As I sit here typing this, my nose is running, my hands are as cold as ice, and the back of my throat feels like sandpaper. It’s no exaggeration when I say that I FEEL LIKE CRAP. And obviously, I look like crap too.
BUT. That is not the point. I am not here to whine and whinge about my illness. Okay, maybe just a little. WHINE WHINE WHINE. Now stop.
I have never appreciated how much work my mother put into bringing me up until I became a mother myself. It’s so cliched but true. As a mother, you don’t have “off” days. Even if you are sick, you still have to haul your ass up to do whatever is necessary because your child needs you. My baby isn’t going to feed, bathe and put himself to bed just because mama is feeling ill. Even if you had a bad day at work, you still have to put on a big smile and pull on that Mama hat because you just have to.
At least I have a helper now who can take over the cleaning up, and a husband who is able to put my little man to bed while I lie on the bed for a brief respite. Back then, my mother never had any of that. It was just her and two kids, whom she had to bring up by herself.
As someone who never had the privilege of education, she had to work long hours in order to feed us two. And she missed out on so many priceless moments of our lives. Not once was she able to attend the ceremonies in which I received book prizes, neither did she attend a single choir performance of my life. And I sang for 13 YEARS.
Which is why now that I have my own child, I am absolutely insistent on letting her have at least partial care of A while I am at work. She never had the chance to be joyful about our growth, it was always about survival for her. How to make sure that we have the money to go to school and pay for textbooks, how to make enough money such that we are not deprived of little treats like renting books to read (for me). Toys were non-existent in our house but books, oh my, all the books that I read!
Now that the stress of having to bring up her own children is out of the way, she can finally relax and just be a caregiver. And it’s evident that she is enjoying it immensely. She shifted all her furniture out of the way so that the boys have a large space to run/crawl/ride their trikes, switched out pieces that had sharp corners to those without, and plays with them. She turns on music and encourages them to dance, and takes them down to the playground every evening.
Never mind that her house has been turned topsy turvy, never mind that toys line the hallway, never mind that milk bottles clutter her dining table. It’s a little house that’s full of love and warm and joy. The house speaks of laughter and tears and milestones reached.
Sure, the situation is not perfect. She gets upset with me when I refuse to feed A porridge (I mean, he gets porridge EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Surely it’s not wrong for me to offer him variety.), turns on the TV in the house even though I have said that I am limiting A’s exposure to TV, and slips some sugar into the chrysanthemum or barley drink that she feeds him.
But to see her eyes light up every time A smiles at her? And to see my little man kiss her goodbye? It’s well worth it.