26 Mar Esther Rachel Lai
Esther Rachel Lai had her first child and got married at nineteen, while most of her peers were living a carefree, single life. Dealing with the challenges of being a teenage wife and mother has not been easy, but Esther has taken it in her stride. She now openly writes about her experiences in the hopes of helping other girls who may be in similarly tough situations. Read on to find out more about how Esther Rachel has grown up to be a #happybeing despite all that she has gone through in her youth.
One of the boys
I grew up with a brother so I did really boyish things. I did things like wrestling with my brother. But of course there were times when he went out to play with his friends and I would get ditched because I was a girl. When I was really young, we would go cycling from Pasir Ris to East Coast and they would cycle far ahead of me. But having said that, I feel like I can do whatever the boys can do too!
Building each other up
What defines a woman is her ability to help other women. In this society, here is a very strong competition between women, even in parenting and mothering. You see mothers comparing their kids… I think we can do better if they help each other.
1. Having a child, when not yet an adult
We were actually planning for an abortion so walked into the abortion clinic and I had an ultrasound done when I was already 10 weeks pregnant. During the ultrasound Kylie, my daughter was definitely waving her legs at me. And although I don’t have a picture of the ultrasound, that image is etched in my head. And I sat down crying at the clinic and I told my husband- then boyfriend- that I really couldn’t bring myself to do it and he felt the same.
1. Proving she can rise to the challenges of motherhood
I guess people saw that I grew a lot and matured a lot as a person… and so they’re all really happy for me. Our parents are the happiest grandparents now and my relatives also, they adore my kids a lot.
2. Coming clean to the family
We only revealed the entire situation to our family via text messages because we were too afraid to tell them face to face. My dad told us to come home to talk. He was angry but he tried to keep his cool. Shane was with me, but my dad couldn’t bring himself to look Shane in the eye. He was so angry and disappointed that he couldn’t even sit. My mom, when she saw me crying, hugged me and cried too. My Father-in Law, he used to be from the military, he’s actually very stern. Shane’s mom fainted at work. The whole atmosphere was very tense.
2. Find that silver lining
Especially in Singapore, we are very set in out mentality. You have to get a degree, a degree will get you a good job. But to some extent, it’s very difficult as a mom to pursue what I want to do. I had to give up my passion in design just for a job that would sustain me financially. Everything you do, your kids come first. But I don’t feel an ache because I love my kids a lot. Although I had to sacrifice a lot of things, I feel like I’m in a better place. If I was single, I’d prolly be very wild. Having kids sets things into perspective for you. You don’t live just for yourself anymore.
3. Stares and Social Stigma
I went to school right up to two weeks before I delivered. So I was that girl in school, that pregnant girl. I heard some stuff like ya know I knew Esther was such a ho and other some distasteful stuff. Of course there were those who said, “why do you wanna do this. It’s so shameful.”
3. Good friends to ride through the storm with
I had friends who were my shield and my lecturers were also very very nice and supportive. My classmates were really supportive, even the guys. Cause like I would be so insecure that to go to the canteen to buy food I needed someone to accompany me and my guy classmates would help me. Of course there were those who said, “why do you wanna do this. It’s so shameful.
4. Marriage and growing up
For my husband and me, our first few years of marriage were very difficult. It was really very difficult for me because he wasn’t used to helping with the kids, helping around the house, much less with my daughter. He’s a very chill, lepak sort of guy. At nineteen, most guys are still playing. But for me I had that very big responsibility to grow up and be the mother of my child. At the same he was still studying, and there were times when he didn’t want to go to school. It would get me to a point where I would cry trying to get him to wake up to go to school. It got so bad that I think I was in depression. I had suicidal thoughts, but I knew that I had to stay strong for my kids.
Making the best of what you have
To me happiness starts with contentment. You need to be content with who you are. Sometimes life throws you things that you don’t forsee. It throws you into a jumble, but it’s up to you to make the best of it. I don’t believe that you anyone should blame their circumstances… I believe that it’s all up to you to make or break your future.
For me it’s through my blog, to help other younger girls who may be facing challenges. I know what it feels like to be in that situation when you feel so lost, and unsure of what to do, I want to be that person that they can talk to. Because sometimes, you don’t really need advice, you just need someone who can listen. Back then when I was eighteen and pregnant I literally had nobody to talk to about it. It’s a fear like no other. I guess it’s also to give other young mothers a glimmer of hope… just because you’re pregnant doesn’t mean it’s the end of your life. It’s up to you to prove that young moms doesn’t mean bad moms.
It’s a cliche but…
“Tough times don’t last, tough people do” You don’t really know how strong you are until you go through what you have to. Honestly, when I look back I don’t know how I survived all that but I did.