Tuesday’s Tale: For all the times

Today’s video is about one of the greatest persons in our lives: our mother. I believe we don’t need to wait for another Mother’s day to thank her for all the things she has done.

This short film is dedicated to the amazing women in our lives whom we call mom. This Mother’s Day, we want to remind you of the countless sacrifices she made for you.

– Jubilee Project

A world without mothers

Published on OZIP (Indonesian magazine based in Melbourne) on May 2012, issue 32 edition.

During this time of the year, we are always reminded to appreciate and honour our mothers, to buy some flowers on the way home, or to give her some chocolates.

On this day, we might have some family gathering, or call our mothers from overseas, thanking her for what she has done and telling her that we love her.

Yet it’s done as if we fail to appreciate her for the other 364 days of the year.

Mother, the woman who has given birth to us, may be our closest person, or she may be the most distant. She may be protective and strict, or she may be lenient and submissive to her children’s demands. Yet she is a mother.

But what is a mother?

JK Rowling believes that a mother’s love can make her child cheats death. Abraham Lincoln believes that great men are born from great mothers. Barney Stinson realises that a hell of a mother can even fill the gap of not having a father. Forrest Gump knows that he succeeds because of her mother’s teaching.

So let’s consider another question. What would it be like, a world without mothers?

Here’s our day-trip towards another world, a world where no mothers exist.

When we go out to have our breakfast, the café would be packed with women in their 30s and 40s, but oddly, there are no prams to be found. They are just women who give birth to their children yet do not tend to their children’s needs, dropping their toddlers on a child care and having fun with their girlfriends.

After we are finished with our morning coffee, we walk to the city and have some sightseeing at the skyscrapers, only to realise that there are so many professional looking women entering each of the buildings. They all are pursuing their dream jobs and there’s no way that they are willing to give up all that to become a full-time stay-at-home Mom.

We then take a stroll along the park. Again, we see no prams around, and children were having soccer competition with no one’s watching them. No one is cheering when the children score a goal. It is just an oddly quiet day, with the sound of the coach’s whistle piercing our ears.

After lunch, we visit a local school nearby, and we see aggressiveness, violence, and troubles among the kids. No one has ever known what it feels to be cared and to be loved, and no one has a secured attachment with their mothers. The teachers are seen on the edge of giving up.

Looking at the time, we decide to give a visit to the hospital, a place that is always full of patients, but oddly no visitors. The neonatal clinic is full of babies who are struggling to breathe, born prematurely or with a defect. But there are no mothers who try to cuddle their newborn babies, or give that radiant smile when she heard the child’s first cry.

After a while, we make our way to the psychology clinic. Most teenagers there are anorexic, depressed, and having suicidal problems.

Just before it gets dark, we head home wondering, because we always thought that a world without mothers means there’s no one to nag you to go to bed when it’s past midnight. No one is there to tell you what to do, when to do it, and how to actually properly do the stuff.

No one is screaming to wake you up in the morning, or frantically trying to tell you to wash your face before going to bed. No one will tell you to practice your piano lessons. No one is there to treat you like a 10-year-old when you’re 25 just because in her eyes, you will be forever young.

But then, we remember looking at those motherless children’s hollow eyes, and we realise that with all those freedom, it also means there’s no breakfast in bed when you’re sick. There will be no hug after getting bullied in school during the second grade. We will hear no bedtime stories, and we will find no cooked dishes and cleaned apartment after trying hard to survive our first year in uni. We realise that there will be no one to turn to when all else fails. And we would know no love.

So what would it be, a world without mothers?

Certainly, Harry Potter would not even be alive. Abraham Lincoln would never become president, let alone a president who ended slavery. And Barney Stinson? He may be a more legen-wait for it-dary character than he already is, which may actually be a negative thing. Ted Mosby wouldn’t be telling his children on how he met their mother, and Tom Hanks would never win Oscar for being Forrest Gump.

And we just simply would not exist.

Happy Mother’s Day.

“All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel Mother.”
Abraham Lincoln

My Mother and I

Saturday’s Story: Love and loathing: Mothers’ Day reflections

written by Fiona Ren, a colleague of mine in Meld Magazine. I really like her reflection about Mothers’ Day, and I’d like to share it to all of you. :)

WITH Mother’s Day round the corner, Meld’s Fiona Ren makes sense of a daughter-mother relationship that hasn’t always been smooth-sailing.

I started a rebellion against my mother once.

I forgot the event that spurred our cause, but I remember successfully amassing a large following (my three sisters), winning them over after I’d likened our mum to pest control. I said she eliminated our freedom to scurry around the house one at a time… I was 11 or 12 at the most, so forgive the poor analogy.

Together we were united against our “oppressor”, fighting against 9pm bedtimes and Math, determined to uphold our rights to all the chocolate we could eat and our entitlements to TV after 7.30pm.

Mum found out about the coup before we even had a game plan. She’d overheard a conversation between my sisters and I. When she confronted me about the analogy, I remember going cold.

“This is it,” I thought.

“Time to pack my bags and move to the park down the road.”

Looking back, I admit I was not always an easy child.

Likening my mother to pest control was just a slice of the headaches I gave her throughout our 22-year relationship. Like most children, I didn’t respond well to authority.

During my pre-adolescent years, house rules and allocated study times were, simply put, “stupid” to me. So I tried my best to dodge them. Our domestic helper at the time was always too preoccupied with chores to be strict with us anyway. But all that changed when I turned 10 and Mum decided she would quit her job to give her four daughters her undivided love and attention.

Graphics: Marcus Huang

While I was excited, I knew Mum being home would mean no more after-school TV, no more playing the Playstation without permission, no more dancing in the rain, no more throwing cushions around the living room and then jumping on them, pretending the floor was lava. No more fun.

It was a prophecy that somewhat came true. Mum made sure we spent our afternoons finishing our homework, studying to stay up-to-date with the school’s curriculum and practicing the piano to “sharpen the mind”. Only then did we get the green light to tune into MTV and the Disney Channel. It was certainly a radical change.

Before mum quit her job, my sisters and I would take turns sitting in bed with her each night, learning to read with a little help from Peter and Jane.

Then we became adequately literate and mum replaced reading with Math. Math had always been a passion of hers, and so instead of hiring a tutor, she imparted her knowledge on the subject herself.

Our bedtime lessons became scheduled so that we’d always be chapters ahead of our teachers’ study plan. Mum did this so we’d be quick to catch on in a classroom environment where students rarely receive one-to-one attention.

If there was one thing that grated on me more than our household’s one-soft-drink-per-week rule, it was Math. Night after night, I would drag my feet to the study sulking. I refused to say a word, simply nodding mechanically unless I was asked a question, at which point I would grumble the answer with furrowed brows before going mute again.

I spent three grueling hours trying to solve an equation once. Tired and in tears, I just wanted to go to bed. But Mum wouldn’t let me off the hook.

“Think,” she said repeatedly.

“You know this.”

In the end, she was right. I did know it, but I went to bed that night feeling resentful, as I would many more nights to come.

In retrospect, I can see that Mum was trying to do me a favour. All those nights, I wasn’t simply receiving an academic lesson, I was being taught qualities like patience and perseverance. Of course, I never saw it that way so I reacted by throwing tantrums.

“You just want me to be miserable!” was one of my favourite lines to throw at my mother.

The strict curfews imposed on my sisters and I in later years, as well as the cross-examination we had to go through before we could go out didn’t help in lessening the quarrels between Mum and I.

Who leaves a party before 11pm anyway? And what was wrong with a 14-year-old wanting to go to a Linkin Park concert with a friend?

I’ve come to realize now that Mum’s fights with me were always borne out of care, not malice, though before the distinction was never so clear to me. After all, when tempers are flaring, good intentions are easily overlooked.

During our heated arguments I would forget how I was once the 5-year-old girl who hung onto her mum like a koala hugging a tree whenever she would drop me off at my grandparents’ to go out.

I’d forget that when I was 13 and had trouble fitting in at my new school, it was Mum who encouraged me by giving me daily pep talks (“Did you make new friends today? No? That’s okay, tomorrow is a new day!”).

I’d even forget how excited she would be when the topic of boys came up. And no matter how hard she pushed her children, she would always say she was proud of us no matter what we did.

Maybe now that I’m older, it’s easier to comprehend the sacrifices Mum made for my sisters and I.

In the past, I’d only seen the day she quit her job as the beginning of an indefinite sentence of no fun for me. I neglected to see what she had to give up in exchange for our then-unacknowledged needs.

All those times she would say no to going out with friends because we needed help with school projects, the accumulated hours she’d spent in her car, taking us to and from school, the shops and friends’ homes – when she could’ve been enjoying the crime novels she loves so much.

How could I not have grasped sooner that her life revolved around her children?

For so long, I yearned for independence and freedom from Mum’s overprotective arms. But now that I’m living far away from home, I find myself  longing to be wrapped around Mum’s blanket of comfort and security once more.

I yearn for a hug after a bad day, for her to laugh at me when I worry about silly things, for her to hold my hand and reassure me that everything is going to be okay. I miss the little things she does that move and surprise me, like the time she’d unexpectedly handed me a pink flat box during my first week in Melbourne, having remembered that I wanted a new pair of gloves.

With Mother’s Day this Sunday, I sometimes wonder how different a person I would’ve become had Mum gone down a different path with me. I suppose I’ll never know. But if there is one thing I’m sure of, it’s that there is no woman I love and respect more on this earth than the woman who gave me life and then raised me – my teacher, my protector, my friend, my mother.

What was your relationship with your mother like? Share your stories, anecdotes, and Mothers’ Day reflections with us in the comments section below.