Carol (35) and Rakcent (34) got married in 2016 and had their child, Atlas, in 2019. Carol initially thought parenthood meant that their passion for outdoor activities and travelling had to take a backseat. However, the couple found a way to continue pursuing their hobbies… by involving Atlas in them! Read on for Carol’s story.
I have always been an extrovert. But my childhood was quite the opposite—I rarely had the chance to play freely outdoors, as studies came first. I decided that I would do things differently when I became a parent. Allowing my child the freedom to play and be himself became my parenting goal, which happens to align with Rakcent’s. In fact, it was only after dating him that I started developing a stronger sense of self alongside various interests—he changed my life.
I cherish every opportunity to venture out with Rakcent, and we enjoy activities like cycling, paddleboarding and hiking. In fact, we are known to others as that nature-loving, outdoorsy couple, a badge I proudly wear. He would sometimes say, “Come, let’s go for a hike, just the two of us.” And off we will go.
“Before we became parents, we were avid travellers. We explored the world together, even embarking on a thrilling motorbike adventure abroad. However, everything took a different turn after I gave birth.”
When Atlas entered our lives, I faced a huge internal struggle. I found myself torn between the parenting style I grew up with and the one I wanted to embrace. I was not able to carve out much-needed time for myself, and often questioned my identity and what I stood for. After returning to work, I lost count of the number of times I experienced ‘mum guilt’ and bouts of intense separation anxiety from Atlas. Eventually, I found someone I could confide in, and things began to look up.
“While I naturally want what is best for Atlas, I learnt that focusing only on his needs is not just unhealthy; it is detrimental to me and my marriage.”
As a parent, I believe we tend to let our children’s lives overshadow ours. While I naturally want what is best for Atlas, I learnt that focusing only on his needs is not just unhealthy; it is detrimental to me and my marriage. That is why Rakcent and I now make a conscious effort to balance our interests with our roles as parents. We have established a routine where we take turns to pursue our hobbies, enjoy quality couple time, and engage in family activities where we spend special one-on-one moments with Atlas. We are proactive about planning our time together and, most importantly, ensuring we are fully present when we are at home. We also make it a point to communicate our feelings along the way to manage each other’s expectations. I firmly believe that a happy parent makes a happy family. Children learn by mimicking their caregivers—by prioritising our passions and well-being, we are teaching Atlas to do the same.
These days, I find great joy in adopting new hobbies that lift my spirits. These interests could be anything—I recently picked up rhythm cycling. They help me maintain a sense of balance, keeping me afloat amid life’s challenges.
I understand some parents might feel like they cannot be as active after having children. I think having strong family support is crucial. I am very thankful to my mother-in-law for being a terrific source of help—she is a superwoman who also happens to be my best friend and role model. Building our bond took effort, but once we established mutual respect, everything clicked. Now, I trust Atlas to be in good hands under his grandmother’s care.
Another pillar in my life is, of course, my husband. He is always pointing out how independent Atlas can be, which helps remind me that I do not need to hover over him constantly or try to control every aspect of his life. Having these two incredible people alongside me on my motherhood journey has given me the confidence to gradually let go, relax a bit, and focus on myself.
“What worked wonderfully for Rakcent and me was involving Atlas in our hobbies. It is like hitting the sweet spot where we get to take care of ourselves and be great parents.”
What worked wonderfully for Rakcent and me was involving Atlas in our hobbies. It is like hitting the sweet spot where we get to be ourselves while being great parents to Atlas. Plus, it opened our eyes to how simple it is to teach our son practical life lessons. For instance, we got Atlas a little tent where he could have his little hideaway and play by himself. We then made a pact that no one should disturb him or peek in when he was inside. It was a valuable lesson in recognising and respecting one’s personal space. Now, Atlas knows how to communicate when he needs some alone time!
When Atlas was born, we thought our travelling plans had to take a backseat. Now that he is older, we have decided to take the plunge and fulfil our lifelong dreams—next year, we will be taking a break from work and bringing Atlas to travel the world. We are excited to involve him in this epic adventure and see everything through his eyes!
Based on my experiences, motherhood can be very challenging, especially in these times when social media tends to fuel comparisons and unrealistic standards. It is easy to lose sight of who you are and your personal growth journey. My way of dealing with this has simply been to treat my son as a ‘human mirror’ of sorts, reflecting the kind of growth I wish to see in myself and how I should go about achieving it. I know he is only four right now but watching him grow into his own unique person always reminds me that, as a mum, I am more than enough.
“I know he is only four right now but watching him grow into his own unique person always reminds me that, as a mum, I am more than enough.”
Watch Carol's story.
Published in Nov 2023