Every individual goes through developmental stages as they get older; one needs to pay attention to a person’s changing needs and adapt one’s behaviour towards them accordingly. This works both ways: the old towards the young and the young towards the old.
A couple of weeks ago, as Mother’s Day approached, I was feeling out-of-sorts.
Those advertisements from furniture and household appliances stores or chain restaurants promoting good deals weren’t doing much to lighten my mood either.
Maybe age is catching up…
Then I went to revisit my children’s gifts to me every Mother’s Day (from the time they were pre-schoolers). The handmade ones were the most rewarding to revisit because the children had spent time and thought to make them, with whatever resources they possessed at hand. It was really a gift made from the heart.
And I would accept them, without voicing criticism.
Why was it then, as they got older, the same regard did not hold forth, and I used ‘judgement’ to assess their actions, thoughts and behaviour?
Then I decided that this upcoming Mother’s Day was going to be different from the previous- I wanted to truly express to my family what I really needed.
The first thing that caught my eye as I scanned my surroundings around me at home was the laundry..so that went into the first ‘need’ on the family’s WhatsApp chat group.
Please put back the clean laundry in your cupboards without me nagging you.
2. Be kind to me daily
A random phone call to ask me if I need anything from the store, a surprise gift, a text message to ask about my well being, a funny emoticon sent to perk up my day …spontaneous stuff…
3. Spare a thought for my mental and physical well-being
Recently I learned from a Health and Wellness course that women die early due to strokes (you know, that ailment that ruptures one’s blood vessel in the brain when one spends too much time worrying). Worries, left unresolved, accumulate…
4. Stay on task
Stay focused until you finish your course of studies.
5. Carry out a reasonable practical request promptly
When I request of you to update our family calendar in COZI, please remember to do it. You are helping me in more ways than one.
One advantage of this is if I know ahead of time you won’t be back for dinner on any day of the week, I won’t need to plan for that day’s meals, which means not only do I save a trip to the market I also save time preparing the food and cooking the meal.
I can use that time saved to make more headway in other personal or leisurely pursuits.
Remember that besides being your mother and the house manager (amongst other family carer roles), I am also a person who wants to live life purposefully and fulfillingly.
So what transpired after I had expressed my wishes in the chat group?
Not exactly what I had expected…
My younger child (now all of 15 years old) retorted that I should listen to her too! My ‘little-r’ daughter who used to grip my hand whenever she felt shy or fearful was no more. She too was growing into a person in her own right. Her comments made me realise I too was not listening to them on their turf…
Consequently, my honest rants did make the upcoming Mother’s Day a little more subdued than it usually was…
On that day, my daughters got the hint and gave me nothing bought from the store.
It was a day free from cooking and washing…I did no chores!
There was one part of the day when my feathers were a little ruffled after my older daughter walked up to me and casually asked if her tchoukball gloves had been washed: she instantly recollected what I had said when I cast her a murderous look and promptly retreated…
We had lunch out. I wanted to eat ‘Nasi Lemak’ so the whole family trooped to Adam Road Food Centre…
It was like a quarter of Singapore’s residents wanted to eat Nasi Lemak that day and decided to enjoy it at Adam Road Food Centre. Not a person to join in a snaking queue, I bought a plate of ‘Nasi Lemak’ from a nondescript stall where there were only two persons in front of me.
I blissfully tucked into my meal..it was momentously the best ‘Nasi Lemak’ then and there!
My teenage children looked incredulously at me as I happily crunched a crispy fish.
My husband was used to my idiosyncracies by now (after 22 years of marriage he would be ^^)
At that moment, nothing beat that feeling of having one’s wants being heard, without judgement, and spending time with my loved ones.
Well…did any good come out of my rants?
Well…there was some follow-up..the next morning, a cup was put back where it should belong…
A couple of days later, the teenagers’ bedroom was neatened…
All that done, without any nagging ..or reminders from me…
On top of that….dear hubby decided to up the household allowance from the following month on…I felt acknowledged, and appreciated.
All in all, it was a memorable Mother’s Day. One of the things I learned is according respect is a two-way street.
I understood it is necessary to adapt and change the way I speak and respond to the changing needs of my children, to speak to them on their turf, just like they too, needed to understand my evolving needs and my changing wants, and regard me, the way they wished to be regarded.
It also made me realise we raise children, eventually, not to suit our needs, but to enable them to make their way in the wider community.
And if, as parents, we do not acknowledge their changing needs and respect their innate personality, they will have a hard time adjusting to a world of adults and making a living for themselves.
For after all, how long can we be around to bolster all their challenges that will come their way?