23 November 2010, by Tan Yi Lin
Last Sunday’s MaybeBaby Hot Date @ The Movies was all about yummy things: cappuccino, waffles, spaghetti, popcorn, Coke, Edmund Chen…
(Ooops. Did I just say the last item out loud? *blush*)
Well, not everything mentioned above could be, ahem, eaten… only the popcorn and Coke set which came with every pair of movie passes. The rest was part of the talk by the afternoon’s speaker Ms Joanna Koh-Hoe, President, Focus on the Family Singapore. Titled “The Magic of Cappuccino…Making Your Marriage Work with Newborn”, Joanna’s talk touched on some of the questions I’m sure many aspiring parents and parents-to-be might be harbouring in their hearts:
– When is the perfect time to have a child?
– What to expect with a baby on the way?
– Am I ready for a baby?
– Why baby?
She offered tips on how husbands and wives can work together to keep the romance alive in a marriage when the baby comes along.
What I liked about Joanna’s talk was that it wasn’t the usual naggy stuff you hear all the time, like “Hurry up and get pregnant”, “You’re not getting any younger”, “Your eggs are dying by the thousands every month”, “Children are a wonderful parcels of love and joy”, “Children are worth every single sacrifice you have to make”, “A marriage is empty without children”, etc. etc. Yes, all the usual stuff that you’re so sick of hearing of already (but people insist on telling you anyway.)
I liked how she brought the focus of family planning back to the marriage. Most people, when making the decision when to start a family, think only of whether they are ready to have a baby. Me included. For women, it could be, “Am I ready to lose my figure?” For men, maybe “Am I ready to have my EPL time replaced with Barney videos?” Or it could be, “Can we afford to have a child?” Whatever. The question that couples should be asking first and foremost is, “Is our marriage ready for a baby?” Because most of the time, when a newborn comes along, it’s not the financial or physical figures, or our career or carefree lifestyles, that suffer most – it’s the marriage. Some couples may be adamant that children bring them closer. Well good for you. But closer only in your capacity as parents? Only because you now share a common factor called parenthood? Or has it really strengthened your bond and your dedication to your roles – and to each other – as husband and wife?
One question I’ve always asked myself is “Why do we even want a baby?” I attempted to answer this question in one of my very earlier blog entries. And I realise now, that in answering it, I was totally focused on myself – my life, my growth, my development as a mother. Joanna enlightened me: a baby is the product of husband-wife love. Innate in that sentence – even though it’s not expressly said – is marriage. True, some couples may have other products of their love – a gorgeous dream home, a successful family business, loving extended families, pets whom they love and love them back dearly. Some may argue that you don’t need products to prove their love. Yes, true too. I’m not saying a baby must be the sole reason for or the sole product of your union – it’s just one of them. What I’m saying is that some people get so focused on the baby that they forget about the very thing that produced it – the marriage. They forget that they married their spouse, not their baby.
Even at the early stages of parenthood, I can already see how people’s identities as husband and wife – or even as individuals – are being relegated to the storeroom when a baby comes along:
– When a baby is born, visitors make a beeline for the hospital and immediately ask, “Can we see the baby?” We had a friend who was so appreciative and grateful of the fact that when we visited her in hospital after she gave birth, Dannie walked right up to her, bypassed the basinet, gave her a hug and asked her how she was feeling. Even before saying “Congratulations on your new baby.” Such a simple gesture to say such an important message: that to us, she still came first – as our friend, as she has always been. And not as some new kid’s mum.
– Amongst friends, the first question is always “How are you?”, followed by “How are your kids?” And finally, “So how’s your husband/wife?” I’m guilty of that too. I know my friends’ kids’ life events better than I know how their husbands are doing at work, at home or even simply how they are keeping up with their favourite sport or hobby.
– Nobody, seriously, nobody posts pictures of their spouses on Facebook or on their blogs anymore once they have kids. Sure, there is that picture of spouse holding kid or kid strapped on spouse, but whatever happened to snapping and posting a random picture of your husband looking happy while enjoying a coffee? Or to commemorate his first day at a new job? Or simply because you thought he looked good in those spiffy sunnies? Or in his favourite shirt? And not because the kid looked soooo cuuuute chewing on your husband’s tie or pulling his sunglasses off his face?
So maybe this is a good time, as a reminder to myself, to dedicate this entry to Dan: thank you for being there. Not just as a source of sperm…. or as a partner in Project Baby to provide the necessary ingredient…. or as a source of co-funding for parenthood… or as my driver to chauffeur me to all my appointments at KKH… or even to provide the emotional support in this quest for parenthood. But simply as my partner in marriage to share all the fun and meaningful things in life with. I love you.
As Joanna poignantly highlighted in her talk, “The best gift you can give your child, is to love your spouse.”
Because believe it or not, children do not always come first. Sometimes, you have to put your spouses’ needs before your child’s. Just like how the marriage came first before the baby. Remember the part of some kid’s rhyme that goes, “First comes love. Then comes marriage. Then comes baby in a baby carriage”?
And on a closing note…
For the couples who attended the event and are visiting this blog for the first time after hearing about it last Sunday, welcome… and congratulations on landing on the correct webpage! You would have noticed the combined efforts of I Love Children, Edmund and myself in drumming the correct website address into everybody’s mind through the pre-event game – where we got four couples to repeat “maybebaby.sg” as many times as they could within 30 seconds. The phrase proved to be too much of a tongue-twister for some of the contestants and very soon, we were getting some very worrisome variations of the website address. For the records, I do not blog for a portal by the address of:
There was one guy who almost put himself (and the entire audience) into a trance by chanting “mebebebededegee mebebebededegee mebebebededegee”. I even thought I heard someone say “maybeourbaby’s a dog’s ass. Gee.” (Altogether now: OH DEAR)
Which is why I would be very glad if we had half of Sunday’s audience log on to www.maybebaby.sg without any problems! Hooray!