Over the years, my mother has shared with me her experience of early motherhood.
How her first pregnancy was so tough, she had blackout spells.
How she never knew the sex of each child, as ultrasounds just to see if the baby was a boy or a girl, just wasn’t done then.
How her trip to the delivery room was marred by seeing other women’s bits, them screaming and grunting as they delivered their children.
How after her labor, she informed her doctor, ‘never again’ – only to do it 3 more times.
How postpartum, she felt so possessive of her son, her sister-in-law, my aunt was afraid to hold the baby.
How she butted heads with her mother-in-law, my grandmother over how she should care for her first child.
How she did not breastfeed as hospitals in the early ’70’s pushed formula onto new mothers, advocating that as ‘best for the baby’.
How all four of us ended up being looked after either by our grandmother, aunt, nannies, minders, nursemaids, as my parents worked to support the family.
How she cried when the final hired help left our household (my nanny for 7 years from birth) as she realized she did not even know how to cook, never mind look after 4 children aged 5, 7, 9 and 12.
How our parents, being from a traditional and conservative Chinese background, were not accustomed to saying ‘I love you’ or giving hugs and cuddles.
How our parents focused on academics, rather than emotional IQs.
How praising children publicly is frowned upon, as humility is utmost.
You would think that we grew up emotionally stunted, deprived of affection, socially inept and narrow minded.
We did not.
We grew up to be strongly and fiercely independent, intelligent, street smart, loving, accepting and broad minded.
My brand of mothering is vastly different from my mother’s.
I loved my first pregnancy. Aside from the usual first trimester woes of occasional nausea and fatigue, I was healthy, happy and glowing.
I found out at 20 weeks that we were expecting a boy.
I was lucky enough to deliver my son in a private hospital, and never had to see another woman’s bits (except for that birthing video in the antenatal class – why didn’t anyone warn me?).
I had a relatively easy delivery, though I suffered from severe postpartum blood loss – but advanced medical knowledge and technology saved me.
I did have the same possessiveness about my baby, something which I was able to talk to my mother about.
I learnt a lesson from my mother about mothers-in-law, and avoided for the most part, butting of heads over my son, her first grandchild.
I breastfed my son from birth to 18 months.
I left my career to be a stay-at-home mother to my son, a privilege I am grateful for every single day.
I have never had hired help and never want to.
I tell my son that I love him dozens of times a day, and we always start and end the day with cuddles and hugs (and plenty in between too).
I don’t believe that academics should be the most important thing in a child’s life. I believe in balance. I believe in sports and outdoor activities. I believe in letting children be children.
I have no qualms praising my child either publicly or privately, when I think he deserves it.
I have no doubt my son will grow up to be strongly and fiercely independent, intelligent, street smart, loving, accepting and broad minded.
My mother and I may have grown up and ‘learned’ to parent in different ways, due to differing times and cultures, but the constants of deep love and devotion, of imparting vital life values and of being as present as possible given the circumstances, has granted us important similarities to mothering.
For that, I am grateful.
This post is written for and linked to World Moms Blog in celebration of its first blogiversary. Do you have a story to share about motherhood and YOUR culture? We would love to read it. Write it and link up with World Moms Blog!
Also linking this to Bees With Honey’s Let’s Bee Friends!
How do you and your mother differ when it comes to parenting?