“When I was at a friend’s wedding, a friend from another table came over to me, touched my belly and said, ‘Oh, I just wanted to see if there is good news.’ I know this person had the best intentions at heart, but I felt so offended. Am I bad news because I’m not pregnant?

I wouldn’t say I’m not into having kids. I just don’t like to be asked about it. I think it’s rude. Whether or not I want to have kids in the future, that’s a discussion between my husband and I. We’ve been married for three years and we’re still not sure when we would like to start a family.

People make it their business to know when it’s really not. What if I’ve been having issues they don’t know about? Some women have been trying for years but can’t conceive because of medical complications. Can you imagine how hurtful it is when people ask them when they plan to have kids?

It’s just part of our culture here in Singapore; society has made it a norm to ask. Every Chinese New Year, people ask you when you plan to get married. Once you’ve gotten married, the next question is when you’re going to have kids and start a family. I’ve now learnt to pick my battles and just smile and nod.

I once had a discussion with a friend about kids. I told her kids can be annoying, and she asked me if I thought it’s easy being a mom, because it’s not. I never said moms were not awesome. Just because I may not want to start a family at this point in time, doesn’t mean I look down upon mothers.

When I was at my previous workplace, I had firsthand experience of how women get penalised for being pregnant. People would have open discussions about how a woman shouldn’t get pregnant because she’ll be gone on maternity leave for three months and that’s just not fair to them, the workmates.

I really do feel for women who genuinely want to have a baby yet still have a career and be equal to the men; people at the workplace can make it feel like you can’t have it all. And it’s not just the men holding them back; women can be meaner and more competitive as well.

That’s why I’m not against anyone making any decisions for themselves. I just think that you can be awesome over there being a parent or whoever you choose to be, and I can be awesome over here doing my own thing. A woman doesn’t have to be defined by whether she’s married or not, or whether she has kids or not.” – Charmene, 33



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Arman Shah

A former travel writer with fond memories of solo adventures in Southeast Asia, Arman is now Founder of The Everyday People. He's also the co-host of Channel Empathy, a podcast about the marginalised in Singapore.