Musings: Mummy, can you “catch” a didi? Can you “catch” a meimei?

Conversation in the lift yesterday:
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Baby E, looking at a baby in the lift: “Didi!”

Me: “I think it’s a meimei?”

*Parents of the baby who was wearing pink clothing but looked like a boy started to leave the lift at a lower floor*

Baby E, pointing at the baby: “Mummy, can you catch the didi? I want a didi”

*Onlooker in the lift looked at me in horror as though I’m a child kidnapper.*

Me: … =.=”

On the way to our door, Baby E: “Mummy, can you catch a meimei for me?”
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

There we have it. I was asked by a colleague a few days ago regarding whether the kid has asked for a sibling yet, and the question popped a few days after in the weirdest of manner. Baby E thinks that to get a didi/meimei (mandarin term for brother/sister), you “catch” one… I don’t know where that idea came from haha… Pokemon Go perhaps?

And again, the hubs and I talked about it and without even having a discussion, both of us unanimously agreed that we can’t have one now or I’m likely to be unemployed for a long long time. As it is, when you’re in a high flying job, it’s already difficult to have a kid. A HR friend told me that in order to continue to succeed in my role, I should hire a helper so that I don’t have to rush to pick the kid up daily. This was the same thing that the boss in the previous role told me, that I might want to hire a helper so that I can work from home… and I finally understand the logic behind it now that it’s coming from a friend and not from the boss. Angst aside, it is indeed more practical to have a helper so that you can focus on your work. But…

This isn’t quite what I want when I went ahead to have a kid

I had a kid because I want to enjoy spending time with her. I had a kid because our lives felt empty without one. I had a kid because I wanted 3 of us to have family time. So it goes against my principles to hire a helper so that the helper can care for the kid while I work. Then why have a kid? I want my kid to come to me when she feels scared, hurt, happy or sad. I want to be the first (or second after the husband) that she runs to to share her feelings. I don’t want my kid to be a latchkey kid.

It’s my preference.

But that’s proving to be difficult in this modern day Singapore. I find it hard to step down to find a role that’s more flexible. Employers in less demanding roles are not giving me interviews at all. The HR friend told me it might because employers think I have high flight risk, that I will run to a better role once I can. And in more challenging roles, face time remains a key thing in many companies unfortunately. The boss also said it directly, “I’m sorry you have a young kid but I can’t trust you to do work if you are not around after hours.” It is so discouraging to find a job that fits, that I’m increasingly leaning towards the thinking that perhaps I need to start my own business so that I can have the flexibility to knock off at 6 to pick my kid up without the stigma behind it. And I’m not the only mummy facing this issue, because I’ve got another friend who lamented that her colleague said sarcastically to her that she will handle the work at 9pm since that friend needs to “put her babies to bed”.

That aside, we’re getting a lot of comments from old folks, random strangers on the streets, that insist that we should have a second one so that Baby E isn’t so lonely. Yes, I know we should, but the question is, can we? Is it possible to have a second and still manage to cope somehow without hiring a helper? That’s what we’re struggling with. My family stays about 25km away from us. The mother in law stays 1 MRT stop away but is too frail to care for the kid (let alone kids). We are the modern family that has little extended family help. As it is, I’ve taken more Grab/Uber rides in these two years compared to the past 29 years before having a kid because I’ve had to shuttle the kid to and fro my parents’ place when the childcare is closed or when there are HFMD outbreaks or simply when she’s too sick to go to childcare. It is a bit too much to bear so we’re not inclined to have a second for now. But we only have 2 years to put off this decision because Baby E’s age gap with the second will be too big after that so we can forget about having another. But for now, we simply cannot. And perhaps one day, when we can, we might still decide not to because we cannot take quality time out for both kids. I don’t know if Baby E will blame us in the future because she has no cousins and no siblings, but this post is for Baby E to read in future… to explain why. This post is also for our rulers out there, if you ever come across this, to explain why your birth rate is so dismal. It’s just too difficult to have a second. But I’m sure they already know that.

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