12 Jan Singaporean Father. Foreigner Mother.
I believe who I am now is all because of who I was before.
I grew up in a family of 5. My dad worked overseas and I got to see him only 2 months out of the entire year growing up. My mom was an immigrant from the Philippines who only moved here after they got married.
I never really understood my parent’s “love story” as a child and when I got older, I realised it was because there was none.
My mother came here without any family or friends, putting herself in an entirely new situation to raise a family while her husband was barely around. It was inevitable that my mother was pushed around a lot by my father’s family. She didn’t understand the culture and could barely communicate with my paternal grandmother who only spoke Hokkien.
I was entirely oblivious to everything growing up. I didn’t understand why my mother cried sometimes, nor did I think it was much of an issue.
Growing up, my siblings and I enjoyed the times when my father was not around. His absence for the most part of our lives meant that there was a non-existent relationship between father and children. To make things worse, he would always be arguing with my mom whenever he was around. I remember crouching on the floor hugging my pet dog and crying because of the shouting that was happening in the house.
When I was 10, my parent’s relationship hit rock bottom.
My father would come home drunk and smelling of alcohol. He would then get angry and beat my mother. Such memories are the reason why I still hate the smell of alcohol. The mornings after were the worse. We would skip school just so we could stay home to accompany my mother who clearly needed the comfort.
We are always fed with the idea that families are meant to consist of both a father and a mother and it was because of this mentality that I held so dearly, that I tried to make things better for them. As a child, I would try to make them laugh whenever we were all together, creating the illusion of a happy family. Then there came a point where I realised that there wasn’t a point in trying anymore.
As a teenager, I busied myself with school. Joining many activities to fill my time and take my mind off the troubles at home. I believed I enjoyed being busy, it made me feel productive and fulfilled. I did not have the time to be bothered by the troubles at home. I put the sadness behind and focused on being productive in school.
I guess this worked for a majority of my time in secondary school, however there came a point where there wasn’t anything else to focus on in my life. Thus, there suddenly was a void that led the way for negative thoughts.
There then came a point in my life where everything seemed to be dull. Relationships with my mother was being strained because I felt that she no longer cared about me or my siblings. I never felt so alone and down, maybe even depressed. It felt as if everything was becoming overwhelming and I could not stand it anymore. I would be lying if I said suicidal thoughts did not creep into my head. I believe the one thing that kept me going was the belief in a better future, for me and for my family. I then replaced the depressing thoughts in my head with those of ambition. Thoughts about universities and scholarships and the endless opportunities that await me in life.
So what about today? Where am I now?
Life now seems good. I’ve got a scholarship and things seem pretty good at the present moment.
Am I certain about the future? No, I still have a long way to go, planning of finances for my family and trying to keep them afloat is difficult but I’m taking it one step at a time.
Do I believe in marriage? Well for now, I’m uncertain. I would like to believe that love exists and that marriage is forever but I can never be certain and I would never want to put my own children in the same situation. So maybe no, I do not believe in marriage.
Yes I am Singaporean, but raised by a foreigner. At times I believe the only thing that makes me Singaporean is my pink IC. Besides that, my mother has lived here for more than 2 decades, raised 3 Singaporean children and knows how to order Kopi at the coffee shop better than I do. But she’s a foreigner because of the way she looks and the way she speaks. So this begs the question on what we consider to be the meaning of being a Singaporean.
Daughters. Well yes, I am a girl. But I take the responsibility left behind by my absent father. I take care of my siblings, make sure my mother takes her medication, I pay the bills for the family and take care of everything around the house. I stay strong for their sake and will continue to do so for as long as long as they need.