updated 14 Mar 2011, 10:36
user id password
Mon, Aug 23, 2010
my paper
Email Print Decrease text size Increase text size
Taste the real world, mums
by Clara Chow

MY FRIEND and fellow mum-of-two (let’s call her Ms Crummb) recently quit her stable part-time job to pursue her dream: baking gorgeous wedding cakes for a living.

A few months before she did, she and I were discussing her plans, when she confided that the prospect of leaving her employer to start a business was daunting, to say the least.

“What if nobody orders my cakes?” she wailed dramatically.

But she is a woman who can coax fondant into the softest, most realistic-looking pink petals and arrange them into an artful dome.

Her Earl Grey Pound Cake is a much sought-after commodity in our social circle. And I’m
munching on her divine, moist, orange-flavoured cake as I write this.

True enough, before she had even officially launched her brand, scores of people were already clicking “Like” and becoming fans on its Facebook page.

Barely a week after she became a full-time baker, magazines were ringing her up to arrange interviews and to feature her creations, which are nothing like your run-of-the-mill white, frilly, bombastic affairs.

Instead, they come in modern shades of teal, with adorable polka dots, or they come
adorned with minimalist-chic blooms to suit the most exacting Bridezilla.

I’m truly glad for her that she is finally doing what she has wanted to do for years. After all, once a woman becomes a mother, with the responsibility of caring for children, the window for self-actualisation often shrinks until it becomes just a pinprick of light.

With little hands tugging at one’s hem, it is all too easy to stay within one’s comfort zone because taking risks might involve more time away from them.

A father feels this way, too.

With social pressure on him to provide for his wife and kids, the average dad finds it harder than his bachelor peers to make major decisions that might have an impact on and implications for those at home.

But why should it be so?

As our children grow and develop, why should we, parents, remain in stasis, putting our hopes, intellect and abilities on ice until a fabled moment in time when the kids no longer need us?

What better way to teach them about evaluating our potential and facing up to our fears than to constantly challenge our limits and try new things?

French writer-philosopher Simone de Beauvoir wrote, in her seminal 1949 feminist treatise, The Second Sex: “There is no justification for present existence other than its expansion into an indefinitely open future... Every individual concerned to justify his existence feels that his existence involves an undefined need to transcend himself, to engage in freely chosen projects.”

She was referring to the idea of achieving true liberty by reaching out to other liberties; in particular, to how women are oppressed by men and thus unable to achieve transcendence.

But she might as well have been whispering across the decades to mothers like Ms Crummb and me.

Having become a student again in a master’s programme, I find myself grappling with this new role.

After almost five years of thinking about breastfeeding and child discipline, it requires
some track-switching to think about post-colonial literary theory and film criticism.

At night, while the Supportive Spouse patiently puts the kids to bed, I hole up in the
study, trying to get up to speed on my coursework. Thank goodness, then, for other mothers who understand. When I turn up bleary-eyed at work, my mummy friends cluck sympathetically and reassure me that I’m doing an amazing job of juggling.

My friends, who know that any morsel of free time in motherhood is precious, can relate to why I want to taste as much of the world as I can, now. For every baby step I take in real-world terms, they celebrate with me a great leap out of my comfort zone.

And I am privileged to celebrate theirs.

For more my paper stories click here.

readers' comments

Copyright © 2011 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Co. Regn. No. 198402868E. All rights reserved.