MUM SAYS If I could turn back time, I wouldn’t have had kids

A brutally honest Singaporean mum shares her heartfelt thoughts on being a reluctant parent of two young children.

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“I’ve been married to my husband, Thomas, for 11 years. We have two kids ― my son, Alex, is 4, and my daughter, Gwen, is 7.

I love my children, but I’m not mum-of-the-year material. I’m not as maternal as I think I should be. In fact, I’m pretty bo chap or blasé about them sometimes.

But I’m a Tiger mum when it comes to my daughter’s schoolwork. That’s because I know that if she’s not diligent and doesn’t do okay, it’ll affect the class she goes to for her next level (Primary 3) and she’ll lag behind her peers. This will have a domino effect, so it’ll be a struggle to catch up.

We do enjoy our time together. We go out on weekends for afternoon snacks and catch up on cartoons at home. We have staycations once in a while for a change of scene.

I love my children, but I’m not mum-of-the-year material.”

But I’m not the type of mum who is super affectionate and wants to spend every waking minute with her kids. I make sure they’re provided for in terms of clothes, proper nutrition and medicine when they are ill, and so on. I take care of practical, nitty-gritty things, like making sure we’re stocked up on the daily necessities, while my husband plays the more nurturing role and spends quality time with them.

I like time to myself after work. Perhaps it’s because I’m an only child and I like to be by myself when I need to decompress. My husband relaxes by being with the kids, but I need peace and quiet.

If I could have a do-over, I wouldn’t have wanted kids. I never wanted kids in the beginning. Back then, my husband commented that there was no point marrying and not having kids. So, I relented and said, okay, we’ll have one.

But when our daughter was 3, I got pregnant with our son. He wasn’t planned, so I was devastated when I found out I was pregnant. I felt that I had a very good balance of family and personal life with that one kid, and having another would completely mess it up. I was also afraid of it being a high-risk pregnancy because I was almost 40 then.

 

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There are other reasons why I feel life without kids would be better. For their sake, the world is getting harder to live in and I hate to think what our kids will have to go through in the future, with all that’s going on in the world ― I’m talking about food, politics, climate change and even what we consider social norms.

School and life in Singapore are terribly demanding, and I feel bad for putting my kids through it. My daughter is coping all right for now, but I worry about my son, who’s pretty playful, is absolutely stubborn and marches to the beat of his own drum.

I miss my freedom, too, of course. We’d like to get out of the country and go somewhere where life isn’t so demanding and there isn’t a crazy rat race, but it’s hard with kids in tow. We don’t want to uproot them and have them readjust now.

I’m also an older mum ― I had my daughter at 35 and son at 39, so they would still be very dependent on us, even when my husband and I are older.

You always think you'll have time to do all that, but time really flies and before you know it, you’re married.

Of course, there are things that I wish I could have done more of before the kids arrived. I wish I had travelled and seen more of the world. You always think you'll have time to do all that, but time really flies and before you know it, you’re married with kids.

Career-wise, I can’t take risks now, like switching industries, because I need to consider the fact that I’m supporting the family, too.

It’s not all bad ― I have to say that my perspective on life and priorities have changed with kids ― it’s been a natural progression. Material possessions aren’t a focus. I can’t be bothered with them now. It makes me happy to help someone out as I feel it’s more meaningful.

I’m a softer person now. I’m more empathetic, and not so quick to anger. I’m not as rigid because having kids doesn’t allow me to be so. Because of this, I feel that I’m more flexible and am more open to looking at other options when tackling issues.

We all have blinkers on ― what with the daily routine of work and home, so children break that cycle and life isn’t as monotonous. Kids are so real, they tell it like it is and I appreciate that. I like seeing things through their eyes because it’s a fresh view."

Ann Lim, 43, who is married to Thomas, is mum to Alex, 4, and Gwen, 7 (their names have been changed).

Photos: iStock

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