Why must I go to sleep when I’m not tired mummy?
Why must I greet people I don’t know when you tell me not to talk to strangers?
Why can’t I marry Daddy when I love him as much as you?’
As a mum, I don’t know how many “whys” you get asked in a day but I’ve lost count of them myself ever since Sophie started to speak at 3 years old. And at 4 years old, that’s when I got bombarded left, right and centre by all the why this, why that.
There are days when I get innocent questions that makes me chuckle and all fuzzy and warm inside, like why can’t I marry you or Daddy when I love both of you so much?
Then there are some days when her questions fumble me especially when it comes to the unjustice and pain that she sees in the world on the news like why must people die and leave this earth or why are some babies born to be blind?
As a parent, I’ve thrown all sorts of responses at her questions. From the right answers to the wrong answers and sometimes even absurd responses while I can still get away with them when she’s naive and innocent at 6 years.
While some of her questions call for a logical and scientific reply on how things in this world work, I’ve slowly come to recognise that there are why questions that calls for a heart response.
Why can’t I sleep with you in your room anymore?
Why do I get to spend so little time with you in a day?
Why can’t I stay up late to chit chat with you a little more mummy?
While the natural responses is to give answers like
“Because you’re a big girl now”
“Mummy, got to work just like Sophie got to study”
“You’ll get tired if you don’t sleep now”
they don’t quite address what her heart is longing for, which is
Attention. Affection. Love.
And how can I fault her for feeling that way. After all if I were to put myself in her shoes, I’ll feel disappointed to only see mummy for a few hours before bedtime. And I know I can be the worst person to be around if I’m feeling tired after work and will shoot replies like, later, give me 10 minutes when all I want to do is have dinner, shower and sleep instead of being a dutiful mother to revise her homework or catch up on her day.
But each time I turn down her invitation to play, to hear about her day at school or to see a drawing that she did, I’m sending her message that she doesn’t matter.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about revolving our lives solely around their little one’s lives to the point that they feel entitled and spoilt. But rather it’s being conscious that our responses frames their identity of who they are when we neglect their little hearts.
Being a Why Not Mum
So these days, I’m learning to tune into my daughter’s feelings and be a more spontaneous mum by responding
why not, when she asks me to take her to the playground after work
why not, when she requests to take her out during the school holidays
why not, when she asks to stay up for 5 minutes more just to hear about her day
why not, when she asks for movie night where we’ll curl up in front of the TV with chips and popcorn
why not, when she wants to tag along for my girl trip with my colleagues to Malacca last weekend
why not, when she wants to tag along my anniversary trip to Melbourne with hubby
And before you think well let’s throw schedule and routines out of the window and just give in to our kids in that case, I’d say halt. Schedules and routines are important to keep a child regulated so they know what’s expected of them.
Instead when we surprise our kids when we say why not when they don’t expect it, it makes it even more special and memorable. And that’s how I intend to keep building Sophie’s memory bank, with lots of spontaneous, crazy fun moments.
And for me, the greatest affirmation that I’m on the right track was when I received a hand scribbled love letter from Sophie on the last night on our girl trip to Malacca. I promised that I will not reveal the contents of her note to me, but it was filled with thankfulness for all the things we did together.
I was all teary after that and wrote her a note in return too. And she even made me wrote down about her note to me in my diary and remember that day as our very own special day between us…
So mums, for all the whys that our kids throw at us, why not turn the tables and be a why not mum to them 🙂