36-year-old mum working 3 jobs to raise 3 kids: My ex left me but now I have triple the happiness

Kaypoh-ing Strangers: A single mum of 3 kids shares her journey and her hope for other women in her situation.

Mothership | June 05, 2022, 10:49 AM

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KAYPOH-ING STRANGERS: What is going through the mind of the person standing in front of you in the bubble tea shop queue? What are the fears and hopes of the person sitting next to you on the MRT? When did the person walking past you on the street feel the proudest in their life?

Kaypoh-ing Strangers is a Mothership series in which we approach ordinary people in Singapore to explore their stories and find out how they see the world.

We came across Ash* (not her full name), 36, at Changi Airport Terminal 3.

She was seated alone, at the rest area near the food court, and was on a break from her part-time job as a SafeEntry officer then.

Ash, who is a single mum – of three children aged 13, six, and three – runs a small home business on top of her full-time job to support her family. She hopes to inspire other single mothers to never give up on themselves no matter what life throws at them.

By Ash, as told to Lean Jinghui

Things happened after I gave birth to my third child in 2019.

My husband left me with the kids because of financial reasons, and his infidelity lah, I’d say.

I had mild depression after he left.

I still can recall those nights – when I went to work and was alone on the bus, I’d cry. At night, I’d also cry a bucket before falling asleep.

However, when I faced my colleagues and my kids, I’d put on a smile.

Basically, it was a very tormenting period.

Making the decision to move on

One day, I just decided that I needed to put a stop to this, I needed to move on. I told myself that I should stop crying, and take care of my kids and do whatever I need to do.

The healing process was not a smooth one, but progressive. Every day I pushed myself to learn new things, every day I motivated myself to be better.

It was a huge decision, but I had to take a leap of faith to take care of my kids – like, I'm not going to give up on myself and them.

So after the divorce, I made several changes for myself.

Picking up cooking from scratch

For one, I didn't know how to cook at all for the past eight years, since I got married.

So I started to brush up on my cooking skills, and went to Google, searched for ingredients, and did the dishes myself.

It is a big achievement that from nothing, I can now cook. I’d say that was one of the very proudest moments of my life.

I’m currently doing a home-based business; I make recipes like prawn batter for my family and friends.

It’s small scale lah, because of my schedule, so the most I’ve ever catered for is 10 pax. Afterwards, my friends reflected that it was very nice.

Working multiple jobs

I also have a full-time job at a MNC company.

At the same time, I also did part-time SafeEntry for eight to nine months on the weekends, at the check-in point at Changi Airport’s MRT station.

Now that the SafeEntry job has ceased, I’m contemplating if I want to take on a third job again, as I want to spend more time with my kids on the weekends.

Every day is definitely overwhelming because there are so many things.

But, I think it's also been very fulfilling at the same time.

It’s fulfilling, because I get to do what I want to do with my kids.

Like initially, I didn’t get to spend so much time with them, but right now, with them there everyday with me, I always feel very motivated.

Raising three kids as a single mother

I have three kids – my eldest is 13, my second is six, and my youngest is three.

My eldest was diagnosed with mild intellectual disability when she was five.

She’s progressed since then, and interacts well with the other kids. She tells me she wants to become a YouTuber one day, and I’m like, “Okay, that’s good.”

Parenting a child with special needs is different to parenting my “normal” kids, and I have to “categorise” and coach them with different methods.

I have two worlds, in that sense.

It is very tiring, but after work, I will usually still take the time to supervise my kids on their work, and when I do that I feel a sense of achievement for me lah.

Because to me, this time spent with my kids is nothing that money can buy. So I really look forward to it, no matter what I'm facing or if I’m tired and have no time for myself.

My kids are also very appreciative.

When I buy things for them, they will say, “Thank you mama for buying me things, thank you mama for cooking delicious food.”

Like my second child recently, told me, “Mama I’ll help you put on your shoes before we go out together”, before I sent her to school. I was very touched by the kindness of her act.

So I’d say it's really a blessing, whatever challenges I’ve faced have been a blessing in disguise.

My ex left me, but I got triple the happiness with my kids.

To all the single mums: Never give up

I think my greatest worry now is that I don’t want God to take me away early, because then there’s no one to take care of my kids.

For all the single mothers out there, I hope that whatever struggles you face in life, you can accept them with an open heart and open mind.

Don't give up, and just keep motivating yourself no matter what.

Like the battery, you know? My motto is “never say die”.

It's easier said than done, but at the end of the day, because I have my little ones, that’s what keeps me going.

Without them, without their cheerfulness or tantrums, good and bad, I will not be a mother.

So no matter what life throws at me, I just accept it and roll with it.

I’m working hard for them, they are the centre of my life.

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