Sunday, February 24, 2013

A mother's wish list

Feb 25, 2013

LOOKING at the steady decline in our birth rate, the cost of raising a family, the intense competition from the global workforce for local employment, and workplace discrimination against mothers, I fear that mothers will become marginalised in society unless more is done to meet their needs throughout the stages of parenthood.

[Listen people! This is how you start a classic piece of letter-writing to the press. First, leverage off current affairs or issues that are very germane, so that the ST forum page editor (or whoever selects your letter for publishing) will have a pretext to publish it - It speaks to the issue of the day!

THEN you work in your pet peeve, or pet rant, or your pet project!]

I hope for a better future for new mothers, and others who are soon approaching empty nests, one where they will enjoy their families, live more fulfilled lives, and be able to contribute meaningfully to a society that values them.

[Good to also include a "vision" for tomorrow!]

My wish list includes:

- Reduced levy for one foreign domestic helper per family as long as the family still has one school-going child. This would help a young family to defray expenses and afford to have more children.

- Monthly cash grant or medical benefits for grandparents who babysit their grandchildren. In this way, the Government would support the elderly who support the younger generations.

- Subsidise public transport fares for mothers travelling with children shorter than 0.9m. Such children also travel free.

[How would this work? Technically? When you tap on the fare reader how does it know you have a >0.9m kid with you?]

- Subsidise admission fees to local attractions for mothers visiting with children at any time of the day on any day of the week.

- Bookstores to offer discounts for mothers buying books for their children, including assessment books.

- Tertiary institutions to offer fee subsidies to encourage stay-at-home mothers to use their time away from full-time work to upgrade themselves.

- Employers to recognise skills-based volunteer work and professional pro bono work done by stay-at-home mothers as productive involvement in community projects.

- Grants for organisations that employ stay-at-home mothers who return to full-time professional, managerial, executive and technical work to improve their participation in the local workforce. This will also help to avert the unreasonable depression of salaries for mothers returning to work, and help them find meaningful work.

I started a family after being inspired by some stay-at-home mothers who kept a healthy sense of their own individuality.

Documentaries that feature big families tend to focus largely on the well-being of the children, while the mothers have little or no role outside of the home. I think this approach is no longer relevant to younger mothers who value their individuality. What they need to know is that a woman can be a mother and much more.

Eve Loh Chin Pey (Ms)

[Like a letter-writer to the forum page! How's that for a healthy sense of individuality. Or being a mother and much more!

Look. You had a kid. Or two. Or more. Those are children. They are not a concession pass for bus or train travel. They are not a discount card for the zoo, or Sentosa, or any other attractions.

You've become a mother, and that is a very good thing.

However, your letter also shows an unhealthy development of a whiny personality and a sense of entitlement. That is NOT a good thing.

You want a sense of individuality, but you are asking for concessions because you belong to this group called "mothers". How is that developing your sense of individuality? NO! you should ask for concessions simply because you are EVE LOH CHIN PEY! That would emphasise your sense of individuality!

Finally, I don't think your heart is really into being this "mother" thing. Nothing in your letter reflects your love or pride for your children, or your sense of motherhood. And you end with, "a woman can be a mother and much more." Probably in the same tone as my mother telling me, "you can be a blog-writer and SO MUCH MORE!" But no one ever said, "You can be Prime Minister and much more" because being PM is already a pretty big deal and a full-time job!

Like as if being a mother is not enough? Like it is not already a full time job that stresses you, challenge you, keeps you awake, robs your of your sleep, your peace of mind, your patience, your dignity, and yes, your sense of self.

Most mothers I know find keeping up with their kids sufficiently stressful and time consuming. Whatever time they can steal back from their child/children they would invest in sleep. Not in a whiny letter to the press. If you are NOT stressed out by your kids, you are either very blessed - and should count your blessings - or you're not doing it right!]

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