Thursday, April 08, 2004

May, June, July, August, Septmber, October, November

Finally, the government has woken up to the fact that two months maternity leave is hardly enough. It's all the buzz in the staff room, a possible six months maternity leave for mothers. Teachers, being teachers, started counting backward to ensure that they could maximise the 6 months excluding holidays. But I think it's a move in the right direction.

How does the government, who currently gives 8 weeks paid maternity leave, expect new mothers to function? At 8 weeks, the little squirmy baby is still colicky, not sleeping through the night and probably being breast fed. And you want the mother to go back to work, with dark rings round her eyes and sleeping at her job except when she has to get up and go to the toilet to express milk and ring home to find out if the baby is all right? If we're so big on productivity, how's that any help to anything? She might as well stay at home through that period, the baby grows up healthier- I am a firm believer of breast feeding for as long as possible, although I have been told that it really really really hurts- the mother is more rested and at ease, therefore, ready to go back to work.

JNet talked about how sad it would be if we had a whole generation of kids brought up on the notion that they were had because of the perks the government had given mom. Well, I sincerely hope it doesn't happen. In any case, I don't know of any moms, then again, I don't know many moms, who would actually have a child to get six months maternity or tax breaks. Because, anyone who can do the sums, will know that it's still going to cost more to have a child despite the tax breaks, than not to. Anyone who also thinks the six months maternity leave would be a grand holiday to have is also strangely deluded and hasn't been round many new moms. So, no, I don't think it will cause a spate of people to have kids to sponge off the government.

What I think it will do, and this is the good thing is it will make it easier for people like me, who want kids ( I think), thinking of it, but don't really know how to do it (not literally, we are daft, but not that daft) and have to juggle a new career, mortgage, post grad studies and stiff financial committment all at the same time. And making it easier on us would then equate to us thinking more about it and being less resistant to the idea ( I can hear my parents and in laws cheering right now!). Right now, the thing that is stopping us from having a baby, apart from the petty rebellion against parental expectation, is that we don't see ourselves as having the time, energy, money and space to be able to have one. No doubt, these measures don't directly address any of these issues, but at least, it gives us more of a breathing period to actually get used to Mini Us and work things round him/her. And in a strange way, that offers reassurance that we will somehow or other be able to do it.

I'm in no way saying that we're going to go out there and have one this instant but by making it easier on us, it automatically makes us less hostile to the idea. But still, at the end of the day, it's still a matter of whether we want it or not. We're not going to have a Mini Us, just because it's more convenient to, we still need to feel that we do want him/her before we go forth and procreate. That's what hasn't been figured out yet.

It doesn't answer any of the immediate questions I have about being pregnant.

1) Will my life revolve around the pregnancy/baby?
I don't want to be one of those women that loses all semblance of identity. I don't want the pregnancy to define me, which I see in many pregnant women. They allow their dress sense and their diet, their lifestyle and their personality to be dictated by their pregnancy. I don't want to be that person. I don't want also, to be the mother whose child does no wrong and tells stories about her child as if it were the next nobel prize for literature and rather unknowingly puts an entire table of people to sleep.

2) Where will we store Mini Us?
Someone suggested my underwear drawer, but then where is my underwear going to go? Our house is the most unbaby friendly place in the world. We have no grills on our windows and we have plenty of glass in the only other available room that will, after the birth of Mini Us, be christened Mini Us' room. And the maid that comes with batteries included, where do we store her as well?

3) When to have a Mini Us?
We initially planned that the ideal time to have one would be in September (year yet to be determined) to maximise maternity leave and school holidays. But now, with the potential maternity leave schtick, it throws those plans out the window.

4) How are we going to afford a Mini Us?
Every month, we are broke and every month, I hanker for new clothes and new make up and Dan hankers for DVDs. And we like eating out with friends, we like Ikoi (Expensive Japanese food at sleazy 3 star hotel- The Miriamar, in Havelock Road, different from where Top Gun is), high tea and expensive meals. If we were good obedient children and went home to our parents more for dinner, I think we would be less broke and more able to afford other things. But still a Mini Us is expensive. The two most expensive things in the world apart from our shopping bills, diapers and milk formula and there's no getting round that. So how?

Of course, Dan is still waiting for the epiphany to tell him it's time. Me, well, let's see when I can mark it into our schedule and the next year or so, till Calgary at least ( I don't not look forward to flying half way round the world for an entire day when I'm relatively healthy, much less if I were endowed with extra weight and an extra person sharing the same seat and space as I) seems rather impossible. So ask me after I'm done griping about Calgary.

The only other thing I hope will be changed is the campaign to get our 50 000 babies. At an almost strident level, they keep harping on how our national growth will be affected if these 50 000 babies don't magically appear. Well, it's your damn fault in the first place. Until recently, fourth childs did not receive edusave (Some funding for education given to the first three children of any family) and maternity leave was questionable and possibly unpaid. So why would anyone listen?

And for God's sake, stop telling us it's our national duty. It's not unheard of to hear of people saying that a woman's National Service in Singapore should be producing young strappy lads to defend our homeland. NO! Women don't respond to that, unless you're ultra loyal and ultra patriotic and slightly insane. And obviously that doesn't work, seeing that we still need 50 000 babies to get out of demographic problems. Women don't respond too well to "have three or more, if you can afford it" either. It has the touch of an ultra male, chauvinistic bureuacrat, writing in policy language and needing to be boxed in his ears. The entire "have more babies" campaign hasn't worked because it's basically been about providing more people to support the economy. It has to be more personal, more sensitive and more family oriented. It has to appeal to the woman's maternal instinct, which I think is tied in with oestrogen and everyone of us with the XX chromosome has it. I've seen 3 year old girls who get all protective over little babies they see. So, it is in us. They just need to tap on it and so far, the job they've done...very shoddy

Ondine tossed this thought in at 15:48

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