Every time the elections or national day comes round, my levels of irritation shoot up to an unhealthy, blood boiling high.
(Granted, I do get irritated quite easily but still…)
This is when the government tries to talk down to us about falling birth rates and how Singaporeans are not procreating fast enough to replace the population.
Let’s get this straight: I desperately yearned for and had a baby not because I wanted to create a true blue Singaporean. I had a baby because I wanted one. I love children and I knew that having a child would bring immense joy to my life. Call it evolution, call it human instinct, call it whatever you want. Maybe there IS indeed a biological clock that’s ticking in me.
TICK TOCK TICK TOCK.
Conversely, many of us are not having children NOT because we find maternity leave too short. It’s not because the Baby Bonus is not enough. It’s none of these policies that are driving our decisions. The choice to have children or not is a personal one and should remain a personal one. Ramming policies and statistics down our throats is not going to push us to have one or more children.
Is that so difficult a concept for the government to understand?
So please, as my brother-in-law put it so eloquently, get out of our bedrooms.
Don’t turn something as personal as having children into some moralistic, paternalistic “national service” to the country.
Recently, I have been thinking about having a second child. I’ve always wanted two kids. I love having a sister and I grew up among cousins so I don’t want Aidan to miss out on having the fun that I used to have. It’s sad enough that he will only have one cousin (my sister’s son, none of Mr Thick’s brothers have kids) although thankfully, Rai and him are close enough in age to be playmates. As the only baby on the paternal side of the family, I am constantly conscious of the fact that the likelihood of him being spoilt silly nilly is extremely high.
Also, I feel like my baby-making days are not quite over yet.
And still I hesitate.
Of course, biologically speaking, I am aware that our chances of conceiving are not great. I mean, just look at our history. Conceiving Aidan naturally was a stroke of luck and there is no guarantee that we can replicate that feat. At this point in time, I am uncertain if I will want to embark on assisted reproductive technologies again. Seven IUIs and one IVF is more than enough for a lifetime, thank you very much.
But more importantly, I don’t know if we will be able to bring up two kids in today’s climate.
I hate that by the time I get off from work, I barely have time to spend with Aidan before he is fed and put to bed by 830pm. It’s especially tough when Mr Thick works long hours and comes home to a sleeping baby. Twice the children means half the time spent with each kid and double the Mom guilt.
Also, my financial advisor had told us that the cost of tertiary education is likely to rise to S$100,000 by the time our kids go to university. Frankly speaking, neither Mr Thick nor I make that sort of moolah. If possible, I wouldn’t want my kids to be saddled with a fat bank loan the way I was even before I had even graduated. We hadn’t thought carefully about how much our expenses would escalate once we had Aidan and two is going to be even tougher.
So that is a dilemma. If I want to spend time with my kids, I would have to make a sacrifice in terms of my career. But doing so would mean that we take a hit financially.
How do we strike a balance?