To the Mum Who's Missing Her Children Because of COVID-19

To the Mum Who's Missing Your Children because of COVID-19

Kuik Shiao-Yin's open letter to mums this Mother's Day

By Focus on the Family Singapore | 8 May 2020

As part of our annual Mother’s Day campaign, Take A Moment seeks to encourage mothers to embrace their strengths and weaknesses, instead of striving for perfection in her many facets of life. Read the stories of these everyday mums - their struggles and joys - offering encouragement and hope for whatever situation you're going through today.

Ms Kuik Shiao-Yin, Co-founder of the Thought Collective, former NMP, Mum of a 5-year-old

In February, what seemed like the end of a normal work day changed the moment I received a call.

“Hello, I’m from MOH contact tracing.”

The moment I heard that I immediately knew what it was about. As I packed, I listened to the contact tracer’s explanation that I had sat in a taxi where the driver is now diagnosed with COVID-19.

The contact tracer was kind but very clear: put on a mask, leave (the) office, avoid close contact with people as you head home - and once you reach there, get into your own room immediately. Avoid contact with your own family.

On my way home, there was so much to plan. There were work-related appointments to cancel but more importantly, I had to update my family and plan new living arrangements.

Given the layout of our flat, we decided the easiest way for my 5-year-old daughter to handle physical isolation from me was to have her and my husband just stay elsewhere.

We were transparent with her about what the situation was and framed the time away as a “fun Daddy-Daughter staycation”. They could make daily visits back and talk to me through the bedroom door.

We felt it was important that she learn to understand the reality of the health crisis but also experience how we could choose to deal with this situation without excessive fear or anxiety. She adapted better than we expected also because her preschool had done well in explaining to the children about the need for physical distancing.

I took my quarantine time as a good time to do self-reflection. I had read that the best way to manage isolation was to establish rituals that structured your day and helped you strengthen your sense of self-control and self-meaning. So instead of focusing on the desire to ‘get out’, I found it more therapeutic to use the time to ‘go in’.

Isolation can be a meaningful time to learn how to “be at home” not just in terms of the physical space but within ourselves, the “home” of our spiritual and emotional space.

As I journeyed through my isolation week, I found that the thing I missed most was the physical presence of my family. They called me everyday but it was definitely not the same through a video screen.

Our souls, our marriages and our households can still emerge from isolation and crisis richer come what may.

In a strange way, the quarantine showed me that while I can survive and even thrive being alone, I also really want my family by my side. The first thing I did when I got out of isolation was to kiss and hug them both. It was their physicality, their presence that I wanted more than all the other external luxuries that were denied during my quarantine.

Through the quarantine and even now in Circuit Breaker, I am grateful for my husband and the many small opportunities we still have to connect at home – watching Youtube, playing video games, doing home improvement projects or just giving each other space for down-time. It was only through this dynamic that we were able to bring our best selves to each other and couple-selves to our child to troubleshoot a crisis like this – and whatever crises the future brings. We are better together than apart.

This is a deeply uncertain season that no one has the answers for. The crisis is very real and so are the financial burdens and cares about our children’s futures.

I take heart in Corrie Ten Boom’s wisdom.

In her time, she faced a far more devastating time in isolation. Imprisoned in a concentration camp for helping Jews during World War II and not knowing the fate of her family, she had this profound insight into how to handle the future, “Worrying is carrying tomorrow's load with today's strength – carrying two days at once. It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worrying doesn't empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.”

May we not waste our days under isolation through unnecessary worry. Rather, let us use our time to learn how to be together with ourselves, our family and our friends. Without worry clouding up our hearts and minds, we can find new strength to empathise with ourselves, show loving patience to each other and bear new fruit in our lives.

Our souls, our marriages and our households can still emerge from isolation and crisis richer come what may.

Have empathy for ourselves and patience towards one another, and let this fruit show up beautifully in our marriages and how we parent the next generation.

© 2020 Focus on the Family Singapore. All rights reserved.


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