SingaporeMotherhood | Parenting
The Day My Son Cried, “I Don’t Want Mummy!”
A private banker for 16 years, high-flying Reena Yin once held various regional positions in international banks from Merrill Lynch and Citibank to Swiss private banking group Julius Baer. But when her little boy started seeing mummy as a stranger, she knew something had to give. Now 39, the founder of Artisan Nook and Jia-Home Chili talks about her challenging journey to motherhood, life-changing heartbreaks, and her commitment to leaving a lasting legacy in her wake.
My Mother, My Role Model
“I’ve known since I was young that I wanted to become a mother, with my own mother being my primary role model for parenthood. She always encouraged me to explore, grow, and learn. I believe in granting my children the same freedom to navigate life independently, as long as they’re not endangering themselves or others.
Unfortunately, my mother was diagnosed with cancer in August 2016. She passed away two years later, while I was three months pregnant with my first child. It was a challenging period as I had to manage my pregnancy and frequent hospital visits. Despite the emotional turmoil, the memory of my mother and the life growing inside me kept me strong.
During my childhood, my father was often occupied with work, while my mother decided to leave her job to care for me when I was a year old. Hence, we spent a lot of time together, and her influence significantly shaped my character. I learned from her the importance of determination, dedication and commitment, traits that I carry with me to this day. We shared a strong bond — she is my best friend forever.
I deeply regret that she never had the chance to meet my children or witness me becoming a mother. There were so many moments during pregnancy and motherhood I wished I could share with her. Her absence is something I still think about often, and knowing how much she loved children, I can so imagine her coming over to take care of her grandchildren just to spend time with them. It’s a void that I feel, not just for myself, but also for my children who would undoubtedly benefit from time with their grandmother.
(See also: HOW TO TALK TO YOUR CHILD ABOUT DEATH)
Memories of Childbirth
My husband, Jeremy, and I met while working in the same bank. We often met during and then after working hours, which gradually led to our connection. Our first pregnancy was unplanned, a so-called ‘honeymoon baby’. The first trimester was a blur as my mother was unwell, so I had a lot on my plate. As a first-time mum, I had my fair share of worries and visits to the A&E, but the pregnancy itself was relatively smooth.
However, the birth of my first child was anything but. I was induced due to a drop in the amniotic fluid level, and labour lasted for 24 hours. During the pushing phase, I was amazed at how quickly my baby arrived — within just 10 minutes. Except that the umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck. Fortunately, my obstetrician was present throughout to ensure a safe delivery.
The post-birth phase brought another unforeseen challenge — postpartum haemorrhage. It was terrifying. They gave me multiple jabs to stop the contractions and placed me on a blood transfusion. I vividly remember watching the clock as the doctor worked to control the situation. Then I felt myself slowly fading, but summoned all my strength to remain conscious. I am profoundly thankful that I can still be here telling my story!
My second pregnancy was mostly uneventful, just that my daughter demanded a significant portion of my attention during this period. Reflecting on the challenging experience of my first delivery, I deliberately opted for a Caesarean this time. The recovery from the C-section was surprisingly fast and relatively easier for me.
The Fourth Trimester
Welcoming our newborn was a rollercoaster ride. We were, to be honest, hapless new parents (both times!), but approached it with determination and the knowledge that we were in this together. The initial weeks were a blur of sleepless nights and round-the-clock feedings. Adrenaline kept us going, and we often found ourselves marvelling at the little life we had brought into the world.
What was incredibly helpful was our fantastic confinement nanny who guided us through the intricacies of breastfeeding and baby care. She shared invaluable tips and tricks that made a world of difference. Those early days were full of ups and downs, but they were the foundation of our parenting journey. It was a time of bonding, making mistakes, and ultimately growing as parents.
(See also: SURVIVING THE FOURTH TRIMESTER)
Transitioning from being a parent of one child to managing two was a more significant adjustment than I anticipated. Balancing the needs of my elder daughter, the care of my newborn, and maintaining my own well-being was truly demanding. However, I was fortunate to have a strong support system in place.
Family and friends played a crucial role in helping us navigate the challenges of going from one child to two, and still do. With my mother no longer with us, my dad stays with us on weekdays to help ferry the kids to and from school. This support has been invaluable as we juggle the demands of our professional lives while ensuring our children’s well-being.
My Pride and My Joy
My husband often describes me as a responsible and affectionate mother. I’m always ready with hugs and kisses. I aim to provide a safe and nurturing environment, while also giving them the freedom to explore, learn, and discover their unique selves. Still, like any mother, I do have moments of concern and worry. My kids’ well-being is my top priority, so when they’re not well, it can send me into full ‘mum mode’.
Both my children are unique in their own ways. Rae-Ann is now four, and mirrors her dad’s personality. She’s a delightful combination of being mild-mannered yet incredibly spirited, strong-willed, and competitive. During her school’s walkathon, she was determined to clinch first place. However, just 30 seconds into the race, she fell flat on her face.
Naturally, I rushed to her side, suggesting that she take it easy because the ground was wet. But nothing could deter her. ‘No, Mummy, I need to win.’ After a few minutes’ rest, off she went, ultimately winning the race against all the older kids.
My two-year-old son shares some of my own traits. He’s a bit stubborn, doesn’t take no for an answer, and when he sets his mind on something, he’ll stop at nothing to achieve it. Yet he’s always had a closer bond with his dad.
After Josias was born, the nanny and helper primarily took care of him, as Rae-Ann required a lot of my attention, and I had work-related travel commitments. This led to a gap in our relationship, but it also inspired me to leave the corporate world to spend more quality time with both my children, which also led to the creation of Artisan Nook.
That Pivotal Moment
When my son uttered those words, “I don’t want Mummy,” my heart broke. It was a moment of profound realisation that I didn’t have the capacity to be there for him while juggling a demanding workload. Clearly, I needed to make a change. The decision to leave my corporate career was an incredibly difficult one.
The prospect of no income made me feel insecure, as I always believed a woman should be self-sufficient. Jeremy and I ultimately agreed that the kids were the top priority. Reflecting on how my mother was always there for me, I felt deep gratitude for her sacrifices. I wanted to do the same for my children during their formative years.
My life today is significantly different. I start my day at around 7am to prepare the children for school, before diving into my workday. As an entrepreneur, my work is incredibly diverse. Some days are about administrative tasks, marketing, or networking, while on other days, I’m in the kitchen preparing my Jia-Home chilli belacan.
Of course, family is a top priority. I pick my children up at around 5pm, and we have dinner together. Then we head to the playground where we connect with our neighbours. Usually around 8pm, it’s time for the kids to shower and prepare for bedtime. I read to them and engage in meaningful conversation before they go to sleep.
After that, I often continue working. I’m more focused at night, so I intentionally structure my day to make the most of this productivity peak. Every day, I make sure to set aside quality time with Jeremy too. We catch up on our day and seek opinions on issues we face, supporting each other in our personal and professional lives.
Artisan Nook is an e-commerce platform that offers budding and seasoned female entrepreneurs an accessible and supportive space to start or grow their business. I recognised the need for Artisan Nook in my own life as a working mother, grappling with balancing a demanding corporate job, motherhood, and self-care, while maintaining my own identity.
Our vision includes organising networking events, establishing partnerships with women’s organisations, and ultimately giving back to society. As part of this commitment, we donate 30 per cent of profits to charity, including the Singapore Cancer Society. It is also a tribute to my mother who succumbed to cancer.
Artisan Nook transcends being a mere marketplace; it’s a sanctuary where women entrepreneurs can mutually support and flourish. It represents my dedication to leaving a lasting positive impact on our community and beyond, and I hope it inspires other women to join me in growing that impact.
At the personal level, my greatest wish is that my children grow up carrying forward the traditions, values, and the love we share as a family. Additionally, I aim to impart the value of resilience and adaptability, and encourage them to pursue their passions, take calculated risks, and work diligently to achieve their goals.
The legacy I wish to leave them is one rooted in love, resilience, and a commitment to making the world a better place. By imparting these values and principles, I believe they will not only lead fulfilling lives but also contribute positively to the world around them.”
(See also: 10 PLACES TO VOLUNTEER WITH KIDS IN SINGAPORE)
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