2020: In God, I Thank & Lament

God gave me a vision for the coming year in the first week of 2021. I couldn’t wait to write it down, lest I forget. I wrote a super long post on it, and hastily concluded towards the end as my time to write was up. My two children had loudly announced their return from the playground.

Before I had chance to revise the draft, I kept coming across people writing about their 2020 on my blog and social media feed. Alas, I have yet to review my 2020. Was it my subconscious attempt to move on fast? For my 2020 was quite a pain, yet it was also a time of jubilee.

Thankful, I shall praise the Lord.

If the pandemic must happen, it happened at a good time for us. The pandemic had been raging earlier but only made known in Singapore when we were done with our hospital stays.

Had it happened earlier when the doctor was trying to diagnose if my condition was tuberculosis (“TB”), I would be a high covid suspect, given the similarity in symptoms. And I would not get the utmost attention from my attending nurses and lung doctors because they would be too stretched out by covid. I had it last quarter of 2019. Thankful.

Had it happened earlier, my hubby wouldn’t be able to operate in the luxury of time and comfort, and we wouldn’t be able to visit him. He had it in January 2020. Thankful.

Had it happened earlier, I would have to be extra careful with my pregnancy, and the mask would add to my difficulties breathing as an expectant. Thankful.

Had it happened earlier, I would have to increase my risk of catching covid and go through the polyclinic’s stringent measures on a frequent basis. FYI, for my TB treatment, I had to go to the polyclinic daily for first two months and then alternate days for the next four months to take the TB medication. Super thankful.

My TB treatment ended a day before JBL was trying to pop out from me in February 2020. Super thankful.

JBL is healthy, even more so than EX, when she was born, albeit all the medications and X-rays I had to take during pregnancy. Super thankful.

My confinement was completed days before circuit breaker. Hence I could still get massage lady to come for my engorged boobs and saggy stomach. Super thankful.

Lament, I shall still praise the Lord.

But the pandemic took my husband away from the family. When people were getting bored at home because of the lockdown, I was getting overworked. People took every chance to head out and breath fresh air, I was too tired to take a step out of the house.

I had one more baby in the mix, but help disappeared. Husband was away at work almost 24/7, and our parents couldn’t come over to help. Worse, his dad fell ill and sometimes needed my hubby to bring him to the doctors. He already had so little time for us.

Just as my father in law got better, my mum had a medical problem that requires attention. So she couldn’t help me to babysit as much as before, and I on the other hand was worrying for her, hoping and praying her condition would not be as bad nor get worse.

My marriage was tested. My emotional, mental, and physical strength were tested. I was tested.

Tears washed my face everyday.

Anger seared my heart everyday.

I wanted to slap my whiny toddler’s cheeks with my bare hands.

I wanted to suffocate my crying baby’s face with the pillow.

I was so tired, yet I had trouble sleeping at bedtime, trouble sleeping back after waking to feed baby in the wee hours.

I knew something was wrong. I had spiralled into depression. I needed to do something before I put these thoughts into action. I knew my hubby like what he was doing in this new portfolio, but I blamed him for putting his ambitions over family at this time, at this time when his family needed him the most. My older girl was getting used to not seeing him already. My younger one hardly know him as a father. Something was wrong. I now had a greater appreciation on the work of Focus on the family, and Dads for life program.

“You need to change your portfolio. We need you back at home.” I said it outright. I have hinted before, and he had ignored it. He thought this work was the open door he had prayed earlier this year. That added to my upset bucket. Not only had he not empathised, he ignored my small cry for help.

Yet, I had been reluctant to request explicitly because I didn’t want to be a loser wife. A wife without strength. I wanted to be strong enough to front the home so that my husband can pursue his ambitions. But I could not.

Until this day, I still feel guilty that I had to ask him to give up. But I guess, at the right time, after this tumultous phase has passed, he can continue to pursue his ambitions. I have been telling myself, if that previous portfolio has been the right door from God, God would have spoken to me, and the timing would seem better, and things would fall more rightly into place.

I was still in denial about my depression. Was I reading too much into it? I supposed sadness and exasperation is normal for mothers with newborn. Perhaps, I was just trying to get attention by labelling myself as being depressed.

“I am okay”, I said to myself, but I find myself breaking down in tears so very often. My anger was almost tangibly explosive in me. When did my anger got so bad that my heart hurts?

My friend who’s a counsellor told me to take care of my mental health so that my children wouldn’t suffer. For their sake, I acknowledge that I was unwell and took action. I wanted to be a happy mum, for a happy mum makes happy children. I don’t want them to be hurt emotionally or mentally just because I want to act strong and not ask for help.

His Wondorous Ways in the Valley

In my lament, I thank God.

As our marriage was tested, my perspective shifted. I see this as a period where our young passionate love blossoms into a mature commitment love. Growth is painful though. I also learn to appreciate my husband more in his role and help in the family. I could feel his vacant spot when he’s off focusing on his work instead of family. He had carried more than I had thought. He had stepped up so I could work. Lastly and more importantly, I learn to depend more on God than man, my husband.

Also, my depression ironically gave me the push to start the WhatsApp group for mummies with young children. I had been procrastinating a long time. The push came because I wanted to connect to other Christian mothers who would understand my struggles, and I know there are other mothers in my same shoes. Although the group is currently not serving the purpose I had envisioned, I shall trust God to lead this group to however He wants it to be.

At least this group had connected me to some new mummy friends. And because of this group, I reached out to two Christian publications, to share my stories, which I would not have done.

I am a private person, yet I can share too much online. And because of that, I was burnt by past experiences of sharing too openly in the past — like Joseph in the bible. Moreover, the older I get, the less I want to share about my life online. That’s why I am having second thoughts about sharing my vision for 2021. Shall ponder abit more to see if it’s wise to share publicly.

I realise that to bless others much, one has to be transparent and authentic. And being that means risk of getting hurt. What we share, what we do can have an impactful ripple. Even the poor can leave behind a rich legacy and blessings for others to inherit.

This bible verse summarises what I think of 2020:

A man’s heart plans his way, 

But the Lord directs his steps.

Proverbs 16:9

Bye 2020, hello colourful 2021!

What’s your take on 2020?

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