Are you close to your mother? What was it like growing up for you?
I'm very close with my mother. Growing up was fun because my mum would teach us a lot of general stuff, do activities with us like cooking or arts and crafts, or take us out frequently - I enjoyed that very much as it was a chance to be outside of the house.
My mother was the kind of woman who loved to study and upgrade herself, so being a stay at home wasn’t her option on top of the fact that we came from a middle income family, which means we needed 2 income to survive - but she wanted to take care of us too so she chose to work from home. She only started to go out to work and study when we reached primary school and our next door neighbours would then take care of us.
I have a younger sister and a younger brother. Currently, my dad is semi-retired. I feel that our family has a very close bond even though my dad was super strict with us. I think my parents did a very good job in keeping us close together. They don’t show bias, everyone has to contribute to the housework regardless of gender. When we quarrel or fight, our parents would scold all of us. One for all, all for one. Haha.
When was the first time you realised how much your mother had done for you?
Actually I can say that my siblings and I have known this since we were young. Because my mum came from Taiwan, she had no relatives that she could seek help from and my dad was busy working. So basically, she was all by herself and as her children, we were taught to be at our best behaviour. All we had was each other and from a young age, my siblings and I knew that she always stayed strong for us no matter what happened.
But if I had to pick a memory, I think it was when she had to take care of housework and us kids by herself. I remember she had to put the walker somewhere and so she tied it to the window - my movement would then be limited but at least I’d be safe while she did the housework or prepare meals.
Now that you're a mother yourself, what do you realise about what your own mother means to you?
It means a lot to me because you just don’t take notice of how quickly time flies by. Sometimes I look at my kids and realise they’re getting older. Other times, I tell my kids I'm getting older - either way reminds me that my mum is also getting old and life is so unpredictable. I’m so very appreciative of everything she went through to take care of me and my siblings and I hope that I can be as strong, as independent and as great a mum to my children as she was to me.
Has this circuit breaker in any way, increase your understanding of how hard it may have been for your mother to raise you?
Yes it gives me a rough idea because it's just like how I explained that when she got married and came to Singapore, she was alone with no help. That made it hard to go out because she was foreign to the country and of course our circuit breaker now is a different situation but it also made going on challenging. The fortunate thing and I guess the big difference is that I still have a helper and technology is much more advanced today compared to 37 yrs ago. I can face time with her anytime I like, I can do online shopping for groceries, and I can go online to find ideas for activities or just general ways to spend time. My mother didn’t have all those things but I had a great childhood which tells me she was doing such a great job!
Define your relationship in 3 words.
Friends. Idol. Love.
Tell us something about the way your mother raised you that you secretly love.
She loved to bring us out to enjoy the outdoors. It could be anything from swimming to going to the malls but my favourite was definitely when we went to the beach for barbecues. The beach is my favourite place! There is so much of what my mum did for me that now rubs off on how I’m a mother as I'm also doing the same for my kids today - we cook together, we head out for picnics and I try to find activities for us to do as a family.
Tell us what's one thing that "Now you know" about motherhood in terms of how your mother raised you.
Now I know how it feels like to have a mini me talking back to me haha. Jokes aside, I remember asking a lot of questions as a child or sometimes just innocently (playfully) answering back. This is an everyday occasion for me with my children and I’m so happy to know my mother never brushed me off or lost her patience with me because I do the same for my children. Now I know how difficult it is to remain attentive to my children no matter how busy I am - that no question is a stupid one because these are the years that they dream and wonder :)
What have you learnt about being a mother?
Essentially, I’ve learnt to be strong from sheer will and perhaps due to my motherly instincts. I can’t fall sick and I don’t want to die early because my children have a long way to go and we have many more memories to make. My husband is incredibly important to me as well and I love my family so no matter how tough life gets, I have to try my best and keep myself both physically, and mentally strong.
Lastly, what would you like to say to your mother this mother's day?
I hope she can stay healthy, happy and most importantly, I hope she knows that I love her.