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Parenting from 2,355km Away: A Single Working Mom’s Story

Family LifePost Category - Family LifeFamily LifeParentingPost Category - ParentingParenting

Could you imagine being away from your children for almost a decade? Maria Dolores Alpapara shares her story raising 3 kids in the Philippines, all the way from Singapore

I first crossed paths with Maria who asked for directions to the nearest MRT. Heading there myself, I told her she could walk with me since I was going the same way. We proceeded to walk side-by-side in silence until she offered me her umbrella to shield from the sun while waiting at a traffic light.

“Are you pregnant?” she kindly asked, noticing my belly. I nodded and we started having a lighthearted chat about children. Eventually I found out that she was from the Philippines and has three grown daughters back home, who she’s so excited to see again after having worked in Singapore for almost a decade.

Recalling a similar story that we published from a mother who’d had to leave her kids behind in her home country to find work, I was curious to hear more. Here’s what she told me:

Maria (second from right) with her late husband and daughters

I decided to go abroad in 2010 when my husband fell ill. Our daughters were still studying at the time, aged 7, 10 and 14 years old. It was so hard for me to leave my family, especially my husband, who had been diagnosed with kidney failure. Doctors told me not to leave my husband anymore, but I had no choice because if I didn’t  go, where would I get the money to support his medication and my daughters’ school fees?

I was teaching at the time, but my salary was not enough to support my husband’s medication on top of providing for my daughters. With God in me I had the courage and strength to go to Singapore, with the help of my sister who lived here.

Thankfully, I was able to find a work. I arrived in October 2010, and by December I was interviewed at Olive Vine restaurant. I was so happy when the owner told me I could start working as soon as my pass was approved. Praise God, by the first week of January I started my job and I’m still working at Olive Vine until now. Working there helped to cover my late husband’s medical expenses until he passed away seven years ago. Now, two of my daughters have graduated with degrees and are working in the Philippines.

Raising three children alone is not easy. Why? Because every time my daughters were sick, or had activities in school, I couldn’t be there to comfort them. All I could do was call or video chat with them to feel like I was right beside them, especially my youngest daughter who is now in her senior year of high school. But I still wasn’t able to be there for any of her achievements.

But with God’s love and blessings to me and my children, we became strong and always remember their papa in heaven that we know he is happy now with his daughters.

Maria’s daughters at their graduation ceremonies

After almost ten years here in Singapore, I’m happy to go back Philippines and I’m so proud to tell the world that God blessed me with three lovely daughters who are so responsible, kind, loving and God-fearing. I will be leaving Singapore soon and am so thankful for all the people and family I had here.

What Maria shared left me in deep thought, reminding me I may never be able to truly empathise with what she went through because I’m so fortunate to be living in a country like Singapore. With my little one on the way, I could never imagine being apart from my child for that long, missing all their milestones. I have the utmost respect for women like Maria and am so happy that she will soon return to her hometown and her beautiful family.

Thank you for sharing your heartfelt story, Maria! 

Read more:
What it Feels Like to Leave Your Children and Work Abroad
Navigating Motherhood and Mental Health Challenges
Lawyer Mom of 3 Engelin Teh on the Work-Life Juggle

Lead image sourced via Getty; all other images courtesy of Maria Dolores Alpapara

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