Sunday, November 25, 2012

Pat Daddy's back a few more times ok?

Here's my belated response to Winston Tay(The Blogfather of Singapore)'s post on What are Fathers Good for? He has another very powerful post on the increasingly unfair social perception of us fathers these days, which is what I had wanted to blog about for a long while now, but can't find the right words or approach to tackle this sensitive issue. I guess he has made it easy for me to write a response to his article and not rack my brains to write one on my own, so thank you Mr Blogfather!

Take nothing away from mothers. I am more than willing to shy away from the spotlight and let them have all the credit. Just take a look at cute little Noah, it was Li Li who went through the 9 long months of pregnancy (which involved an unbelievably torturous first trimester and an equally draining C-section at the end), and till now, almost 10 months of 24-hour care to get him to where he is now. In terms of direct contribution to Noah's well-being, I guess I can't hold a candle, but at the end of the day, I feel that there are more and more daddies (like me, hopefully), who are overturning previous stereotypes and doing our best to contribute to the family.

The non-stereotype Dad?

Personally, I have had numerous conversations with people marveling at the good job my wife has done taking care of Noah without any relatives to support her in Bangkok, which naturally leaves me brimming with pride. However, too many of these correspondences have included lines like, "What do you know? You only go out to work and go back home in the evening to play with the child while your wife has done all the hard work." or "You need to help your wife more, she is busy and completely occupied the moment Noah wakes up."

Erh, hello, do you think I don't know or do you think I am a "stereotype Dad", who washes his hands off anything associated with my son and has never changed a diaper or done a household chore in my life? I cry with my son when he has constipation ok?

To be honest, there are more than a few things that I am not good at, and here are a some of them:

  1. I always forget to turn off the lights after I use the toilet, no matter how frequently I remind myself and others to do so.
  2. I don't do a good chinese stirfry of green leafy vegetables, neither can I ever master the technique of preventing fine vermicelli from sticking to the bottom of the pan when I char bee hoon.
  3. I fall asleep too early and wake up too late.
  4. I procrastinate too much. A promise of a clean toilet tomorrow would probably end up dirty for the next week.
  5. My shirts stay relatively crumpled even after I iron them.
  6. I can clean up the house, but some corners and hard-to-reach areas will surely be left out accidentally.
  7. I get irritated when the music is turned on but I can hardly hear it, and even more disturbed when a good song is interrupted halfway.
  8. I come back home from work completely mentally fatigued a wee bit too often.

Fortunately, I redeem myself with a few positive traits:
  1. Aside of clipping nails and (due to my obvious physical constraints) breastfeeding, I do everything associated with Noah Yii. You name it, I do it.
  2. I cook relatively well. In addition to that, I love cooking, which results in me happily cooking for the adults at home 80% if the time, frequently 3 meals a day, regardless of whether I get to eat the meals myself or not.
  3. I am the Yii family's social butterfly. I plan and execute most of the family's social networking and family leisure activities.
  4. My favourite TV programmes are either travel, music, comedy, food or sports-related. There is absolutely no way to be healthier than that.
  5. I have a pretty decent singing voice, which means "London Bridge is Falling Down", "Mary had a Little Lamb" and "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" will be accurately taught to Noah, who will hopefully sing them properly in the future.
  6. I do all the "marketing" at home, aka buy groceries and everything else. I return home so many times with hands fully hung with heavy plastic bags that the aunties camping at my lobby now call me "Phor Baan" (Father House), whatever that means.

Last but definitely not least, I am a loving husband and dedicated father. They are the sole reason why I still push myself to work harder everyday.

I understand that no matter how much we do, we will never be able to replace the mother's importance in the family, neither are we eager to steal their limelight, but perhaps, just perhaps, we deserve a few more pats on our backs than most people think we do.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Noah has taught me what real perfection is all about

Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." (Matthew 19:14)

Having been a Christian since childhood, I have read/heard about the above bible verse numerous times, without actually understanding what it meant. I know that every child is a gift from God, carefully crafted by His amazing hands according to His own image, so every child has to be good right? 

Before becoming a father, I could not really grasp this concept. I did not have a younger sibling, so had no experience with babies. The children I knew were either around the same age as me or were my brother's friends (much older), and by the time I remembered anything, we were squabbling, fighting and talking bad about each other already (haha!), so it was impossible for me to believe that every child deserves to go to Heaven. In fact I could have secretly wished some of them went the other way instead *snigger*!

However, age and fatherhood has completely changed my perception of this verse. Perfection is, to me, no longer equivalent to getting full marks in exams or earning a certain gazillion dollars a month. It's more about the heart and soul of the person than how well he reacts to this superficial world where we are measured by invisible scales created by what we know as 'society'.

Noah sporting his flawless complexion

External perfection is temporary, but everyone, especially ladies (and more and more so, men like myself) are obsessed with looking young and beautiful for as long as possible. I only have to turn and look at Noah playing with his toy on the bed to understand the ultimate aim of the glut of costly cosmetic and skincare products/procedures in the market. 

Babies have flawless skin, shimmering bright eyes, fresh breath all day and look vibrant the moment they wake up in the morning. Most of us are actually trying our best to look like one all over again without even realizing it!

More importantly, babies are completely pure and blemish-free on the inside. They are born with nothing. They do not possess graduation certificates, careers, material belongings, fame nor fortune. They cry for food/when in distress, sleep when tired, laugh when happy, enjoys feeling loved and want absolutely nothing more. Maybe this is the definition of perfection, the kind of perfection that God would love to welcome into his dwelling up there, the kind of perfection that I can only understand after holding a tiny baby in my arms.

Happy and satisfied Noah

"Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." (1 Peter 5:8)

Indeed, this world is full of negative influences, especially with the rapid advancement of social media and ease of access to the internet. Our children are like blank white pieces of paper that will inevitably be written on incessantly throughout their lives. Sometimes, I feel that we are all born perfect, only to degrade at different rates (mentally and of course physically) until we finally die. 

As parents, we have been blessed with the privilege to make a positive impact to our children's lives, to steer them in the right path as they embark on their adventures, and to become their dock of support when they need rest. 

Our children's initial perfection will not last, but let's maximize this privilege we have and bring them up to become blessings and joy to everyone around them.

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