Sunday Sep 6, 2015
"I am a single mother," the lady with the cat that has an itchy chin told me when I remarked that I had not seen her husband. Her two daughters are grown up to be young adults at college. Today, being Sunday, the younger daughter did not want to accompany her to the vet while the older one had something to do. Sometimes both came.
"Your daughters must be sleeping late," I said. "Playing multi-role computer games."
"No," the mother said. "Watching you tube videos."
The younger Singaporeans and the others in developed countries apparently do not sleep early.
"How do you cope being a single mother?" I told her I would be all exhausted raising 2 young daughters alone and having to work.
"I have a good domestic helper for the past 14 years," she told me. In recent years, the children had grown up. The maid woke up at 8 am and has every Sunday off. There was not much house work to do and so she even ironed the T-shirts. However, she was a good maid with no outside lovers. Her 17-year-old son wanted her to go home and so she resigned.
"Many maids do not save up," I said. "The husband does not work at home and always ask for money. He will entertain the villager friends drinking. The family members and relatives ask for money. Friends ask for loans which will not be paid." So they go home without savings.
"Her brother asked her for money to pay for his wedding," the lady told me she saw her maid crying because she had incurred a debt of 100% of the loan in 6 months. She had borrowed $1,500 for the wedding and the debt became $3,000 in 6 months.
This kind lady paid off her debt with instalments to be deducted from her salary. Since she wanted to resign to be with her teenaged son, the lady let her go. She did not need any maid and would have saved the US$450 monthly fee plus the government's maid levy.
Back home, the maid had to go for an operation for a cyst removal and phoned for money.
"How much?" I asked.
"15,000 pesos," she said.
"That is a lot of money."
"Well, it is S$400," the kind lady wired the money.
After 14 years working in Singapore, this domestic worker had helped considerably in looking after the 2 daughters and had sacrificed her motherhood as she left her 3-year-old son to work far away, seeing him, one month every 2 years. She was paid double as most maids got paid S$300 a month. The employer is good. I hope she will be happy with her family now.
"There's a single lady I know," I said to this lady. "She has two Primary School daughters by different men. The elder one was from a married man, but the younger one is from a single man. She will not marry him!
"She is self-employed and she is so thin now," I really cannot understand how single mothers cope.
Single mothers don't get the same maternal and housing benefits as married mothers and so it must be very tough for them.