Unwed mum in Singapore: I've made my bed and I have to sleep in it

Katherine is a unwed mother and has a 5-year-old son.
PHOTO: The New Paper

Being an unwed mother is not easy, but each time Miss Katherine Sng looks at her son, who turns five this year, she knows she made the right decision.

The 38-year-old, who is the founder of online parenting magazine BubbaMama, said that while the "accidental pregnancy" was daunting, she has never had second thoughts about choosing single parenthood.

Her pregnancy in 2010 came as a shock as it was discovered only after she had broken up with her then-boyfriend and the father of the child.

"There were moments when I thought of terminating my pregnancy because I was scared of what society would think of us," said the former account manager who started her online magazine during her pregnancy.

"I was also worried I would be unable to support the child. But at the back of my mind, I always knew that I would go through with it."

Miss Sng said that feeling the baby "kicking in her belly" gave her the strength to move on.

She is no longer in contact with her son's father, save for one time last year when she had to ask him for more financial support. He now gives her $700 a month.

"My son is the love of my life and I'm blessed to have such a supportive family who help to look after him," she said.

"Family support is of one of the most important things to an unwed mother."

Miss Sng's mother, Madam Teo Mui Hong, 67, said: "She's my child, I cannot just leave her to fend for herself. I help in whatever way I can.

"I told her to keep the child, it's an innocent life. Some people who want children can't even conceive."

TOUGH

Madam Teo also said that although she was initially caught between the feelings of "sadness and joy" when she heard that her daughter was pregnant, she is proud of her for having the courage to face life as an unwed mother.

Miss Sng lives with her son and her retired parents in a three-bedroom flat in Pasir Ris.

Her three sisters are married and live with their families. On weekdays, her mother takes care of her son when she is busy at work.

Being an unwed mother is tough, said Miss Sng, because she is unable to enjoy certain benefits that married parents have such as buying a HDB flat, parenthood tax rebates and the full 16 weeks of paid maternity leave.

Miss Sng earns about $60,000 a year, so she said she has to think twice before splurging on branded shoes and bags.

She said candidly: "As a single parent, I have to do the job of two people. But I've made my bed and I have to sleep in it, so might as well make myself comfortable."

Miss Sng admitted that social stigma towards unwed mothers still exists and she cannot escape from gossips, which is why she avoids being around when her relatives visit her parents during Chinese New Year.

She said: "My mum understands. So while my son is happily receiving red packets and snacking on goodies, I'm usually out of the country or out visiting friends."

Since giving birth, Miss Sng has been on only several dates as she has no time and energy for dating while juggling work and taking care of her son.

"My heart is only so big, 80 per cent is with my son, so it will be hard for any man to win over my heart," she said.

I was also worried I would be unable to support the child.


This article was first published on January 25, 2016.
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