Tuesday, February 26, 2013
On being a SAHM
Joining the SAHM Net Worth Blog Train, I will also like to share a bit more on being a SAHM, albeit being only a SAHM for not too long as I only started being a full time SAHM on 1 Nov 2012 when my elder child turned exactly 36 months old and I was 3 months preggie with my second child.
In the beginning, a little less than a month into my SAHM days, i already very quickly felt super insecure and wrote about Doubting My SAHM Decision.. After all, the 4 months maternity leave that I am forgo-ing is already worth thousands in the tens.. And I no longer can afford luxuries like travels, shopping, eating out or even changing my car etc. I didn't quit to become a Tai Tai, my husband's salary is not high. I quit to be a wife to help my hubby whom found a job he likes but yet needs to travel rather frequently, and to be a mom to look after our children and to nurture them myself.
I guess most of my ex-colleagues will never believe that I will turned a SAHM because I was known to be a outspoken, confident, focused and conscientious sales person doing solution selling in the IT field. My appraisals are always promising with scores belonging in the top 10% contributors of the whole company, not just based on the sales figures I brought in but also because of the contributions I made. My increments year on year also belonged to the higher percentage unlike other colleagues. I was promised career advancements which was shelved when I was pregnant with my elder child at the peak of my career.. Then I did pondered WHY? Cos though I was pregnant, my performance didn't dropped but in fact I over achieved! I never slowed down and that resulted in me being hospitalized for premature labour pains when KD was 32 weeks in my womb. That was the first wake up call for me. A slap in my face.
The second wake up call was after the maternity leave and when I went back to work. I had a rude shock from fellow colleagues as well as from the superiors. Somehow all the things people said or do, hinted to me that since I have become a mom at age 27, I am no longer competitive, no longer valued. New and inexperienced colleagues were actually challenging me (considered experienced and with proven track record lah) openly!! i absolutely HATE that feeling and times! I remembered when the sex for bribery cases emerged, I was joking with hubby that who knows, if I continues in the same industry and is 40+, married with children and with a lot liabilities unpaid, I may be forced to do the same too cos of the demanding requirements set up typical IT companies??? Not that i agree with what was happening, but i empathise with the women..
Gists is... The working society on the whole does discriminate against working moms. I have heard and seen many jobs for example air stewardess, sales lines or even teachers facing the same problems! Teachers as civil servants in the government sectors helping Singapore to groom future leaders for goodness sake! That really surprised and shocked me! I heard from my married female teachers friends that they faced similar kind of penalisation in terms of work grading, promotions, increment on top of superiors' and colleagues changed attitudes, after they have given birth and returned to work. Not forgetting, when a mom takes urgent child care leaves, the questions asked are "Why is your child so weak?", "There is something wrong with your child you know? He shouldn't be falling sick so often?" and etc.. The very people whom asked me theses questions were my superiors and parents themselves.. secretly i do cursed them!!
The working society also cannot tolerate breastfeeding moms too! Though the MOH and worldwide healthcare strongly recommended exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months, our government didn't encourage companies to set up a breastfeeding room. Very few government offices have breastfeeding rooms too. Why?? Because our country is so focused on GDP and profits.. Going to pump milk in between office hours is intolerable BUT smoking and crapping during office hours is ok... What logic is that?!?
The government talks repeatedly about attracting moms back to work. I wonder if they ever ponder over why we left work in the first place?
I remembered when KD was in the infant care and the school fees was SGD1500 before subsidy, then the government announced that they raised the subsidy to SGD600, the infant care also raised their school fees to SGD1650!! All because the landlord immediately raised the rental too!
The government encourages us to have more babies as well as encourages moms to continue working. Did they try to work out the sums? Housing and other expenses aside, for example now i have two and i placed them in childcares when I returned to work, my elder school fees will be SGD680 and youngest in infantcare will be SGD980 after subsidies, that is the price for a mid range childcare near rural work places... If i have three and assuming the two elder ones in childcare and youngest in infantcare, it will then be SGD680 + SGD680 + SGD980 a month!! What about if i want to have 4 kids?! Why can't the same amount of subsidy be open towards letting us to give to a caregiver such as the children's grandparents or nanny instead? Why can it only be claimed by the childcare centres themselves?
I remembered watching "Conversations with the Prime Minister" and questions were raised about the costs of childcare as well as difficulties in finding caregivers. Mr Lee asked why can't the mothers consider taking a few years off work to look after and nurture the children herself? He mentioned that one can't be chasing the best of both worlds - $$ and children and there is a limitation on how far a government can help. Well, it did stuck a chord in me and that's exactly what we are doing now. Make do with lesser $ and bond with our children, because it's our responsibilities to raise up our children well, not the government.
On what type of help that I as a SAHM would wish to see, I hope that for the creation and availability of more home based jobs like example during my mother's time, she is able to work at home to earn a little income to supplement while looking after us! I remembered she did clothes packaging, sewing or some simple products packaging at home.. but alas, theses industry are no long available in Singapore and many women now have lost the ability to know how to sew, tailor or even cook! Now, it's really not easy for me to find any jobs to work at home cos i do not know accounting, i can't design too.. It will be good if the Government can spot some opportunities and provide trainings to us SAHMs that we can work freelance, part time or from home to supplement the family's income as well as to help the countries' economy... They can consider SAHMs instead of foreign workers.. maybe SAHMs can be trained to teach in the preschools in Singapore for 2 to 4 hours a day instead of employing foreigners? Many of the SAHM have high qualifications, the government should know.
I also hope to see the Preschool Education in Singapore becomes free for citizens just like primary and secondary schools, so all schools will become standardised and costs balanced. With that, it's easier to train the manpower as well as set up new school to meet the shortage.
Lastly, every child born to a working mom can have a cash subsidy of SGD600 every month pay out to the family directly instead of to the childcare centre. The mom can decide and choose to either use it to help supplement a domestic helper, or give to the grandparents or nanny, to help look after her child. I think this way, a mom will be happy to continue working and giving birth to as many as 4 children and the grandma will be happy to quit her job to help look after 4 grandchildren with SGD2400 and sending the elder ones to preschool and fetching them for us! Why will we made our parents quit their current job if they can earn more $$ than what we can afford to give to them to look after our children?
Hubby and I are one of the families hoping to have four children. But we aren't sure how to achieve it with both of us working (how are we going to pay the childcare costs), or with only one of us working because the costs of living is simply too high. Imagine, how a mom brings 4 children out on the public transport system? The fares are high too. And how to buy a bigger car now? Will the government consider giving out free child seats to every new borns too? Since it's mandatory for children below the height of 1.35m to be subjected to the seatbelts rules even in a friend's or relative's car?
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Enough on the ramblings... a little reflection on my SAHM days for the past few months.
My son KD, now will probably not remember my power suits dressings on every week days when I dropped him off at the infantcare and subsequently in the childcare centres.
To him, I am not a sales person entertaining him, I am not a staff to his bidding. He sees me as his very important mom, friend, imitates after me and depended a lot on me.. Breastfeeding him for 18 months also made him very close to me. To him, i am beautiful with or without make up, fat or thin, tall or short, dark or fair.. rich or poor...
I wrote a blog on What My Child Needs.. what i did not write about was what were the negative reactions i got when i told people including strangers or acquaintances I am a SAHM now.. What turns me off most was the reaction of some family members like, as if i had turned into a fat worm that lazed around all day and leeched my hubby dry.. Please! i was the one supporting my hubby mentally, emotionally and physically, when he took a one year break to venture into the property market! What's a family about if spouses do not support each other? In fact it was my hubby whom encouraged me to quit my job too!
I was also start to be told to run errands which i am like huh?! I didn't become a Still-Staying-with-My-In-laws'-Home-Mother to become another domestic helper. Other than caring for the basic needs for my son, i do countless learning activities and bring him out for meaningful excursions with him daily which family members criticise too! End of the day, i told myself.. I am doing it for my hubby and my children. I set my own priorities and my own happiness. It's obvious, my son and hubby had become happier and less stressed too.
I strongly believe that when the mom is present and very involved during the children's growing years, the child will grow up to be a fine teenager and decent smart adult.
Till now, though it's not an easy and is a very tiring role.. i still want to remain a SAHM.