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Two for Two

Just the other day I was sharing with my colleagues on the experience of having a kid.
"It's the hardest thing I've ever done", I tell them.
They then tell me that I should be an official advocate of child-bearing. Not sure if they noticed the contradiction in the comment they made to my statement, I clarify that I just said it was the <strong>hardest</strong> thing I ever did.
"It's not what you said. It's how you said it", they tell me. Something along the lines of how I made it sound like a good thing.
<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/annegirl/632043274/" title="Photo Sharing"><img src="http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1173/632043274_01d2d2c470_m.jpg" width="160" height="240" alt="Anne smiling" class="img-right" /></a>The apparent paradox sums up the act of bringing up a child, as I am sure many parents can attest to the fact. It seems almost masochistic – that we subject ourselves to the sleepless nights, the arguments, the financial burden, but when the kiddo smiles time freezes and all the pain in the world ceases to exist for that split second.
Many people have been telling us to have number 2. Reasons given ranged from the "while you're still young" to how Anne needs a companion should we ever kick the bucket.
The government has been trying to encourage Singaporeans to have more children. An aging population that isn't replenishing itself doesn't bode well. Sometimes I look around and I think they've given up on us. The influx of foreigners into our schools, our living spaces and our workplaces – aren't they meant to replace us? Even as national day draws near and propaganda about how "Singapore is our home" starts perpetuating the airwaves, I find my appetite for sentimental notions for Singapore waning. I think Singapore is the pragmatic spouse. She goes where the money is. I can't blame her, but I wish she'd stop blaming us should we do the same. Singaporeans who leave for other countries are called quitters, yet we're actively recruiting people of other countries.
But I digress. While the government tries to address the peripheral issues of child-bearing, offering monetary incentives, the question isn't answered: Why should we have children?
We have no time to enjoy our children. Dual-income families are almost a requirement here, with homes coming at quite a premium. Faith and I are perfectly happy living in basic government housing, but even that costs us a third of a million dollars. Anne is growing up fast and we're missing the experience because we're stuck in office cubicles. I'm up late finishing work.
Anne started school Monday. Faith and I weren't there for her first day of school. I regret it very deeply. We've little precious time with her, what more if we have a second? We don't really want to get domestic help – it's absurd to give birth to a child and have him or her raised by someone else. The happy compromise is having the grandparents take over the job of parenting. But it is what it is, a compromise.
I want to enjoy my children. I do not care for repopulating the country.

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