Hello 2017: A new year begins

Fei Fei holding her Gymboree Fall 2016 certificateΒ 

I didn’t make new year resolutions. This is the first time in months (years?) I’ve sat down to reflect. I finally have a moment to myself because we started Fei Fei in full day preschool, five days a week. She started on Tuesday. It’s Thursday and I am forcing myself to sit with my own thoughts and express them.

Today Fei Fei had big tears and yelled over and over that she did not want to go to school. She wanted to go back home and 99 percent of me wanted to turn the stroller around and run out the door with her. But I stayed and listened and let her express her sadness, fear and anxiety. It broke me to see her in distress and I stayed beyond the school’s suggested 5 minute drop off time to the dismay of the school administrator. Her teachers coaxed her into the classroom and I slipped away with a knot in my throat as I pushed her empty stroller out the door. She turns 3 in April and I postponed full day school once already. We were going to start her in September but I got cold feet. I didn’t want to be without my only child all day.

I was supposed to have a newborn in September but I miscarried at 12 weeks in March 2016. Eric and I made a plan for Fei Fei to start school so I’d be free to tackle the demands of a new baby. We chose a neighborhood school that offers English and Mandarin instruction. It was a shorter walk than Gymboree Tribeca, where she’s taken classes since 14 months. We were ready but life didn’t go as I had planned. I’ve had time to process and mourn, but I still feel sadness about losing that baby. The pain creeps in during those moments when I’m not grounded in the now. It’s when I drift to what I thought life would be like or when I see a friend who has had their second child and I calculate how old my second child would be (4 months old today).

I should be grateful for this time to myself and I am. I am adjusting. It’s a luxury to have hours to do what I need to do and want to do without a demanding, curious, active toddler in tow or a newborn to care for 24-hours a day. When I chose to be a stay-at-home mom, I threw all my energy into motherhood. Now I have head space for more than the day-to-day care of my child, and at the moment, I am feeling bereft and a heaviness for the child who should be here. I usually don’t dwell on the miscarriage but with Fei Fei upset about going to school, I wonder, “why is she there and I am home alone?”

I know this will pass and it’s natural to grieve. Change is tumultuous and exciting and scary. I am so proud of my big growing girl and how she’s adjusting to her new school. And like I told her this morning, it’s ok to be scared and cry. It’s time for both of us to challenge ourselves and embrace our independence and be brave.

Hello 2017. I’m ready.

With love,
Mai

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11 thoughts on “Hello 2017: A new year begins

  1. Pingback: I miscarried a year ago. I’m ready to share my story | with love, mai

  2. This is very heartfelt. You were probably emotional as you wrote it. I am so sorry for your loss, it is beyond my comprehension. But yes whats that saying about the best laid plans…. It will get better, and in weakness we are strong. Change is never easy. Thank you for this post.

  3. I hope you had a nice weekend. How did Fei Fei do with the drop off yesterday? Today? I think the transition is harder on us than on the little ones because unlike us, at least for me, they openly, albeit frustratingly at times, express their discomfort and disapproval…almost as if they just get it out of their system. I remember the first year being utterly painful with my first son, Zachary. He was and still is quite sensitive, so the drop offs were traumatizing for me.

    I hear you, I understand what you are going through, and I wholeheartedly feel for you. It won’t be easy for a while so I hope that you are kind and patient with yourself. πŸ™‚

    Relocating a family IS a huge job; when we moved from NY to Geneva, it was overwhelming. Having learned from this experience, I am hoping that we will be better prepared. Thanks for sharing your experience; we too, think that we’d want to settle among the locals, rather than the expats…but I think the school will pretty much decide our habitat. Be well!

    • Hi Zoe, We didn’t have school on Monday in observance of MLK Jr. Day so after a three-day weekend, she resisted. She let out a cry and asked “Mommy will come back?”, which is something she learned from the PBS show Daniel Tiger and a book called “When I Miss You” by Cornelia Spelman. I promised that I’ll come back and let her teacher distract her as I slipped away. Today she didn’t cry and reassured herself that I would come back before she joined her class. This is the third week and I see progress!

      I’m certain your previous experience of international relocation will serve you well in your move to Singapore. I remember when a friend moved from NY to Germany and he commented that his cargo shipment was delayed. After 3 months, he and his wife didn’t feel an absence for whatever was in there. It’s a bit tougher with kids because certain household items make life easier but you’ve done this before and know how to make it work. All your essentials will be with you when you get off the plane.

      Take care, Mai

  4. Pingback: My movie date to La La Land | with love, mai

  5. Hi Mai,

    My name is Zoe and I found you while browsing the internet, looking for blogs posted by expats in Singapore. I’m a Korean-American/native New Yorker, now living in Europe, planning to move to Singapore at some point this year; your post on Bump was a delight to read. Anyway, I’m very sorry for your loss in 2016 and I hope that beauty, happiness, and more love finds you and your family in 2017.

    • Thank you Zoe for reading. I met some very welcoming, smart and funny women during my time in Singapore. I’m lucky to still be friends with them from afar. Singapore is an easy and interesting place to live. The heat can feel repressive at times and the haze from Indonesia in June/July will literally stink, but you are in a great hub for travel. Plus Singapore’s infrastructure, health care and cleanliness make it a world class place to live. I wish you well in your move and appreciate the well wishes. All best, Mai

      • The climate is going to pretty much suck for me since I prefer the cold but it will be an ideal place to raise our two boys (5 & 3 yrs old) so I’m willing, to literally and figuratively, sweat it out. 😊 Where did you and your family live in Singapore? I’m currently looking at different schools and neighborhoods; I wonder if it’s like Manhattan where I can walk everywhere…? We used to live on the UWS and the boys went to a school within a walking distance of 10 blocks, whereas here, I have to drive everywhere, which I find to be inconvenient. I understand that public transportation/taxis are clean and accessible in Singapore but I’m hoping that I can stay autonomous and its infrastructure is similar to NY. Thanks in advance for sharing your thoughts; I hope that Fei Fei has a great day at school! Warmly, Z

      • We lived on the East Coast right next to the Dakota MRT and bus station. We wanted a neighborhood that was popular with locals versus one that catered to expats. It worked out for us but I know some other Americans who preferred to live in the Orchard/Tanglin neighborhood, which is more central. Our temporary housing was in Orchard/Tanglin and I felt like it was living near Fifth Avenue since it’s a major shopping area. However, I did walk to more places since everything is relatively concentrated together.

        On the East, I often took taxis/buses if I stayed in the neighborhood or used the MRT for further distances. There’s shopping and restaurants in the East but it’s more spread out. On GoogleMaps, you’d think you can walk it but with the heat, a short distance can feel really long. It sounds like we both dislike humidity but if you don’t mind being sweaty upon arrival, then you can walk.

        We moved when our child was 9 months so I did not have to navigate schools. I don’t know what your residency status will be but if you are not a Singaporean citizen, it’s very difficult getting your child into a local school. With a robust expat community, there are choices in international schools (private) but tuitions will be significantly higher. If you want to maintain a lifestyle less reliant on public transportation, then definitely live near your school if you can.

        Best of luck to you! Relocating your family is a huge job, but I’m sure you will prioritize your needs. Also, when choosing your new home think about whether you are going to have live-in domestic help. We did not but some of my friends in Singapore do and they found it to be a positive experience.

        Fei Fei’s school drop offs are getting a little better. She didn’t cry 2 days in a row but then today she burst into a sad whimpering cry when she got out of the stroller. I hope she recovered quickly after I left.

        Transitions are tough but they make us stronger, right?

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