When i was little, my mother is my teacher, discipline mistress, chef, and source of moral stories rolled into one.
As a teacher:
She invested into my education heavily, traveling miles to fetch me to and from classes.
I was taught English by British teachers; Chinese by Mainland Chinese teachers; how to prepare for survival when disaster strikes by Ang Mos; how to paint a black goldfish and a translucent tail using a Chinese brush; how to play the piano… before i was 12 years of age.
As a discipline mistress:
She believed in “spare the rod, spoil the child”.
And so, mischievous as i was, i was well-acquainted with “Mr. Cane”. It was not one of those “you make me so angry that it went over my threshold and now you are paying for it muahahah!” sort of discipline. I was never confused why she was upset with me- she would tell me why and backed it up.
As a chef:
She would research on the latest nutritious food and cook a storm.
I drink Cantonese soup frequently because she believes in brews.
I get to savor all kinds of Chinese herbs because she says they are good for me.
So, i was kept from “heatiness” and she brewed whatever she could to “strengthen” my body.
The home-made dishes are (till today)… Low Fat, Low in Salt, completely without white sugar and very green. I eat tons of vegetables as well… because “too much meat is not good for you darling.”
As a source of moral stories:
She related stories of her life to me.
She told me of people around her- at work, at play and those in the huge family tree.
She taught me to listen patiently, to treat people with kindness and respect, to love animals, to care for the environment, to save water, to greet my neighbors whenever i see them. It was also she who cultivated in me, the love for the beach. To learn to appreciate the beautiful things of creation.
Little things… Big things…
She covered them as much as she could.
As i grew older, my mother stop using physical discipline.
Correction now takes the form of acoustic sounds- we talk.
But that’s where the challenge comes in. After i started to question the status quo, she had to back up every single argument she had that i didn’t agree with. As a parent, an elder, you wouldn’t expect an opened heart especially towards a child who “have had less rice than the salt” she ate.
But this is what i admire about my mother-
She doesn’t take the stance “I am older than you and therefore i know better forever and ever and ever Muahaha!”
She does not utilize death threats to manipulate me…
“If you don’t do as i say, i will jump outta this window! And then you will burn in hell, you unfilial child!”
Neither does she close her ears to all i have to say.
Communication is two-way… She took time to understand how i think and how i feel.
She never said sorry when she transgressed the boundaries… Some Chinese elder pride thing. But “sorry” takes other forms…
She would cook my favorite food and the issue would melt away into oblivion.
These days, our relationship is reciprocal.
We would hang out together… yes, i am Mummy’s girl.
We would set aside every Sunday for a hearty breakfast… just me and her… and we would talk about life and people.
We would share our aspirations, our dreams and ambitions. At age 50, she has ambitions! She has never stopped learning… and i am proud of her. She is one of the uneducated women of her era… but that has not stopped her from pursuing what she loves. I admire her for her passion.
We encourage one another in our daily walk… when i told her of my challenges, she said, “Don’t worry. You will do well.”
“It’s easy to shine under your care… Thank you for loving me.”
Happy Mothers’ Day to all you wonderful mothers out there. =)