Dear Xander,  Family and Parenting

Happy Mothers Day

Dear Xander,

I have been told on a number of occasions by a number of people (I count 3 so far; your eldest aunt – my eldest sister – and both your grandparents) what an unfilial son I have become, particularly after I settled down, had my own family and am struggling to keep things afloat financially whilst trying to ensure the happiness of those that matter to me. I know the sacrifices parents make first hand because I see and make very much the same sacrifices with our own son.

This isn’t a day to mark up your filial piety a few notches to show your appreciation to your mother; you should be doing that every day (Brian Richmond said that). It isn’t a day to judge your siblings for what they are doing with your mum, whether it’s not enough or too much (I said that). It most definitely shouldn’t be a day for retailers and restaurateurs to jack up their prices in the name of a special day (students around the island who try to celebrate Valentine’s Day say that).

It’s a day to remember the person that gave you the rest of her life so you could live yours. Making this one day extra special isn’t going to relieve the work she has done, and continues to do, or make up for the sacrifices and suffering she’s had to go through. You just need to make sure that your mother already feels extra special because of her children – you – and the love you have for her that you’ve been giving from the moment you’re born to the day that you die.

If filial piety is judged upon what I’ve done for my mother, then I’ve been a terrible son and all these words mean absolutely nothing. But my love for your grandmother has never died; life just got in the way, and words are pretty much all I have right now.

We may describe you as many things for now and for the future, but we will never accuse you of being unfilial; your mum and I already know how much you love us, and for as long as we live your mother and I will remember that your gift to us has always been love and happiness, nothing more, nothing less.

Now go give your mother a big kiss and a hug.



One Comment

  • Lahcene

    Having lived in China for more than a decade, I have been fornutate enough to gain some insight into the thinking of one specific subgroup of the population: the now :thirty-something -aged women from the countryside. Many of them took a familiar path: finished school at age 16, left the village for factory work soon thereafter, and spent their late teens/early twenties helping to build the Chinese economy of the past decade, one 12-hour shift at a time.They married young early twenties, at the latest and a child arrive. They left the factory towns of the south and headed north to Shanghai where different opportunities arose. For many of these women I am their only foreign friend, and this has provided me with unique access into their lives: I somehow dance on that usually stark contrast between those in and out of people’s circles of obligation. From this perspective I have noticed an unfortunate trap for women who are going through difficult time. Their role in the family (to preserve harmony and maintain positive appearances) prevents them from airing their unhappiness within the group, and to expose these issues outside the family would reflect badly on her (as well as provide fodder for the rumor mill that lurks outside that inner circle). This lack of outlet, I think, puts women in a position where they feel trapped, alone, isolated, and without an outlet for sharing their pain.The presence of social media has allowed one outlet, fornutately, but access to that is limited to those with the training and ability to tap in. Many of these women have mentioned suicide and the fact that, if not for her child, she would have no barrier to ending her life. I shudder to think about the road ahead, when the child has moved away and these women grow older.

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