They say it takes a village to raise a child. That phrase has never rung truer for me.
My mother passed away on Feb 16, 2016, after a lengthy cancer battle. It was three-and-a-half weeks to my wedding. A lover of all things baby, I know she would have loved to care for mine. She knew it too, but she was also aware she had run out of time. “Aiyo I don’t think I can make it for hers! I think I’ll just play with yours,” she told my pregnant best friend then when she visited her at the hospital (she didn’t make it for hers either).
It has been a struggle. Taking care of a squalling little human is incredibly frightening, frustrating and draining. It’s also a very isolating process, especially when you’re alone at home, facing this confusing little blob and desperately trying to troubleshoot her distress and her poor naps. My only solace came from frantically googling, frantically texting friends who are parents and frantically crying tears of my own. There have been moments where I would be holding onto baby R, rocking her to sleep, as tears streamed down my face.
I miss my mum every day. This deep loneliness is exacerbated by her gaping absence. Not having anyone to ask for advice, not knowing what she went through when she was having my brother and I, pains me all the time.
Now I don’t have a helper or a daytime nanny, and I don’t intend on hiring one. Most of our relatives are either working, elderly, or don’t have experience with newborns, so we’re pretty much alone day-to-day.
But it is in this period of deep despair that I have also experienced the greatest and kindest gestures from others. People who come by to feed and play with the baby for just a few hours, or to be my lunch company. Or who asked their mums to help take care of the bub for a while, so I can catch a breather. Or who pop by to demonstrate how to use a carrier for an infant so that I can finally step out of the house. Or ask me out for tea. Or send me things that would help make the caring process easier and cut the meltdowns (hers, and conversely, mine). Many check in on me often to see if I’m okay. Others encourage me with moral support, telling me I’m doing fine and to not be afraid.
All these gestures are precious.
There are setbacks. All. The. Time. Juggling so many roles and trying to do some freelance work at the same time is hard hard hard. I know I fall short. But even as I try not to sink into these feelings of worthlessness, confusion and guilt, I’m constantly reminding myself that I’m surrounded by people who have my back and who love me. It does take a village to take care of a chid, but more importantly it takes a village to hold up the mum.
This is a post with no solution or conclusion. But all I know is everyone’s trying their best to help me. Now all I need to do is to help (and love) myself.