Saturday, October 22, 2011

Parents are people, too

As we grow older, we see our parents differently with each stage we pass through until we eventually reach a point where we realise that our parents...they're people too. It's something that I've been thinking about for awhile now. With every passing year, I learnt something more about my Mom and with every step closer to adulthood, I feel more and more like I'm coming onto more equal ground with her.

She tells me stories about her youth...what things were like in her day living in Hong Kong and even little bits of what my grandparents (her parents) were like. My grandfather died long before I was even born and my grandmother doesn't speak any English, and since I don't speak any Cantonese, I can't learn anything about her from her directly. It's kind of sad and it's one of my biggest reasons for wanting to learn the language, if only I had the time and resources. Over time I've come to realise that she, like any other person, has had dreams and goals which she once aspired to. I've learnt about the numerous hardships she's had to endure, particularly after her move to an English-speaking country when she knew no English at all. Today, she has become a very successful woman and, for a lesser educated Chinese person, she has extremely well-spoken English.

Trailing back to my childhood...
I don't remember very much but what I do recall from my childhood was all very memorable. My Mom was the scariest person alive to me. Her punishments were mean and cruel and I was afraid to do anything drastic for fear of possible repercussions. But she was also very nice sometimes. She may not have known the answers to everything but she'd help me with my homework and let me sleep with her when I was afraid of something. She'd let me play with my friends and gave me toys and dress me up to look pretty. She let me go away with her and let me see all sorts of wonderful sights and sounds. She took me to Disneyland and Universal Studios. She threw me birthday parties. At the end of the day she was a wonderful, albeit scary, Mom.

Re-thinking my teenage years...
I wasn't allowed to have a boyfriend. I wasn't allowed to go out at night. I wasn't allowed to do very much at all. She dictated my life and didn't let me have any fun at all! Or, at least, that's what I used to think. In retrospect, I can now say that I'm quite happy with the way I was raised as a teenager. Had I been allowed to party at night, I would be an entirely different person today. And I absolutely love the person I am now. I can understand her reasoning for not allowing the things she did not want me to have or do. But, as teenagers, we're so caught up with what we want and what's going on with our peers that we think, "My parents don't understand me at all! It's like they forgot what it was like to be young!". In reality, they understand the teenage years better than we did, after all, they lived through those years themselves. It's not that they forgot, they just have a habit of not wanting us to make the same mistakes as they did. They're trying to enforce what they believe to be the better way of growing up during those hormonally-driven years. It's not that they don't understand us, it's US who don't understand THEM. And many of us don't even try to understand them. I always used to say, "When I grow up, I'll never be like my mother!"

Discovering the truth...
As the years flew by and life became less dramatic, I came out of my self-obsessed hormonally-driven state. I never knew how difficult a time she had, moving to Barbados, living in Barbados, learning English, raising a child. Many stories delivered to me over a number of years have opened my eyes as I finally took a good look at the amazing woman who raised me. She's a person. Just another person, like everyone else. Like everyone else who has had a dream career for which there was no opportunity to pursue...because life had different plans in store. Like everyone else who has had interests and love and true hardships.

Dreaming their dreams...
We live in a time that's laden with blessings and we don't even realise. We've grown up in what one could call a spoilt generation. Many of people know the pains of war and hardship but many of us don't. We haven't lived through terrors. We wake up each morning without a second thought about how grateful we should be to be alive. I've been told many stories about the wars of China and the things my Mom's family have had to live through. It's no wonder why Chinese people are as formidable as they are and it makes me proud to have family who survived those times. They are strong people. But they never got to live their dreams.

It wasn't easy surviving those days. It wasn't easy giving up on dreams which were out of reach. It wasn't easy raising us. The least we could do is dream for them as we dream our dreams. They want only for us to have what they could not: the joys of seeing our dreams come to fruition. They deserve that much, don't they?

I've come to realise recently, that I'm very much like my Mom. A decade ago, I didn't want to be anything like my Mom. Today, I love the person who I was raised into. And I look up to, respect and love the person who raised me like no other.

I recently saw a video that portrays what I've said really well, actually. Something nice that I thought I'd share. "The Six Ways You'll See Your Dad" by CollegeHumor.


Samosuki said...

Really great post. I didn't have rebellious days with my parents, but the stories of the past were what made it click years ago. College Humor vid is spot on, parents dispense advice and bail you out all the time.

Mario said...

what i have to say would be too much so i'll just leave it at "this was truly the most moving post ever with the entertaining video which was completely relevant to all u have said"...nicely done