The End of Men by Diana blogging as TALKTODIANA prompted this.


In the 1980s, Lisa decided to stay home to nurture our three children. I was prepared to be the stay-home Dad but she would not hear of it, plus I had better career prospects.

Incidentally, years earlier, when our first-born came along – I took a two-month break from work to care for Lisa. Over the years, I accumulated my vacation entitlement and had prepared my employers beforehand.

In the months leading up to the birth, Lisa introduced me to the grocers, fishmongers, and all, with clear instructions.

“This is my husband and don’t you dare fleece him!”

Ian Grice, a good friend here, who lived in Singapore, will tell you that hawkers charged prices according to how they sized you up. If you’re a local guy – you paid for the hawker’s Rolex. If you’re a foreign guy – you paid for the hawkers’ Mercedes! If you’re a local woman and especially if you took after Lisa – the hawkers would suffer and smile!

We had it all planned. I would handle the ‘night shift’ – Alicia’s bottle feeding, diaper changes and so forth. This ensured Lisa had a good night’s rest.

During the day, she would mother Alicia and I handled the cleaning, washing, laundry and cooking – Lisa taught me to cook – including her special post natal ‘confinement diet’ that included Chinese medicinal herbs.

Our children were breast-fed (daytime feeds) – this, when every other woman in the country relied on formula feeds. Another lovely friend, Val Logar who lived and worked in Singapore about this time, could probably attest to this.

I would even wash Lisa’s under wear. Now, Lisa is ethnic Chinese, and in an Oriental society – men DO NOT handle women’s under wear! Upon learning of this, some relatives passed snide remarks! My response – well, this is a family friendly blog. Then again, they probably had boring sex lives 😉

Lisa had a difficult childbirth but quickly bounced back. Within a month, she stopped me from cooking. (Okay people – stop that muffled laughter rippling through cyberspace).

The last couple of weeks before I returned to work were a nice break – the first that I’ve had in years – and spent playing with my bright little daughter.

As couples – simply pitch in and do the best and the most one can, for our loved ones. And while you’re at it -please dispense with that archaic cliché – “Behind every successful man, is a woman”. It works both ways – including when failure strikes!

****** Copyright @ Eric Alagan, 2014 ******

Mechanic Leigh


  1. I enjoy hearing the stories of how husbands and fathers deal with life, raising their kids, sharing the responsibilities of a home and family, getting through the time times. It is a growing process and I believe one of maturity when a father/husband can take on those things when necessary to help his wife. They learn to appreciate their wives more. 🙂 Thanks for sharing that experience, Eric.

    1. Thank you for your thoughts, Joyce.

      Maturity or not, I believe when men and women share their responsibilities, it’s more to do with true love that drives them to rise above societal norms and practices. It teaches them to appreciate one another.


      1. Yes, it does. My husband was always very helpful in sharing responsibilities and helping with the raising of our two girls. A couple united and working together in every way can help to strengthen and solidify a relationship I think.

  2. Lisa sounds like a very lucky woman, Eric! It’s nice to hear of a husband helping out with basic household chores. My hubby did the same and still does! 🙂 Thanks for sharing a delightful part of you and your wife! 🙂

    1. Hello Lauren,

      I’m a lucky guy too 🙂

      When the kids were growing up – they are all working adults now – and although we have a live-in housemaid we made it a point that they shared domestic chores especially when our help was on vacation. It was actually easier for our son, Adamson as all males spend two years in the military and he turned out very self sufficient. Our two girls took a little longer but now, fantastic.

      Hopefully, our sons-in-law don’t come with pre-conceived ideas about gender roles. Because my two girls will not tolerate it.

      Have a great week ahead,

  3. It is wonderful that you both have maintained the initial spark of your marriage over the years. Sharing, caring and growing old together! Cheers:)

    1. Sharing and caring, yes, Padmini.

      Growing old – LOL! – I can still jog and road bike faster than many people 10 years younger. One is only as old as one resigns to be.

      But I get what you mean by growing old – it has been a long journey and, with most of the tempest behind, gets increasingly lovelier 🙂

      Have a good week ahead,

      1. that was mostly a general statement:) And if the parents are intelligent and respect each other as well – the child is definitely likely to grow up to be a balanced person.

  4. Thanks for sharing that, Eric. You sound like a great husband and father. It’s nice your wife introduced you to the local merchants. If she’s anything like other Chinese women I’ve known, she’s probably a terror when it comes to bargaining for things. 🙂

    1. Hello David,

      I probably make more mistakes than most but I’m also a great believer of constant introspection and revision. I continue to make new mistakes – but seldom repeat the old ones.

      Gawd! I didn’t know one can commit so many errors in life even without trying 🙂

      Have a great Sunday,
      P/s: Lisa is no vicariously living tiger mum but you’re right – she can be a cat with super lightning reflexes 🙂

  5. These days difficult to decide who “wears the pants” in a household – shorts are in, pants are out

    . Time to re-pant ( repent) for the the husbands ??

    1. Yes, Surinder

      And only because many belabour and grapple with traditional gender roles.

      Many husbands are embracing change and with no regrets or repentance.

      This change is also affecting women – the mothers-in-law. I’ve witnessed, thankfully a minority, who expect their daughter-in-law to wait on their son but by the same token get annoyed when their daughter has to wait on their son-in-law.

      Yes, interesting changes and challenges on the home front – and all for the good, I reckon!


    2. Yes Eric.

      We men, want to marry ” loving life partners” and then over-night we want them to be “maid-servants” !!

      When every maid servant, can’t always be a good wife, why and how every wife can always be a good maid-servant ?

      A husband who can be a servant to his wife EARNS and deserves a loving “life -partner” for Life …….and automatically….. becomes a “gentleman” !!

      Any male should be proud, to be…. a gentleman. I am !!

  6. Hi Eric, it is always endearing to hear of husband’s support at such moments. Indeed show not tell is so appropriate.

    I also strongly support breast feeding. Recently I heard over the radio of this lady who went with her family to a restaurant to dine. While her family was enjoying the meal, she started breast feeding with the breast cover on, to protect decency. One of the waiters came and told her that she cannot breast feed in public. This is not the first time she had done it at this restaurant, so she got upset and demanded to see the higher authority. Fortunately the manager came to apologize and clarify that the restaurant is never against public breast feeding. On top of that, they also gave the family a free meal voucher. The next day, the manager took the trouble to call the lady to express regret over the incident and hope that the family will come again soon. It all ends well but poor lady had to suffer the earlier embarrassment.

    In the older days, breast feed was such a norm and no one bat an eyelid or stare. It is a beautiful sight and some mothers gather together to do it.

    Thank you for sharing this great post. You have a lovely weekend.

    1. Hello Windy,

      Obviously, service staff need better training or else they apply their ‘standards’ as witnessed in this ‘restaurant incident’. Good that the manager was proactive and did the right thing. I’ve also encountered managers who freeze and flee – leaving the situation to escalate.

      Yes, I recall in 1960s Singapore/Malaysia and neighbouring countries, women simply unbuttoned their vests and breastfed in public. People were decent enough and looked away to accord the women complete privacy. Even in crowded buses, men averted their eyes – there was no need to even ‘cover up’. Now — people tend to leer!

      Thank you for your visit and comment.

      Have a great weekend too,

    2. We are supposed to move towards a gracious society but our attitude seems to be the reverse. Does education, knowledge, exposure always help to make a person better, I’m ever so doubtful now.

      1. Hello Windy,

        Having had an education and to be educated are somewhat different, I reckon. I mean this beyond the classroom. Most of our ‘education’ is dished out by media – quite often these have a simple agenda – making money.

        One has only to watch the movies, TV dramas and so called reality shows – feeble minded people (meaning, many among us) watch and emulate.

        All good wishes,

  7. Hi Eric, I enjoyed this reminiscing and the discussion which it stimulated. I’ve downloaded Mechanic and am sure that it will prove equally thought provoking although heavily laced with humor. thank you for hits gift.
    On the male / female role issue I believe that as women become equals with men working outside the home so will equality creep into the home. When my mom died my dad couldn’t boil an egg which meant that he needed a full time housekeeper. After he retired he became an excellent cook.
    On the breast feeding issue my two cents worth is that it is one of my most cherished memories and an incredibly enjoyable activity. I loved every minute especially the ncotural feedings and the wonderful dawn feeding sitting in a rocking chair with babe in arms watching the day burst into life – a daily repeated seraphic moment. As such I regarded it as pinch of eternity! The problem is that our modern soft clothing leaves the nipples soft and tender and so when you start breast feeding it HURTS. The joy comes when they have hardened after initial introductionary weeks

    1. Hello Jane dear,

      You recently launched ‘A Sin for a Son’ and can well imagine how busy I’ve been. I’m now tidying up the format to release a print copy of Mechanic Leigh on CreateSpace/Amazon.

      Hope Mechanic Leigh does not disappoint – and yes, he does make observations about life in general and even takes a few swipes at the local political scene.

      On the gender roles, I believe it was always intended for women to be equal to men but – here, I tread on thin ice – mainstream religions have systematically cast women as second class and the root of all evil. Much of these beliefs crept into secular laws and continue to remain on the statutes of many countries.

      Singapore has achieved great strides (in the secular domains) in gender equality. Women are paid just as much as men and hold more boardroom positions (proportionally) than anywhere in the world. But, social stereotypes persist in pockets of traditional male (religious) domains here. I’m sorry to say this but it all stems from religion driven bigots.

      I’m sold on breast feeding and am shocked that some men actually frown on their wives breastfeeding their children. These men reportedly complain how it affects their wives’ beauty and even out of pure jealousy. Gawd, when I read that survey (admittedly some time ago) I almost fell off my chair!

      Yes, breastfeeding does render the nipples tender. Creams and cushioned wear can only do so much. During this period, husbands have to exercise restrain, understanding and love. It can be and definitely is a wonderful shared journey. Some of our best memories –

      Once again, thank you and I do hope Mechanic Leigh gives you some chuckles – he certainly did so for me 🙂


  8. Dear Eric,

    What a lovely vignette you painted in black and white, about life and loved ones.

    Men should definitely get in touch with their feminine side (although most men would scoff at such a notion) and eliminate their faux machismo persona.

    I, too, have no qualms whatsoever of cleaning the house, doing laundry, washing dishes, or cooking. In fact, I do all the shopping (I know where all the best deals are at various supermarkets) and then come home to cook three different meals. (One for me and my Beloved and the other two for my 12 and 20 year old boys. They have vastly different taste buds. 🙂

    As always, good to read your words, Mr. Alagan, and I shall peruse your recent postings as well. Your writing always prompts me to get my derriere in a chair and compose something.

    Have a wonderful time with Adamson this weekend.

    Take care, my friend, and here’s to a smidge of JD!

    Cheers! 🙂 🙂

    1. Dear Paul,

      A well thought contribution to the discussion – something I’ve come to expect from your visits 🙂

      Reading your blog, I’ve no doubt you make a wonderful husband and father. There are many men out there who share your traits – much more than what media gives credit, I reckon.

      Yes, I look forward to spending some time with my son. He has returned from NYC for good. It’s all happening here in Asia and he hopes to ride the economic crest.

      Always a pleasure to have you visit and all good wishes for the weekend 🙂

  9. Wow, you guys had it all planned, no need to have an in-house maid. I reckon it is typically your style to be organized to the dot. Fantastic that both of you shared workload and make your child the happiest and most welcome baby into this world.

    Many parents unfortunately do not plan ahead, get caught up with work and home, unable to divide their time properly. Worst off, some goes into post-natal blues and the child gets neglected, very sad.

    1. Hello Jasey,

      Yes, post natal blues can be serious and the new mother quite often suffers in silence.

      In the 1980s we did not have a live-in help – newly married, we were just starting to build up. Plus I didn’t want a strange woman in my house. However, by the late 80s we could afford a help and with three children – Lisa needed help. We’ve had a live-in help ever since – even now, when we don’t need one. But hey, Lisa can now do what she wants to do and not what she has to do. I suppose this is quite common in many Asian countries.

      Hope you have a great weekend,

    1. Hello Aparna,

      My pleasure. Lisa and our youngest, Amelia, leave today for Australia to spend some time with our first born, Alicia. I’ll be house husband for a couple of weeks. Our son, Adamson, will keep me company – some father/son bonding time.

      Actually, I’m not totally truthful – we do have a live-in help. But I get to change the light bulbs and check the mail – life will be tough for the next couple of weeks, I tell you 🙂

      Have a great weekend,

    1. Hello my friend, Onyango

      Media portrays men as bumbling butter-fingers around babies – as long as it remains in the realms of Hollywood comedy, good for a laugh. I know many guys who are pretty good with children and household chores.

      How about you buddy 🙂


      1. Hello Eric,

        I have no problem with doing housework. I don’t think when I decide to get myself a partner/wife am looking for a househelp who will wash, clean and cook while I have my feet on the table watching news. I so agree with your take.

        And am doing well, I can’t complain. Looking forward to an easy weekend.

  10. Not at all odd. Couples do what they need to for survival. Here’s the best part, it was because you loved each other. Sniggers behind hand. Yep, my hubby treated me like royalty and my dad, well, let’s not let rude words reign here.

    Best of luck to you and your family.

    1. Hello Connie,

      That’s lovely – to be treated like royalty. I think all of us deserve that treatment once in awhile – what the heck – more often 🙂

      After all these years, I continue to open doors for Lisa – whether entering a place or when getting into the car. This acquaintance thought I was doing it for public consumption. One day, he came upon us (unnoticed) in a parking lot and saw me opening the door for Lisa. Although he did not exactly apologise, he did sound a little contrite.

      Yup, we all deserve the royal treatment from loved ones 🙂


  11. What a sweet memory! I think it’s great when couples go beyond the societal gender lines. My husband took several weeks off after each of our kids was born to care for them (and me.) I had to go back to work after 8 weeks with my older son, 12 weeks with my younger son.

    P.S. I’ve downloaded your book on my Kindle – thank you 🙂

    1. Okay, so your hubby and I have some things in common:

      1. We don’t read sign boards that clearly say the water in the pond is poison
      2. When lost, we don’t ask for directions
      3. We use our vacation time to help mother and kids

      I can wash pots and pans – a whole roomful! But I can’t – simply don’t like drying pots and pans – drip (sun) dry them near the window 🙂

      Hey! That’s lovely – you downloaded Mechanic Leigh 🙂 Hope he gives you some chuckles.

      All good fun and wishes,

    1. Hello Diana,

      I’m trying to be – and will get there, I hope 🙂

      As I mentioned, your post was a refreshing read and prompted this post. It was my pleasure to link back 🙂

      Have a great weekend, dear,

  12. Mine is now in my reader!

    I loved this memory! Sweet and indeed, I had several friends with babies while I was there and didn’t know a single one who breast fed, only knew one who ever pumped.

    1. Hello Val dear,

      In the 1980s when the west was going back to breast-milk, in Singapore, women increasingly embraced formula feeds. Quite amusing. It was another 20 years before breastfeeding took on a shine again.

      All good wishes,
      P/s I hope you enjoy Mechanic Leigh 🙂

  13. I was wise and let my Chinese friends do the bargaining when we went for lunch at a hawker stand. The Chinese office staff with Georgine and I favoured a particular stand where they sold black sauce fish with rice and Chinese veges. I asked Annie our organizer why she chose that stall. She said, “He can’t count so I get a good deal.” lol. I should have made Annie our Purchasing Officer. Loved your note on your reaction to your first born. I loved my girls enormously and still do. We relocated office from 800 Thomson to SunTec City while the rebuilding at 800 Thomson took place. The basement food shops were too up market for me. I liked the suburban ones best. Genuine hawker foods with the best taste.

    1. “He can’t count so I get a good deal.” – LOL! Your organizer Annie sure can smell out good deals – bet it took that hawker more years than most to own his first Rolex!

      Yes, children do give such abundant joy – and also anxiety. It’s a job description that most wannabe parents don’t always appreciate until they are thick into it. But like you, I’ll not have it any other way.

      You’re right, Ian – the food courts are bland, predictably lousy and mere clones of one another. Quite often they serve up chilled stuff from the freezer by merely dunking them in tepid soup and ladling some hot water.

      I prefer the old shop house coffee shops – full of differing character and tastes 🙂

      Have a great weekend,

      1. You can still afford a Rolex in Singapore even if you are a coolie. Just visit my friend in the clothes shop. He will open the fake wall with hanging clothes as a front in case of a raid and you have all kind of Rolex there as long as you don’t mind the siko moving parts inside. Want the latest DVD’s and computer programs. I may know another shop if you do! In case the copyright people are closing in, I’m just fooling. (maybe).

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