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Ultimately, there is just one boss. Illustration: Eilzah Insyirah

Take Care Of Baby With Other Family Members: Wa Lau! Like Office Politics, Man!

For the last four months, I’ve been backstabbed many times.

Sometimes, I hear snatches of gossip about me from my two co-workers. I form alliances as easily as I break them. Nobody owns up when something goes wrong but everyone wants to claim credit when something works out well.

And every day, I’m trying my hardest to please a difficult boss who changes her mind all the time about what makes her happy and what sends her into a screeching fit.

Oh, if you thought I'm talking about working in an office, I'm not. I’m talking about what it's like to take care of a baby, which is tough enough. But throw a husband and a mother – both with differing opinions and dormant bossy personalities – into the equation, and you may just think that you are back in your office job. Yes, the one that comes with lots of politics, taking sides, indecisive colleagues, rumour-mongering, acts of favouritism and the feeling that you are never good enough to meet your KPIs.

What's worse: you don’t have a trade union to turn to!


Ultimately there is just one boss (who makes you do a lot of OT)

First, let’s get this right. There is just one boss aka your baby. She sets your KPIs for you but depending on her mood, they may change or increase all the time. She decides when you get your lunch hour and when you have to do OT. She may call (out to) you any time. Some days, she’s the kind of boss you would love to work for, like, forever, and on other days, she’s the boss you’d want to kao beh kao bu on Glassdoor and report to MOM (er, even though you are hers).

But your co-workers like to pretend they are in charge, too

You know how when your real boss is away and your small bosses, who are usually meek and mild, suddenly act very dua pai and think they own you? Same same at home: my mum and husband think they are my officers-in-charge and want me to write a report on why I did not warm the baby’s milk to their perfectionist standards of 38.8 deg C, or why I can’t calm the crying baby. And then when the real towkay returns (read: wakes up), they realise humbly again that they are minions. Just like me.


There are many discussions… but no conclusions

Should we buy this milk bottle? Is it okay to give her a pacifier? Can we not let her wear mittens during the day? You spend the entire day asking one another questions but you never follow up with an action plan. Instead, you say: “let’s think about this again and decide”. Or, in office parlance, let’s take this offline (and meet again to discuss this in 2039).

Your years of experience come to nothing

My mum is one of those bitter veterans you’ve seen in your office – yes, the aunties and uncles who have claimed their long service awards and more importantly, their $50 Giant vouchers. She has spent a good part of her 70 years mothering me and is now upset that she doesn’t get to make the household decisions anymore. Once in a while, she tries to show me that she is still a board director but sorry, it’s the CEO and COO who make the everyday decisions.

The boss never thinks you are good enough

You can make funny faces, compose clever jingles with catchy tunes, do Cirque du Soleil-worthy poses and produce the freshest farm-to-table milk. But nope, if your baby is in one of her moods, nothing will please her and she will give you the scowl that you’ve somehow seen on your CEO too.

Everyone wants to take credit

“I was the one who sang her to sleep, okay?”. “I made her smile, okay?”. “I bought the right diapers, okay?”. “If not for me, you won’t be able to do your Zoom meeting, okay?”. “I gave birth to her, okay?”. “But I gave birth to you, okay?”.

Nobody wants to admit when sh*t hits the fan

It gets literal. Sh*t hits the fan ­– and the cot, the sofa and your freshly laundered clothes – when you don’t secure a diaper well enough, but nobody will confess that he or she was the person doing the last diaper change. “I think it was our dog who did lah.”

People form cliques and alliances

Some days, my husband and my mum chide me in unison. Some days, it’s me against my husband and mum.

There will be gossip

And then I catch them gossiping about me, not at the water cooler, but at the kitchen stove.


And backstabbing

“Baby, your mum didn’t attend to you right away when you cried at 2am. But I did.”

Nobody wants to do the unglam admin work

Because it’s more rewarding (and Instagramable) when you play with the baby and make her laugh than when you are the one taking out the trash, picking up dirty diapers off the floor and making vaccination appointments.

Whistle-blowers will be condemned

When I told my mum that I would be writing this, she threatened me with the Family Secrets Privacy Act. But alas, as with most SMEs, our human resources department, which is also made up of the same person from the finance, delivery services, (wet) marketing and legal divisions, was not free to attend to her complaints.


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