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Maybe you work in an

office, or maybe you

stay home full-time.
Maybe you gave birth

to a big brood, or maybe
you built your family in
an unconventional way.
Maybe you share
parenting duties with
the love of your life, or
maybe you go it alone.
Whatever challenges

you face as a mother,
these three inspiring
examples of

motherhood. Read on
and learn from mums
who are like you – and
mums who aren’t.

you? By Kua Kee Eng

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An Adoptive Mum
T jie Lie Hwa, fondly known as
“Ping Jie” (sister Ping) had
Learning Babycare Skills All Over Again
“I had a really big trouble when I first brought Jackie home,”
decided to adopt a child three Ping Jie gave a hearty laugh. “Kelly was already a
years ago, whom she named grown-up, and I couldn’t remember anything about taking
as Jackie Loh Herr Shin. Back care of a baby, since I haven’t take care of one for decades.”
then, she was 47 years old. “I Ping Jie had had some trouble mixing formula milk at the
knew I was destined to bring right water temperature, was unsure of what baby
her home the moment I hold her products to buy and other proper ways to take care of
in my arms on the day she was Jackie. Eventually, after a few days, she began picking up
born. She touched my heart, I the skills again.
couldn’t explain why, but she
just did,” Ping Jie beamed with “Luckily for me, Jackie was quite easy to be taken care of
pride while elaborating on the first time she set eyes on when she was a baby. She usually slept through the night
her adopted daughter. Jackie’s biological mum gave up and hardly cried,” said Ping Jie. However, the real
on her, as she couldn’t afford to take care of her. challenge began when Jackie began talking. “She’s quick
at picking up new words and phrases,” Ping Jie then
Opposition from Family Members elaborated on how her actions and verbal words were
When asked whether her only child, Kelly Liang, who is a imitated by Jackie. “Once, I was driving and desperately
grown-up and working adult, had opposed to her decision looking for a parking space in a shopping mall, and I cursed
to adopt Jackie, Ping Jie was fast to answer, “Kelly has when someone’s car was blocking my way. When I made
been very supportive since the day I decided to bring Jackie another turning in the parking lot, another car happened
home. She has always wanted a brother or a sister.” to block my way again, and this time it was Jackie who
cursed like I did! I was so shocked and I knew I had to
Other family members, however, were initially not as watch what I’m saying in front of her next time.”
supportive. “My siblings and my mum did oppose at first,
but gradually, they have learnt to love Jackie as part of Learning from the Past
their own family.” “I understood why my siblings and my When it comes to discipline, Ping Jie makes it clear to
mum were so concerned about my decision to raise Jackie, herself not to repeat the same mistake she did when she
because they care for me so much. I was leading a very raised Kelly. “When Kelly was in her early teens, I was so
tough life, raising Kelly as a widow. Back then, busy working, I had neglected her and chased her away
Kelly was about a year old when my husband whenever she wanted to speak with me, which had hurt
died in a car accident. My family doesn’t her feelings deeply, so much that she began to slack
want me to go through all that child- off academically.” “Fortunately, I realised my
raising episode again at such a senior m i s t a ke a n d c h a n g e d . I u n d e r s t a n d t h e
age.” importance of communication between
mother and child. So, this time
round, Jackie has all my

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A Mum of a Big Brood
H aving eight children out of her several marriages has
made Zieman tougher than ever. Zieman, an assistant
Zieman, proud of her daughter’s achievements. Then, she
had her second child, Mas Arif, turning 25 soon, from her
editor with The Star, had paved through a tough journey in second marriage to her lecturer when she was in her final
life after a succession of marriages, which did not work. “I year of studies in UITM. Her third child, 23-year-old Nizam,
was the one who had actually requested for divorce in my works as a mechanic, and is taking a part-time course in
past marriages, as I could not stand my ex-husbands engineering. From her next marriage to a high-ranking
treating my children differently just because they are his police officer, she had another four children, Lina Farhana
step-children. My children will always be my number one (17), Farahan (12), Fatin Nabiha (11) and late Siti Mariam
priority, and I definitely cannot tolerate a husband who has (passed away in 1997). “I had a ruptured appendicitis when
an affair, cheating on me!” said Zieman boldly, when Siti Mariam was born, the puss went through the blood
answering my question as to why her several marriages stream, she didn’t survive the ordeal,” said Zieman, “and
didn’t work the way she had expected. my father passed away a few months later the same year.
Then my husband died the following year, at the age
She had her eldest daughter Mas Ayu, now 27, from her of 60.”
first marriage. “She is a lawyer by profession and she is
engaged with a lawyer running the same legal firm,” said Two years later she married her first high-school sweetheart
whom she knew since she was 17 and was blessed with
Qadeem Shaher, now three years old. Like her previous
marriages, this one did not last long as well.

Financial Struggles
“Financial problem will be my biggest challenge at the
moment,” was Zieman’s answer when asked about the
major challenges of raising seven children on her own.
Zieman said, “I never asked for money or any compensation
for my children when I requested for divorce and custody
of my children,” she added “Except for the pension I
received for the four children as my late husband was a
high ranking police officer.” She had to pay the house loan
when her husband, who had paid the down-payment for
the semi-detached house, passed away.

“I need to bring home about RM5,000 to RM6,000 to

maintain my whole household expenses such as
expenses for my children, for food, utilities, house
loan,” said Zieman, as she further explained how
she had to keep up with a strict budget, “I don’t
dine out with my family because it’s too pricey,”
she added. She had never asked for money
from her older children who are now working.
To Zieman, as long as they can manage their
own financial needs and don’t give her trouble,
it’s fine if they don’t contribute to the household.

Stress Management
Zieman’s sanctuary from stress is, amusingly, the
pasar (wet market) in P.J. Old Town. “I must go to the
pasar on weekends. All the noise there is so therapeutic to
me,” having said it, Zieman explained that by observing
other people from all walks of life in the wet market
allows her to think differently and gradually she will
see the problems that stress her out are actually
trifle matters.

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A Single Mum
A s any other woman would’ve dreamt of marrying a man
whom she loves, have kids, build a happy family and live
Her first four years of marriage was a bliss, but it took an
unexpected turn the latter years. “I finally got my divorce
happily ever after, Siti Rosmawati Ismail, was married for in May last year, and I’m glad that I did because I no longer
eight years to a man she loved. Unfortunately, it turned have to put up with his selfishness, his mum and siblings
into her worst nightmare. Blessed with two daughters, Siti who always criticise me and my children, who never
Anis Kamilia Sabrina, six, and Siti Sarah Kamilia Adlina, extended their hands to help us, but drained off all my
three, Siti Rosmawati, or known fondly as Wati, is now a hard-earned money,” Wati said.
single mum.
Her ex-husband had requested for financial aid from her
during their marriage. Wati’s ex-husband came up with
many excuses when he needed Wati’s help, such as he
would like to start up his own business or he would like to
help his brother. For the sake of her children, she had tried
her very best to put up with it and Wati even applied for
personal loans to help him out. “I still bear the monthly
payments for two personal loans under my name, but the
loans were actually used up by my ex-husband, for his
so-called “business” which he never set up till this very
day!” fumed Wati. “Even though I’m now divorced, but the
loans are seven years to term. So I still have to make the
monthly payments until year 2010.”

New Life, New Challenges

Her ex-husband only managed to provide nafkah
(alimony) for her children for the first three months.
Thereafter, he either delayed the payment, or failed to
pay, which leaves Wati no choice, but to bear all her
children’s expenses on her own.

“When I go to work, I leave my children under the care

of my mum. Since I’m always busy at work on weekdays,
I will spend as much time as I could when I get home
from work, and during the weekends,” said Wati,
grateful to her mum who has been so supportive of her
all this while.

Her children still get to see their father once every

fortnight, during the weekends. Sometimes her
children’s feelings are hurt, when their father breaks
his promises. “My ex-husband had promised Sarah
a birthday present, which he failed to give, and my
poor child waited until 2 a.m.,” said Wati. Anis fell
from the staircase and hurt herself because her
ex-mother-in-law was not paying attention when her
daughter was under her care. This incident had made
Wati feel reluctant to send her children over to her
ex-husband’s place, but it is his right to see them once
every two weeks, so there’s nothing she could do.

“It’s not easy to raise my daughters as a single-mum, with

financial burden and all, but I’ll do my very best to cope,”
she said. “At least I’m happy and blessed with two
adorable daughters. And I’m thankful to my parents, who
have always been there for me.”

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