May 2

Motherhood vs ambition


9035949895_77fcdbc0fd_bJust as I plopped on the comfy sofa that I had forgotten I even owned, her cry began.

The distinctive all-out cry of my beloved offspring, intended just for me, as only her mother would suffice.

Even when I’m in the midst of writing this article and I know that my baby is safe with my husband, I cannot ignore it.

It’s nature’s trickery on us mothers, as we are biologically wired to respond to our baby’s distinct cries.

A study from the University of Trento, Italy, in 2013 shows that a mother is interrupted from her thoughts when exposed to the sounds of a baby’s hunger, whereas men can carry on without interruption.

It is exactly this biochemical composition that turned me into the “Hugger mum” that I’ve become – who, according to Oliver James, the author of How Not to F*** Them Up — “is a mother who places the needs of the baby ahead of everything.”

The baby may sleep in the Hugger’s bed, be fed on demand and made into the centre of her world.

In early infancy, my baby cried a lot, as though she was grumpy at being expelled from the gold class accommodation that was my womb, where her needs of survival and warmth were met consistently and I’ve naturally tried to accommodate her every need since.

Eight months have passed and I’ve learnt so much about love, maternal nurturing and devotion, but the problem with being a “Hugger” is that you don’t have much time to pursue your own goals.

My maternal instinct is telling me that dancing to Old MacDonald Had A Farmnursery rhyme at this time in my life is natural and I should embrace it, but my inner drive to pursue my own ambitions is also burning stronger by the day and pulling me in the opposite direction.

From a young age I have been career-orientated, fighting hard for the next qualification and pursuing ambitious goals, as they seemed to quench my thirst for growth.

While I have submitted to the idea that my career would be on plateau for a while, I still need to challenge my mind with activities on top of spending most of my days speaking in high-pitched syllables, singing nursery rhymes and dancing around the living room.

Back home in Malaysia, it’s very common for a mother to return to her career within a few months of giving birth and although I wouldn’t want to give up the one-year maternity leave that we are luckily entitled to in Britain, I would certainly make good use of the willing hands of my family to play with baby while I took some much needed downtime.

No doubt choosing to live in London has countless advantages for me and my daughter, such as the wealth of nature and parks to stroll in, the easy transport links to take us around the city and lots of baby-orientated classes on our doorstep, but there is one very big disadvantage that has been playing on my mind for some time and that is that I am far from the helping hands of my family.

Without their help to take care of my daughter whom I feel is still too young to be put in a nursery, I’m left with limited options.

Like many mothers before me, perhaps I could create a part-time career for myself which involves my baby as my main source of inspiration.

There are plenty of services I need as a mother that aren’t available around me, so finding a gap in the market isn’t difficult.

Whether it’s organising a local playgroup, writing books for children or selling homemade baby items, there are endless possibilities.

Since becoming a mother, I’ve felt a shift in my perception of my ideal future.

When I witnessed the innocence of infancy first-hand – where wealth means nothing to a baby and being outdoors brings a huge smile to her face – I found myself striving for something more spiritually fulfilling than a desk job. One that involves creating things with my hands that will enrich someone else’s life.

However, all of these ideas must start with a seed to sow and nurture and that is exactly what I try to do in these rare moments of calm when my mind settles just enough to envisage a potential future with the right balance for my baby and myself.

And so, until the baby alarm inevitably propels me off the sofa, I will continue to plan my dream future.

> Samantha Hiew has been in the UK for the past decade.

As published in May’s online and paper edition of The Star Metro.


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