06 May Loreana Chew
Loreana Chew‘s dynamic approach to life and vibrant personality are reflected in the diverse career choices she’s made over the years. Previously she worked as a business and corporate communications advisor for Shell, but after embracing motherhood, her priorities in life shifted. She decided to become a homemaker to dedicate her time to her daughter, before eventually re-entering the workforce to pursue her love for teaching and communicating with others, as a part time General Paper tutor.
In an upbeat and casual interview with UNSAID, Loreana passionately shares her journey of transition from the corporate world to motherhood, and most of all, her pursuit of happiness and success..
“On one of my working trips with Shell, when I came back to Singapore, I was at Terminal 2. My mom brought Ashleigh along to pick me up from the airport. She was about 6 months old then. I was only away for three days, but when she saw me, she growled like a dog. Ashleigh, my 6 months old girl, growled like a dog. And we do not have dogs in the house. So I don’t know how she got that but she was too young to speak, but that growl was very primitive, very raw, it conveyed her anger, her sense of abandonment. And it hit me right in the stomach, it went straight into my heart. It was the most pitiful yet hurtful sound I’ve ever heard. She didn’t cry. She just turned and refused to look at me. So, the next day I handed in my resignation letter.”
We want different things at different phases of our lives.
“Earlier on, I wanted to have a glamorous job that paid well and then, in my thirties I yearned for something else. When I decided to leave my job, people were wondering why I gave up such a good job, especially since it was something that I struggled so hard to get. However, being in the mass communications industry demands a lot from you. In order to do well, you have to be able to give your 100%. When I became a mother, I felt that I wasn’t balancing both my commitments as a worker and as a mother well, so I had to give one commitment up and it definitely wasn’t going to be my child.“
1. Struggling with the unexpected (daily) challenges of being a homemaker
“I’ve held a lot of very stressful positions before but I would say being a homemaker was the most stressful of them all. It’s a 24h job. I couldn’t do it. Really. It demanded too much of me. In the corporate world, you can minimize unexpected scenarios. You pretty much would be able to establish control over the outcomes. As a homemaker, you have to deal with the unexpected every second and minute so I guess for somebody who’s used to being in control of the situation, it was highly stressful.”
1. Unconditional love and carving my own space
“I don’t think I have ever adjusted fully to being a homemaker. It doesn’t mean that I love my daughters any less; I love her just as much but it was extremely stressful. I enjoy our time together time but I needed my own space as well. Because when you are homemaker, it’s round-the-clock work. You have a tiny boss who’s there, and who wakes up every two to three hours.”
2. Going back to school, as a teacher
“In the corporate world, I was mentally challenged and I enjoyed that, and the financial rewards were great. It didn’t make sense to give up a well paying job that I had worked so hard for, and then take a break, and then go back to take up another job that is not going to pay me as well. Plus, the early hours are a big thing for me because even as a student I had trouble waking up.”
2. Teaching came naturally to me.
“Having Ashleigh actually changed my perspective on what’s important in life. I decided to look for a job that will mean something for me and for the people who are around me. So teaching was a very natural option that came up. To me, teaching is the same as communications – just that I am communicating something that is a lot more meaningful than what I used to do professionally. Another bonus is that the working hours are better now than before. Teaching is the only job that gives you very good, long breaks for you to have meaningful vacations with your family.”
I would say that my definition of success has changed over time.
“In the past it used to be having a high-paying job, and being an independent, especially financially independent woman. But when I had Ashleigh, she changed my life. So, my definition of success was something else when she came along. When you talk about corporate success it’s a personal achievement, but when you become a mother, or when you become a wife, your definition of success cannot rest just on your personal achievement. It becomes broader. It could also mean having a fulfilling and better family life which is something I value tremendously.”
Being a mother actually made me become a teacher.
“It’s a cause-effect kind of thing. I would say that there is a synergy between being a mommy and being a teacher. I become a lot more tolerant. I really enjoy teaching because for the first time my stakeholders didn’t had any agenda that wasn’t visible to me. 18 year olds are sincere beings. They are there because they have an objective, and the objective was to do well for their A levels. So their objective was just very pure, very simple, and as a teacher I suppose that was my baseline. I have to prepare them for their national exams. but I had my own agenda in becoming a teacher – and that is to pass some of my messages and life lessons through to some of them!“
“We are complementary, male and female”
“In my opinion, the female has always been the hardier species. Even scientifically. As a sperm, the male ones swim faster but the female one lasts longer. So I think it’s a very natural thing. We are complementary, male and female. So to me, being a woman means having to juggle multiple roles of being the mother, daughter, lover, sister, friend and worker.”
“I think it’s unnatural for a person to be in a perpetual state of happiness, but I do have episodes of happiness. I am contented right now, because my definition of success has changed and I personally feel that I’m successful. “
Stay tuned to more stories from our ladies!