When Things Improved in My Relationship with Mum

A change for the better

By Sue-Ann Lee | 24 April, 2018

Every mother-daughter relationship is unique and over a lifetime, goes through multiple transitions. Moving from the status of mother-daughter to grandmother-mother is a big adjustment that significantly alters the dynamic between a mother and her daughter.

Growing up, my mother was a typical, strict Asian mom. She practiced tough love and held high expectations for me and my younger sister, both academically and in the way we presented ourselves to others. She made sure that we were always dressed appropriately and on our best behaviour.

My mother stopped work when I was eight years old to devote her full attention to caring for us. As a stay-at-home mum, she was extremely adept at keeping a spotless home and making sure that all our needs were well taken care of. She even made sure that we had time to explore the arts through interesting excursions, and music and dance lessons.

However, during my teenage and young adulthood years, I rebelled against my mother by being messy and portraying a laid-back and indifferent attitude – things that I knew would irk her.

“…I rebelled against my mother by being messy and portraying a laid-back and indifferent attitude – things that I knew would irk her.”

When I got married, had my first child, and was learning how to run my own household, I slowly discovered great fulfilment in keeping the home and cooking for my family.

When number two and three came along, I caught myself making sure that they minded their manners and was always thinking of activities to enable them to explore creativity and the arts. My husband and I also made a deliberate decision for me to stay home and spend as much time as I could with the children.

I see now that the values my mother tried so hard to instil in us have influenced much of my own parenting style. While I spent a significant proportion of my adolescence deliberately being a complete opposite of my mother, I can see how much we actually have in common now that I am a mother myself.

“I see now that the values my mother tried so hard to instil in us have influenced much of my own parenting style.”

As I grow as a parent, I have stopped struggling to be different from my mother but instead, have learnt to embrace our similarities and appreciate the qualities I admire in her: Her spirit of hospitality, compassion, generosity as well as her remarkable ability to cook the most delicious Peranakan food!

Just as I have transitioned from a daughter to a mother, my mom also transitioned from being a mother to playing the role of a grandmother. Inspirational author Catherine Pulsifer writes, “Grand-mothers hold their grandchildren in a special place in their heart.” I can see this in my mother’s tender heart towards my children. She enjoys spending time with them, showering them with gifts, and always goes out of her way to make sure that each of my three children are treated to their favourite food whenever she sees them.

“…I have stopped struggling to be different from my mother but instead, have learnt to embrace our similarities and appreciate the qualities I admire in her.”

I am thankful that my children have the privilege of enjoying the company of a grandmother who loves them abundantly. In spite of the ups and downs in our mother-daughter relationship, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that my life as a mum has been enriched because of the sacrifice my mother made and the time she invested in me.

Without her, I wouldn’t be the mother that I am today and for that, I am grateful.


© 2018 Focus on the Family Singapore. All rights reserved.


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