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It’s been a while since I’ve written in this blog. Sorry followers. Life throws curve balls at you when you don’t expect them.

I was never close to my dad, so I was a little surprised how it affected me when he passed away this weekend, despite the fact that we knew he was dying over the last 2 months.

He was not a hands-on or interested father, as were most fathers in his generation and of his culture. He was a traditional Asian dad – he brought home the bacon and he expected to be served and respected by his wife and kids.

I remember as a young child our home was a quiet tiny box when dad came home in the evening. With 7 young children, that was not an easy feat. Only his transistor radio with the horse racing program or the news made much sound in the evening. After our evening meal together, we would do our school work quietly, and mom was at the ready to shush us up along with our grandparents that lived with us. There were 11 people living in a 700 sq. ft. apartment, keeping the noise down was not easy, and there was no doubt who was in control.

All that changed after our immigration to Canada … my mother became independent, learned to drive, got a job and learned enough English to get by; many of the children grew up as “bananas” (white on the inside yellow on the outside), westernized but with some inherited knowledge of some Chinese traditions. That couldn’t have been easy for my dad, who liked control, called the shots, knew it all and enjoyed being “the boss”.

As first generation Canadians, I matured with increasing contradicting feelings towards my own heritage and culture. I don’t know what to pass onto our own children or not, as I can’t explain why we did some of the traditional things and the meanings behind them. All I know is that I inherited the virtues and learned the value and importance of family and duties.

So, regardless what my relationship was with my father, I dug deep and found these AWESOME things to say about my dad as he journeyed forth into another realm of existence. I appreciated:

  • that he was a survivor in the face of adversities, especially during and after WWII;
  • that he was a dutiful and loyal son and brother to his family;
  • his business acumen back in the day when things were done differently; he ran several successful businesses, employed and took care of many of his relatives and friends who needed work;
  • his generosity and largesse towards his friends and colleagues;
  • his foresight to move to Canada to give his family a better life and future;
  • his eventual gratitude for my siblings who bent over backwards to meet his needs and endured his many outbursts and tantrums.

He was my father after all. Rest in peace, dad.

 

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It’s very difficult watching your children suffer and feeling helpless because you, the parent, really can’t do anything except to support and empathize with them. Every break up that I’ve watched from the sideline made me sad, feeling useless and ineffective. It is especially hard when you like your kid’s boyfriend or girlfriend.

I hope that my words were ones of encouragement. I did what I could to let them know that we, the parents, love them no matter what. Of course, I may be somewhat biased, but I also know my kids’ strengths and weaknesses, and that it takes two to make a fight or to make a relationship work. Admittedly, I don’t know the full details, I only know what our child is willing to share with us and there is hurt involved. There are always two sides to any story.

However, I can also see immaturity plays a role, I can see that they don’t know how to frame their words without hurting each other’s feelings and I can see how things can be mended, but I’m not the one emotionally invested or involved, so I’m more objective. At moments like these, they don’t want a lecture or help from me, they just want to be reaffirmed that they are good, lovable and capable individuals, and they still have our love and care. A hug may say more than words.

How can a parent prevent his/her child’s pain? Almost impossible when it comes to their relationships with their boyfriend or girlfriend. The only thing I can hope for is that whatever values we have imparted or tried to teach them will help them anchor themselves, get over the situation and move on in whatever direction is right for them. Watching in silence as the situation unfolds is killing me softly, but I suppose it is part of their growing up to experience the hurt and the pain.

I hope our kids know that they are AWESOME individuals, and they know they are loved and supported by their family.

Yes, this too shall pass.

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Why do I keep getting the argument that “I’m 18, I’m legally not a minor anymore … I don’t need a curfew!”?

There is a difference between a curfew and a request to come home at a decent time so I don’t worry. So, is it just different perspectives or is it my innate control freak speaking? There is this funny thing about moms (and may be dads too) that we have an invisible radar that is on all the time, sensing whether our children are home safe or not. Despite my attempt to sleep soundly, I tend to startle myself awake at various intervals and I can’t go back to sleep, because I’m sub-consciously worrying about our daughter getting home, imagining the worst things.

She, our daughter, on the other hand, feels that I worry un-necessarily and should trust her judgments, coming and going at whatever time she pleases. I know I should try harder to trust her, what I am worried about is the environment she is in and the people she is with, not all of them including my own are always responsible and mature, after all they are all still teenagers. Coming home at almost 4 in the morning and not telling us much aside from the address and phone # is not particularly mature or responsible in my eyes. I also worry about her being peer pressured into doing something stupid, against her good judgment.

In our most recent spat, after a couple days of calming down on both our parts, and risking not having a relationship at all, I conceded that I might have over reacted. I opened up a conversation and explained why I worry and what I request is not all unreasonable (OK, may be sometimes it is) – how much she really understands and accepts, I have no idea. At least we are talking again in a civilized way.

Only time will tell how mature and responsible she really is. All I can say is that I can try to be an AWESOME mom, but I make mistakes all the time too (sigh!). Being an AWESOME mom sometimes requires me to be an unwanted disciplinarian, rule enforcer and overall – so why do I always feel like I’m the bad cop in the good cop bad cop game?

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Us Time


Since we had children, my husband and I have not taken many trips or gone anywhere without them. We did it once when our oldest was only 6 years old, when we vowed to do that every year to make sure we get some well deserved  couple only time. That didn’t happen again until 11 years had passed. Again, we said to ourselves that we really needed to do this more often to keep our relationship fresh and alive. Well, we failed again … until yesterday, our 3rd overnight outing alone without children, who are now almost grown up (but not quite).

To use up some about to expire air miles, we spent a night at a beautiful luxurious downtown hotel, one that we normally wouldn’t want to have to pay for. We strolled around downtown a bit, a place we don’t normally go anymore unless we have a specific reason to. We walked at a leisurely pace and relished in people watching and window shopping (my husband was happy because we didn’t actually buy anything). We used a gift card we received to enjoy a delicious seafood dinner at a restaurant within walking distance from the hotel.

Sitting next to us at the restaurant was a couple with three little children – a baby, a toddler and a school age child no more than 5 years old. The baby was fussing and pushing the pacifier away, so the mom gave him a bottle which he quickly sucked down. I could see him fighting to stay awake, refusing his tiredness from consuming him. With drooping eyes he zoned out pretty quickly and released the empty bottle from his tiny pudgy hands. I caught the bottle before it hit the floor with my quick super-mom auto reflex and handed the catch back to his mom. Soon the baby startled awake with all the restaurant noises, and the dad had to take the baby outside. He brought him back in 10 minutes or so and the family now had only two young ones to deal with.

I recall those years when we went through similar experiences with our kids when they were at a younger age. I couldn’t help but smile and marveled at our “us” time alone, much easier now because of their age and LESS GUILT … AWESOME! May be we can finally start our annual “us” time that we promised ourselves years ago.

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