Sunday May 13, 2012
They are not perfect but they will always be special
By SOO EWE JIN
IN 1994, when I was enjoying my stint as a full-time father, the editor of Her World asked me to contribute a Mothers Day reflection. I decided to write on the three wonderful mothers in my life – my wife, my mother and my mother-in-law.
I began my article back then with this introduction, “Together, they have a combined experience of more than 100 years managing 21 children and countless grandchildren. As mothers, they are not perfect but they will always be special.”
Indeed they are.
I was back in Penang a fortnight ago to celebrate my mother’s 89th birthday. Just a week earlier, we celebrated my mother-in-law’s 96th birthday.
Come December, it will be my wife’s turn, but I shall not reveal her age, other than the fact that friends always remark that she looks forever young.
As I looked through that article, I realise that despite the passage of time, the essence of their attractiveness remains very much the same. It is not about external beauty but what comes from within the heart.
My mother and mother-in-law come from that productive generation when a brood of children was the norm rather than the exception. We do wonder how they could raise so many children when we find it such a struggle coping with just two or three.
But they had their struggles, and it still amazes me to this day how they went through good and tough times with such fortitude, ensuring at all times that their children remained loved and protected. The picture of a bird enfolding her chicks with her wings in the midst of a storm comes to mind.
Young couples have told me that they cannot have children yet because the world is tough and it is expensive to raise them.
In this very materialistic world when disposable diapers have taken over from cloth nappies, and when even a toddler may demand a tablet instead of a ball, yes, the cost of raising a child may be astronomical. And further down the line, there is tuition, enrichment classes and other money-grabbing requirements.
My wife and I grew up with the most simple things in life. Neither of us ever felt we lacked anything. But one thing we have a surplus of must surely be the love of our parents, expressed to us in their own unique ways.
I believe the love shown to us helped us become better parents. It was never about what material things we got, but the intangible values passed on from one generation to the next.
My wife once wrote that she is no Superwoman, but one thing which has kept her going in the early years of motherhood “is a husband who does his fair share of parenting and stood by through the sleepless nights, frayed nerves and all”.
I am no Superman either, but as I have mentioned a few times in this column, my days as a full-time father at home certainly made me understand the full extent of what most mothers have to go through. And I will say to all you men out there, especially those who are fathers, that you have a role to play to bring out the best mother in your better half.
Today being Mothers Day, I pay tribute to all mothers, especially the three special mothers in my life, who wear the badge of motherhood with honour and distinction.
> Deputy executive editor Soo Ewe Jin is truly inspired by a mother who has been faithfully taking care of her son at the hospital over the past two years. As Helen Steiner Rice puts it, “A mother’s love is patient and forgiving when all others are forsaking, it never fails or falters, even though the heart is breaking.”
Other Stories on Mother's Day:
For the love of mum
Eliza and Shreen's Mothers Day tributes
Mother with a mind of her own
Reminder to filial son moves others to care for their aged parents
Mother to three generations
Mothers stay connected
Supporting mothers – saving lives
Nayati’s love knows no bounds