I returned to work full time when your brother was only one month old. Why? I had fallen pregnant with your brother soon after starting my first job and I felt very guilty about taking maternity leave so soon, so I went back in a hurry. Plus, your father and I needed the money. We didn't have much choice then.
At first, your brother was minded by our family friend and next door neighbour (you know her as Poh Tee). Your brother stayed with her weekdays and only came home on the weekends, but I would visit every morning and every evening. After we moved to our new flat, however, Poh Tee could no longer mind him as our new home was too far from her, so your brother was cared for by my younger sister.
Due to various circumstances, your brother changed carers a number of times after that, including a brief stint at a daycare centre. Your brother suffered terrible separation anxiety and would sob and suddenly fall ill in the mornings as I was getting ready for work. It tore my heart to pieces and many a days I just wanted to resign so I can look after him myself but financially, we wouldn't be able to cope with just one income.
It was only when your grandfather retired that your brother received consistent care from him. By that time, he was able to speak, so we would use a voice recorder to communicate with each other. Everyday he would be able to listen to my voice while I was away from him and he too, would record little messages about his day - what he did, what he ate, how much he misses me and so on. Every night after work, I would listen to his messages. Sometimes I would laugh or smile but mostly I would cry at what I've missed out on.
Your father and I searched high and low for a full time carer for you and we were so lucky to find a lovely lady (Xiaohui Aunty) who lived in the next block of flats. She has boys of her own but always yearned for a girl, so she was thrilled to have you in her care and she looked after you as if you were her own. She was loving and caring and you stayed with her during the week and came home to us on the weekends.
When you were about four, your father and I earned enough money to afford full time domestic help. Fe from the Philippines came to live with us and helped with chores and was your carer and companion until you were eleven. Both of you were so close and you called her "jie jie" (big sister) and she was in many ways the big sister you never had.
I feel that you were the more fortunate one as you had consistent and loving care, whereas your brother moved along from one carer to another. To this day, I feel really guilty that I wasn't able to be a stay at home mum but I'm glad you and your brother turned out well and I am so proud of the both you.
Dear ma, you are the best mother that we could ever wish for, because you did the very best you could for us. And that is all that any mother can do for her children - her best. I love you more than words can say.