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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Parenting - Before & After

Just the other day I was looking at a photo video I had created for our 4th Wedding Anniversary. Our older son Z was with me, and he was thrilled to see his Daddy and Mummy and all the other important people in their lives. He would point to a particular photo and I would take the time to explain to him where it was taken, and what Daddy and Mummy were doing there. We then came to the part in the video which featured Z in the hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, connected by tubes to the UV machine. The little boy looked sad as he pointed to the baby in the photos. "Z...", he said. "Sad, sad." But his eyes brightened again after he saw the happy faces of the numerous people who had come to visit, as well as the photo of the three of us smiling broadly as the video came to an end. 

Z at Day 5. Our hearts melted when we saw how much he
had to bear at the Neonatal ICU.
As we journey into the 7th year of our married life, I can only smile as I think about our time before the children came. Looking back at the images of our wedding, I would never have imagined then that life would be this way today. Back then, I was most concerned about the "gatecrashing ceremony" that most Chinese grooms have to endure before they can "win" their brides. I remember obsessing over the possible devious plots that Sue's friends could have devised, and the various obstacles that could have hindered me from finally obtaining my bride. 

The "Gatecrashing". My dear brothers were so sweet in helping me break
through the barricade of Sue's sisters.
Then there was the song that I had composed to sing for Sue during the church ceremony. I was worried on so many counts - perhaps I would sing off-key and spoil the surprise; perhaps I would forget the words and embarrass myself in front of the 1,000 or so guests; perhaps the song would come out wrongly and for some reason that Sue would not like it... 

"Let's walk together through this life, with your hand in my hand..."
And there were the wedding vows. I remembered that my bestest buddy Edwin was reciting it almost the whole night before his wedding. I knew I would probably have to do the same. But what if I forgot the vows or said the wrong words in front of the pastor and the rest of our family and friends? 

Of course in the end all my worrying came to naught. Sue's friends were not so devious in the end, and the "gatecrashing ceremony" was not as frightful as I had feared. My song came out rather well (in my opinion), and my dear wife was moved to tears. As for my wedding vows, I actually remembered them after all, reciting them perfectly. 

Life after the wedding was a delightful time for the two of us; we spent most of our couple time exploring the various eateries in Singapore. We took up a new hobby - scrapbooking, and spent many hours creating lasting memories in the lovely craft projects that we undertook together. Holidays. The travel bug in us never stopped crawling, and I believe we went on almost twenty different trips just within the first three years of our marriage alone! 
Attending scrapbooking class with renown designer Celine Navarre.
The magnificent Kegon Falls in Chuzenji, Japan.
Then our marriage went through a rough patch. The children we were waiting for never came; and we spent many months crying and hoping that our lives would be different. I will never forget those days; while we knew that our marriage was complete in that we had each other, however there was still a certain emptiness that we were hoping to fill through the pattering of little feet in the house.

In July 2010, a little boy fell into our arms, and our lives were never the same again. 

Two years later, in July 2012, another little boy found his way into our hearts, and joined the already boisterous family. Our new schedule revolved around the changing of diapers, the washing of milk bottles, and the managing of temper tantrums and sibling rivalries. We hardly watch movies, we have not had a chance to scrapbook (at least for the past few years), and we spend most of our meals eating at home. At least we still enjoy our holidays; although our children's suitcases are double the size of what we pack for ourselves. 

But we know we would not give up what we have now for anything else in the world. 

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