“No!”, Alia screamed and ran off into the crowd. Her mother scrambled after her and after keeping her cool & giving warnings to her 4-year-old for the past few hours, she now raised her voice and reprimanded her daughter for all to see.
While I, an unmarried, childless woman approved of her action (I had seen how Alia was behaving before that and I doubted I would have lasted as long as she did before scolding her kid), I saw my mum give a look of disdain.
The following day, I was out with my mum spending time together & running errands. During lunch, I asked her, “So yesterday I saw you give a disapproving look at the scolding Alia got.”
“Yea, she shouldn’t have scolded the girl in front of everyone. Just let her be. She’s a kid anyway.”
“But Alia was being so naughty! Her mother gave her so many warnings before that you know. I was with her.”
“What did she do? Run around? Which kid doesn’t run around? Plus, she finally had kids her age around her instead of her parents and aunties and uncles. Of course she’ll be excited.”
I kept silent for a minute trying to think of a time when my mum scolded me and my brother in public and I couldn’t remember any. I then asked, “How did you bring me & Adik up? As far as I can remember, I had a really good childhood.”
“Yes, bringing you & your brother up was very easy. Both of you never threw tantrums and never misbehaved in public. Or at least to the point where I had to scold you in public.”
We got to talking about how my mum brought us up and she shared how she was involved in everything we did. If we wanted to play, she would play with us. She brought us to the library every Saturday, and to the pool every Sunday morning. When we wanted to play in the rain, she brought our raincoats (and hers!) and splashed around with us. I remember my mother next to me watching television, I remember her reading to us before we slept, I remember falling asleep with us when we fell sick. In short, she was in my each of memory as a kid.
My mother grew up without a mother, and she had to live in several houses with different guardians and therefore had no single role model on whom to emulate. All that she did, she said it was “maternal instinct”. She preferred saying ‘yes’ rather than saying ‘no’. And now that I’m an adult myself, I realized that my childhood was not filled with restrictions but rather, involvement. She didn’t ban the television, but watched with us and explained to us what was bad so we knew what to refrain from. She didn’t keep us in the house when it rained but let us play but explained that we cannot do it often or we might fall sick.
My mother came from a Malay-language school and studied till O-levels. And yet she was always there to answer our endless questions. She said that when my brother & I had our spelling tests, she would also pin up the list of words in the kitchen so that she could learn how to spell them while cooking & preparing meals. And she always had the dictionary and encyclopaedia in the living room where we would find answers together.
Despite her not being ‘educated’ in the modern definition, she took an active role in our education and alhamdulillah, I have just graduated from NTU and my brother will be graduating from polytechnic soon. When I heard her share the story about pinning up our spelling lists, I couldn’t help but tear up.
As a kid, I adored my parents. My mother was my best friend and my father was the strongest and tallest and most good-looking. I would cry if anyone said otherwise. Somehow in my teenage years, I thought it was ‘uncool’ to be seen with your parents or to have curfews. I must have hurt my parents a lot during those years and I regret them so much.
Now that I am finally an adult, I love spending time with my parents and I appreciate them even more than I ever had. Despite being 24, my mum still makes a cup of Milo for me every morning and my dad still offers to send and fetch me to my classes or outings. People always say that its the little things that matter, but when I think about my parents, nothing they’ve done has ever been little. They were all great – every single one of them.
I don’t claim to be the most God-fearing person, or the most well-behaved. But I will never deny that my parents gave their best in bringing me up and any disobedience or mistakes I make are only my own, and my parents should never be blamed for it. As a child, the most painful thing is to hear “Didn’t her mother teach her not to do that?”. It hurts me even more than anyone insulting me, because my beloved mother should never have to take responsibility for my misdeeds after all she’s done for me.
I pray that Allah keeps my parents happy and in good health, to allow me to serve them in the best manner possible, to forgive their sins and raise their ranks, and to love & care for them the way they’ve loved and cared for me & my brother.
Lets all say thanks to our parents before Allah takes them away. And while we’re at it, a hug & a kiss wouldn’t hurt either. 🙂