Diapers … Sleepless nights … Pre-school … Holidays … Tuition … Do all these terms strike terror into your heart? Nothing seems to prepare you for Fatherhood, but one useful tool we can tap on is the Heybaby Facebook page, which shares useful parenting tips and give lots of real stories about parenting journeys of other daddies. These stories and advice certainly add to making parenting an enjoyable journey.
My first foray into Parenthood started in 2005, when my wife and I both screamed our way into the delivery room. We were both bright-eyed and innocent, not knowing what to expect, as we embarked on our journey into parenting.
When we left the hospital with our first bundle of joy, we knew that there was no turning back and the responsibility of parenthood became real for the both of us. All parents want to give the best to their children and when we tackled the problem of doctors and diapers, we were surprised at how the prices were against us.
Life is all about choices and from the delivery room to the supermarket, one is presented with an array of pricing decisions. From the gynaecologist to the brand of diapers you choose, you need to manage your expectations.
Like most Singaporeans, I can’t afford to keep up with the “Jones”. I would love to say that I can afford the latest car and bring my kids to Disneyland or Europe for their holidays. Reality dictates that we can only afford an occasional family holiday with many trips across the causeway. As parents, my wife and I have decided long ago, that although we cannot afford the luxuries, we can certainly serve our kids, the best organic love possible. Good old fashioned love, time and attention!
This same principle applies to toys, washing detergents, books, and of course Pre-School. While there are always Rolls Royce category of options around, our kids can grow up strong and healthy and survive the stresses of life with just Toyotas and even a spinning top. Yes! Instead of the latest toys and gadgets that one can afford, we decided to give our kids our dedicated time. Instead of feeling guilty for not being there, we strived to be there for every recital and for every parent-teacher meeting.
We learnt to tell bedtime stories and just play with bubble wrap. Parenting does not have to be overly expensive when you realize that the best toys that one can give your kids is a skipping rope or just old school badminton in the driveway.
The best decisions that I have made involved being home early, spending time with the kids and bringing them for a run. Just being there to witness their first crawl, first words, first time eating a durian or their first time ordering food at the hawker centre has been rewarding. Although the durian experience can be expensive, most of the important milestones in life have been inexpensive heart warming experiences that last in my memories forever . Sometimes they happen so fast, that one can just miss them in a split second.
My journey has become even more enriching when I have had the luxury of enjoying the ride together with my wife. Traditionally, we count on the mummies to be the main caregiver, the planner, the chauffeur, the nurse, the everything. However, families become complete when our two parenting approaches become one and fathers play a more active role too.
Husbands and wives are built differently and our strengths and weaknesses become more apparent in Parenting. You see, mothers always look flustered with every knee scrape, while dads do not even take a second look. As I have mentioned … we are both built differently.
I remember the first time the kids learnt to ride a bike. Mum was shouting “be careful”, while dad was urging the kids to “keep pedalling”. Like always, the words may be different, but the heart behind every message is the same. Although parenting can have opposing views, but spending the time to communicate and to work out the differences has made our marriage stronger. Partnering together with my wife, has definitely made the journey even more enjoyable.
Life has not been perfect as a parent. We have had our ups and down and the children have taught us many important lessons of life. They taught me that the best things in life don’t have to be expensive. That cheeky smile, holding your child’s hand and the joy of learning something new … We may not have everything that the world offers, but we have much more. A lifetime of memories and tons of family jokes and secrets that we’ve built up over the years.
One of the best ways to learn is through other parents’ stories and advice. Through the Heybaby Facebook page, we get to read about their parenting adventures with kids of varying ages, and it also provides lots of quick tips to guide us along this journey. Go check it out and be a part of this parenting community!