updated 7 Jun 2013, 16:05
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Tue, May 14, 2013
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Mum at 18: How teenage parenthood has changed her
by Benita Aw Yeong

Going forward

These days, Pauline's hopes are simple: Get a scholarship, graduate and get a good job.

Unfortunately, the father of her child is no longer in the picture.

"He was unfaithful somewhere along the way, and I decided to break up with him," she says. But she is happy and thankful that her toddler, who will be one soon, seems to be doing well.

"My main priority now is to bring up the child and make sure he's healthy.

"After I graduate, I hope to find a good job so that my parents can retire and stay home to play with their grandchild," she says.

She's working two jobs while waiting to get into the university so that she can help with the expenses.

Wistfulness creeps into her voice as she talks about how her only regret is that she can't do as much for her son due to the family's financial situation.

It is the only other time during the interview that her stoicism cracks.

"He's been only around the neighbourhood. There are many things he hasn't seen. It's a bit troublesome to bring him around since I have to take public transport.

"And because of my financial constraints, I can't bring him to baby spas, swimming and so on. Maybe if I were richer, he can have all of that..."

Motherhood has changed her, she admits. "I'm more responsible now.

"In the past, the money I got from my part-time jobs I spent on myself. These days, I contribute more to the home than on myself."

The grandchild has also brought a new kind of unity to her family.

"My parents and I used to lead separate lives. They worked late, I studied.

"Nowadays, I bring them and my son for a simple meal in my free time," she says with a smile.

In fact, dinner together is just the reward she hopes to pamper her own mother with this Mother's Day. "I've noticed how she hardly has any rest helping me look after the baby.

"Unlike other mums, she doesn't go out or shop for herself.

"Without her, I don't think my son would be so healthy and happy, and I wouldn't have come this far.

"She's never complained, and she inspires me to work hard, to give her a good life in future," she says.

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