When I thought becoming a mother was all about me. How wrong was I? When I was doing the night feeding 4 times before 8 am this morning, I thought: I used to think all of this is about “I having her”. But the truth is, it’s about “she having me”. Happy parents are the ones who know it’s not always about themselves.
One of my favourite childhood memories is going kite flying with my parents on the riverbank.
We went at least twice a year. Once in Spring, once in Autumn. “That’s when the wind is strongest.” My mother told me, when I asked her why I couldn’t go kite flying on a cold, winter day.
“But you told me once, that if the wind is too strong, it’s going to take the kite away. Because the string will break. Why would we still want strong wind?”
“Because only with the help of the wind can a kite fly. Even if the wind might break the kite, that’s the only way a kite can fly.”
Both my parents were very good at flying kite. And the riverbank was the perfect place to do it.
“When you grow up, you will be like this kite, flying up high in the world.” My father told me once, after our kite flying day outside. He’s the romantic one in our family. “And your mother and I will be on this side, holding the thread, waiting for you to come back once a while.”
“It’d be better if I could just… fly. You know? I don’t want to be a kite. I want to be a bird. An eagle, maybe. Eagles fly high and far. Right?” I was excited, imagining having my own wings.
“Yeah, they do.”
Parents think their children are the kites. They fly far and high. Always come back, if wind doesn’t break the tie.
But the children like to believe that they are eagles. They fly far and high, as if home is the sky.
A friend of mine one day came to me with a personal problem. “Clear, I don’t think I can be with Simon.” “Why not?” “He wants us to get married.” “So?” “I’m a feminist and I want to be free. You know? I want to be able to go wherever I want, whenever I want.” “Do you love him?” “Yes, of course! I want to be with him. But I have to be free. You know? I can’t get married.” “You are not married right now. Do you think you are free?”
My father always complained how my mother and I always put our coats and jackets on the couch, while we were supposed to put them in the closet.
He used to tidy the living room up, including the couch area, by picking up our clothes from the living room and throwing them on the bed.
The result was obvious. The living room was “tidied up”, while the bedroom became messy.
“It’s like putting a messy bunch of things from one box to another box.” My mother used to say. “It’s just the same mess in another box.”
Sometimes we might think we are doing something while going the exact opposite way, heading to where we didn’t want to go. We think we are liberating ourselves, as we slowly imprison ourselves in the superficiality of liberation; We thought we are being productive, as we waste time in not working on the things that move needles. We thought we were breaking confinements, as we use the bricks we took down to build another wall around us.
Be aware of where we are going. Ask why. And see beneath the surface.
Leaving out the ideologies and the fancy terms. What are we doing?
If they show affection to their children, they are “clingy”; if they become strict once in a while, they are being “bitchy”.
If they care for other members, they are “too selfless” and “lost themselves”; if they pursue their career, they are “not nurturing enough to be a mother”.
They get a flower once a year on Mother’s Day. Or twice. One more flower on their birthday. “Thank you, mom!” You say, while you know doing this is “because it’s what people do” other than thanking her.
If your mother is like mine, she’s always there.
She’s there cheering for you if you are doing well.
She’s there calming you down if you are upset.
She’s there cleaning up your mess if you never clean up by yourself.
She’s there hugging you when you, well, simply need a hug.
And more often than not, moms are also kiss-givers.
If yours is not, she might just give you kisses in other ways, like praises, smiles, or good food.
Yes, she’s ALWAYS there.
And that’s it! That’s the reason why it’s easy for you to take her for granted.
BECAUSE she’s always there. She’s like the oxygen in the air. You will for damn sure notice when she’s not there.
She might be controlling. And the only thing you want to do when you are young is to get out of that control.
But you know what? When the control suddenly stops, you don’t feel free.
You feel lost.
So please, stop taking your mom for granted if she’s still there.
Well, I did develop more understanding of pregnant women and the women who became mothers.
Now I understand why my aunt used to say (with annoying enthusiasm) that her son is the cutest boy in the world.
And I understand her now, but I think she’s wrong though.
Because my kid is the cutest and smartest and most beautiful creature in this world.
No, the universe.
Interestingly, I don’t find my baby annoying, even when she’s crying and screaming for a short while.
I used to be very quickly annoyed by babies and kids. Anything they do, any noise they make, used to make me want to escape to where they are not…
Oddly, to me, my baby doesn’t feel like “a baby”.
She’s “my baby”.
She is something special.
She can’t be put into none of the categories such as “baby”.
She’s too special for that.
When I was annoyed by parents like those, I used to say “well that’s what parents do”.
What I was doing was not because of understanding, but tolerance.
In another word, I was “being nice”.
Anyway, I can better understand those annoying parents that I have encountered in my life who were, to me, so blinded by their love for their kids that they can’t see how ordinary and even boring their kids are…
I can see myself being like that too.
Now I can still control it. But maybe this craziness will start to grow with time.
It appears to me that becoming a mother made me a more understanding person towards those who I didn’t understand.
Being a mother myself makes me appreciate my own mother more.
I wish she was here to take that appreciation.
Being a mother makes me a more appreciative person.
But a more understanding and appreciative person isn’t necessarily a “better” person.
Yet I still feel like I have become a better person than I was because I am now more understanding, and more appreciative.
Being more understanding and appreciative makes me feel like my world has expanded — my mind has become more open.
I guess what I want to say beyond this point is this:
Shared experience is what links us together.
Shared experience is the hammer that breaks the wall.
I loved my mother.
But now I am a mother myself, I love her even more.