When She Laughs

I wasn’t in the mood to bring Emma out in the evening. I was still feeling sad as my husband had to leave for work this morning. Even though, I have accepted this is how our lifestyle will be for awhile, I still miss having him by my side every day. It’s hard not having someone who can support my decisions as a new mother in a home and society, who believes what they did for their children was the best parenting and nurturing method.

As usual, I was faced with a doutbful expression from my mother when I told her Emma will take a bath after dinner at the mall. Her belief is that Emma’s evening baths after 6 pm are no good for her because it is “cold” for her fragile body. The traditional Eastern health and medicine practice believes that taking showers late at night will cause “wind” to seep into the body, resulting in our bodies getting weak and cold in normal environments. No matter how many times I explain to my mother Emma will be fine, she doesn’t seem to listen. I have my reasons, but nobody listens. In fact, nobody in my household seems to have good listening skills. Coupled with egoistic personalities where we think we are always right, it creates a warzone sometimes.

Firstly, the warm bath is a bedtime routine I have worked hard to establish for Emma. Secondly, the bath is relaxing and calming for her, and she is starting to like her bath sessions. Third, Emma is not taking a bath so late at 10 pm at night. Lastly, my baby girl falls asleep on her own (with her pacifier, of course) when I lay her in the crib after the bath.

I am still learning to ignore people’s seemingly concerning advices and comments. It is difficult as I am constantly being judged as a new mother. Yes, I am inexperienced. But that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be given the opportunity to try new things; new methods that I believe will work for my family. It’s hard to resist retorting rudely when the disdainful words get hurled at me. I can only become silent and show an unhappy face. That usually shuts people up. I am tired of explaining myself. I am not about to give in to something I don’t believe in. I don’t have to follow the Asian way of doing things just because I am Asian, and living in Asia. I will mix my own concoction of traditonal ways, modern ways and experiences from other people. Don’t tell me I should do something when I never asked for it.

I digress. So my poor Emma, deprived of a good-quality afternoon nap, is unwittingly forced to follow the family outing. My Emma, is getting more curious about the world every day. So much to see, so much to do. She was awake for three hours … more than what a 3-month old can handle. When we got back to the car, she crashed to sleep.

Amidst the constant frustration I feel with not being able to be in control of my own life and hers, I was greeted with a wonderful surprise yesterday while soothing her to sleep in a busy, noisy mall. Emma had kept her gaze on me for a long time. It was as though she gave up looking at anything else, and the only way to shut it out of her system was to look at me. At first, she gave me coos. Then, as I walked on, I had started to give her a little rhythm and bounce in my walks. That’s where that magic moment happened. She laughed out loud. Three times. Feeling so amused by the little play I had set up for her.

It’s amazing what your child’s laughter can do. In an instant, my frustration, sadness and worries disappeared, and all I wanted to do was relive that moment. It is a moment of truth, when she looks me in the eye; when she laughs to her heart’s content, that I know she loves me very much.

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