Showing posts from 2009

Defining A "Housewife"

A woman journalist interviewed me about working women who quit their jobs to take care of their children. She asked on the phone, “So what do housewives like you do all day long?” Taken aback, I explained that a ‘housewife’ works all day long to clean, cook and take care of family. She is very busy and she works hard. There is also a growing number of women who work to generate cash from home while they take care of the family. So they get to balance their work life with home life. I thought she understood what I meant. She insisted on seeing me in my house to see what I do. As soon as she sat down, she asked me earnestly, “So don’t you feel bored doing nothing all day long?” This time, I burst out laughing. It was very FUNNY! Perhaps I’ve become cynical. I’ve been asked these questions for the last eleven years, since I started to work from home after the birth of my daughter. It was a conscious choice that a modern mother made. It hasn’t made me a lesser woman. Instead, i

A Life's Shifter's Journey

A few years ago, I wrote an article about life-shifting (changing one’s views about work and living life). People who are life-shifters usually transform themselves from a rigid corporate or organisational life to a lifestyle whereby they do what they like and what means the most to them. Many readers from the corporate world wrote about their desire to become life-shifters but they didn’t know how. Quite a number of them were recently retrenched and they felt utterly lost. They wrote that they were hiding at home all day or pretended that they were still working in their former offices by going out of the house in the morning and coming back late. They also spoke about their low self-esteem. Reader HD lamented, “After I lost my job, everyone expressed their sympathies. It took me some time to get adjusted from a supposedly 'highly respected' successful career woman to a 'lowly' homemaker. It was painful. “I couldn’t handle it. There were days where I didn’t e

A Job Only Mothers Can Do

"How could you eat in a restaurant like this? No air-con, loud-mouthed waitresses, holes on the tablecloth, chipped glasses and plates, and wooden chopsticks! Everything here goes against sophistication and style!" LL complained as she wiped the sweat from her forehead with an imported, perfumed tissue. "The dim sum here is great and cheap! I don't see any problem eating here at all!" I shrugged my shoulders. LL wiped her mouth with another tissue that she took from her designer handbag. She pushed her plate away. "You know," she said, "you've changed since you've become a mother." "Of course, I see things differently after carrying a big tummy for nine months!" I laughed as I looked unwaveringly at her eyes. They emanated the confidence and assertiveness of a high-salaried banker who could assess a customer's credit worthiness in minutes. LL's eyebrows cocked. Her dark brown pupils narrowed from beneath her

Feminists or Cowards?

When eHomemakers was started more than 11 years ago, an acquaintance from a women’s organization chided me saying, "Some of us who are fighting for women’s rights are upset with you. We want equality with men. We want women to join the workforce, but there you are, encouraging women to be housewives" I explained that eHomemakers encouraged women to balance career and motherhood, and that we were helping women recognize the right to choose the appropriate path for their families and career as every woman has a unique situation. We were also encouraging women to take charge of their lives by being entrepreneurs instead of job seekers. Refusing to listen, she said in a huff, "You’re supposed to be a feminist, having worked in women’s development projects before. Now you are overturning women’s advancement with your middle class ideas!" The phone clicked. I was rather disturbed. However, after mulling over it for several days, I realized that her misgivings had to

Learning To Move On

Nobody likes to lose. What happens when a woman is left by her spouse and has to go it alone with her children? Sadness and loss are universal. In times of stress, self-doubt and grief, some women go into deep depression and never pick up their lives again. Others take a long time to heal, and still never really recover from the traumas. There are also those who achieve one goal after another and becoming better persons. All in all, they have to go through emotionally trying years after the breakup. The journeys they take, for better or for worse, are etched in their memories for the rest of their lives. ME, a single mom, now in her fifties, did what she could to clean up her hurt and move on. "My ex left me for a younger woman with long hair and long legs. After the separation, nobody in both families was concerned about how I might fare. All that was heard was, ‘Will he make it with the new woman?’ Accusations were piled on me for not being a good wife. Even

Accepting Terminal Disease

When M learnt that she had Parkinson's Disease, it was the most shocking and depressing news she ever had to handle. She felt as if a wall crushed her, and that her life just ended at that moment. It took her several months to accept the fact that the disease was here to stay. Then, an ovarian fibroid was discovered and she had to go for a surgery. We, as her friends, felt very sorry for her, as she had to deal with two blows simultaneously. We thought that she would be even more devastated after the surgery. However, we were wrong. M had a complete attitude change while she was at the hospital. She saw how fortunate she was compared to some other patients. Most of all, she realized that her life would be full of anger and grief if she did not start looking at the good side of everything around her. The realization was empowering. She began to appreciate every little thing she saw, heard and touched, no matter how small or insignificant it seemed. Until now, she still enjoy

Help Them To Stand Up

“Yah!!! Wah!! Aaaaah!!!” Loud and shrill screams rang eerily through the neighborhood for more than ten minutes. It was past midnight. I went up to the window to see what was going on. The street was quiet, not a soul was seen. A few other neighbors were also standing by their window sills trying to see what was going on. Another loud scream came through the house opposite mine. It is her. She is a young woman who has mental illness. Over the years, I have seen her throwing ceramic dishes onto her next door neighbor’s compound, throwing her brother’s toys onto the street and screaming at passer-bys. The ambulance was rushed in once because she cut herself. The family’s maid jumped over the fence several times, screaming for help, because she was chasing the maid with a knife. Once, she walked into my house uninvited and tried to push me to join a multi-level marketing scheme. When I politely refused, she was so angry that I thought she would hit me. I am only her neighbor

Inner Strength from Fairy Tales

Snow White sang lovingly, “Some day the prince will come, some day my love will come.” My then five-year old daughter, Little R, was mesmerized by the animated movie, “Snow White.” “Mommy, I want to grow up like Snow White! I will have many friends!” I caressed her forehead, thinking that it was alright for a little girl to want to sing and dance and be happy like Snow White. Then, I saw her playing with some neighborhood boys. Little R laid on the floor, pretending to be asleep. A boy rushed inside the room, yelling, “I will save you from evil!” He then had a sword fight with two other boys and he hit them with his sword. They pretended to die. He knelt down beside Little R and said, “I have saved you, wake up! I am your hero. Telephone me if you see any more evil!” “Who are you?” Little R asked after she opened her eyes. “I’m a Prince!” Little R smiled, “Thank you for saving me.” Then, they hopped onto his horse, went off together to his castle and lived happily ever af

NIEW Gender Series – Women’s Role in Nation Building

NIEW Gender Series The great Y.A.Bhg. Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohammed was to speak at the NIEW Gender Series on the 10th of November. The thrill of hearing the former Prime Minister of Malaysia delivering his noble speech on Women’s Role in Nation Building was a great opportunity that I could have barely missed. Being a foreign student and getting the opportunity to see and hear the former Prime Minister of my host country was a golden opportunity. So on 10th November, I attended the invitation at the JW Marriot Hotel, KL with my colleague to hear him speak on Women’s Role in Nation building. At 12.35pm silence swept the magnificent Mayan Sari Grand Ballroom of JW Marriot Hotel. All guests rose to welcome the arrival of Y.A.Bhg. Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohammed along with fellow dignitaries for the third NIEW Series held By NIEW (NAM Institute for the Empowerment of Women). The NIEW Gender Series was one of its third series since it started in 2007. He delivered a very lively, humourous speec

Beware of Scammers

“Earn Rm500-5000 per week. No experience needed.” Bold in red font, I read the email from a stranger through the preview pane. The company’s address was in Cheras, KL, the same one I read about in a Chinese newspaper advertisement for working at home jobs. It was also the same one that several members of eHomemakers complained about in the website’s Forum Board on scams . Another e-mail screamed, “Earn passive income! Stay home and let the money keep rolling in! Only fools work hard. Smart people join our scheme and let others work for you!” The tell-tale signs of a pyramid scheme were there: promise of sky-high profits for a small amount of effort, sellers and buyers have to recruit new sellers and buyers to keep the scheme growing. And the product sold was more expensive than what I could get in the shop! The legitimate company with the ‘largest global network’ used a free yahoo mail instead of its own company mail. Another email thanked me for answering a job advertisement even