Thursday, July 28, 2011

Singapore Apartment Living with a Baby

View from our apartment

Our new apartment is by far the nicest place we've lived so far: yet another expression of our rise in income status (B's new salary is over twice what our combined income has ever been).

It's funny, though, because even though the apartment is so nice and we have more money, I am not any more satisfied than when we had an income of like $30,000/year. (However, being super poor for that one year in LA when we had about $500/month after rent was really hard and grinding, so there is a limit.) In fact, I am much less satisfied lately, due to the following:
1. stress from moving countries and adjusting to Singapore
2. not having a babysitter or any way to take a break from little R
3. Little R now not being able to sleep well except in her crib, meaning I can't go anywhere outside for more than a couple hours (see #2)
4. B being stressed about his new job
5. and thus unable to provide much support for me in #1-3.

At least we have the necessary furniture, etc. to get on with until the rest of our stuff (currently somewhere on the Pacific Ocean) arrives. This is good because shopping while hauling Little R along is not very fun.

I went to Ikea twice recently, which made me think of That Wife's post about shopping there with a baby. The first time I went with B and little R in her stroller. One of us had to push the stroller, and the other the shopping cart. It was an absolutely awful experience as we stayed too long (3 hours) and little R became very grumpy, requiring us to carry her (and now having three separate things to maneuver). This was especially difficult as the store was quite crowded. Then we could not get a taxi home: we waited there for over an hour trying to catch one, while we were all exhausted. Finally we caught one, but since we had purchased so much stuff, the taxi could not fit both of us. I had to wait an extra 20 minutes for another cab. When I got home, little R was screaming the loudest I had ever heard: she was completely beside herself, being exhausted and hungry.

The second time was two days ago. I went by myself, with little R in her baby carrier (I had learned about the non-wisdom of taking a stroller), and stayed only an hour or so. It was a very painless experience; little R was happy and content in her carrier, I filled up a shopping cart with various items (though I couldn't get everything I wanted, as it would have been too much stuff for me to transport alone), and I got a taxi almost right away (since it was 4 pm).

In neither case, however, did people behave as That Wife describes. Everyone here is very baby-friendly and helpful: people always open doors for me, try to entertain the baby if she's fussy, help me carry bags, etc. In the US, people tended to glower at me whenever I went anywhere with little R, thinking "That baby is going to make noise!" (of course she didn't, she is very mellow). Here the reaction is "What a cute baby! I want to play with her/take her picture/squeeze her little fat legs or cheeks." It certainly makes it much less stressful to go places with baby in tow: there hasn't been anywhere she isn't welcome (so not true in the US). I think Americans are very hostile to children and babies, probably because we are unsympathetic to the needy in general. The Chinese, on the other hand, love children. One point for Singapore!

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