I have been wanting to write about the relationship I have with my mom forever. It’s hard to describe our love-hate relationship. My mom was my teacher when I was in primary school and she became my best friend when I was in secondary school. I didn’t like anybody in my secondary school because I didn’t like the SAP school environment where taking tests and getting As were the only things on the minds of the students.
At that time, my mom was working as a nurse at the old American Hospital now known as Parkway East Hospital. In her early 40s, my mom was pretty, chatty and a really good listener. I could talk to her about anything in the world and she understood. And I thought to myself, “What a cool mom I had!” In my teens, I was really attached to my mom. She was my mom, my best friend and my ATM machine.
My mom and I grew apart when I was in university. The relationship had already worsened when I was in junior college. Our relationship whittled as each day passed. Mom couldn’t get why I wanted to color my hair or buy the best pager or date my loser boyfriend or even wear short skirts. To her, I was kind of in a “WILD” phase. She was very strict with me in dollars and cents because I was forever over-spending even until present. She told me straight in my face to work for my own monies. So I got a summer job at Parkway East as a Patient Service Assistant and also got tuition jobs. I didn’t save my monies and it went to spending buying a new mobile handset and going out with friends.
Secretly, I was also really angry that my parents were not rich enough to send me to school in UK and asked me to stay back in NUS, when I got a place at one of the better (really better) universities in UK. I was angry at my mom for being so proud of my older brother who got into medical school while I was in Arts & Social Sciences.
At parties and gatherings, my mom would always talk about her son being in medical school and had a memory lapse when she came to me. I was always thinking to myself, only if I had gone to London. Our relationship broke down after my first year in university. It was a lot of screaming and fighting at home. My mom was also going through her own crisis, feeling unwell due to menopause. I couldn’t really understand when she told me she couldn’t sleep well and had cold sweats. She also had mood swings and screamed at anyone who got into her way. We earnestly stayed out of her hair and her way. The relationship didn’t get any better and was lukewarm for a long time. I was upset when my mom told me that she had to go China during my convocation. When I was in the second semester of my Honours Year, my lecturer told me that he had nominated me for a scholarship. I was not only exhilarated, I was very excited to be moving away from my parents and going to school in Japan. My mom came to visit me during my graduation in Japan but I thought, “So what, she missed it when I was in NUS. No big deal.”
I got married when I was 27 and my marriage didn’t change a thing. The only thing that changed was after marriage, I got my own apartment and left my mom alone. As I traveled quite a bit for work then, I didn’t even bother to pick up the phone to call her and I was tired out with all the traveling and work. It became so bad that we saw each other on Chinese New Year Day, our birthdays and on Christmas. I spent a lot of time traveling and during off days, it was spent catching up with my husband. I really neglected my parents at that time. It was only until I had my first son at 34 that my mom came closer to my heart. She was always at my beck and call and loved my boy to pieces. I don’t think I mentioned that my mom was a workaholic. She still is and is going to take her license representative exam after being a financial adviser for more than a quarter of a century after she retired early from nursing.
“Ah Ma” became a frequent word in my home. My helper would call my mom “Ah Ma” here and “Ah Ma” there, so did Caden. When I conceived my second son, my mom was practically coming over to my place everyday. She bought me food for breakfast, lunch and sometimes dinner. My mom made sure I always had food. She would cook her black chicken soup and made sure I had my cordyceps as well. My mom made sure that Caden went to school when I was bulky and unable to move so much. She kept my house in order. When my second boy arrive, things got even better. I felt that I understood my mom and that she only wanted the best for my brother, who is now running his own orthopedic practice, and myself. She is always proud of our achievements, my brother and mine. My boys mean a WORLD to her and she couldn’t be happier to see them and I to see her. Mom, you are the best mom in the world and we are so blessed to have you around. Thank you for just being you.