My mom is an enigmatic presence in my life whom I’ve largely ignored for decades. And I feel terrible to be writing this. Despite the lack of proximity and language barrier, I am her first born after all and I owe her my life, so to speak. Without her, there wouldn’t be me.
When I think about it, my mom is actually a super cool person. She’s pretty much hands-off, super chill and isn’t the overbearing or nagging type of mother. She lives in her own bubble (ahem, the same has been said about me so the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree) and in her mind she rules a small country (ahem, again). My mom has been known to be excessively generous, I sometimes frown upon that because the ratio of people taking advantage of this vs. the ones who genuinely appreciates it is grossly skewed. Knowing so, she continues to go out of her way to do things for people she cares about and I am led to believe that she has racked up a lot of good karma because of this and is therefore living a very blessed life.
I find my mom to be passive-aggressive sometimes and this often drives me up the wall whenever she does it to me, especially when I was younger. Over the years though, I’ve learned not to let her get under my skin and she’s also let me be. I know that she cares for me and wants me to have the best in life. I almost never detect any nervous energy from my mom, she’s always so composed and calm about everything and from what I can tell she’s generally blazé about things – which sometimes annoy me coz I feel like she is too quick to dismiss my concerns. I realized recently that I’ve taken my mom for granted; while I’m out and about causing riots overseas, I get very impatient when I’m around her so I have consciously begun reminding myself to exercise more patience and be kinder towards her.
I had to cut my recent New York trip short, partly because of air ticketing issue, partly because of news that my mom was hospitalized due to an extreme fever. This came as quite a shock because she’s hardly gotten sick as far as I know. Even more alarming was how she’d spent over ten days in the hospital and the doctor wasn’t able to provide a firm and clear diagnosis over what was wrong with her. In this day and age of information overload, I thought the whole thing is so incredulous and unacceptable.
Admittedly I was extremely useless during this episode and my sister had to take care of it all. The hospitalization,
grilling communication with the doctor, the discharge, the billing etc. I couldn’t do anything for my mom, even though I flew over to see her and stayed for a week. Not quite sure how everyone else was calm at the time because I was internally freaking out big time and sobbing alone in a dark corner. Ohhh, the usual unsettling thoughts followed by a good round of self-badgering over what a shitty daughter I am. Then came the inner monologue of how I must do better than this but I have no idea how to go about it because I’ve been so detached for so long.
There’s a handful of reasons why I moved to Asia and one of them is to be geographically closer to my family. It’s ironic how easy it had been to live far far away from them and ignore them, while deluding myself that they will always be around forever. But I know that despite the youthful appearance (she is fiercely guarding her looks), my mom is getting older and good health, peace of mind, zero worries, indulging in the things that she likes are all that she should be enjoying now.
So in the last month my mom has visited Singapore twice for medical checkups. She’s bounced back to her usual self (much to my chagrin) and strong as an ox again but I’m reminding myself to stick to the plan. Seeing how Mother’s Day and her birthday are around the corner, I decided to express my concern over her health through the gesture of making her bird’s nest soup.
The health benefits of bird’s nest need not be elaborated again. My mom actually periodically brews this for everyone in the family and this time around, I made it for her. Using raw Royal Golden Bird’s Nest from Eu Yan Sang (which I had to pre-soak before putting into the double boiler with rock sugar, red dates and ginkgo nuts), I embellished the soup with egg white for additional protein and 23 carat edible gold flakes. Yes, me very fancy.
This enigmatic woman is someone whom I love to hate and hate to love. But I am beginning to appreciate her for who she is, especially now that I see her so often ever since I moved to Asia (compared to how I used to see her only once every handful of years). She’s the only mother that I know and I try the best I can now that we’re living much closer to each other geographically. I know it will crush me one day if I don’t make the effort to involve my family in my life while I still can. I’ve been known for displaying affection towards those I love by preparing food and feeding them. My mom, from what I could tell, was pleased with the homemade bird’s nest soup I made for her. Besides, how could anyone turn away from edible gold flakes, eh? I don’t just serve that to anyone!
Senior taitai vs. junior taitai.
As the saying goes, “One mountain cannot contain two tigers”… that explains why aside from the occasional meet-ups and travels, my mom and I absolutely can’t live together. (j/k, j/k~)