With Mother's Day just around the corner, I am thinking of my 91 year-old mom. I've always been my mom's favourite child and she is the queen of my heart.
Born in the 1920s, Mom was very different from the very traditional Asian mothers of her time. While most women of that era were housewives who couldn't drive and were illiterate, Mom was a nurse, had her own car and English educated. I remember beaming with pride whenever she drove me to school. And she was quite the dancer too. She could waltz and tango. She really rocked the Foxtrot! Me? I have two left feet!
Although considered very untraditional, Mom was and still is very Asian in her ways. And like many Asian families, big hugs and praises were not openly displayed and given in our family when we were growing up.
I recall the time when my cousin was leaving for college in Australia. At the airport. her conservative mom just gave her a mere handshake and wished her the best! No hugs. No kisses. Isn't that sad?
My boys, on the other hand, are complaining that I am overly demonstrative and are constantly embarrassed by my generous hugs! Such an outward display of affection is met with disapproval by my mom-in-law. "You should always love your kids from the inside or they will grow up spoilt", she reminds me every now and then.
I may be open with my boys but my sisters and I are still challenged by the awkward PDE (public displays of emotion) policy with my parents. With my parents' days numbered, I am hugging them more but still find it very uncomfortable and awkward especially with my dad.
Here's a very uplifting video on things Asian parents say/do in place of "I love you".
Ha! Like most Asians, we are very proficient in reading cryptic gestures like mom picking the last piece of meat with her chopsticks and putting in on your plate at dinner. Or Dad staying up until the wee hours of the morning until he heard the sound of the key turning in the door, assured that you were safely home from a party before he silently went to bed. It meant "I love you"!
As blogger Cindy writes, “Chinese families know how to love fiercely. They do it through immense generosity, unwavering loyalty, and a lot of food. We love differently, not better, not worse, but definitely different.”
Happy Mother's Day, Pallies!