Synonyms of “messy” have become part of my daily life. Dishevelled hair, disorganised furniture, littered toys all over the floor…you name it. Being a new mother sure seems daunting. But there is a silver lining to this, I promise.
My son Lucien was born almost 2 years ago (he was an SG50 baby), so yes I had added perks in the form of special goodie bags, an extra baby bonus and a pimped out birth certificate. Lucien was born perfect – the pink of health and the face of an angel. I remember crying, then being asked to breastfeed without a clue how to, and the next few months was just a sea of faces telling me what to do. Well, what they didn’t tell me were the other pressing issue that I would face – money. That’s right - riches, dough, moolah, however you want to call it. You see, mothers in Singapore get 16 weeks of paid maternity leave, while the dads get 2 weeks of paid paternity leave as of 1st January this year. As a Mother I can firmly attest that 16 weeks is infinitely not enough time to spend with your newborn. As a result, many new moms end up taking unpaid leave or even leaving their jobs to tend to their children. Throw in the routine check-ups, the occasional sick visit to the paediatrician, coupled with monthly expenses...and just wait till you have to send them to school. What that leaves us with is a black abyss of a bank account and copious amounts of wine to ease the headache. No doubt our working counterparts and government subsidies can cushion the financial strain, but it does get really expensive.
My life changed completely after I had Lucien. From carefree party girl to enslaved mother of 2 (1 being my husband), I had little to no free time. Suddenly I was hit with responsibilities that I could no longer escape from. When I entered the financial consulting industry, I finally learned how to take charge of my finances, and I wished I had known how to manage my money earlier. A lot of people undermine what proper financial planning can actually do. For starters, it has helped me to understand what my cash flows are, allowing me to handle my funds with more ease. I started to have a proper saving structure, allocating funds for Lucien’s education and my retirement. The best part, you’d still get to set aside your own shopping pot of gold! So when my team and I decided to brainstorm on Project Apple Tree, a health and financial planning seminar for parents to get an early head start, I knew I had to do it. I set out to be my own personal martyr in helping parents to tackle their financial issues, so they can provide their kids with the best. Somehow being a parent makes you inappropriately empathetic to other parents. You want to share in their every joy and wallow in their darkest moments. In essence, you want to advocate for parents all around the world.
So where is the silver lining, you say? Well, the good thing is that starting off a child right with the proper nutrition, health and financial habits will definitely pay off in the long run. But the true break in the clouds is already in the child itself. Every child is a blessing, and Lucien is just pure magic. Amidst all the sleepless nights, temper tantrums, panic-inducing falls, paranoia, a lack of a social life…I could go on, being a Mother to Lucien is wonderful. It is gratifying. I look forward to his kisses, his sweet voice when he calls “Mommy”, and his unmistakable “Lucien scent”. (Don’t throw me strange looks, Mommies out there will know.) Mornings are no longer a drag and nights are spent snuggling up to my little wide-eyed wanderer, filled with his adorable inquisitions about why the moon is in outer space. And it’s at times like these when you just know, you just know that you’d do anything for your child to have the most perfect life.