Wednesday, March 23, 2011

She’s here! (No, not that she. The other she of the house)

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Well, if it made it to my Facebook status, you know it’s big news. On Tuesday, my mom flew in from Malaysia with her life in two pieces of luggage and a carry-on to come live with us. Our family dynamic shifted a little in that instant. Of course with three generations of women from two different, even opposite, cultures in one household, one could dwell on the generational and cultural gap that could surface on occasion. I have to admit, that does worry me sometimes.

However, rather than focus on the gap, I’ve been concentrating on the bridge – one that leads me, as well as my girls, back to my home country and our cultural roots. There will be challenges, yes, but more than that, it will be a gloriously rich journey as we are reminded daily of this deep connection between the past, the present and the future.

Speaking of the past, when I was little, my mom, who worked a nine to five job, always called me on the phone as soon as I was expected home from school to make sure I was fine. Being an only child with parents who worked full time, I was a latchkey kid, but my mom found ways to tend to my needs even when she was away. I never had to wonder about my meals or who would pick me up from the tutor. 

Now that I’m older, it’s interesting how the table’s turned. As I was writing a note to my mom about her meals in the fridge and calling her from my work, I thought about what it must have been like for her to care but not really be there, and so she did her best with the little things. And now, those are what I remember the most.

Even though I had an absentee father, my mom more than made up for his slack. She is the main reason I am where I am today, and while I wish I could do more for all that she’s sacrificed and done for me, I know she would never demand more of me than I could give.

However, I didn’t realize just how fortunate I am until my encounter with parents who expect love and respect from their kids because they think it’s their divine right. They don’t understand that these things are not a given and that they have to earn it, even from their children. I may have a few years on my daughter, but I am constantly humbled by how much she teaches me. That I work hard to provide her food, clothes and shelter is something I signed up for the moment I decided to become a parent. They’re certainly not the reason why I deserve her love and respect. That I will have to work on over the years, the same way she does.

Today, I am just grateful to have my mom here with me so I could show her the care that she had shown me. And hopefully someday, if I do right by my own girls, they will do the same for me. Not a very Western philosophy, I know, to hope for your children’s care, but I am from the East. You know what they say, you can take the girl out of the East…

 

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How has being a parent affected the way you view your own parents? How much of your parenting style is influenced by your own experience in childhood? If you could do one thing for your parents now, what would it be?

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