For the month of August, we are really excited to have Mummy Esther (https://www.instagram.com/thankgodforpink/) who runs a home-based dessert business, Esther Grace Cake (https://www.instagram.com/esthergracecake/), to share her motherhood journey with us.
She has 3 adorable kids, Ruth (daughter), Teddy (pet dog) and a lil baby girl arriving in October 2021!
Some parents may worry about owning a pet and having kids. Let us have Esther share more on her motherhood experience and the beautiful connection that Ruth has with Teddy!
1. How has being a mum changed your life? What’s the best part about being a mum?
Being a mom has taught me a whole new meaning to the word “patience”. I have always been a quick-tempered and impatient person, but Ruth has taught me to be a patient mother. I try my best to let Ruth grow at her own pace, and practice natural parenting, which requires a lot of patience. Of course, I get tempted to bribe her at times just to get her to listen or to cooperate, but I would also remind myself that patience is key and I have to stick to my principles.
The best part about being a mum is to have someone who needs you and wants you all the time. I tell myself that this clinginess will go away before I know it and that I must always cherish the times when she’s young and needs me. Of course, the joy she brings me and the bond that we share are also irreplaceable.
2. What’s the biggest challenge you faced while caring for Ruth?
I used to own a baking studio, and my job includes crafting and decorating birthday and wedding cakes. It was an extremely laborious job and nobody could replace my role, no matter who I hired.
I also worked on weekends, and for long hours. I found it really hard to juggle both work and family when I first had Ruth. I would get phone calls asking for quotations when I’m trying to pump, or just when I managed to put Ruth to bed. It was also impossible for me to work from home as I had to be physically present to decorate cakes to be sent out at the studio. I often had to sneak back into the studio after Ruth had fallen asleep at night, only to finish my work past midnight. There was a lot of anxiety in me because I couldn’t stop worrying about both the business and Ruth.
I eventually decided to close the studio and change my business model. I now curate monthly desserts boxes and bake from home. Although I take in much lesser orders now, I no longer have to work very long hours. I can always be present when needed: during weekends, for family gatherings, spend the entire public holiday with my family and even meet up with my friends.
3. As you are working and taking care of Ruth at the same time - how do you unwind and have your own time?
Ruth goes to school and that buys me a lot of time. Because I run my own small business, I can limit the number of orders, and thus manage my workload better. I try to finish my work while she’s in school and focus only on the family after picking her up from school. Ruth also goes to bed fairly early at around 830-9 pm, and I will get to have my own time or spend time with my husband after she goes to bed.
Ruth also goes for enrichment class on Saturdays, for about an hour. My husband and I would take this time to spend some time together, whether it is to have a cup of coffee or just to run some errands. We get to hold meaningful conversations during this short period of time. Ruth also stays over at my parents’ place on Saturday nights, so we get to do our own things and unwind when she’s not around. Of course, that is going to change in 2 months!
4. I noticed that you have a really adorable pet dog (Teddy) with you
- How is Teddy’s interaction with Ruth till now?
We got Teddy shortly after Ruth turned 1.
You can say that Teddy grew up with Ruth, and Ruth has always been very gentle towards Teddy: no pulling of his fur, always hugging him, giving him treats at times and she is also the one in charge of feeding Teddy and clearing his bowl. Ruth only started to sleep in her own room in our new flat just recently, and Teddy is the one accompanying her when she sleeps; she feels safe with Teddy around her. Teddy is great with kids, and it helps that he is also well trained and loves being with a human. They make a great pair when together.
5. As you are expecting baby no.2 coming soon, how did you prepare Teddy and Ruth on no.2 arrivals?
Ruth has always been asking for a Mei Mei ever since she turned 2, so she was really happy when she heard the news. She would rub my tummy and talk to Mei Mei every night. We read books on anticipating a younger sibling’s arrival.
Ruth loves the idea of twinning with Mei Mei, which gives me the perfect excuse to shop for new outfits for both of them. It makes her really excited when she sees the same clothing design in 2 different sizes. Ruth also loves looking out for stuff to buy for Mei Mei whenever we are out. She would always pick out toys or clothes, saying that she wants to buy them for Mei Mei. She has also been requesting to be the one to feed Mei Mei and to change her diaper and has been practicing on her dolls and real-life babies. I must say she is really good at changing diapers!
We started the routine of sending her to enrichment class on Saturday mornings, and my parents’ place thereafter so that she will not feel the impact of having mummy being away from her all of a sudden when Mei Mei arrives. My husband has also taken over the role of sending her to school for a few months now. We feel that she has grown much more independent over the past few months, from attending parent accompanied classes to going for independent classes on her own now and we’re really proud of her!
As for Teddy, I realised that he has been protective of me ever since I got pregnant, especially when my bump started showing. He would always be very alert when I walk him. Once, I was waiting for my husband to pick both Teddy & me up from a pickup point. I was seated on a bench, and I asked Teddy to come to sit beside me. Instead, he just stood in front of me and observed anyone who walked past or near me. He is also getting increasingly affectionate with me, which made me feel that he knows that a baby is coming.
I’ve started to let him smell some of the baby lotions and clothes in the house to get him acquainted with the smell. I am also starting to slowly introduce baby furniture & necessities (e.g. cot, baby bathtub) to him so that he can slowly get used to having them in the house.
6. Any tips for other mummies and how to introduce a pet to baby?
Hmmm, we started from a young age. I used to always tell Ruth to be gentle to animals, and we must love them with our hands. I always tell her that hands are for loving, arms are for hugging, and taught her to hold out her hand in a fist whenever we approach a new dog. I guess this is why Ruth has never been rough with Teddy.
We also involved Ruth in every stage of owning a pet. Even though she was only 1, we got her involved in choosing what to buy for Teddy (e.g. his leash, his feeding bowl, toys). She also helped in preparing Teddy’s food (simple mixing of kibbles with meat when he was younger) and giving Teddy his food. We would also always walk Teddy with Ruth when the weather permits. Ruth could be on her trike or walking beside him, as long as she’s part of the walk. She also then learned to pick up his poop using the poo bag and continues to do it for him now.