I Won't Celebrate The Sacrifices Women Make. Here's Why.
We have all made sacrifices at some point in our lives, and parents, especially mothers, are most often commended for their selflessness and the sacrifices they make for their children. But this got me thinking – is such a sacrifice really something to celebrate?
There’s no doubt that giving up something you want or need for the sake of someone else, is a noble action. But to some extent, sacrifice implies a compulsion, a lack of better options that compels you to give something up.
According to this study, the female labour force in Singapore was at 61.2% in 2020, with a gender gap only emerging when women start to enter childbearing age in their 30s. This is usually followed by a phase where some women will have to make a hard choice between career and motherhood, while others will have to juggle between both work and family like my mother did, though not necessarily by choice.
In a society where women are increasingly presented with options and empowered to make their own decisions today, I for one, would rather celebrate the things I consciously and actively choose, rather than the act of sacrifice itself.
Sacrifices my mother had to make
Like what was expected of most women back in the day, my mother got married and had two children. Pregnant with me, her first child, at the age of 37, she had a high-risk pregnancy which led to my premature arrival. The medical care I needed right after I was born wiped out her entire life savings and this unexpected situation placed a huge financial strain on my family ever since.
As a result, both my parents had to work all day, every day, to make ends meet and afford to hire a domestic helper to care for my sister and I. However, unlike my father who had a small business, my mother drew only a small income from her blue-collar job. Despite the demands of her work which presented little career progression as well, she recognised the importance of having a dual income household.
Owing to her long working hours, she hardly had time for personal hobbies or social activities. She also rarely went shopping or indulged in manicures or massages, as tired as she always was. Even as a child then, I could see that compared to my father who generally had more leisure time, my mother persevered to be the primary caregiver out of obligation as a parent.
She stayed extremely frugal and consistently prioritised our needs over her own, channelling all her resources into art classes, ballet classes, swimming lessons and tuition for my sister and I, and in the process, failed to take care for herself and her future.
Any little money my mother had left would go to her personal savings that she struggled to rebuild from scratch.
Heavily reliant on my sister and I
Like many of my peers, now that my parents are near retirement age, my sister and I are now fully financially responsible for our parents.
While my sister and I have actually been financially contributing to the household ever since we started working, supporting them fully now makes a bigger difference and can be a real challenge, especially as we strike out to build our own lives.
Together, we contribute about $1,000 per month to our parents. Needless to say, this isn’t sufficient for them to get on by comfortably after retirement. Sadly, it looks like my parents will never be able to fully retire and will likely have to take up odd jobs to sustain them for the rest of their lives.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I am truly thankful for the sacrifices my mother has made for us and would certainly never leave either of my parents in the lurch. However, I don’t celebrate the fact that she had to make them. I truly feel for both my parents, especially when they’ve worked hard their entire lives and sacrificed so much for my sister and I during our growing years.
Times have changed
In today’s Singapore, women are empowered and have full liberty to make their own choices – whether it is to get married or remain single, to have children or not, to remain a full-time working professional or become a homemaker. The list goes on.
For me, this means that I have the freedom to not conform to society’s expectations of a cookie cutter life, and the choice I make allows me to celebrate a brighter future. As such, choosing one or the other shouldn’t be considered a sacrifice, but rather, a conscious decision we believe is best for ourselves.
For now, I do not foresee myself being able to afford to start a family in the near future. But should I one day choose to have children, I strive to become the woman who never forgets her own needs so that my sacrifice won’t lead to more sacrifices that my kids will have to make for me in my old age.
To this end, my mother’s sacrifices and experiences have certainly opened my eyes to the importance of planning ahead and prioritising self-sufficiency for the sake of one’s retirement, regardless of marital status and choices made in life.
You too can empower yourself to make an educated choice and start your financial journey by reaching out to an Income advisor today.
This article is meant purely for informational purposes and should not be relied upon as financial advice. The precise terms, conditions and exclusions of any Income products mentioned are specified in their respective policy contracts. For customised advice to suit your specific needs, consult an Income advisor.
This advertisement has not been reviewed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore.