Outsourcing Motherhood

Families with stay-in "maids" used to be a feature. Today, it is the culture.

How did it turn out this way?

No doubt, there are families with the need for an extra pair of hands to help things out within the household. However, much like how the word 'gay' used to mean 'carefree' or 'happy', the definition of 'need' is very different today. The mobile phone, an air conditioner and even a car used to be items of luxury. These days, they are deemed by many in Singapore as absolute needs. Not surprisingly, so is having a full time, stay-in maid in the household.

For households with elderly or children, the need for a maid increases. A stay-at-home mum is a rarity in Singapore today. Parents have figured out it is more financially viable to have both parents working full-time to run a family. How else if the family is to afford that latest 60-inch state-of-the-art television system, that posh full leather couch assembly, the annual holiday trip to Europe or send Boy Boy to Montessori?

Look, new Daddy!
Mummy must work. Period.

So the plan was extended for the maid, who was initially hired to clean and cook so that daddy and mummy can have a little quality time together with Boy Boy. Now Maria has to pick Boy Boy up from childcare, clean, soothe, feed and even educate him.

When someone posted this picture up (left) on a neighbourhood group, you should have read the comments. The remarks, mainly made by mothers, were scathing. The picture was posted with only a suggestive caption but readers were quick enough to form the context. One thing for sure, nobody liked what they were seeing.

The queen of the household is caught between a rock and a hard place. Ironically, one of the challenge she finds of hiring a maid is to ensure the maid doesn't replace her. Fill the tasks of the maid to the brim! So that she will be too busy to rest on her expensive leather couch. Get her to wash the car too. So that she will have no energy left even to sleep, let alone sleep with Sir. How about Boy Boy? Nah, it is okay to outsource the yucky things such as changing of diapers to Maria. I mean, what can go wrong right?

My friend Angie is a part-time photographer, professional mother. That is a lethal combination for very keen eyes. She told me how she saw parents holding hands in shopping malls, while a maid trails them a few steps behind, carrying their babies or toddlers. Skin-to-skin bonding between parent and child must be deemed over-rated these days. What happened to the "He ain't heavy, he's my brother" privilege we reserve for our family? It has since changed to, "He is heavy, chuck him to Maria." Sad.

During photo shoots, Angie observed how queens of households bark instructions at their maids to take care of their infants. However, when it comes to crunch times, such as making the baby smile, the maid, not the queen, is the one who manages to do it in 9 cases out of 10. Who cares about making babies smile anyway? It is all about giving Boy Boy the best food, best education and best toys. There isn't anything Maria can possibly replace, right?


What Maria replaces is the patience you should have given your child. She did it out of responsibility and not love. Giving Boy Boy the best huh? What Maria also replaces is the humility of being a parent. No matter how smart or how rich you are or how much income you have, you shall be reduced to a pathetic soothing machine when your baby needs consolation. Even Mark Zuckerberg changes his baby's nappies. Yet we have arrived at this stage in Singapore where it is becoming increasingly "impossible" to start a family without a live-in maid, where motherhood is required to be outsourced. The Golden Age, that's what they call it.

1 comment:

  1. When you outsource parenting, someone else is teaching your kids their values(NOT yours).