Motherhood brings unique joys and pains to every mum, and we are better off acknowledging that. In this series called Mum Truths, mums reveal their secret successes, miseries and gripes about parenting in a no-holds-barred first-person recount.
When family and friends visited during my maternity leave, they were all surprised by one thing: just how quickly I handed my child off to my Filipino helper, Laura (not her real name).
He’s fussing? Off to Yaya (Tagalog for nanny), she’ll soothe and comfort him. He’s sleepy? Off to Yaya again, who will rock him to sleep while humming a lullaby. In fact, for the first four months of my baby’s life, my helper – God bless her – was the one who changed all of his poopy diapers, bathed him and put him to bed. I was just there for nursing and fun times.
My friends thought it was a brilliant system. Some family members, on the other hand, made paggro comments about how I should try to do things myself without relying on my domestic helper.
To that I say, why??? And no, “bEcaUsE yOu’Re hiS mOtHeR” isn’t a good enough answer.
In my defence, it wasn’t for the lack of trying. During the first month, my attempts at soothing my fussy baby only made him cry harder. Offering a boob worked on some days; other days he’d just continue screaming even with a nipple in his mouth. It’s honestly impressive but also incredibly frustrating.
Look, babies are notoriously difficult to figure out, especially for a first-time mum. After the nth bedtime battle that ended in tears for both my son and I, my husband had to be the voice of reason. “Why don’t you let Laura handle it? It’s what we hired her for,” he gently reminded me.
For some background, Laura is a lovely lady in her mid-40s. She’s had over 15 years of experience working in Singapore as a domestic helper, which includes taking care of children from newborn to toddler ages. She’s great with kids, has limitless patience for them and genuinely loves them as if they were her own. When I tried to sleep train my son, she was the first one in the house to break – she fought back tears and asked if she could go in to comfort him. While I wince everytime my son goes into a crying fit, she remains unfazed and methodically runs through the laundry list of things that might be causing his discomfort. She usually has it figured out within ten minutes, while my success rate is around 30% after much fumbling.
Which brings me to my point: she is so much better than me at the day-to-day baby stuff. Why would I want to subject my baby to my incompetency when I can just leave him to the expert?
Does outsourcing my mum duties make me any less of a mother? I don’t believe so. In fact, I would say that doing so has allowed me to become a better one. I am able to devote more time and attention to my baby when I’m not physically or emotionally spent from tending to his needs. It’s quality versus quantity, and the choice is obvious for me.
I also get that I’m incredibly lucky to have Laura, and not every parent has access to such help. Which is why I refuse to feel even an ounce of guilt about relying on her. The way I see it, there are literally no downsides to this. I am less stressed out, and in return, my son has one more person to love and trust. Isn’t that an absolute win?
Serena Yeo is your typical millennial and now newly-minted mum to one very vocal baby boy. It is no coincidence that she is also slightly deaf in one ear now.