Since my daughters ages are not very far from each other, between 2 to 3 years apart could you imagine how I had managed to work at the same time trying to raise a family. Maybe after this you will appreciate your mother more that ever.
When my first born arrived, I was staying with my mother-in-law. There was no Indon maid at that point, therefore many grandparents took care of their grandchildren. My hubby was still in Ipoh, we spent only week-ends together as a family. Weekdays, I would be at my mom-in-law (MIL) with the baby, weekend we will alternately spent them between my parents and MIL. Eventually, hubby got a transfer to Penang Island. So we were all three were staying with MIL, and of course MIL would take care of the baby during daytime when I was at work.
As a daughter-in-law, I could not bring myself to ask her to do more than necessary, she had already got the task of preparing meals for us and then I was there to burden her with the baby. I would wake up early, prepare my hubby's need for the day. All ironing would be done the night before. He is working with the government and he had to catch the ferry everyday, so he had to leave home at dawn. Then the baby would wake up, and try if you can to get them to sleep again so that you can wash the diapers and your other clothes. No way, that they would want to do that. During those days, disposable diapers were expensive and I was not earning that much to be able to afford disposable diapers. My first year pay was only RM850 and during that time I was lucky to have a job. It was depression time and many of my friends who graduated with me did not have any job. Those who had a job, were sometimes just managed too get the contractual government pay of RM400. Yes, I did not have to pay rental but, I made sure that I provide the food that the whole family eat while I was there.
I did eventually buy the washing machine, but the soiled diapers could not be put straight into the washing machine. Our own clothes would be used for prayers, due to hygienic factor as well as the syarak requirement, I would still have to clean them prior to placing them into the washing machine. My baby would be in a rocker or in the swing, sucking her milk, sometimes she got fed-up and cry. MIL in the kitchen, many times I had to come out from the bathroom to make sure she was fine. I was scared that she might leap out of the swing once she was able to move. At the same time I was fighting for time, so as not to be late to work. The punch card must not be red otherwise there was so much to explain to the boss.
When the second baby arrived we then decided to find some help. We hired a young girl from the kampung in Baling to be our stay in babysitter. All the girl would do was to take care of the 2 girls and washed their diapers and clothes. My clothes and my hubby's would still be my responsibility. She did not have to cook because my MIL would be doing that. We had to send her home when she wanted to go home (taking a leave) and then fetch her again the following day. We had 3 stay-in babysitters for the 2 kids, over the period of 3 years. They left because they wanted to work in a factory. At that time the demand for female factory workers was increasing. Being a babysitter would not improve their economic status in any way. My hubby's younger brother got married and the house then was getting crowded. But my BIL's wife is a full time housewife so sometimes I had to rely on her as well when we were in between babysitter.
By the time the 3rd baby arrived we were getting desperate. How could I take care of 3 kids and still be able to go to work. So now the division was made. The baby was to stay with my mom and the 2 elder girls (Kak Long and Angah) would be with us with MIL. In November that same year, my parents decided to go to perform the umrah and my MIL wanted to go with them. They would be in Mekah for 3 weeks. We needed to make another plan, very soon. We found a baby sitter who we can send our baby to, in my parents kampung. My elder girls would have to stay at my aunt. Kak Long (5 years old) and Angah (3 years old) were quite independent already I could drive with them in the car to my aunty's place on the way to work and pick them up again when I came home.
At the same time there was an opening for us to buy the house where we were currently staying. The house belonged to a retired teacher who was a spinster and she had rented the house to a lecturer from the local university. The tenant had bought a piece of land and wanted to move out. My father heard of the intended sale and approached us. I discussed with my hubby on the possibility of purchasing the house. I told him that we had to be the one to move out of MIL's since both of us were working. His younger brother has a full time housewife. They have also had 2 sons and we could not be imposing on MIL anymore.
Since he was working with the government then we could secure a government loan to buy the house which we did. We moved into the house just before my parents and MIL travelled to Mekah. The 3rd baby was born in April and we moved to the house in November, just before my parents and MIL left for Mekah.
My daily routine for the next 3 weeks were, get the children ready, take everybody (all three) out of the house. Lock the door, walk to the babysitter, leave the baby and walk back to the house. Gather the required things for the girls (Kak Long and Angah) to stay at the aunty's house. Put them in the car, drive them to the aunty's house, left them there and off to work.
When I came back from work the journey was retraced backword. Penat kan.
After my parents came back from the umrah, Kak Long stayed with my parents and the baby was still with the babysitter. When Kak Long and Angah went to the kindergarten and eventually to school. They stayed with my parents after school. My father who was already retired and was running his own business, he was the one fetching the them from school. We also trained Kak Long to walk home (my parents) from school by herself so that grandpa did not have to much to do, in the morning I still have to send the girls to school. My hubby was still working in Penang Island, and his journey was getting further after we moved house.
During the time I was pregnant with the youngest daughter, a friend asked if we wanted to hire a maid. She was going to take an early retirement scheme and therefore would not need a maid anymore. We then jumped to the idea. My children were aged 7, 5, 2 and there was another baby approaching. We took bibik in and my burden was lessen.
The above was the story within the first 10 years of my career. Before I had a maid, my household was in the mess. Cooking was always left only to the week-ends. Going to work in the morning was always rush, rush and rush. Sometimes, I did not have the time to make up my face properly. I remember at one time some girls were looking at me weirdly, without saying anything, so I thought that I had better take a look in the mirror. When I did that in the toilet I saw someone looking as red cheeck as the clown looking back at me, hahaha. That's the penalty of having to put up your make-up while driving. A lesson learnt. Then there was one time when Richard (the HR Manager) as he was walking from the cantten to his office and met me at tha corridor and pulled me aside.
Richard : N you did not zip up your skirt.
Me : * face turning really hot* Really, thanks Richard.
Then quickly pull the zip at the back of my shirt up. Lucky I was wearing a petticoat.
When they grew up older then, and with bibik being there, I was able to concentrate on the job. Since then I had moved work place 3 times. Bibik went back for almost 2 years to Indonesia (she did not want to come back but her hubby died and that forced her to come back to Malaysia). Bibik has 5 sons so my daughters are her daughters too.
When she was not with us we thought that perhaps we did not need any more maid, our daughters were old enough to help out at the house and they can be left at home without any problems. By the way my parents live within the same kampung and they can always keep an eye on them. My MIL was not in healthy condition and hubby took her home for about 1 month before she passed away. Kak Long would look after the nani (my MIL) in the morning because she was schooling in the afternoon. Angah came home and then look after nani in the afternoon. Both were already in Secondary school. The 3rd and 4th would go to my parents from morning school then go to the Sekolah ugama in the afternoon then back again to my parents. I picked them up when I come back from work. I cooked in the morning before going to work, hubby bathe and feed MIL and will come back at lunch to feed MIL again. Lucky for him at that point he had already moved to the office in the nearby town.
During fasting month, Kak Long and Angah will cook the rice, re-heat all the left overs and we (hubby or me) buy some food from the Pasar Ramadhan. This went on for about 2 years until the same friend called to aske me if I wanted tto take Bibik back. I actually did not need to have a maid anymore but out of compassion I took Bibik in again, Right now she is with me and since my mom is now already aging and staying with us, it is good to have someone in the house, to cook for her and the children when they get homw from school.
Things were better after we had an in-house maid. I then started to look of ways to improve myself in building up my carrer. I would not want to stay at one level for the rest of my life. I did my Masters Degree in Quality Management and moved to a better oppotunity. Try my best to climb up the corporate ladder without sacrifising my values (meaning I did it with pure hardwork and not back stabbing others), as well as not scarifising my families. Until now, I have brought home very little work or work related problems. For me as soon as I'm out of my gate, I would be thinking and planning for my day at work. As soon as I am out of the factory gate, I would be planning the rest of my day at home with family. Weekend are for family, but if duty calls I would ask my hubby's permission to go. He has always been supportive, lucky me.
I could not have accomplished anything without the support of my family. My late MIL and my parents were nearby when I needed them. My nature of work had almost all the time needed me to be outstations at one time or another. If there were no family support I would not be able to get as far as I have been. It has not been easy to stay focus on work while at the same time trying to raise a family. I have worked hard to come up to this current stage in my career, at the same time my family (immediate and extended) has been great and supportive along the way.
Now, it is payback time, I could not do much except for du'a for my MIL and father but I am taking care of my mom at my home. As for my hubby he has my undivided love.