"SHUT UP!" a man shouts. Everyone in the eating house turns towards the commotion. The family of four sit in silence for a moment, and then the father tells his teenage daughter to stop eating, since she wants to complain about the food he buys for her. The father puts down his chopsticks, and slumps back on the wall. I can see his frustration and despair. The father looks sad...
I know I'm just an outsider, and I'm not in a position to judge. I don't even know the complexities of the family's relationships. But as a parent, I know how parents feel. We love our children. We may not be able to give the very best to them, but whatever we give them, will definitely be the very best we have.
The scenario reminds me of the 'teenhood me' - I'm was guilty of complaining about the food my parents bought for me. I was disrespectful to them and didn't appreciate them. I raised my voice at them, told them they were naggy and that they shouldn't interfere with my life. I made them angry, I made them cry.
Fast forward to 2017, I'm a mother of two kids. I've been through two pregnancies, and my maternal instinct helps me grow into maturity. I was worried about my babies while they were in my womb. I worried if they would be healthy, if they were growing well. I worried if I could be a good mother.
During my first and second deliveries to Miya and Miki, I gave Zion the same instructions, "Just remember, once I deliver Miya / Miki, please check on her and accompany her. Should anything happen to me, be it common or life-threatening medical complications, don't be bothered about me. Give your attention and priority to Miya / Miki, and make sure she is safe and sound."
Well, parenthood is a lifetime journey of episodes, and babies grow out of "so-cute-stage" to "toddler-cheeky-stage", to "talk-back-stage" and "defiant-stage".
I once shouted "SHUT UP!" at Miya when she threw a huge tantrum and defy me. Zion took control of the situation immediately. He told me to calm down and keep quiet, while he tried to talk to Miya patiently. A few minutes later, Zion brought Miya to me. A teary Miya said, "Sorry Mama, I was wrong."
Zion looked at me and said, "You need to apologise to Miya too, because your attitude and use of words were wrong." For a split second, I could feel my parent-ego crawling up my throat. I swallowed my pride, and told myself that I need to say sorry if I wanted to be better parent to my kid.
"Sorry Miya, Mama was wrong too. I shouldn't have said 'shut-up' to you. That was bad of me. I'm sorry." My tears were streaming down my face as I looked at Miya with guilt, "Can Mama hug you?"
Miya looked confused and cried, "Why are you crying Mama? It's my fault, not yours. Don't cry Mama." Miya hugged me and made me cry even more.
I have learnt a valuable lesson from the above episode with Miya. Whenever Miya gets on my nerves and frustrates me, I remind myself to be firm and respectful to Miya. Parenthood isn't "easy-peasy, lemon-squeezy", and it's an ongoing learning process for me.
My mother used to say, "You will only understand our love for you when you become a parent." Ever since I became a mother, I have become very appreciative of my mum and dad. I finally comprehend how tough it is to love our children, and yet "not spare the rod and spoil the child".
And I'm very grateful to have my mum and dad, who love and care for me and my sister. I'm grateful that they love our children, and our husbands, and for their contributions to our extended family. I'm grateful to them for being with us, for being with me.
I love you Mummy and Daddy!
"Be sure to love your parents,
treat them always with loving care.
For one day you will only know their value,
when you see their empty chair.
Be kind and always tell them,
that they've done the best any parent could.
And always let them know how much they're appreciated, while overlooking the bad to see the good."
- Poem by Linda Winchell
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