selective Mutism and High-functioning Autism. Yes, I have a special needs child. This explains her constant meltdowns, poor social skills and not willing to greet others. I was thinking I should have known better given my profession but like any mum I accepted my child for who she is and not think that she is suffering from a certain condition.

Well, we started the intervention program for Joanne, which includes speech therapy, social skills workgroup and psychologist sessions. Although, Joanne has issues with her social skills but she has good intellectual abilities. At 3 years of age, she had very good concentration span and could fix difficult puzzles beyond her age. The educators at childcare were often impressed by her puzzle skills and her ability to sit down for long periods of time working on something. We recognised her strengths but we needed to also help her cope with her condition. With intervention, her condition has improved. She is now happy to greet others, have lesser meltdowns and have more self-control. She is able to have conversations with others and is doing really well in school.

On the other hand, Joshua has always been a very jovial little boy adjusting well to the Aussie way of life. He loves his food at childcare (complete opposite of his sister) and is very sociable. Joshua made it a lot easier for me to deal with Joanne but having said that as they grew older, I had to tell him about Joanne’s condition. Well, I can tell you it does not make a difference. I am not sure if it is a ‘boy’ thing or simply he does not see anything wrong with the sister. He just knows how to push her buttons and then you will hear Joanne screaming. Some parents I know say it is normal but given Joanne’s condition, I really do not think so. Joshua has become Joanne’s trigger and this is still a work in progress with the psychologist and speech therapist. There are days where you think they have made improvements but sometimes not.

Then I have thoughts about having child number three but because of Joanne’s condition and Jason’s work commitments we keep putting off having a third child. I had to convince Jason many times that it will be good for the family to have a third child. Both my older children did not want a new brother or sister either so hence the huge age gap between Joshua and Joelle (my latest addition). Now both my children adore their baby sister and suddenly, Joelle is the favourite in the family. This has helped improved both of my older children’s arguments although now they fight about who gets to carry Joelle. However, on the whole I do feel there is much more harmony between the two of them. There is much more laughter in the family as they often tries to play and make baby Joelle laugh. It is times like these that I think Jason and I made a good choice to have a third child.

The future is unpredictable. As parents, there is no handbook to tell us what to do. We can only learn from our own experiences and gather information from other parents’ experiences. It is all trial and error and what works for others might not work for you. Both you and your spouse will need to make joint decisions on how you like to raise your children.

I am very happy to connect with mums living in Melbourne, Australia and overseas. I try to organise school holiday programs for my older children and baby activities for Joelle. I usually invite friends to join us. I can also setup online chat groups for people who like to ask me any questions. I am happy to connect in anyway.

Cheers from Down Under,

She has been in the early childhood sector for 16 years now. She worked as a preschool teacher, senior teacher, vice-principal and principal of preschool and childcare centres in Singapore. She has experience in lecturing and training early childhood educators in Singapore, China and Australia.

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