Tuesday, 22 June 2021

Agree To Disagree

Conflicts are something I try to avoid at all costs. Not because I'm scared or because I have no backbone, but simply because it doesn't benefit anyone. I know better than anyone that I am a fighter, my temper matches the raging fires and my competitiveness and survival skills are top-notch. I know that if I chose to fight it out, I would do everything to win even if it means tearing the other party down to nothing, I would. That's the kind of person I am. 

The older I get, the more I realised it's not always wise. Sometimes, it's just better to say what you need and leave it at that. There's no need for battles, for debates, for the back and forth because sometimes, you don't need someone else to change your mind and you don't need to change someone elses' mind. Sometimes you just want to let people know where you stand and that should be enough. 

I used to think it was my job to convince people my stand was right, my choices were right, my beliefs were right - but that was too stressful on me. It felt like I had to have people agree with me for me to feel validated. That I made the right choice. That was the spiral I went through and it always ended up with me feeling super dejected because I wasn't like everyone else. Most of the time, I felt like it was just me against the world. It wasn't until I started saying, "let's agree to disagree" that I started feeling happier. 

It's when I learnt that I don't always need people to agree with my life choices that I felt happier. I apply that to almost every aspect of my life. There are things that hubbycat and I don't agree on, but it's okay. He's him and I'm me. As long as it's not fundamentally wrong or criminal - having differences makes life more interesting. 

So what if no one agrees with you. Do you agree with you? Is it working out for you? Is it giving you inner peace? Is it something that enriches you? Are you happy? If all the answers are yes, then so what if no one agrees with you. You do it and own it. That's what I did and it has been working out for me. There's no use getting into long debates just to prove yourself - let the results speak for themselves. And at the end of the day, if your life is fulfilled, happy, peaceful and rich, you have made the right decision even if no one agrees. 

Stop fighting every battle. Stop getting into heated debates. Stop feeling invalidated when someone doesn't agree. Just agree to disagree and walk away. Trust me, it's powerful to walk away from a conflict knowing that you'll never give the other party that satisfaction of bringing you down. Also, learn how to have mature conflicts. Sometimes, it's okay to listen and try to understand where the other person is coming from as well. There's nothing wrong with admitting you don't understand and would like an explanation. It's mature and it will help you grow into a better person. 

-Ally

Friday, 23 April 2021

Expectations vs. Reality - Children

 Tiny humans. 

6 years I've had them tiny humans. That's (quick mental calculation 365 x 6) 2190 days of having them around. From zero days old to 6 years and a bit. Here's what I learnt about them. 

This is my Expectations vs. Reality about them tiny humans aka children. 

***

Expectations: Babies sleep a lot. 

Reality: HELL NO. HAHAHAHA. WHAT THE HECK IS SLEEP?! 

Well, maybe a tiny few but for the most part, babies & toddlers are insufferable when it comes to bedtime. They get cranky, throw a fuss, whine because they are tired but still refuses to sleep. And when they get to toddler / young child age... it's the "Mommy, I need the toilet, a glass of water, to arrange my toys, change my shirt" before they get to bed. I haven't even talked about the light sleepers, the ones that wake up every 3 hours just to check you're still around. 

So yes... I sleep better than the tiny humans. 

***

Expectations: They're so fragile.

Reality: They're pretty resilient for tiny things. 

I learned that babies are able to float themselves if they ever fell into water. They come with built-in sponges in their foreheads so they really will survive that tiny fall off the bed. They can withstand pain if you allow them to, my son has only cried after a vaccination twice, and then it was smooth sailing after we don't make a big fuss about it. My son has eaten his own poo and survived it. 

So don't feel guilty about that tiny bump, scrape, poo-eating accident - THEY WILL SURVIVE. If anything.. I may be the one that needs rescuing.  

***

Expectations: They don't know anything.

Reality: They are smarter than we give them credit for. 

Yes, they need to be taught. But treat them as stupid and you'll get stupid kids. I learned quickly with my daughter, that there is so much she can teach me too. So much wisdom in that tiny mind and body. They're so pure and raw, unadulterated from society's expectations of them - what you lose from life, they bring back. So many times, my kids leave me speechless at how they see things, the world, and people. I see bringing up my kids as a symbiotic relationship, we learn from each other. 

If you think you're the smartest and these tiny humans are hollow shells - you will miss out on the lessons these tiny humans bring to the table. 

***

Expectations: All children are the same.

Reality: Tiny humans are their own person. 

I noticed my son is different from my daughter. Same parenting, different results. It is more damaging to them when I assume they're the same and it's frustrating for everyone. For me because I get annoyed why one gets it while another doesn't, for them because they just don't get it. Also, they have different likes, and forcing something they dislike on them is just unnecessary. 

You are not your brother/sister/friend. Don't expect the same for your tiny humans. 

***

Expectations: Tiny humans are easy.

Reality: WHAT IS EASY? GIVING BIRTH IS PROBABLY THE ONLY THING THAT IS "EASY". 

There is nothing easy about tiny humans. It's an endless problem solving, strategy tweaking, learn as you go process. 6 years and I barely know anything. Every day I learn something, every day I'm changing methods because what works yesterday may not work today. There's no easy when it comes to tiny humans. None. Nada. Zilch. Whoever says it's easy is not hands-on enough. 

But I will say this, it's rewarding. Tiny humans are rewarding. Tiny humans have so much love. Tiny humans have so much forgiveness. Tiny humans have so much understanding. Sometimes I feel like I don't deserve my tiny humans. But they remind me they need me too. They remind me I am enough. They remind me of grace and hope. 

***

What are some of your expectations vs. reality moments when it comes to your tiny humans? 



Monday, 5 April 2021

Dear Twenty-Something Year Old

 Dear TWENTY-X 

Welcome to adult life. Life for me started at twenty-one. I can still vividly remember turning twenty-one and having the world open up. The first is independence, as an adult, you can do anything and everything, which includes breaking the rules. BUT, as an adult, you also face every consequences and responsibility from those decisions you make. Scary? Perhaps. But if you have a strong head on those shoulders, you will be okay. And if you don't, perhaps, hopefully, this post will help you. 

I made a mistake in my twenties. I thought I needed to figure out everything. I thought I had to achieve "milestones" to make it as an adult. But here's a secret no one wants to tell you, regardless of what age, you will always still be figuring it out. No one, no matter how confident or put together, has everything in their life figured out. So let go of the pressure of being the great big good adult and just... learn. Use every opportunity to learn to improve yourself and enjoy yourself in the process. Some of the most valuable lessons I learnt, I learnt while having fun without the pressure of "being perfect". 

Go on adventures. Life is just starting out - explore, travel, do something that scares you, do something that inspires you, eat... live. There are so many opportunities to make money. Money shouldn't be the only thing that drives you. Living should. And life is only as rich as the experiences you experience. If you tell yourself... I'll do it when I become rich, when I get married, when I have kids.... you'll only every only make excuses for not living. The worst is being 75 and regretting not having any experiences. Just go. Make a plan, budget it and do it. 

Mess up the timeline. Timelines are guides. Timelines are not law. There's too much pressure to live by the timeline, here's what I'm going to tell you, the timelines don't guarantee happiness. The timelines are not blueprints to the best life. The timelines may not even work for you. It didn't for me. I'm the epitome of messed up timelines but hey, I'm in a stage in my life where I'm glad I created my own timeline. Create your own timeline. If being married before the 5Cs is what brings you peace, do it. I did. Yes, it's hard, but the time I have with my husband, the extra time together, building our marriage, life and career together - I'd never trade those for the correct timeline. If having kids before your career is what brings you peace - do that. As long as you create a timeline that is yours, no one can say it's wrong because it's right for you.

Discover yourself. What are your dreams and goals? What are your desires? What do you want to achieve? Who do you see yourself in 5 years, 10 years, 20 years and how can you help yourself get that you? See a therapist if you have to because let's face it, there are things in our life that can do with a little help of unburdening that baggage.

Go have fun. Go drinking, partying, dancing and socialising. I'm not going to tell you to not waste your life away because what is life without a little fun. Some of my funniest moments in life is when I'm out with friends and just having fun. Some of my life-changing moments are when I'm out there having fun and doing things that others deemed to be "wasting time". But if it's moments like those that make your life richer... who can really say it's a "waste of time"?

Lastly, don't waste time on things that drain and rob you. That includes people. I wasted a lot of my twenties trying to fix something that was broken beyond repair. I do regret the time wasted. But lesson learnt and now I can tell others in hopes that they don't make the same mistakes I do. Don't waste time, effort, emotions, and resources on people and things that don't bring you joy. Things and people that don't help you be a better person are better off out of your life. Trust me.

And there you go dear twenty-x. May your journey into your twenties be one that is fruitful, enriching and lively. Because you deserve the best!

-Ally

Thursday, 11 February 2021

Never Let Others Tell You What You Cannot Do

 


Every year when my Birthday comes around, I wished my next Birthday would come faster. Not because I wanted the celebrations or the presents, but because I wanted to grow up faster. I wanted to be an adult. I wanted to do things without having to ask permission or to justify that I was ready. I believed that being an adult would mean people would stop telling me "you're too young" even though I knew I was ready.

As an adult, I still find myself justifying myself every time people find out how young I am. It's frustrating and very disappointing especially when people rather go with someone older even though your ideas are fresher and have a higher chance of success. But that's life and I've come to terms with it. It's also why I decided I will just prove myself with results of my own instead. 

It's also why I parent my children differently. I refuse to let "age" be a reason they are allowed to do something. It's also why I don't have a "age ruler" at home. I only have one criteria - they must feel ready. 

This picture is everything I'm proud of - LittleLim made her own dinner. She was required to peel potatoes in class and the teacher had asked us to boil the potatoes beforehand so that the children can peel the skins off with their fingers. The reason being they thought six years old was too young to handle a peeler. I asked LittleLim what she wanted - to use the peeler or not. We told her the peeler is dangerous and she could scrape her skin if she wasn't careful. LittleLim said she wanted the peeler, so we let her use the peeler. She was the only one in her class who used the peeler and did it all on her own. 

I don't care what books say or other people say about being "too young" because we're all different. Just because other six year olds can't, doesn't mean mine is the same. Just because people your age are not able to do something doesn't mean you can't. If you feel you can, then go for it. Don't let other people tell you what you cannot do. You know you best and if you feel ready, then prove it to yourself that you can. 

Young people are not lesser. I'm proof that marrying young, having children young, starting a business young is possible. My kid is proof that you can be a good gamer, chef, artist at a young age. Age is really just a number. What can you do today that others have told you you can't? If you think you can, go for it.

-Ally

Thursday, 31 December 2020

A Look Back At 2020

So I'm backdating this post to 31/12/2020 because it's now 11/1/2021 and I'm JUST writing this. Life has been so busy but I'm thankful. It made the last 3 months of self-imposed home isolation pass in a blink of an eye. For that, I'll forever be grateful because I would not have been able to survive another slow 3 months at home. 

2020 has been crazy. Let's be honest with each other here. It's been terrible but it's also been good. I'm certainly one of those people who fall in the "I'm so glad for 2020" because if there was no 2020, there wouldn't be a wake-up call for people like me. 

So let's start with good news okay. 

1. I picked up many new things. New skills. New friends. New ideas. 

All in the midst of a lockdown. All in the midst of no physical interactions. Because while the physical may not be encouraged, the virtual is an open world. I learnt new methods to implement in my businesses. I picked up new investing knowledge. I learnt how to play an online game, met some pretty cool people and also got LittleLim to learn with me. I learnt to adapt and be flexible. I learnt to be a more present parent and be more involved with the kids education. I learnt new tips to improve my art. I learnt how to start a business. 

2. I restarted my art business. And grew it. 

StickgirlProductions was a dream I had when I was 21. Who would have guessed 10 years later, I would bring it back from the dead. This time, I even made my own line of merchandises. Months spent planning and then spending on samples to find the right vendors. It's been an amazing journey and I'm so happy it has helped me connect and reconnect with my contacts. 

3. We lived in comfort. 

I was telling Hubbycat what a luxury it is to be able to stay 3/4 of the year at home without missing the outside world much. It means we have sufficient space and activities at home. Which is true because the kids find new things to do every day and have not run out of toys yet. 

4. We got closer. 

This is the first time since we were all stuck together. The last time was the first year of LittleLim's life. That was 4 years ago. Since then we've always been busy with life - work, socials, responsibilities. We are hardly ever home. The kids have also gotten used to playing in the office or be on the go. This year, we were all stuck at home. I thought it would drive me mad, but it's been a blessing. We have gotten closer. The kids are better siblings to each other. 

5. New and Better ideas. 

We had grand plans for 2020. I remember feeling so proud of all the things we were set to do. And then COVID hit and everything was put on hold. I felt so rejected and frustrated. Today, I realised it was a blessing in disguise. We grew stronger and replanned everything. Back to the drawing board. What turned up, plan 2.0 is better. Newer and better. 

6. Streamlining. 

Life is too short for negativity, bad vibes, toxic people and bad habits. If anything was necessary for 2020, it's learning how short life is and appreciating the good and discarding the bad. This year I was selfish. I'm not even going to try to hide it. I was selfish, I choose my family and I. I chose to focus on us. I thought about us first. Because I was just so tired of thinking about everyone else and everything else. I was tired of giving and giving without getting anything in return. I was sick and tired of being taken for granted and drained like mad. I did things that were painful but I'm glad I did. 2020 was a year where I put back into myself. And I'm reaping the rewards now. 

***

For the bad news.

1. LittleLim got diagnosed with severe myopia and amblyopia. 

This was the most heartbreaking thing for me in 2020. More so than having my plans kicked back. Because I didn't suspect anything. What was supposed to be a routine check ended up needing months of therapy and treatments. While it was heartbreaking, it also showed me what a strong baby girl I have. Not once was there a complaint from her. I never had to force her to do her treatments or go for theraphy. She took it all on her own. She never cries whenever she had to do all the drops, dilation tests, machine tests, eye checks. Never. Maybe once or twice she would feel annoyed especially after a long day, but she will still do the necessary. 

And recently our last doctor check-up has shown that her amblyopia has improvements and her short-sightedness (myopia) have actually decreased. So proud of her and for taking charge of her life at just 5 years old. The maturity of this kid. I was also telling my friend whose child has recently recovered from a life-threatening sickness as well: Kids are so resilient. They know what to do to recover and will do whatever it takes for it. 

2. Saying Good-Bye.

Death is always final. I lost a few friends this year. My heart still breaks whenever I think about them and the friendships lost. I don't have any fancy words to explain death. It's the circle of life. I cherish the memories and thankful for the blessing of knowing them. And hopefully, one day, we'll see each other soon. 

3. Emotional Health

I had a slide in the beginning of lockdown. And there were days where I just felt unreasonably angry and irritated. Anger being my number one friend, it always reminded me it was there. But for the most part, I'm in a much better place now. But the first month was crazy - I was a mess. Big mess.

***

Now the lessons. 

1. Be adaptable. Be flexible. 

You are not a tree. You're allowed to move. Get on with the times. If you stay stuck you die. Keep reading. Keep learning. Keep growing. Keep improving. 

If anything 2020 has taught us, we need to change our ways of doing things. So many businesses failed. But at the same time, so many shifted to virtual and thrived. You are responsible. 2020 may suck, but how you react... that's all on you.

2. Life stops when YOU stop.

The one month of lockdown where I was not doing anything was the most miserable I've ever felt. I felt like I was wasting away. Until I decided to do something. Life doesn't stop at death. Life stops when you stop. When you stop trying. When you stop doing things.

***

And there's 2020 round up. 2021, whatever you have installed, I pray you're filled with laughs, good memories and fresh beginnings too. 

Happy 2021 Everyone!

-Ally

Wednesday, 21 October 2020

9 Years

 


One year. Nine years.

Never gets easier. Never really completely healed. Never really goodbye. 

Mom, 
Life moves on.
But one day of every year, times feels like it hasn't. 
Time always brings me back to that day.
When you were taken.

I don't have any regrets about the past. 
I don't have "I would have done things differently" moments.
I know you knew how much I loved you.
I know you knew how much I struggled.
I know you knew how much I felt.
I know you know me best.
I know you know I do life with no regrets.

I don't wish to redo the past. 
But there are many times where I wished for a different future. 
A future where you are still here.
A future of many 1 more hour with you.
A future where you are just a phone call away.
A future where you get to see your grandchildren. 
A future where your grandchildren know how amazing their grandma is.

But I know that's not happening.
I know and it's okay.
It's okay because I carry you with me always.
Your voice guides me. 

"Look at the stars. The great kings of the past look down on us from those stars. So whenever you feel alone, just remember that those kings will always be there to guide you. And so will I."
- Lion King

Love you mom.
Thank you mom.
Remembering you always.

-Ally

Sunday, 18 October 2020

"Mommy, YOU'RE SO UNFAIR!"

LittleLim, 

Today you faced a problem. Today you asked for help, but I didn't offer it to you. Today, you got angry and upset because I didn't help you even though you have been taught that "if you don't know, ask for help!". Today you threw a temper tantrum, cried, stomped around and demanded that I help you but I didn't. I walked away. You followed. Then you decided to tone it down. You pleaded, well mannered and kind - I almost gave in, but I didn't. I told you to "figure it out" and you got angry. Today you decided to give up. 

LittleLim, 

Today you faced the same problem again. Today you asked for help again, but I didn't offer it to you. Like the last time, you threw the same temper tantrum. "Mommy, why won't you help me?!!!" I told you that you have to figure it out yourself. I dropped a hint on how to help you solve the problem and you got angry with my answer and stomped away. "You're so unfair!!!" you shouted. Today you decided to give up again.

LittleLim,

Today, you faced the same problem. I expected you to come running to me again. But you didn't. Instead you sat there with your problem. I expected you to get frustrated and angry, I expected you to stomp away but you didn't. I observed you bracing myself for a meltdown, but it never came. It was like a lightbulb moment, I saw your brain gears kick in, I saw you registering what I said before and I saw you attempt to help yourself. You couldn't. You came to me for help. I asked you how do I help? And you told me YOUR solution. I noticed it was different from what I hinted previously. We worked on it together according to your plan. We solved it. Or YOU solved it. I just enabled you. 

***

I asked you - how do you feel? 

You looked at me proudly and said "I feel happy. I did it myself!" and that's what I wanted. I want you to remember this sense of accomplishment and pride of doing it yourself. You see, I wasn't mean or unfair or unreasonable when I asked you to figure it out yourself. I would always be there to help you. But there are days where I want you to depend on yourself, on your abilities and to figure things out on your own because there will be days where mommy won't know the answers or days where mommy won't be around to help. I want you to know that you have the ability to fix things yourself, that your brain is a powerful tool and to never give up whenever you face a roadblock. God only knows, how life is littered with those pesky roadblocks and if you gave up at every turn, you'll miss out so much on the beauty of life and the treasures waiting. 

Most importantly, I want you to realise that you are always learning. Just like mommy. Today I learnt that there are other ways to tackle the same problem and you showed me that. We should always be finding ways to do things better, to change it up, to create different ways to solve the same problem and that my dear, is how we improve. That's how new ideas come about, how we innovate, create and build. Now, whenever you're faced with the same problem again, instead of screaming and getting upset, you're now able to solve it yourself. That problem will not be a problem again for you. That's the other thing about life, if you don't learn from your problems, it will always be there following you, haunting you and you'll always find yourself face to face with it. So learn baby, learn. 

And some days, you will feel like I'm being unfair. I'm being unreasonable. I'm being unhelpful. But always remember this, I will still be there watching over you. I'm unfair because I want you to grow. I'm unfair because I want you to be empowered. I'm unfair because I want you to think and be independent. I'm unfair because I never want you to give up. I'm unfair because when life happens, I want you to remember you solved things on your own, and one more problem will not stop you from being great. 

Love, Mommy.

-Ally

Monday, 14 September 2020

Celebrating Wins is Part Of Celebrating Life

 


Cheers!

I think somedays we don't celebrate enough. I think somedays we get too caught up in life we forget to appreciate the joy of winning. I think sometimes we look down on the small wins because we are too distracted to appreciate it in its entirety. I think somedays we feel bad for celebrating a win when the rest of the world, people, friends or family aren't. I think sometimes we just keep quiet about our wins in fear of sounding proud, arrogant or condescending. And some days, we just completely overlook the wins that happen in front of us out of denial. 

Well, I refuse. Again, call me a rebel. Call me a rule breaker. Call me an outlier. Call me a freak. Call me whatever you want to make yourself look and feel good, but I refuse to let my wins go down without any notice. I refuse to let my children's wins go unnoticed. I refuse to live a life of losses and placing wrong importances on the wrong things. 

So even when the world is quiet and bleak, I still celebrate. When the world is out for a pity party, I throw my own celebratory party. When the world wants to make me feel sad and depressed, I choose to celebrate the small wins that happen. When the world wants to smother me with the feeling of guilt, I choose to ignore that and have a heart of thankfulness. 

In our family we celebrate wins. We celebrate good grades, days that go well, good health, good sleep, a sale, a good friend, family and everything in between. In our family, we never overlook wins. We see the effort and hard work put in to win. We see winning as a blessing and favour from above and we give Him the glory for each win. We choose to celebrate wins because the world has enough sadness and darkness and I refuse to let that be all my children remembers. We choose to celebrate wins, even the little ones, because each win makes life just as much as losses do. We choose to celebrate wins because the world will hold your failures and losses over your head, so why can't the wins be just as important?

And in our family, we celebrate life. And winning is just as much as part of life and deserves to be seen, heard, appreciated, treasured and celebrated. 

-Ally

Thursday, 20 August 2020

Inspired, not pressured.

 

Turned 32 in great company. There comes a quiet that comes with birthdays for me. A reflection of all the blessings and wonderful people and things that came into my life, a flashback of memories that made me who I am today both good and bad, and an affirmation that I can be better but it doesn't mean I'm flawed... just can be better. 

I can be so much better and I know it's okay to admit that because I'm not arrogant enough to say I have everything, know everything or is everything. I know there are areas where I need work on, dreams I have that are not yet accomplished and ambitions that are just starting off. I know the work I need to do and I know the healing I still have to accomplish. I'm far from being done.

But that isn't to say I am flawed. Nope. I am not flawed. I am not damaged. I've learnt to never let these things steal my value. I know my value. I know my worth. I know my strengths just as I know my weaknesses. My strengths make me good at what I do. My accomplishments are mine and no one can take them from me. My good qualities are good and strong. My foundation is not built on who I am not, but who I am and I am confident, loved, talented and persistent. 

I have learnt to lean on facts and not what others think is facts. The fact is that at 32, I have accomplished a lot. The fact is at 32, I have a very blessed and privileged life. The fact is at 32, I've found acceptance and self-love for myself, my worth, my time and my value. The fact is at 32, I have found love and a home. The fact is at 32, I can be so much worst off but I am not. The fact is, no one will ever be me, but me. 

I will never call myself a mentor. I will never say my life is perfect. I will never say everyone needs to be me to be perfect. I will also never say that I am the standard because I am not. I am only MY standard. I am only MY version of success. I am only MY version of a perfect life. What I can do is inspire, just like how I have found my inspiration in other people. Growing up, I've never had a mentor and I never really looked at someone and said: "I want their life". I don't want someone else's life, I want my own life. I may be inspired and aspire to have certain characteristics, admire the right choices others have made, learnt their lessons from their failures and gain wisdom from their experiences - but never once did I allow myself to be pressured to be someone else. 

Today, I don't want you to be me. I don't wish for you to be me either. Because you cannot be me. You will never be me. Our circumstances are different, our walks are different, our personalities and characteristics are different - there's only one me, and there's only one you. Watch me, take my strengths, my wisdom, my rights but don't be me. Be better than me. Be your version of me. Take my mistakes, flaws and negatives and do better. Be better. That's what I always tell my children. I tell LittleLim and LittleJLim to never aspire to be me or their daddy. Be their own version of us. Find yourselves and most importantly, be someone you can love. Love yourself first. 

You can't love yourself if you always chase to be someone else. 

-Ally

Thursday, 6 August 2020

"Mommy, I can't see" - Lazy Eye (Amblyopia) & Severe Myopia


Not a post I wanted to write because I struggled to come to terms with what was happening. It's been a month that I've been hush hush about LittleLim's condition. I didn't feel ready to share it publicly and I just shared it with a handful of really close friends. I didn't tell family too because I wasn't ready to deal with the questions, regardless of how meaningful the intent was yet. When I first found out, it took me a week before I told close friends because I just didn't want to accept it. But here we are, one month in. LittleLim has been a trooper and I've had time to deal with my feelings. 

"Mrs. Lim, LittleLim is squinting a lot in class." 

LittleLim's class teacher told me this last year and I thought nothing of it. Why? Because LittleLim never complained about having poor vision, she never squinted in our presence and I just chalked it down to "bad habits". It wasn't until this year while having lunch with my aunt who is also a nurse. My aunt told me LittleLim's eye looked a little abnormal and she suspected it could be a "squint" or "crossed eye". She told me to make an appointment with an Ophthalmologist the soonest possible. And then MCO was implemented and I forgot all about it.

It wasn't until months later when LittleLim told me "Mommy, I can't see" that I remembered. I tested her right away - close one eye, how many fingers do you see? "Mommy, I can't see." Moves closer, how many fingers now? "Mommy, I can't see." Moves even closer, how many fingers now? She squints. Two. I was very near to her now and alarm bells rang in my head. This is NOT normal. I called the International Specialist Eye Center (ISEC) Mid Valley to schedule an appointment. My whole family has been going to ISEC for all our eye problems and it was a no brainer to bring LittleLim there because they had all my family medical history on hand. LittleLim was scheduled to see Dr Choong who was a specialist in pediatric eyecare.

The Eye Check 

I scheduled for my appointment the same day so that LittleLim could do all the preliminary checks with me as well and she could see what I did and wouldn't feel so afraid. That was the best decision ever as it helped with her nerves. Then it was my turn to get my eyes checked with the machine and Dr.Fang was so nice to let LittleLim sit in on the examination so she could see what usually happens during an eye check. 

Soon it was LittleLim's turn with Dr.Choong. Dr.Choong was very gentle and very warm towards LittleLim. She instantly felt comfortable in his presence and the nurses were all very smiley and respectful. Dr.Choong talked her through most of the examinations he was doing so that she knew what was happening and would not be afraid. A few eye checks and tests and we were given the diagnosis. It was not a squint. "I am surprised she is still walking and not bumping into things!" Dr.Choong exclaimed. At -675 / -350 she was diagnosed with Amblyopia (lazy eye) and severy Myopia (short-sightedness). 

Amblyopia & Severe Myopia

Hereditary. She was born with it and because we did not catch it early, it deteriorated over time which explains the severity. Screen time does not cause this much increment in power at her age. 

This is why children should go for yearly eye checks once they turn three. Even earlier if you notice any abnormalities. For LittleLim, it wasn't very obvious. There were moments growing up that suggested a squint but it was so mild that sometimes it felt like I was imagining it. On top of that she never once complained she couldn't see until that very first time she said: "Mommy, I can't see". 

Amblyopia (Lazy Eye) is different from Strabismus (Crossed eye). Basically, the difference is : lazy eye affects eyesight and crossed eye is the misalignment of the eyes. Which means lazy eye always comes with sight problems. LittleLim's case is considered severe because myopia at -1000 is dangerous as her risk for other eye problems increases tremendously. Because I have a family history of glaucoma as well, her risk is even higher now and she has to be monitored closely for that as well. 

Treatment

Unfortunately, there is no cure for Myopia. LittleLim will have this for her whole life or until she is old enough to get laser treatment for her myopia. Thankfully medicine and technology have come a long way. LittleLim has been put on Atropine eye drops every night to help reduce the rate of deterioration. She also has to wear glasses to correct her vision. We paid David, our regular optometrist (MOG) at Curve a visit to get her glasses. We told David to give her the best and the best he did give. After much research and discussion, we ended up getting LittleLim the Zeiss Myokids lenses - with active control, blue light and uv protection to help control her myopia.

Lazy eye, on the other hand, can be corrected especially with early detection. LittleLim has to do eye training using eye patches for 2 hours everyday. Placing an eye patch over the good eye and doing near-sighted activities like colouring, joining dots, stacking legos etc. so that her weak eye is forced to work harder and communicate with the brain. We managed to get some really fun eye patches from Shoppee and LittleLim loves it because she gets to match her outfits to her patches. I learnt that it is NOT easy at all. The first time she wore it she struggled with something as simple as colouring within the lines which she usually has no problems with when using both eyes. She also struggled with walking in a straight line because she couldn't see the line. It's small things like this that we take for granted with two good eyes. 

I'm so thankful we have the means to give her the best treatments available. We are considering Ortho-K once she is able to take proper responsibility for her treatments and if she wants to do it. 

Involvement

Right from the beginning, we have never hidden from our kids anything about themselves. We were not going to start now. From the moment LittleLim said "Mommy, I can't see" we had involved her and told her everything about her condition. From the eye doctor to the treatments. We wanted her to have autonomy over her body. We didn't push anything on her. We just told her what was required and we allowed her to make decisions - what colour and shape her frames would be, what time to put the eye drops, the design of the eye patches, what activity she wanted to do and to take note of improvements and difficulties, and to feel free to ask any questions that may arise. Since day one she has stepped up and taken control of her treatment. As her parent I feel so proud of her and how she has been so mature about this whole thing. LittleLim loved being involved, to be seen and heard especially when it comes to something so personal and serious like her health. Her voice matters and I'm glad we managed to give that to her.


Feelings

I broke down. Cried like a baby. Hated myself. Hated this thing that was hiding in our DNAs. When I saw her wearing her glasses and eye patch I broke down and felt so sad. I felt like I've let her down. It was irrational, I know. But my logic and feelings were not seeing eye to eye. I grieved. Some days I still blame myself even though I know, I know, it's not my fault or anyone's fault. I know it's not something any parent would purposely wish on their child. I know it's not something I did or didn't do. I know that LittleLim was BORN with it. 

I still felt the guilt of bringing my child into the world and putting her through all these diseases that came from our DNAs. I don't really know how to explain it without sounding overdramatic. Perhaps retrospectively, I was overreacting from the weight of what was happening. I felt that I had put a sentence on my own child just because I wanted her. I felt that I had her irresponsibly and not checking what kind of hereditary illnesses that lurked in my DNA. I felt unprepared when I found out. And I just felt like I've failed my child. 

I'm thankful for my community. I'm thankful for my friends. For the encouragement and the stories shared with me about their own journey and how they became strong women who overcame their own sight problems. I think it's a parent thing and even more, a mother thing to blame ourselves even though it's not even our fault. But I know myself and I know I just had to allow myself to feel what I needed to feel. I had to let myself process this on my own time and accept it because there was no way to change what has happened. I couldn't stuff her back into my womb, I couldn't rewrite her DNA and I certainly didn't wish to NOT have her. If anything I loved her more and wanted to protect her at all costs. It was just letting myself feel those emotions and come to terms with it. 

It is what it is. As her parents, we have done everything possible to give her the best treatments. The best doctors, the best frames and lenses and best treatments available. We will continue to pray over her and to monitor her. Seeing LittleLim take charge of her condition, her treatments and loving her clear vision puts me at ease and makes it a little easier as days pass. Most of all, I'm happy that it has not shaken her confidence at all. If anything, she walks with pride and I know, she will be okay. My little girl is a fighter. 

If you're a mama and your child is going through a health issue that is caused by genetics, know this, you are not at fault. Yes, it's our DNA but it's not selfish to bring our children into the world. No one wishes for their own flesh and blood to get sick. No one! Don't blame yourself and don't let the guilt eat you. Take all the time you need to process, to grief, to feel and to accept the reality. But never let it cripple and steal from you. You can still make so many amazing memories with them. Whatever illness they're going through - it doesn't define who you are or who your kids are. Whatever they are born with, it doesn't rob you of the opportunity to make the best of every day and to create amazing moments with them while they're around. 

-Ally

TL:DR - if you're a parent, get your children's eyes checked yearly. Early detection and intervention for any eye problems is ideal. 

Resources (not sponsored)
ISEC Midvalley : Dr. Choong Yee Fong
MOG Curve: David (03-77325792)