5 August 2022, by Richard Liu

From Ah Boy To Man Of The House

“Ah boy, wake up!!!” is a morning rooster call many of us will be familiar with. Whether immortalised by local dramas, movies or our own mama or papa, it’s a dreaded intrusion of our blissful slumber every morning.

Yet it also means a kind of bliss in its own right – how there’s always someone to tend to us for even such a basic physiological routine as waking up for the day.

I was one of the fortunate ones. From morning wake-up calls and freshly prepped breakfast to pyjamas neatly folded pre-bedtime, my mum had always tended to my every need.

Well into adulthood.

In other words, I was a mummy’s boy. Protected and pampered as an only child, and not so much as having to lift a pinkie around the house.

Even after I got married, my life did not change that much, largely because my wife and I were staying with my folks, awaiting the completion of our apartment.

There were a few tentative steps out of my comfort zone. My wife insisted on a joint account for our couple expenses (no more “leeching” off others). And sharing a bed and shower with someone else just felt strange, when I used to have the whole ensuite master bedroom to myself.

The day I was well and truly, brutally kicked out of my comfort zone was when baby number one arrived.

Suddenly my life went from happy-go-lucky to sweating, fretting over a mini-me. Daily life became an endless cycle of poop showers, diapers, errands, and ever-growing panda eyes.

It was exhausting, physically and mentally. I had never been so tired in my own house before.

But never had I also felt more fulfilled. Here I was, responsible not only for myself (even this was not really true, being a mummy’s boy), but also for a vulnerable, tiny human being. Our child’s growth and development was largely down to my wife and her selfless feeding and nurturing. But I was glad to be able to play a supporting role.

Responsibility, self-control, discipline, contentment. These were all values taught in textbooks and by my parents, which held little meaning for me until now.

Hence, contrary to some perceptions, a mummy’s boy can be a good, or at least functional, father and husband. We just need to be dragged through the mud sometimes.

So that was my “graduation” from being a mummy’s boy, part one.

A former mummy’s boy tidying the play yard. Still one at heart though.

Part two came when we moved out to our own place. The perks of living on our own, such as greater freedom and space, also came with downsides – even more self-responsibilities, housework and a thinner wallet.

Things that I took for granted when living with mum and dad came home to roost. For example, saying hello to an empty toilet roll while taking a poop. Or realising we had run out of laundry detergent only after loading all the clothes into the washer.

“Hidden” expenses also did not help with the transition. Property tax and Service & Conservancy Charges were alien concepts to me until I had my own place.

No surprise then, that for a while, I did miss my mum and dad, and the good old days of being the precious prince of the house.

It took baby number two, our own precious prince, to knock me out of my useless nostalgia. You’re already a father of two, yet still feel sorry for yourself and pine after the days when your mum served you breakfast in bed? An inner voice admonished me.

Fast forward to today, and I have officially been the man of the house for four years. Two rascals, aged six and four, drive my wife and me mad with joy and anger, sometimes simultaneously.

Attending a family event earlier this year.

I’m still hopeless with certain stuff around the house, such as cooking, and I’m glad to have a more than capable missus by my side.

Being the sole caregivers to our kids, our hands are constantly full. But our hearts are fuller.

Personally, becoming a husband and father, with my own place, has given me a chance to discover an unknown side of myself. That a wimpy, overindulged man-child can also become a bona fide man of the house.

And yes, nowadays, it’s my turn with the intrusive “Ah boy, ah girl, wake up!!!” every morning.

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