When Others Don’t Seem To Care


I shouted this at my mother the other day… and it was hurtful on so many levels. 

Because when I calmed down and thought about it, she DID care… in many other ways. 

In the vein of Gary Chapman’s Five Love Languages, I want to thank my mum for loving me in these ways: 

-TIME: She took time from her busy schedule to accompany me for a trip to Malaysia for a week. She had to make a lot of pre-trip preparations because she takes care of meals for my sister and her family. Buying groceries and cooking up a storm meant to last a family of five for at least a few days is no mean feat when you are 69 years old. 

Why she did that? She feels it is better for my sister’s 2 kids to eat home-cooked food because they seem to fall sick easily if they eat food bought outside that has been deep fried etc. For those of you who may not understand this concept of ‘heaty’ food causing illness, just know that she was operating out of love from her perspective – refer to my last post about giving perspective space ?)

Admittedly, we didn’t get to spend that much time together in the 2 months I was home, but I had a part to play too. In fact, the big argument we had could probably have been circumvented if I had been more proactive in making time to raise an issue between us that had been on my mind for weeks – more on this later.

-SERVICE: she has cooked many meals for me during my seven weeks back in Singapore. Among those of my family, when it comes to Asian cooking, she is undoubtedly the most skilled. I got to eat nutritious AND delicious food around 5 times a week or more, something I definitely will miss when I am back in Brisbane.

-GIFTS: she generously gave me her clothes that I found to my liking (yes, our taste in clothing does overlap sometimes and I am not ashamed to say that because I think my mum looks real good for someone hitting 70 this year)

On hindsight, perhaps I did not feel her love because I often look out for love in terms of touch and words of affirmation. My mum and I do not hug often. Because I look for words of affirmation, negative words have a pretty deep impact on me. An argument over how to best fold clean clothes from the line, trivial as it may sound, can be damaging, especially against a backdrop of an unresolved issue.

While I do not want to elaborate on the issue I had with my mum, I will say that it made me feel that she did not care for me. I had sent my mum messages on 2 separate occasions asking to talk about the matter but when I didn’t hear back from her, I drew my own conclusions. Not a good idea.

I am glad to say the issue did get aired in the end, although it was far more fraught with emotion than necessary. I hope that in future, I will raise and resolve issues in a timely way (not too soon after it has occurred and not too long after), no matter how uncomfortable they may be. 

I should have asked her face to face for a time to talk. I have to do it when I am calm and not when I am upset with something else. What if I never feel calm enough? Well, maybe I should get a calmer 3rd party (like my elder sister) to sit in…

Anyway, that may well be the subject of another post.

For now, I dedicate this post to my mum. In Malay, the phrase for thank you is Terima Kasih – it literally means “accept love”. May we all learn to recognise love in its many forms, so that we may accept it and be truly grateful people.

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