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Monday, February 17, 2014

Parenting in the Mundane (Daddy's Version)

The two of us enjoying a rare moment without the kids.

Valentines' Day has again come and gone. How did Sue and I spend the day? Well, we had a short window of time for ourselves in the late afternoon as the boys were at my mum's. So we headed to Holland Village to get some banking done, before getting a quick bite at a fastfood restaurant and buying a new iron and DVD player. We then spent dinner with my mum before heading home to send the boys to bed. The most "romantic" part of the day was then spent watching a historical Korean drama with our newly-installed DVD player, enjoyed with a glass of soothing iced ocha.

Indeed, as I posted in my Facebook update, there are more important celebrations to observe, such as our birthdays and of course our wedding anniversary. I then mused whether the mundane nature of the evening was a sign of being "old"; or perhaps it was just because we are comfortable just the way we are.

I recall the time when Valentines' Day was a difficult period for me - that especially when I was a single person and everyone around seemed to be enjoying a romantic time with their significant other. A single friend recently shared with me that he had been emotionally besieged by the numerous stalls selling flowers and other cute items all around his university. His story brought me back to my own difficult journey as a single. I was of course reminded of a particularly momentous Valentines' Day when I first asked a special girl to share a simple meal of fish and chips at the nearby coffee shop. The girl "happened" to be around the area and I was thrilled when she agreed to have dinner with me. That girl was of course none other than the love of my life, my dearest wife Sue. I still remember the nervousness with which I approached her, as well as the lovely journey we shared as I walked her home. 

Many Valentines' Days later, both of us met after my work, and we both declared that we were too tired to think about celebrating the day. The last couple of weeks have been very trying for us. It has been a period during which everything seemed to be going wrong. At work I have been very tired in getting used to the fast pace of life following the opening of a new school year. At home, the kids have been taking turns to fall sick; the 3-year-old has been refusing to follow instructions in homeschool; the 1-year-old has been asserting himself and throwing more tantrums than ever before. And in the midst of it all, the housework continues to pile up. Life seemed to be spiralling out of control.

In the midst of it all, I happened to read an article entitled Love in the Mundane. The author, Nathan McCloskey, shared a key aspect of what he had been learning:

"I’m learning to celebrate our marriage in the mundane. I’m learning to just lean in, and take it as it comes, and show my wife in the routine that she is still my priority."

Taking the boys to the park, one of their favourite activities.

Nathan sums up what Sue and I have been talking about over the last couple of weeks, even as our little worlds seemed to be on a collision course. During our Marriage Preparation Course we had learnt that we should prioritise our spouses over our children; otherwise both our love tanks would be empty, and we would then not have the capacity to continue functioning effectively. It was with this in mind that I made the decision a few days ago, that no matter how tired I am, that I should try my best to help Sue as she takes care of the kids and does the housework. I resolved to love her in the small things; so that she would feel loved in a big way. Extending this principle to my children, I resolved to love my kids in the smallest way possible - such as by spending more time doing the things they enjoy - in order for them to feel love in the biggest possible manner. 


My boys love roughhousing and all forms of
physical interaction; something this Daddy is
still learning to engage them in.

I will always remember the lessons I learnt from the 17th Century cook Brother Lawrence. In the book The Practice of the Presence of God, it was written that Brother Lawrence found joy in all circumstances, even in the most mundane of tasks such as cleaning the pots and pans in the kitchen.

“We ought not to be weary of doing little things for the love of God, who regards not the greatness of the work, but the love with which it is performed.” 

For the true measure of a parent's love is in the little things done for the child; in the day-to-day mundane moments of life.

The Mummy's version of Parenting in the Mundane can be found here.

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