12 July 2018, by Siau Jiahui
“How do you learn to be a mother?”
One of the best answers that I’ve heard was that mums learn by modeling after their own mothers. How our mothers have taught us over the years did, to some extent, influence the way that we guide and look after our children. Then, we also learn from other mums who have amassed invaluable parenting experience over the years.
Since the birth of Little T, I’ve lost count of the number of mothers whom I’ve sought advice from. As a first-time parent, I realised that the number of parenting problems to deal with at various stages was simply overwhelming!
For example, I remembered snapping a picture of my cracked swollen nipple dotted with white spots during confinement and showing it to my BFF (who’s a mother of two).
There was also the extremely arduous period when I, the desperate mum, kept asking friends why my baby was wailing non-stop in the evenings and then finally, learnt new terms such as “colic” and “purple crying”.
I also checked out what other mothers first fed their babies during the weaning stage, and discovered the different permutations of purees that were good for Little T.
Certainly, “Google” did help in the motherhood journey but seriously, there was only so much that this search machine could provide.
Because I needed friends who could instantly advise me on what to do and share their anecdotes of failed and successful attempts, and most importantly, I realised that I really needed friends who could tell me, “I’ve been through that. You are not alone.”
Little T’s recent episode of viral fever really caught me off-guard and left me worn out and helpless. After feeding her Nurofen and Paracetamol for days according to the pediatrician’s advice, I assumed that her high fever has subsided and everything would be back to normal soon. However, her fever returned on the fourth day, and she had started to reject both water and food.
By then I was really mentally and physically exhausted due to worry and sleep deficiency. I flustered. On a Saturday morning, I logged on to the mummies’ Facebook group that I had joined after the birth of Little T, typed out my concern, waited for advice and fortunately, the kind mummies responded within two hours.
Meanwhile, I also Whatsapped my two sisters-in-law – Mr. T’s sister and my brother’s wife – who are both mothers of two. For the next few days, I relied heavily on them for advice because I wasn’t exactly in the right state to be functioning calmly and positively.
At that time, when bouts of self-reproach arose (because I thought that I had failed to give my child the right medication, hence causing the fever to return), my sis-in-law reassured me that it wasn’t my fault. She has learnt by experience, the symptoms of a viral fever, in her years of motherhood, and there I was, learning from her experience.
I’m extremely grateful to have a great mummy support network.
I vividly recalled a beautiful article written by a mother who admitted that once she became a mum, her regular network of friends changed. I share the same sentiments. I draw closer to women who are in the same stage of life as me; I seek their advice and learn something new from them each time they share their parenting experience. While they continually give me the support I need in this journey, I make sure to share my experience with new mothers too.
They say it takes a village to raise a child… I say, it takes massive support from other mummies to raise a child too!