The story of the missing dryer

Posted by ~Summer~ on August 17, 2017
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Coming from a humble home and having stayed in a 3-room HDB flat for two decades of my life, there were things that my family couldn't afford and learnt to live without - things like a dishwasher, dryer and air conditioning. Yes, that explains why I still prefer to sleep with just a fan, and I still do now. It's amazing how our childhood experiences shape us and make us into the person we are today, isn't it?

I remember helping my mum to do the laundry when I was just a kid. She would put the clothes into the washer, nag at me if I didn't turn my clothes the right side out, and when the clothes finished spinning, we would hang them onto the bamboo poles, put pegs to make sure they didn't fall off and then use brute force to carry the poles out of the window, aim and slot them into the holders.

Sometimes, a piece of our clothing would come loose and fall down, which could perhaps be due to strong winds or us not pegging them tightly enough. One of us would then rush downstairs - thankfully our HDB was on the second floor - and retrieve it, heaving a sigh of relief and giving out a smile when we do so. Then we would go for breakfast but at the first sign of dark clouds looming overhead or at that first moment when raindrops trickled down from the sky, my mum would exclaim "Our clothes! We gotta go back home!" and we would cycle back at the speed of light, in the hope that we could 'save' our clothes.

Those were the days. My childhood days. 

Those were also the days when I had to learn to wash my own bowls, heat up my own lunch, make my own bed and help to cook dinner - be it simple tasks like washing the rice, mincing the meat, beating the eggs or cutting vegetables. Yup, I was just a primary schooler then. Was it a tough life? No, it didn't make me feel that life was difficult. In fact, it empowered me and being able to help out in the home made me feel strong, independent and responsible. Sure, most of the chores were still done by my mum, my stay-at-home mum, but I guess every little bit helped and I'm actually glad that I started to get involved from a young age.

Seeing how we've become more affluent now, how my kids get to stay in a nice house, how they get to play with nice toys and how they get to eat nice food, I am always wary of the fact that they will start to take life for granted. That they will think this was all meant to be, or that it will always be so. I worry if they will know what it is like to lift a finger, if they realise how fortunate and blessed they are, if they can learn to look after themselves, if they become resilient and responsible people, if they can survive on their own when I'm not around. Yes, this Mama thinks a lot (which explains for the white hair).

That is also the reason why I decided NOT to get a dryer for our new house this year. Why, I even rejected a sponsorship for a high end dryer, one that would cost me nearly two thousand bucks just to buy. Like, seriously? For the first few weeks after we shifted in, the rain wouldn't stop and since our balcony was the only place for me to dry the clothes, I almost knocked my head on the wall and started to regret my decision a little. Why didn't I just get that dryer? Gosh, what was I thinking? When our clothes failed to dry after having been out for a couple of days, I thought about it even more. What was my real reason for not wanting a dryer? Did I make a wrong move?

So I spoke to the hubby about how I wanted to bang my head and he, being the composed and extremely logical one, reassured me on how he doesn't like it too - because it makes the clothes wrinkled, it uses electricity, it shrinks the clothes, it prevents the clothes from being in the sun etc. I nodded and agreed. Having a dryer will also likely make me lazier, because if you have it there, why not use it, right? BUT, that wasn't my main reason in not wanting a dryer, was it?

What I really wanted was just to be like my mum, if not more. I wanted to get my kids involved. I wanted them to be my little helpers. I wanted them to understand how responsibilities start from a young age and how they are capable of doing more than what they think they can.

Yes, that is the real reason why.

Before you go saying "That's child labour!", "Your kids are so young, isn't it too much?", "Why can't you just get a helper or do it yourself?" or "Like that where got time to do homework?" and so on, let me just clarify that this is how we do it and it doesn't mean everyone has to do it like us. It doesn't mean we are right, it doesn't mean we are better and it certainly doesn't mean we are judging anyone. Different strokes for different folks, right? And this is just how we roll.

It's been eight months since we moved in (I know, how can time pass so fast, right?) and let's just say once I got over the rainy season, stopped lamenting about my decision and focused on why I made it in the first place, everything slowly but surely fell into place too. It's already great that we don't have to wash our clothes using washing boards and hands, so I reckon the least we can do is learn to hang, keep and fold them. Yes, we meaning not just me, but the kids too.

The toddler helps to start the wash cycle and passes the laundry to me to hang on the clothes rack.

The preschooler is the one who does most of the pegging - baby clothes, undergarments, socks - and hangs some of the smaller-sized clothing.

The primary schooler helps to hang the bigger-sized clothes and puts them up onto the lower racks.

Yup, we all have our roles to play.

It's not that they don't sometimes whine when I bring in the laundry - which by the way happens every couple of days - or that I force them to do it every single time (sometimes I do it in the wee hours when they are asleep, though I try not to because it's so lonely, haha). But the fact is I've tried my best to teach them, to let them know that this is a load we have to share (not just depend on Mama), to remind them on how it is a blessing to have clean clothes and be able to help your family members, to instill a sense of responsibility and willingness to help from this tender age.

A few months ago, they would try to find reasons not to do it, such as needing to do homework, wanting to play, feeling tired and so on. Well, those were just excuses to me and so we had long talks after long talks on how they need to be able to step up and how they can accomplish if they put their hearts into it.

As for me, instead of keep complaining about how it is tough to keep the house going without a maid or trying to win their sympathy for an overworked Mama, I decided to inject some fun and turn this dreary chore into something worth looking forward to. We would talk about everything under the sun from school and friends to geography and science; we would sing pop songs and talk about our favourite member of One Direction; we would put on some music and shake our booties or do funny actions; we would just try to keep it casual, laugh and have a good time.

Let's not see it as a chore, my dears, but more of family bonding time.

Two days ago, I took the laundry to the balcony and thought I would just quickly get it done so we could all go for an afternoon nap and head out after that. I mean, honestly speaking, I can get most of the chores done faster on my own, isn't it? Which totally defeats the point but anyway, I was feeling energetic and extra chirpy, so I thought I would just give them a break.

Suddenly, I turned around and there were the two girls standing right beside me, with hangers and clothes in their hands.

They had come over when they saw me and taken the initiative to help me out. Without me asking. Yup, seriously I thought I would strike lottery or something because I usually need to at least ask nicely before anyone came over. I looked at my firstborn and said teasingly "Wow, you actually came over yourself to do it? That is pretty amazing."

She looked back at me with that sparkle in eyes and said as a matter-of-factly "Ah huh. Let's do it together, Mama." That touched me and that heartwarming, warm fuzzy feeling actually felt way better than striking the first prize in lottery.

So, I guess that is why we will probably not have a dryer for a long, long time.


This post is part of the "A SAHM's Story" series where I share my experiences, tips and reflections of being a stay-at-home mum. It takes a SAHM to truly understand another and while many might assume that we are tai tais or that we get to shake legs all day long, only we know the amount of toil and sweat we put in just to get past each day. Likewise, only we know the true rewards and unparalleled joy that this job has brought us. Being a mum, and one who gets to witness all her children's milestones and spend precious time with them every day, is still the best thing that has ever happened to me. While I gave my kids life, they gave me a reason to live.

1 comment:

  1. Amazing post! Very inspiring! My daughter also helps me to do some home work.


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