Coping with motherhood

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Today Shobana, Julia Gabriel Centre’s Head of Enrichment Programmes writes about being a mother in the modern day – and how the values of Julia Gabriel Centres and her children have helped her in this journey.

The truth is, nothing truly prepares you for the journey that awaits when one becomes a parent. Today, we are dealing with children who have evolved. Our children are able to do so much more, accomplish feats, capable of thinking in so many ways – a lot more than what children used to be able to do 10 or even 20 years back. Children today are a lot faster in action and thoughts! It’s only going to get harder keeping up with them – that’s a for sure.

The societal pressure is a whole lot more these days too, parenting standards and expectations have risen – no thanks to unrealistic portrayals of motherhood messing with our sense of self. What am I doing wrong? Mothers are expected to be fully prepared, equipped in every way possible to anticipate challenges and situations that the modern world has to offer. We get criticized for the choices we make in our life for our children, down to the messy living room at home. It can be downright stressful dealing with the challenges of being a mother today.

In the midst of all these, I consider myself tremendously fortunate being thrusted into my current circumstances. Working at Julia Gabriel and having children studying at Julia Gabriel have – unknowingly for me – eased that burden. Believing in the values we stand for in early childhood education has helped me more than I could have hoped for in coping with the struggles and frustrations of motherhood.

Here are some values from Julia Gabriel that I’ve been holding on strongly to and I believe could be helpful to you in coping with motherhood:

1. We believe in individuality

We believe when a child is given the right environment and education – he or she can discover and master the skills and deliver at his or her best. Being an educator requires us to identify and bring out the best in each of our children – focusing on their individual strength and ability.

Likewise, at home, I have come to realize that both of my children are very much two different individuals who have very different strengths. As a mother, it is important for me to recognise and to help them discover their unique voices, to support them so it helps me focus on their strength and work on areas they may be struggling with. In a way, this also helps me with managing my own expectations – both as a parent, and of my children. I have come to understand my children better, because I have learned to believe in their capabilities.

2. We believe in expressing our thoughts confidently

My children have been blessed to be part of the Julia Gabriel family right from infancy. They have experienced the full range of Julia Gabriel Centre’s programmes even Chiltern House Preschool, and are now in Julia Gabriel Centre’s Speech and Drama, and Readers and Writers programmes. Ever since young, their teachers have consistently strived to cultivate confidence in them to express how they feel. And that helps me as a mother. I need not worry about what could be running in their minds because it has become natural for them to be very open with me. From frustrations to new ideas and wants, my children have gained the aptitude to communicate their feelings and thoughts confidently.

So as parents, learn to empower your children to communicate their thoughts. Respect their voices. Never discount their feelings because a person’s a person, no matter how small. Most of all, share your feelings with them, just as how you would like to encourage them to open their channel of communication with you.

3. We believe in critical thinking

Through drama, a main component in Julia Gabriel’s EduDrama philosophy, my children were exposed to an established fact that there will always be problems, obstacles in our way – what we would need to do is to collaborate and find ways to solve a problem. They often found themselves in a variety of circumstances that they have become comfortable with adapting to change.

Each time we are faced with a challenge or a situation at home, the immediate thought that comes to everyone’s mind is to suggest what we should do. We approach the problem, and we task ourselves to resolve it through proper discussion and weighing every pros and cons, before a decision is made – and the problem is solved. I don’t wish for my children to grow up thinking that there is only one right path in life. I want them to know that there are many right paths out there, it’s for them to discover and to make it their own.  

I’m neither a perfect mother, nor are my children perfect. We have a long way to go, but what I’ve realized is as we continue this journey of life and parenting, we learn along the way. I’ve learned so much from my children and I believe they are learning from me as well. Being open to learning through our children, I would say, is an important fact that parents of today need to accept and know. My children have taught me that anything is possible. They have taught me that we can look at situations and still be calm and positive and not give in to our first instincts to react negatively.

Just as how I am thankful for the work I do in Julia Gabriel, I’m equally thankful I have my two ‘little Shobys’ that consistently support me as a mother – they check on how I’m doing every day, how my classes were, they make me laugh with their stories and they let me know every now and then on how much they love me. These, to me, are what keeps me going.

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About the writer: Shobana Chandran

Shobana or more fondly known as Shoby, believes that learning is a lifelong experience and one that should be undertaken in an active collaboration between the parents, teachers and the child.

Shoby is currently Julia Gabriel Centre’s Head of Enrichment Programmes, and in over the decade that she has been with the children’s learning institution, she has been paramount in shaping the early childhood education landscape through her dramatically different ways. Along the way, she has also helped many parents make the most out of their early years journey by helping them understand their child’s learning development. She is reachable at shoby@juliagabriel.com.my or visit www.juliagabriel.com.my

This post is sponsored by Julia Gabriel Centres.

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