Having lost both my parents in the last two years, I’m amazed at what I miss about them: my dad’s end of the week gift of comics to encourage me to read when I was young and my mum’s Sunday roast lamb dinners – about the only thing she could cook well apart from chocolate cake. We called them dinners but usually had them at lunchtime. Funny that it never rained when we had that meal.
For my students living away from home in the big smoke of Da Nang or Hoi An, the stress of study and supporting themselves always brings back understandably fond memories of home. We expats sometimes don’t understand just how strong that maternal pull of home, sweet home is. I’ve had young adult students cry in class just wishing that they could be home now.
The things that our mums do for us – regardless of whether we think they did that well or not – are truly astonishing.
There’s a good reason why our first language is called our “mother tongue” instead of our “parents’ tongue” – you learnt to speak effectively in a language without knowing how to write (in less than five years), mostly thanks to your mum and just as often your grandmother!
It’s a mother’s talent that she can figure out just from your behavior in less than two weeks from being born if you are bored, hungry, upset or confused. She’s the first one in your life to show you love.
It’s a fact that babies that receive food and warmth but no real physical affection will sometimes die… You’re here because she was the first one to make your world safe and help you understand it.
Thanks to your mother, you got just the right food to grow strong. She also made sure you learned some manners and to do the right things in your culture.
You wouldn’t be eating a hamburger with two coordinated hands right now if it wasn’t for her guidance. You also wouldn’t be walking, wiggling, dancing and hip-hopping if it wasn’t for her tireless patience in making you practice standing and walking! You just wanted to sit and eat anything in sight, didn’t you?
There’s no surprise in the fact that sometimes when people die in an unpleasant way, they call out for their mothers – the one person you know will always give you comfort and shelter. And it’s universally accepted that mums will forgive you for your bad ways or support you when almost everyone will not.
Even when we’re older and we think we are smarter, our mum will know that something is wrong, even if you try to hide it. She knows your face and your heart sometimes better than even yourself.
She will give you advice and still forgive you if you choose not to take it.
Also I’d like to include the single dads who raise the kids without their mums. These fathers have wisely understood that they are now both the dad and ‘the mum’ – changing their roles to provide the things that money can’t buy – trust, love, protection, support and believing in your ability to deal with the world.
Yep, mums are amazing. But we also sometimes don’t see that well. One thing I really like with Vietnamese women is the amount of time and attention they will give their kids. Maybe it’s over-done sometimes and the kid grows up spoilt but that’s better than being ignored! Maybe they can be harsh or too strict yet that too means that your mums have accepted the responsibility to raise you – usually for at least twenty years.
So this Mother’s Day, think of something amazing your mum did for you – and tell her. Remembering what she had done for you can feel richer than all the chocolate and flowers in the world.
You probably won’t realize it but before the end of Mother’s Day, I’m sure she has helped you in some way even if you made sure she had the day off. She’ll even forgive you if you burn the breakfast in bed you made for her!
Almost every woman you meet on Mother’s Day was, is going to be, is, or has been a mother…and no matter how many scientists, artists, farmers and inventors we have on this planet – none of us would be here (and survive to read this) without her.
So happy Mother’s Day to my mum in heaven and all the other busy mums in the world!
Got a wonderful story about your mum? Tell us about it!