By BRIGITTE ROZARIO
Singer Wan Aishah Wan Ariffin, better known as Aishah (formerly of Aishah and the Fan Club) is a single mum of two boys – Azhad Ahlami, 9, and Armand Azhari, 15. The divorcee has been singlehandedly taking care of her sons for the past nine years. She talks to ParenThots about being a single parent.
| Aishah with her son Armand Azhari, 15.
If you are looking for a “superwoman” or a “supermum”, then this singer fits the bill. She works, takes care of her two sons, cleans house and pays the bills. She does it all without a husband, maid or a secretary.
Singer Wan Aishah Wan Ariffin, better known as Aishah (formerly of Aishah and the Fan Club), says:
“It's amazing how human beings cope. When you're pushed into a situation, it's amazing how much you can do. I find in Malaysia we are so pampered in many ways. When you think about it everywhere else in the world it is just too expensive to have domestic help and yet people survive. I lived in New Zealand for years (without a maid) and I was fine.
“I'm lucky because my late brother's family lives just around the corner from me. So if I have to go anywhere and I can't take the boys with me then I can just leave them there.”
Besides performances, Aishah also conducts craft courses for the Women’s Development Department. She teaches underprivileged women so that they will have a skill. These courses also take her out of town.
Now that the boys are bigger Aishah often takes them with her when she has to travel out of town on the weekends although she makes it a point to be home during schooldays.
“The boys enjoy it. I always make sure that they have a laptop or something to occupy themselves with and after we're done with the work part, I always make a point of doing something that feels more like a holiday for them,” she says.
In fact, Aishah is so independent and self-reliant that a few months ago she even gave up on having a cleaner or any help with her housework.
“My day maid died in a fire last year and we were looking for somebody to replace her and we had so much hassle.
“I sat down with my boys and said, 'Look, I am really sick with this whole maid situation. Why don't we try surviving without one. But this will involve you guys pitching in.' So in the end we just sort of divided up things that each of us could do. So far it has worked out okay. The days when I can't be bothered with the laundry I just send it to get it done (at the laundromat). So we've survived now for the past few months without help. It's doable.
“I keep reminding myself that I was in New Zealand alone with a baby and I survived,” she says.
She says she knows her capabilities and her limitations and when she feels she really can't cope then she does ask relatives and friends for help.
Now that the boys are older, she treats them as her companions.
“They know that I'm all they have. I think they are free enough to talk to me. Sometimes when they get into trouble at school or whatever, then it's hard because there isn't a spouse to discuss it with. But then on the flip side it's good because if you're a single parent you don't have to argue with another person about how to raise the children. So I try to figure out what is good for the children and I don't have to ask anyone else what they think about any issue.
“That's good because you don't spend so much time haggling.
“I think when you are a parent, whether you're a single parent or not, there are days when you just feel like screaming but only for a little while. I mean these are your children. You can scream and shout but at the end of the day what are you going to do? They're still your children.
“I think I would be abnormal if I said everything is fine. There are some bad days and you just deal with it. Anyway this is family, blood, your children ….“They know that we're a tag team, as we call it. I tell the boys, I have abang and adik. Adik has abang and mum. And abang has adik and mum. It goes around in that triangle, and that's it. So even if we have a bad day, we just deal with it,” says Aishah.
Although the children are older now and she can talk to them and try to explain the realities of life, Aishah still feels there are limits. She doesn't think it's right to burden the children with her problems or expect them to take the place of a spouse.
|Aishah with her younger son Azhad Ahlami, 9.
As for getting remarried, Aishah says it is a very big decision and it would require a lot of thinking as it would involve her children, their lives and future.
After all the waves they have had to ride as a family, Aishah and the boys are finally at a plateau now and she feels that she can finally take a deep breath and relax a bit.
“I'd really like to think that I raised the kind of men who would treat women well, to learn from experiences and not to be what they shouldn't be, to treat women well. I always tell them 'you don't treat women like that'. I just hope that they become more like modern men who help out with the housework. I hope that that's what they would do when they go into marriage and not become chauvinists,” she says.
Having gone through some discrimination, Aishah is well aware of the social stigma that is still attached to single mums.
Single mums should not be embarrassed or feel like failures, says Aishah. She notes that people always assume that the divorce was the woman's fault.
“I believe single mothers should stand with their heads held high and don't feel like they're losers. I think this whole attitude comes from the women themselves. They feel they're losers for being left with the children and that's horrible because you're putting this stigma on yourself.
“Regardless of what happens, there are two people in a marriage. You can't put that blame on yourself. Your self-worth shouldn't go any lower just because the man left you. The best thing for you to do is to pull yourself together and concentrate on bringing up the children. The children will know which parent has been doing their job.
“I think single mothers should not have that low self-esteem. I think you should be proud if you can go to work and bring up your children. You have a lot of reason to hold your head up high because it's not an easy job and anybody who says otherwise is a fool!”