One day, it finally happened: I turned into my mother. Imagine my surprise when all my life, I was supposed to turn into my father…
What was going on? In my 40s, with three kids, every time I open my mouth these days, I hear my mother.
“I feel like a broken record,” I told my kids the other day. “I tell you to pick up your toys from the floor every day.” That phrase was one of Mum’s Greatest Hits from the 80s. The kids blinked back at me without understanding, having absolutely no idea what a record was. Or a broken one.
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Vince, his mum, and his siblings. Image: supplied.
“I’m not your maid”
Yet the other day, it was the same: “I’m not your maid!” I told my boys. Mum… Is that you?
What was happening to me?
Without a doubt, it had something to do with how I grew up. Youngest of four children, I was the weird one, the one with behavioural problems. I was also, in my mother’s words, her “shadow.” Wherever she was, I was there too, hiding behind her skirt, throwing tantrums, and giving her a hard time. It’s no wonder I picked up a thing or two from her.
Or maybe it had something to do with my life choices. In a life plot twist, I opted to abandon career for vocation years ago. I embraced the roles of caregiver to my young children, all-around housekeeper, and part-time cook.
If you look at it in a certain way, my mother did the same, except her vocation was us, her family.
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“I embraced being caregiver to my family”. Image: iStock
“Mum, I understand now”
On calmer days, I tell the boys, “One day you’ll understand.” One day you’ll understand why you shouldn’t kill your brother. One day you’ll understand why you shouldn’t eat off the floor. And yes, that line is another mum-ism. And, you know, she was right because…
Mum, I understand now.
I understand how it wasn’t easy to raise four kids without help as dad’s work had us hopping from country to country with him.
I understand how you must have felt when four-year-old me ran through the glass door in those days when safety glass didn’t exist. I imagine I felt the same as you did when your youngest grandson broke his arm.
And yeah, every delicious home-cooked meal wasn’t easy, especially when I wouldn’t eat them. Your ungrateful grandchildren won’t always eat my cooking either.
I get it now. I know about those impossibly long nights that mothers go through because I went through them too when the boys were babies. The long days and the bottomless fatigue are familiar too.
Yes, I understand how you must have felt now that I have three boys who are just like me. I understand how hard those battles of wills were. And now I know that I was never fooling anyone, even when I thought I was being clever.
I understand that when it came to being a mother, none of it was easy. But you pulled it off with grace, and I am grateful. Thank you, mum. And sorry for all the heartaches.
And I am glad. Now that I’m turning into my mother, I couldn’t imagine a better person to become.
This post was originally published on The Asian Parent, Phillippines, and is republished here with permission.
“I understand none of it was easy.” Image: iStock