Being a mum in Singapore is an experience of its own. Some call us crazy, some admire us while others just can’t figure us out. I mean, it takes a mum in Singapore to understand that it wasn’t completely absurd that I was already thinking of primary school admission a few days after I had my first child! That’s exactly why I relate so well to the series Lion Mums which is back with its fourth and fiery season. Read on to find out all about it!
A Glimpse Into the Lion Mums’ World
While there are of course a great many shows about motherhood, it’s nothing like something local for mums in Singapore to truly resonate with. Some aspects of being a mum are universal while others, say for example, the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) saga and Direct-School Admission (DSA) are truly Singaporean mum concerns!
In the Lion Mums series, the well-loved characters return two years later, tackling their greatest nightmare – the PSLE! But that’s not all! The Lion Mums series also sheds light on the breadth of experience of being a mum in Singapore – from juggling our work and personal struggles to the rat race, DSA, PSLE, a ton of other acronyms that are only too familiar and more controversial issues like migrant worker stigmas and sexual assault. There were many important lessons I learnt from the series, that I believe are important to mums in Singapore. Before we get into that, here’s a gist of what the series is all about.
Lion Mums is a series about three good friends, vastly different in their parenting approaches yet alike in their goal to give their children the very best. Durrani, a mum of a PSLE daughter and a little boy is successful, power-hungry and career-driven yet grounded by firm beliefs and values. Chae, her business partner, is raising her teenagers while giving marriage a second chance. Min Yi is a single mother who is trying to find her way back into society and her son’s life after being imprisoned. Together, they navigate through the usual Singaporean mum challenges of tuition, work-life balance, raising children, as well as their personal struggles.
Woven into their lives is also the story of Grace, the principal of the school the lion mums’ children attend. Beneath her petite and gentle outlook lies a true warrior – a victim of sexual abuse and a single mum to a special needs child. Watch her navigate the rocky roads of her life while she maintains a diplomatic and professional upfront dealing with all manner of parents in the school!
Here’s what I learnt from them:
1. Our Children Grow, Whether or Not We are Watching
Min Yi, who was away from her son during her time in prison, says this at the very beginning of the series. Chae reinforces this idea when she reflects on how things change tremendously but you just don’t realise it because you are too caught up in the change.
It’s a simple idea really, but one that we often take for granted. As I watched the series, it made me stop and think of how much I’ve missed out on my children when I was too busy being busy! Then one fine day when I looked back, I realised they had outgrown certain habits along with their clothes! I don’t even know when it happened.
Did you realise when your child stopped having a palmar grasp reflex, you know the one where your newborn clenches your finger when offered? Did you realise the actual day your child stopped asking you to sing You Are My Sunshine ten times in a row? Did you realise when exactly your little boy started feeling shy about you seeing him naked? Perhaps not, but it happens anyway! They grow, they mature, they change, whether or not we realise it!
This has made me resolve to pay more attention and indulge in every eyelash kiss and goodnight cuddle while it lasts!
2. Mums are Often Misunderstood
You know what they say – the road to hell is paved with good intentions! Mums mean well, but not everyone understands that. Sometimes we appear to be the ‘bad cop’ only because we want the best for our children and that journey can feel lonely and overwhelming.
Chae demonstrates this perfectly. In fact, her friends made a passing joke about how her contribution to a potluck party would be assessment books! Likewise, she also fails to see eye-to-eye with her husband and thinks his effort to teach them life skills like cooking is a waste of time that they could use to study!
It makes us take a step back and consider an alternate perspective. We believe we are doing the best for our children, but are we going overboard at times?
On the other end of the spectrum is Grace. At the beginning, it appears that she does not want to spend time with her special needs daughter and would rather leave it to the professionals handling her. But later the series reveals that the truth is that she is afraid. Eventually she overcomes the fear and improves her confidence to handle her daughter. It’s something for us to think about, are there certain aspects of parenting that we are actually afraid of facing? Perhaps it is time then for us to face those fears and the outcome may surprise us!
3. Single or Step Parenting is Tough Business
Being a single parent, as Min Yi demonstrates, comes with many challenges. Competing for time with the other parent, for one. On the other hand, Chae’s husband is a stepparent who tries so hard, only for the children to disregard him. Imagine cooking dinner for all your stepchildren only to find out no one’s coming home, and they didn’t inform you because mum knows.
How do you strike a balance? How do you get past these obstacles? The Lion Mums series sheds some light!
Again, Grace sheds light on the challenges of not only being a single parent, but a single parent to a special needs child. In addition, she has demons of her own to fight. Grace was a victim of sexual assault when she was a pre-teen and circumstances have led her to face her predator once again. While dealing with these challenges, she has to maintain her professional image as a school principal. We love how this character breaks the stereotypes that a successful woman has a perfect life. She shows that it’s completely possible to be struggling in some aspects of life while rocking others!
4. Caught in the Rat Race?
We get it. The Singapore education system is tough and insanely competitive. As such, parents resort to many ‘strategies’ to help their children get ahead. Are you being a parent volunteer to be involved in your child’s school life or to snoop around what’s happening in the schools? What values do you instil in your child when you try to ‘buy’ their way into the school team?
The intentions come from a good place. But can we say the same of the execution? From mumarazzis to mums who put the school staff in impossible situations, the Lion Mums series does bring to light many issues that are only too real. Who knows, we might find ourselves in some of the characters and it does make us think!
5. Are We Paying Enough Attention?
If your child has an aversion to a subject, what’s the first thought that comes to your mind? Laziness? Lack of aptitude? Grades? It could be time to dig deeper and look for more subtle clues about something more sinister that could be going on. Sexual assault is probably one of the last things that come to your mind but it does happen, and it’s not something that your child will talk about easily.
Are we also listening closely when teens are trying to tell us something? Are they dismissed, or worse, labelled as liars?
The Lion Mums series tackles these complex issues with tact and truth!
6. Are We Setting the Right Example?
We pride ourselves in being an educated and civilised society. Yet there are stereotypes and prejudices that have deep roots in our society. Take for example an incident in the Lion Mums series, where a mum verbally abuses a migrant worker who had actually rescued her daughter, and the issue of parents feeling uncomfortable about their children’s safety due to migrant workers being in close proximity of the school.
What does it say about us as parents when we speak of others in a certain way? How far have we gone to understand those within our community who lead lives different from us? Again, the Lion Mums series gives us plenty to consider.
7. Children Will Break Your Heart, But You Love Them Anyway
One of the most heart-breaking scenes in the Lion Mums series is when Min Yi’s son tells her that she should have stayed in prison. Our children will break our hearts in more ways than we can imagine. It’s a hard truth, but that doesn’t mean we stop loving them. Even with our heart breaking, we cook them their favourite meal because we are mums, and that’s what we do.
In their defence, oftentimes children say things they don’t mean because they are dealing with things we know nothing about. It doesn’t excuse their behaviour, but it is what it is and we forgive and keep trying to win them back.
Min Yi portrayed this brilliantly and it tugged on my heartstrings!
8. Dads Will be Dads
So this isn’t quite a lesson, but just one of the many things you will love about Lion Mums. Mums will be mums and dads, well, there’s always a goofy dad somewhere around. I mean, what would life be without dad jokes to lighten the mood when things get tough?
Durrani’s husband is a classic example of The Dad! You will enjoy the light-hearted moments with him as well as the heart-warming moments of a dad trying to protect his little girl from the ills and evils of the world!
Mums, this is just the tip of the iceberg. A teaser to the Lion Mums series. If you are a mum in Singapore, you will relate to this series on many levels. My review won’t do justice to it, you have to watch it yourself to truly appreciate it. Catch the fourth season on meWATCH and spend some time thinking about your journey as a mum!