Updated: Jul 6
Parenting is nothing less than a superpower. From the moment parents meet their children, they’re tasked with the Herculean responsibility of raising another human being. Though this job should ideally be split equally between both parents, mothers in Malaysia are still burdened with expectations about the roles they play in the household. Bearing the brunt of child care, three mothers from different walks of life share their struggles and experiences over the years.
Working Mother: On the first day, just two hours after dropping my one-month-old at their place, the babysitter called and said that they couldn't take care of my child anymore. They told me that she was hit in the head by an older kid and they were worried that she would be hurt again because they couldn't watch the kids 24/7. They said they had other things to do like washing the clothes and cooking.
I was really angry, all I wanted to do was to quickly pick her up and couldn't be bothered to say too much to the babysitter. I left from work and when I arrived, I could hear my child crying loudly even from outside of the house. After that accident, I took my child to my mother's house and I hired a domestic worker to help out with everything.
With the increase of women in the Malaysian workforce throughout the years, more and more mothers have sought out external help with child-rearing. In 2019, the Welfare Department’s statistics revealed that about 4,000 child care centres are registered but only 3,173 of the 16,873 caregivers are certified. The rest have failed to meet the minimum requirements for the job.
Single Mother: People would ask me, "You’re a single mum now, do you intend to look for another husband?"
In my heart, I’d think, 'Why should I be looking for another one? At this age, young people wouldn't go for you. The only ones who would go for you are the older ones, and for them, half of their lives are already gone. Once a person grows old, they'll have all kinds of sicknesses. You want to start all over again by taking care of that person?'
Stepping into a new relationship is daunting, especially when you feel like you have a lot to lose. Society pressures us to put ourselves out there and outsiders often have one too many comments about our personal lives. For someone who’s already once experienced the roller-coaster ride, would you fault them if they were hesitant for another go?
Mother of a Big Family: There’s not enough time in one day. Lots of stuff needs to be done when raising lots of kids. For example, one kid could need help with their projects, one could need consoling ‘cause they had a bad day, etc. Learning to deal with each person separately is a struggle. Each child has their own weaknesses and strengths and as a parent, I try to understand their point of view and employ different methods in disciplining each one.
As children, it’s easy to take the things that our parents have done for granted as it’s all we’ve ever known. However, understanding that all parents are trying to love you in the best way they can and showing our gratitude could be one of the best gifts for those who’ve given us life.
Special thanks to all three mothers who’ve graciously allowed us to share their personal experiences in this article.
Written by: Isabel Ng
CM Journalist 21/22