Thursday, January 29, 2009

Sumiko Tan : Missing out on married life.

There are a few unanswered mysteries in life and one of them is why Sumiko Tan never got married.


"Is there something wrong with me? Is this all there is to life? Why aren't I married? Am I not good enough? Am I not lovable enough? Am I not capable of loving deeply and permanently? Have I been too fussy? Do I have bad karma?" - Sumiko Tan


"Hey may be you scared everyone off being a Straits Times reporter who writes about her intimate experiences...." - Lucky Tan

.
Anyone knows if Chua Mui Hoong and her sister are married? Or are most of Straits Times women single?

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Feeling half a woman
Am I less of a woman because I am not a mother and a wife? I sometimes feel that way
By Sumiko Tan


I always feel a bit awkward when I bump into friends with their children in tow. I don't quite know how to behave with the kids. I tend to either overdo the 'oh what a cute/handsome/pretty son/daughter you have' routine or swing the other way and ignore the child completely. I was at a mall one Sunday when I was struck by a handsome little boy walking towards me. He was about eight and had brown hair and startlingly light-blue eyes. I glanced to his side and discovered that I knew the woman who was with him. It was a friend from way back whom I'd lost touch with. We chatted a bit, all the while with me marvelling at how cute her son was. In this instance, he really is an exceptionally good-looking boy so I wasn't lying or exaggerating, but I wonder how much of my gushy chatter was also due to a bit of nerves. I've realised that I don't really know how to behave around children. As someone who has never been a mother and with the only children in my life (my niece and nephew) living in another country, I am unfamiliar with young people and so find myself acting unnaturally in their presence. I lack the instincts that parenthood brings. To use an analogy which I hope won't offend animal-hating parents: Because I love dogs and have had so many, I'm at home with them. Whenever I see a dog, I am drawn to it and know what to do - when to pat it and when not to, how it likes to be tickled a certain way, and I'll think nothing of flicking away the bits of eye dirt on the face of a stranger's dog. It's a different matter with children. No, this is not another column about feeling broody and wishing I had children. I'm so over that. But it occurred to me that because I've never given birth - and never ever will - my life experiences have been very different from those of the majority of women who are mothers. And because I have also never been a wife - and probably never would - I have not experienced the things that 'normal' women go through. Am I less of a woman because of that? I sometimes feel so. Take the friend I saw at the mall. The last time we met a decade ago, she was single, like me. In the interim, she had not only got married but had also begotten several children. My mind boggles at how eventful her life must have been in the past 10 years - meeting her life partner, preparing to get married, setting up a home, adapting to being a wife, going through pregnancy and then coping with motherhood. While all this is alien to me, it's what 'normal' women go through; marriage and parenthood are part of the natural circle of life. My life, on the other hand, has been unnaturally arrested. The cares and concerns I faced in my 30s were not that much different from those when I was in my 20s, and now that I'm in my 40s, not that much has changed either. I'm not complaining. As I've often said, there are loads of things to cheer about in being single. But as age beckons and maybe because I'm no longer so footloose and fancy free, I'm also beginning to wonder if I've missed out on the experiences that most women go through, and if I am less complete as a person because of it. I feel a twinge of this when my sister regales me with tales of her children. She has an especially good connection with her son, who's five, and was raving to me recently about how chivalrous he is. They were out on a nature walk and the boy took it upon himself to clear the path for her; he ran ahead to lift the brambles so that she could walk along unobstructed. Ever so often he'd also stop and shout: 'Mama, are you okay?' How sweet, I told my sister, and thought to myself that, well, that's something I'll never get to experience, the unconditional love of a boy. It's not that I envy her - or any parent - their children, no, not at all. But in my idle moments I am curious: What would my life have been like had I been one too? More fulfilled? Less self-centred? Frazzled? It's the same with not being a wife. Again, it's not that I look on enviously at couples. I really don't. I'm happy with my life. But once in a while, it hits me that maybe there's something wrong with me. It doesn't matter how I love my single life. It doesn't matter that I have all the personal space in the world. It doesn't matter what I've achieved in my career. It doesn't matter how I know it's better to be alone than to be alone in a marriage. It doesn't matter that I've seen how marriage isn't a binding contract or a guarantee of a happy-ever-after. It doesn't matter how many boyfriends I've had or might have. It doesn't matter if there are men who care for my well-being. The fact remains that I am not married, and I say this not in a self-pitying way but as an acknowledgment of a, to me, puzzling fact. And the fact remains that no one has been mad enough about me - and I for him - for us to embark on a journey together. The fact remains that no matter how fun singlehood is, there are nights when I lie in my nice big bed all by my lonesome self (well, actually my dog sleeps with me), and think: Is there something wrong with me? Is this all there is to life? Why aren't I married? Am I not good enough? Am I not lovable enough? Am I not capable of loving deeply and permanently? Have I been too fussy? Do I have bad karma? Don't I deserve more? My mother was married, my sister is married, Michelle Obama is married, the woman who cleans the office pantry is married, so many 'normal' women are married, why not me? Have I failed as a woman? Am I inadequate? Have I become nothing more than a 'singles' statistic? But, ah well, these feelings come but mostly these feelings go. If this is meant to be the script of my life, then why bother trying to rewrite it? It is often said that life is what you make of it, so I shall be thankful for what I have rather than what it could have, should have, would have been. The alternative could in fact have been worse.

45 comments:

Anonymous said...

now you know why they are hired

Anonymous said...

Bugger off! Don't poke fun at our Sumiko Tan, okay?

Sumiko Tan is our local version of Carrie Bradshaw and her "Sex in the City".

She just needs to meet her Mr Big before her romance can take off.

Anonymous said...

i think she needs to get over her un-married life and move on.

Anonymous said...

Sumiko Tan probabbly worked herself into a digitized machine.

Or

too good for all the men she met.

And seriously,

man is better as a lover than

a husband.

Man don't take orders like dogs, so if one is a commanding/demanding person, dogs make better partners.

patriot

Anonymous said...

As brilliant as she is, I think she should get over the idea of getting married and just do national service by getting impregnated by the oats of one of the great leaders and produce a future leader or two. In fact we should consider this seriously as part of succession planning given the dire situation of not having enough division one leaders. I strongly believe in nature rather than nurture.

chainsawieldinun said...

I usually enjoy your writing, but this attack on the ST is bordering on the misogynistic.

Anonymous said...

Why is the entry an attack on Sumiko Tan? She was the one who ranted about her inadequate personal life? Maybe it she was told to write about her lonesome nights to push singles to get married, in line with the government needs... these ST reporters they are mere puppets.

Anonymous said...

she came to my poly class and gave a talk 10 years ago. she was in pvc pants and i was bowled over, like many of my hormonally-furious males of the species. i suppose she was in her 30s then, and she looked wonderful.

now that i am 30, i wonder whether she likes toy boys. but then again, maybe not, because i am card-carrying member of the antiestablishment brigade.

haha.

Anonymous said...

I hit it.......with a stick.

Anonymous said...

why...she has a dog next to her. she should be in bliss. lol

furthermore, gahmen say, be grateful. lol

yamizi said...

she looks old

Anonymous said...

she looks like my granny...HAHAHAHA

Anonymous said...

to chainsawieldinun 8:57 AM: I can't detect any misogyny in this post. Lucky seems to be pointing out how rambly Sumiko is and overly hung up about quite a trivial issue. If you are unhappy about not being married, act like an adult and get hitched and stop hiking up your expectations about a man or what a marriage should be. If you want kids, get yourself inseminated or go for adoption.

Onlooker said...

She should really lower her expectation and focus on less successful >>>Single<<< man.
One of the Chua sister is married but I'm under the impression the Old maid is a self proclaimed Doctor(MD quackery) who pronounce people as psychotic without Studying for the degree leh. Still observing though.

Anonymous said...

ST must be paying her tons of money to be an essay writer.

There are real issues (bread and butter) in the society of SINgapore that PAP dogs are unwilling to address, and these are the articles you get in national papers?!
Fuck you. You are paid peanuts then I expect you to write like MR BROWN before he was dismissed, not this kind of article.

neurosis said...

The ego always wants something from other people or situations, There is always a hidden agenda, always a sense of "not enough" yet, of insufficiency and lack that needs to be filled. It uses people and situations to get what it wants, and even when it succeeds, it is never satisfied for long. Often, it is thwarted in its aims, and for the most part the gap between i want and what is becomes a constant source of upset and anguish. The famous and now classic pop song "i cant get no satisfaction" is the song of the ego. The underlying emotion that governs all the activity of the ego is fear, the fear of being nobody, the fear of nonexistence, the fear of death. All its activities are ultimately designed to eliminate this fear. But the most the ego can ever do is to cover it up temporarily with an intimate relationship, new possession, or winning at this or that. Illusion will never satisfy you, only truth of who you are, if realized, will set you free.

a kind of chicken said...

dudes, we are all singaporeans... we strongly disagree over policies and feel betrayed by the govt but the pap'ies and newspaper guys are not "enimies of the people". However bad they were, they had it within their power to be worse.

I think lucky's tone is just right. But many of the comments are un-called for. We should not criticize someone and their opinions just because of their social class or their job. Otherwise, we risk becoming as obnoxious as the pap'ies.

That said, I understand the anger that led to many of these comments.

Anonymous said...

guys, can't you see the connection? her articles appear a few days before today's headlines "Singles to get more matchmaking help". ST always has a way of beating a nice path to its upcoming stories. Another recent example; SM says S'pore MAY dig into its reserves.... then, guess what happens a few days later. Yes, we DIG into our reserves.

Anonymous said...

please don't be harsh on her...if u are so concerned...do help her find a Mr Right( check out your match-making skills, buddy!)

Anonymous said...

or ms right.ha!

Anonymous said...

she just needs a good fuck, that's all.

Anonymous said...

Don't be mean, anon 7:26 pm.

Anonymous said...

You mean you folks don't know that Sumiko Tan has had a string of rich and powerful lovers, almost all of them married men?

Such hypocrisy... for someone who is content to be a mistress, having all the perks but without the responsibilities. Being a bridesmaid has its value if not virtue.

Anonymous said...

Being a mistress of the rich and powerful is richly rewarding, but when she ages she would be thrown out like a pair of old shoes. I believe she is feeling the heat of competition from younger aspiring version of her.

Anonymous said...

this has been the story of many of my successful female friends...and seems to be similar to Sumiko..

They do well in their careers and climb up the corporate ladder. They would have dated Singaporean men - but they usually complain - Singaporean men not romantic, boring, not creative, too pragmatic, overly assertive, etc etc.. (which sometimes, i dont blame them - coz we grow up watching Hollywood, and they read all these western romance novels, etc etc.)

Then suddenly it hit them that they're in their 30s with the clock ticking..then they get desperate.

they then start looking desperately for a partner - at which point, they usually end up with a foreigner husband, who tend to be a westerner.

while i not applying this trend generally, it has happened to many of my female friends, who are in their mid-to-late 30s.

Anonymous said...

singaporean girls are like that, think they're very pretty and special and that singaporean guys are like shit and can't match up with them.

when they hit into late 30s, then they realize cheebye starting to smell, neh neh got wrinkles, then they realize that it IS a possibility that nobody will fuck them in future.

i've seen too many of such cases man! such sluts deserve it! only know how to enjoy now and not plan for future.

Anonymous said...

Whenever I see a Sumiko Tan article, I don't read it.

Anonymous said...

7:40 PM Anan:

Your remarks are totally uncalled for. Yes, there are some SG women who are think too highly of themselves. Just like there are some SG men who are insecure n show no confidence in social situations.
However, not all people are like that n hv reasonable expectations from their partner. It looks u hv had too many bad experiences with SG women...maybe you shld looks yourself in the mirror instead of shooting yr mouth off.

ArtBoon said...

Dear Lucky

You are not alone.
MrBrown too.

Anonymous said...

(7.40pm anon)

To 10.30am anon:

I don't have bad experiences with SG girls. I didn't say that all of them are like that, but most of them are, including those fat and ugly ones if you can imagine.

I didn't have any bad experiences with SG girls, I simply avoided those girls which I mentioned. It isn't that hard to spot one who fits into my above mentioned descriptions.

I was luckier, I didn't have to look in a mirror to see my situation. I married to a very pretty and faithful and thoughtful Australian girl after uni here and we're expecting our first boy soon.

:)

so was I fair to shoot my mouth off? come on SG guys, you all know how SG girls are like, most of them anyway!

Anonymous said...

right on cue, few days later ST wrote about the merger of SDU with "something i forgot the name" to help sporeans getting married just like someone in here predicted.

Lucky never attacked Sumiko. What he said is true. Which guy wants to be the butt of jokes in office when he is married to Sumiko. Sumiko will write something intimate about the relationship for everyone to see. Which one of us wants to be a ginea pig or lab rat?

Anon 8.31pm: I understand what you are saying. not all singapore gals are materialistic but what you said is hard to argue. I'm thinking of not marrrying a singapore gal too. Congrats for marrying an australian! You gave me hope haha

Cheers

Economist with a heart :)

Anonymous said...

Every Sunday when I flip open the pile of shit, I do so with trepidation Why? It's because I dread reading another piece written by this person on her spinsterhood again. When it really does materialize I will utter an expletive and say, "Not Again!"

Don't they have better things to write about?

I am seriously thinking of canceling my subscription.

Marc said...

"Or maybe it was a defence mechanism, given I've yet to find a man worth marrying, or whom I liked enough and who'd marry me - you know, two people so deeply connected they are willing to become stakeholders in each other's lives.

In any case, I've never bought into that whole white wedding thing. (Babies, yes, for a while, but not marriage.)"- Sumiko Tan, ST (17th Sept, 2007)

For much of her life she thought no man was good enough for her and now she wants to complain about being single?

Anonymous said...

yes many of the ST top brass aren't married.

Anonymous said...

I don't mind if she write about intimate things.

She is pretty when young and looks good now.

Anonymous said...

It annoys me rather much how she rambles on about her inadequacy and hence her unmarried life-but yet claiming and verifying non stop that she's not envious of couples or whatsoever. I mean, wouldn't that be a given already?

Emily said...

Hi Sumiko Congratulations on finding Mr.Right. I have been in love,broke up,Married and now a (young) widow. The best part of the cycle I love is being Married. Though it is a bit too late for you (I am only a few years older than you) enjoy your married life. You won't regret it.

Simon said...

Isn't this the same woman who was the mistress of a former police commissioner?

Seems like someone else here knows it too.

Anonymous said...
Being a mistress of the rich and powerful is richly rewarding, but when she ages she would be thrown out like a pair of old shoes. I believe she is feeling the heat of competition from younger aspiring version of her.

30/1/09 13:39

Anonymous said...

Congrats on finding love.....

Anonymous said...

What Sumiko goes through - the puzzlement about her single status - is not alien to many women. She is just so brave to think this out aloud, thoughts many of us single women won't dare say out (sometimes though, in a self pity kind of way).

Congratulations to her for finally finally meeting her soul mate.

Anonymous said...

I think the Visa enabling him to return to Singapore had something to do with Suan's decision!

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Anonymous said...

I read one Sumiko Tan column and that is it for me. Whiny, self-indulgent, boring drivel. I can't believe anyone cares what she has to say, it's dull and has been said before, only better. Yawn, yawn, yawn. Cliched crap

Stevewufm said...

singaporean girls are like that, think they're very pretty and special and that singaporean guys are like shit and can't match up with them. when they hit into late 30s, then they realize cheebye starting to smell, neh neh got wrinkles, then they realize that it IS a possibility that nobody will fuck them in future. i've seen too many of such cases man! such sluts deserve it! only know how to enjoy now and not plan for future.

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