IT’S Mothers Day today and I’m sure many mothers in Malaysia are given treats and gifts on this special occasion. Interestingly enough, there are 27 Mothers Day this year because different countries honour their mothers on different days. Since I live in two countries, I get to celebrate it twice, so to speak. But, to me, every day is Mothers Day because it is a privilege to be
King Solomon, in all his wisdom, has written many proverbs about the good wife and mother. She is priceless above rubies. She is industrious and ensures that there is food on the table. She invests wisely and helps the needy. She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she hopes in the future. She speaks with wisdom and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
I went home recently to Malaysia because my son, Samuel, had to undergo two operations. My trips back home usually involve a lot of travelling and feasting, but this time round, I was home-bound for the most part of my stay. But, it was still satisfying to cook, clean and nurse. It is pretty much like what the Ikea 2016 advertisement entitled “My Son” portrays. Although he is a grown man, I still see him as my young son.
It was nice to go to a wet market and choose fresh produce — the sight and smell — something that I hadn’t experienced in a while. It was lovely to get back to my big and spacious kitchen and use my familiar pots and pans again. The 28-year-old gas stove has been repaired and given a new lease of life.
Many of us mothers emulate the good practices that our own mothers have done for us and, in many ways, we try to do more. Giving and sacrificing are almost natural traits in us. Most mothers worry from time to time, although we try to put on a brave face regardless of whether the son is a baby or has become a father himself.
My mother was the mother of all worriers. Her anxiety came from deep within, which I believe was due to her environment and life experiences. She was one of those who thought that worrying was a way of showing love and care. But sometimes, being on the receiving end of her worries made it difficult for the child to see that as a sign of caring. Instead, it became a task to take care of the worrier — to reassure her that I could handle my problems. Thus, there were many instances where I withheld information from her so that she didn’t have to worry.
The bond between a mother and child is so great that it transcends distance. How many times have I awaken in the middle of the night sensing that my child was having a difficult time, whether in Dublin or in Kuala Lumpur? How many times have I rejoiced in my heart for my child before something great actually happens? And how many times have I shed tears and grieved within, knowing that there would be impending sorrow?
Interestingly enough, this also works both ways. I’ve had my children calling and asking me whether something was amiss because there was this “discomfort in their gut” even when I never told them so. And, they were right.
I have people look at me and wonder whether I’m doing my “job” as a mother because I don’t seem to worry as much as they do. It is human to worry, but what helps me worry less is a sense of trust and communication. Knowing that my children are independent and can make sensible choices helps me step back and let the course of action or consequence unravel.
I don’t believe in nagging or being a helicopter parent. Painful though it is, I allow my children to make mistakes. I have learnt how to accept when my advice is not taken, and hold my tongue when things don’t go well and refrain from saying, “I told you so”.
We cannot protect them from every potential threat and neither should we do all the thinking for them. Through prayers, I
also place my trust in my Creator and that gives me peace. I exchange fear and dark emotional clouds hovering over me with conversation, support and shared beliefs.
My child’s pain is my pain, but being there for a child (whether in person or in cyberspace) when he needs it most breaks anxiety. And I’m not only talking about physical pain, but also emotional pain.
Sometimes, we worry because we think that no one can do the job as efficiently as ourselves. It is most helpful to be surrounded by good service providers. I trust the knowledgeable surgeon, the caring relatives and the good friends that I know would also look out for my son.
At the end of my stay, I flew back to Ireland, happy that Samuel is on the way to recovery. I also held two hand-sewn quilts that I had completed when the patient was asleep, while I battled jet lag.
The author was a lecturer at Universiti Teknologi Mara and now spends her days enjoying life as it is