Friday, August 22, 2008

A sore spot

So it was that I went from jumping on the couch a la the deranged Mr Cruise to brooding like Byron in the span of just 5 days.

On Sunday, I cheered when PM referred to the letter I wrote with 4 other big-family-mummies to ST on why the bloody perks stopped at 4 when we all had 5 kids. Wow - I thought, euphoric - we made a difference! They were listening. I had nothing but warm fuzzy cuddly thoughts towards the PM and the govt. I even sent him a note to thank him, which he promptly replied.

So there I was basking and dismissing all warning sighs (not a typo) from KH, who said darkly that he was sure we would not get it - the govt could not be so magnanimous suddenly. I dismissed the dire prophecies with an airy wave and empty caveats (empty because I did not believe in them) such as "Okay, let's wait and see. Hopefully he will etc."

I was stupid and wrong. And I must have hexed myself with my joy. And the Tom Cruise stunt could hardly have impressed the gods.

So it was midweek that I found my mood plummeting to rock bottom when I realised: I was not getting a cent. Oh yes, we got what we lobbied for - that incentives would be extended to the 5th and latter born children. But not to us. They were not backdating it, they were not pro-rating it. It started, they said, from 1 Jan 2009. The only one of us big-family-mummies who got anything was barbs who got the PTR of $20,000.

I think I heard my heart break.

I sent off an impassioned, emotional piece to the PM, saying everything but short of begging him to please please please give me the money!

Cruel irony - to lobby and be successful but to be denied any taste of success for my own family.

The other big-family-mummies are certainly taking this a lot better than me. I don't know why I expected so much and why I feel so terrible. I just felt, more than ever, that this government did not look after the interests of ALL children. Okay, did not look after the interests of MY children. Why did I think they would? How naive of me to think so!

I feel the same way as one would feel after discovering his loved one cheating on him.

So this sounds very drama, but I don't know any other way of putting this, of explaining why I feel so deserted and so angry, so disappointed, so... hurt.

I'm sure I will feel better in time. I already do feel a bit sheepish at sending the PM my rather emotional email! But this sense of loss, sense of 'betrayal', I don't think I would get over it so soon. Terrible as it may sound, this has sort of melted down into a tight, hard, metallic core of bitterness which will not go away so easily.

I think this is pretty much how my mother felt years ago when she went to see the principal of St. Mike's to plead and appeal for my brother. My brother was just abt 5 marks short of entry to SJI, but he was Sports Boy of the Year, he was a prefect, he was school player in football etc. They rejected him and spouted the official line: we cannot take him in because he did not make the grade and no, there can be no exceptions. I think my mother cried in Novena that day. But it was only later on, when she learned that someone else with lower grades than my brother had made it in to SJI - because his family had 'donated' a sum of money to the school. We could never have done that.

But it taught her that all policies lived life through a two-way mirror.

I found that out myself in these recent days.

Today, the 'good' news came - that the govt were advancing the incentives to take immediate effect "due to the appeals of parents".

Back in 2001, when the baby bonus scheme was first implemented in Apr 2001 instead of Jan 2001, parents protested too. I was one of them. I was not as vocal as I am today and I certainly did not write to the PM then. But this was a sore point - why could they not advance it to Jan 1 instead when it was announced during the National Day Rally the year before? But all appeals fell on deaf ears and the children born before 1 April 2001 had nothing. Caitlin was one of them.

Their policies are not well-thought out, grudgingly given, deadlines fixed etc. They seem so focused on the officialese that they forget - these are children, lives that can be affected, impacted by their policies.

How not to be bitter? Angry? Resentful?

It used to be that I would immediately leap and say: I'm migrating! But I won't - I love my chai-tow-kuay too much. I may not think much of this government, and I think they certainly need more heart, more generosity in them, and they need to lose their hard-headed pragmatism a bit. But I will not leave.

I just feel sad, disappointed, let down. And I feel like I have let my children down - they got nothing despite my efforts. I did my best. Others got it - they didn't.

So while most of the mothers out there are celebrating, I am not. I'm just licking my wounds.


Cory said...

or you could learn to cook your own chai tow kuay and migrate :)

Rita said...

Pat, as I told you guys before, we didn't get exactly nothing ! You and I won't have to pay taxes for a long time and our husbands will get to enjoy the "newly enhanced" QCR of $20k.

The Chengs said...

But it's really 5 or more IF YOU CAN AFFORD it, as can be seen by the offer of ONLY of "co-payment". No money to pay? Too bad, lor.

And...when they backdated to 17 Aug, I was like... then why don't backdate to 1st Aug??!!! Then I get. *hehe* Getting greedy.

serene said...

But Sam, you already get, right? JR 4th child ma.

Pat - God WILL provide in other means. And think of it as a good deed for others less outspoken than yourself :)


The Chengs said...

Yes, JR gets. He's the only one who gets, lor. The rest all born before year 2000.

I'm not complaining, lah. Just saying that "if I want to be petty and complain about the dates.."