Carmen, 47, is a mum to two children aged 5 and 10 respectively. Beneath her warmth and brightness lay a quiet strength, as she shared with us that her older child has special needs. Due to childcare needs, Carmen was a stay-at-home mum (SAHM) for four years before working as a limo driver. It was tough when she first went back to work due to separation anxiety, especially since she had spent every day with her eldest and formed an inseparable bond.

Carmen with her family

“I cried during the first two weeks. It was really hard to be away from my child for 8 to 10 hours a day and leave him with my domestic helper. When I was working, I kept thinking of my son and when I was with my son, I kept thinking of work.”, Carmen shared.

Carmen felt caught in between work and family but had to try to disconnect and focus. Eventually, she got used to driving and built up a steady clientele of Chinese tourists. She enjoyed driving as it gave her a flexible schedule, allowing her to send her eldest for frequent medical checkups.

Seeking an alternative after COVID hit

However, when COVID hit and Chinese tourists dwindled, she found that she couldn’t sustain her income just by driving alone. Nevertheless, she was grateful for the grants that the Government had doled out to help them – the NTUC Care Fund, the LTA Covid-19 Driver Relief Fund and the most recent NTUC U FSE Relief Scheme. The NTUC U FSE Relief Scheme, which gives a one time $650 payout to combi buses and limo drivers, is still open for applications until 16 July 2021.

Carmen mummy of 2 COVID swabber

Upon a fellow driver friend’s recommendation, she decided to take on the job as a swabber at Tuas Checkpoint to further supplement her income. After attending a course and learning the safety procedures, she realised that the job is very safe.

“There are many safety precautions and it’s actually even safer than being a driver.”, she added.

Advice for fellow mothers

Carmen having family outing

Carmen talks to her children about her job and sets aside the weekends for them. Even though her children tell her daily to ‘not go to work”, she has decided to persevere on.

“When you feel guilty about working, you need to overcome it. Cry if you need to and then continue working. I did not come from a rich background, and I didn’t get many opportunities. So, I would like to work while I can, save up financially so that I can give my children more choices in the future. When you know that you are doing it for your children, your guilt will eventually disperse.”, she added.

Carmen also thinks that she is “blessed” to feel so fulfilled by motherhood but admits that it is tough to juggle work and family. She said that “not all mummies will feel this way but it’s important to find support in one another to fend off post-natal depression“.

This article was contributed by Mindy Wong.

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