A Father’s Love

Last year, Mr R enjoyed a “typical” Father’s Day – celebrating the occasion with his wife and young 2-year old son. Life was fairly simple and straightforward with Mr R working hard and long hours as a cleaning supervisor while his wife stayed at home to take care of their young son.

This year, Father’s Day, will take on a whole different meaning for Mr R.

In August last year, Mr R effectively become a ‘single’ dad and sole caregiver of this son when his wife was incarcerated – a role he was totally unprepared for. While father and son enjoyed a good relationship and Mr R would change an occasional diaper or make a bottle of milk, primary caregiving chores was the domain of his wife.

Suddenly, “Dad” had to do everything in and outside the home. As Mr R he doesn’t cook, meals became stressful as he tried to find healthy and suitable food on a tight budget. Bath times turned into ‘catching’ sessions as he had to chase A around the house.

The COVID-pandemic did not help as A had to stay home often as the childcare centre had to shut due to COVID. With no support from the family, Mr R exhausted all his leave within a month as he had to stay home to take care of his son. He left his job the month after, and was forced to take on daily-rated day jobs instead as a packer or cleaner, whenever he could.

Their day starts at 5am so A can be dropped off early at the childcare centre before Mr R heads to look for his daily gig. He heads home after work, bathes thoroughly, and does chores at home. Dinner is one packet of rice from the economic rice stall – shared between the two. Most days, Mr R is too tired or too stressed to eat, especially when there was no job available for him that day. In a “good” month, he works 12-15 days, and gets paid $60 per day.

The stress has taken a toll on Mr R, causing an aggressive recurrence of his Psoriasis condition which has worsened and causing him much pain and discomfort. Even treatment is a problem as Mr R is worried that the strong topical steroid may rub off on A during their daily interactions, so he uses it selectively or not at all.

Visits to see his wife every fortnight are a highlight for both father and son – even if it means sacrificing wages for the day as visits are only allowed on weekdays.

However, in the last 10 months, the pair have grown closer and really bonded.

When asked what gives him joy, Mr R said, “When A sleeps, he wants to sleep on my arm. He looks very peaceful. I have no one – the only one close to me is my son. He makes me happy.”

Spending time with A is also not just playing games together but doing chores together as A wants to be like Daddy and loves sweeping the floor.

Mr R is hopeful that things will stablise at home and life will improve. He looks forward to the day when A falls sick less so he can go back to full-time work and of course for his wife to come home as early as possible.

Mr R also believes he has become a better man and wants to do better for the sake of his family. “I am all my son has. I am responsible now and not going back to the bad habits in my younger days.”

Currently, Mr R is supported by ComCare, and is an SSVP Friends in Need (FIN). The family receives financial and essential aid support from SSVP, initially from Conference of Our Lady’s Nativity, and later Conference of St Michael’s when the family moved. They are also a FIN of SSVP Ltd’s Milk & Diapers Programme. If you know someone who needs help, please PM us.



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