A World of Difference

posted in: Motherhood, World Moms Blog 0 comments

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 beΒ 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!
Let's BEE Friends
How do you and your mother differ when it comes to parenting?




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  • November 4, 2011 Jen Burden

    Love it!! Especially, the part when she says “no, never again”, only to go back and give birth 3 more times.

    One major difference is that my mom’s mom (my grandmother) passed away when my mom was a teenager, so my mom never had her own mom to call on the telephone when she needed her.

    I’m lucky that I have her to call, even when I just want to ask about whether to bring my daughter to the doctor or not. Thinking about how she had to do it without a mother, makes me appreciate her even more, if possible
    . πŸ™‚
    Thanks for suggesting the World Moms Blog Blogiversary Link Up, Alison! πŸ™‚ This is fun!

    Jen πŸ™‚
    Jen Burden recently wrote…Welcome to β€œOur First Blogiversary Link-up!”My Profile

    • November 4, 2011 Alison

      Jen, my mother’s mom also passed when she was a teen, so I too consider myself lucky that my mom is here for me still.

      So glad we’re doing this link up!

  • November 4, 2011 Maureen

    Alison this is so beautifully written. The two generations differences of your mother and your own ways in motherhood is something that will enrich you and will make for fascinating stories to tell your children later on.

    Like you, public praising and affections was rare in my family but that didn’t make my brothers and I grow up to be cold. It’s just the way things are back then.

    I heart this post!
    Maureen recently wrote…Two Cultures, One HeartMy Profile

    • November 4, 2011 Alison

      I’m so glad you like this and can relate! And yes, it’s just the way things were back then.

  • November 4, 2011 A Morning Grouch

    What a beautiful, beautiful post. So true, that though our differences may be great, our similarities are greater. Love.
    A Morning Grouch recently wrote…Dream #9: Little Boy and Burning BlimpsMy Profile

    • November 4, 2011 Alison

      Thank you so much for loving this. Truly.

  • November 4, 2011 Erica M

    Loved this post. Think I’ll read it over and over. It was so touching and brave.
    Erica M recently wrote…lovelinks #29 voting is openMy Profile

    • November 4, 2011 Alison

      I’ve never had anyone tell me before that they’ll read my writing over and over. Thank you.

  • November 4, 2011 Ann

    GREAT piece, Alison! …congratulations again!

    My story is very different. My mother had 7 children and was a very hands-on, stay-at-home mother. Old fashioned, a hugger, loved us like MAD & showed it and a horrible cook! She died when I was a young teenager after a very long, debilitating illness (she was sick for over 4 years).

    When my dad re-married I gained an amazing step-mother just as I was turning 17. We had had a lot of difficult years taking care of mom and finally letting her go. She was fiercely independent, out-spoken with the softest voice, PRETTY, and had NO plans to take on a man with 7 kids. She was a widow with 4 older children (I’m the youngest of the bunch). The family LOVED her and was thrilled Dad was so happy!

    ….I found out when I was 19 that I would never be able to have children….about the same time I was engaged to be married my husband who has 3 kids of his own.

    I learned a LOT from my mother – but I learned how to be a STEP mother from my own lovely step mother.

    She and Dad have been married for 31 years now!
    Ann recently wrote…Cherry Walnut Pancakes with Maple Yogurt CremeMy Profile

    • November 4, 2011 Alison

      Sometimes, mothers come into our lives in many shapes and forms. I’m so glad your stepmother is wonderful. I’m sure your children now love and appreciate you just as you do yours. Thank you for sharing your story, Ann!

  • November 4, 2011 Sarcasm Goddess

    I love how there can be so many differences, but at the core it comes down to so many of the same things.

    “Never again!”…or maybe just three more times! πŸ™‚

    • November 4, 2011 Alison

      I totally cracked up when she told me that!

  • November 4, 2011 Rach (DonutsMama)

    Alison, this was a really great post. Our parents’ style of raising children was so different in many ways than ours. I agree with a lot of what you said–I tell Donut many times a day that I love her, her little cheeks are chapped from being kissed all the time! And yes, I do think balance is good. I want her to be well rounded, not just academically gifted.
    Rach (DonutsMama) recently wrote…Life’s Lessons: Kitchen ChaosMy Profile

    • November 4, 2011 Alison

      Thank you Rach. I believe our parents generation just had a completely different outlook on parenting. But look at how well we turned out anyway!

  • November 4, 2011 Kiddothings

    Love this post Alison. It’s interesting that so much has changed especially in our Asian culture. I guess in a way, we have become more Westernized in showing affection and verbally expressing our love for our kids.
    Kiddothings recently wrote…Tipsy Friend – June of MamawearpapashirtMy Profile

    • November 4, 2011 Alison

      Thanks Germaine. I think the way we turned out is in part due to the opportunities our parents gave us, in the way they parent. So it’s like a full circle.

  • November 4, 2011 Carri

    I love this post! If I compared my mom and I, it would be negative. πŸ™
    Carri recently wrote…Drain YouMy Profile

    • November 4, 2011 Alison

      πŸ™ I’m so sorry, Carri.

  • November 4, 2011 Kyla

    I love how you wrote everything about her and then compared yourself.
    I’m thinking about my Mom…
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  • November 4, 2011 Bruna

    What a beautiful post about Mothering from your Mom to you. Funny how we can parent different but love the same. I felt similar things while reading your post. I parent very differently from my Mother but don’t feel like she loved me any less or that I was lacking in any way while growing up.

    I think it’s important, as Mothers, that we find our own way to love and care for our children.

    Now you’ve got me thinking about my Mom πŸ™‚

    • November 4, 2011 Alison

      Yes you hit the nail on the head – we just have to find our own way to parent. Glad I got you thinking πŸ™‚

  • November 4, 2011 Ellen

    beautiful post. and congrats on baby number 2. you are a great mom!

    • November 4, 2011 Alison

      Thank you Ellen!

  • November 4, 2011 Mom Photographer

    ah how a big of a difference is between me and my mom. maybe it wouldn’t be that big if I still live in the same country but now being surrounded myself by a different culture I see how we both grow apart. With age I think more and more about her and the way she was as a mother.
    Mom Photographer recently wrote…Motherhood and cultureMy Profile

    • November 4, 2011 Alison

      I never thought about my mother’s parenting until I became a mother myself. With us, it’s a generational gap, and I am starting to see why she made the decisions she did.

      • November 5, 2011 Mom Photographer

        you know, as much as I do not agree with many decisions my mom made for me when I was young I now uderstand them and I know she wanted the best for me!
        Mom Photographer recently wrote…Motherhood and cultureMy Profile

  • November 4, 2011 Jessica

    I’m sure your son will grow up to be loving and smart just as you did and he will raise his children in his own way taking lessons from you.
    Jessica recently wrote…This One Time I Tried To WorkoutMy Profile

    • November 4, 2011 Alison

      I sure hope so!

  • November 4, 2011 Asta Burrows

    I think it is great to hear about two quite different ways to raise children, but that as long as you do it with the child and the family’s best interest at heart it is very likely to go well! My mum was a sahm whilst I am working full time, and I sometimes feel guilty about that, but I know I have to do what is right for me!

    • November 4, 2011 Alison

      Yes, our children has to come first. But we mustn’t forget ourselves. Looking after ourselves and our sanity (whether that’s working or staying home) is also important.

  • November 4, 2011 Lola

    Great post! Isn’t it wonderful to bond with OUR mothers once we become moms? I remember after I had my oldest son, I called my mom and simply said, “I’m sorry”. She told me she’d been waiting patiently for 30 years for these words.
    Lola recently wrote…Death By BoredomMy Profile

    • November 4, 2011 Alison

      Haha! I bet she was pleased πŸ™‚

  • November 4, 2011 Inspiration to Dream

    Don’t many of us say ‘no more’ and then go back for more. This is a lovely story of contrasts between your mothers experiences and your own experiences.

    As always, beautifully written and making us all stop and think – on this occasion, about our own mums

    • November 4, 2011 Alison

      I laughed when she told me that πŸ™‚ And thank you.

  • November 4, 2011 Ms. V

    What a beautiful post. I think you’ve really hit the nail on the head. It’s not the exact parenting style that matters. It’s love, devotion, and most of all (I think) being present.

    • November 4, 2011 Alison

      Yes, being present is so important!

  • November 4, 2011 Jessica

    Lovely, Alison.
    Jessica recently wrote…Underneath prayersMy Profile

  • November 4, 2011 angela

    This is just lovely. I love that you and your mother are so vastly different in your motherhood experiences but that you are united in your love for your children. There are so many different ways to parent, some shaped by our situations and some shaped by tradition and some shaped by our hearts, and so many different ways can be “right” with a loving mom.

    • November 4, 2011 Alison

      I could not have said it better than yo just did πŸ™‚

  • November 4, 2011 Purnima

    Beautifully written! The last paragraph especially of giving deep love and devotion is portrayed all through the post.
    Purnima recently wrote…Quality, Quantity, Compromise and an AnniversaryMy Profile

  • November 4, 2011 Ado

    What a great post – there’s such a world of difference between your mom’s parenting generation and yours.
    My mom bottle fed us too, we had au pairs as she was a university professor who worked. There are huge differences in the way I parent, to her parenting.
    Anyway – great post.
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    • November 4, 2011 Alison

      Thank you Ado. I grew up resenting the way I was parented – that sounds awful, but I had wished for different parents (haven’t we all at some stage?) but once I grew up, I realized that they did their best, given their circumstances and the era we grew up in. I began to remember the good times, more than the (perceived) bad times, and once I became a mother, my mummy was naturally the first person I talked to about everything motherhood. For that, I am grateful.

  • November 4, 2011 Megan (Best of Fates)

    What a sweet comparison – sounds like you’re both fabulous moms.
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  • November 4, 2011 Kathy

    This is such a great post! I love how you compare your mothering style to your own mom’s. I think it’s great that although your styles are different you were able to connect with your mother when you became a mom. I started appreciating my own mother much more once I became a mom. Thanks for a great post!
    Kathy recently wrote…The Mission That’s PossibleMy Profile

    • November 4, 2011 Alison

      Yes, I definitely connected with my mother more the moment I found out I was to become one myself. Such is the gift of children πŸ™‚

  • November 5, 2011 Amanda Austin

    Isn’t it amazing how different the ideas about breastfeeding were from then until now? It’s great that you can embrace those differences and be able to talk about them!
    Amanda Austin recently wrote…Celebrity Roundup: Give ‘em the shocker!My Profile

  • November 5, 2011 Not a Perfect Mom

    I had life threatening blood loss after I had Brooke too…so poor Eric was worried about Brooke’s heart and how poorly I was doing…
    and when my grandmother was pregnant with my mom (54 years ago!) her dr encouraged her to drink her coffee and smoke her cigs so that the baby would be smaller-easier to push out…crazy!
    Not a Perfect Mom recently wrote…Win Your Gifts Hop-Lovable Labels Review and Giveaway!My Profile

    • November 7, 2011 Alison

      Amazing that doctors those days (and 54 years isn’t that long) didn’t know any better!

  • November 5, 2011 Nila

    Wow! What a difference. I’m glad you didn’t turn out to be a so called “Tiger Mom”. I understand that want and need to have a intelligent child, but that is just going overboard! It sounds like you are raising your child to be well rounded, which is probably ideal. Loved this post πŸ˜€
    Nila recently wrote…Ethan’s First Birthday PicturesMy Profile

    • November 7, 2011 Alison

      Thank you Nila. I couldn’t be a Tiger Mom – my mother wasn’t either. She was concerned about our academics but by no means was she hovering over us worrying about our homework. In her mind, she had already drilled it into our heads that we had to work hard and that was the expectation.

  • November 5, 2011 Natalie

    It’s crazy to see how much times can change with parenting styles but some things never change. Thanks for sharing this…a wonderful post!
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  • November 5, 2011 Leighann

    So beautiful Alison!
    My daughter taught me to appreciate my mother and my father 100%
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  • November 5, 2011 Jessica

    I enjoyed learning more about your background through this post. I would say that with my first child, I parented very differently than my mom and was very possessive with my daughter because I always thought I knew best. This time around, I’m much more relaxed and able to hear others’ recommendations, namely my mom’s, without becoming defensive. I appreciate her wisdom in the same way I can now appreciate the wisdom of my culturally different MIL.
    Jessica recently wrote…Syndicated on BlogHerMy Profile

    • November 7, 2011 Alison

      I was very possessive with my son too. I’m hoping I’ll be more relaxed with the 2nd child!

  • November 5, 2011 Runnermom-jen

    It is truly amazing how different we can be from our own mothers and how things have changed since the 70’s.
    P.S. So did your mom learn how to cook?
    Runnermom-jen recently wrote…8 pmMy Profile

    • November 7, 2011 Alison

      She did, she took cooking classes!

  • November 5, 2011 My Inner Chick

    –Mama Alison,

    Your son will grow up and call you “Blessed & Beautiful.”

    Loved reading this. X
    My Inner Chick recently wrote…Winners Givaways and Water For ElephantsMy Profile

    • November 7, 2011 Alison

      Aw, thank you sweet Kim.

  • November 5, 2011 Just Jennifer

    Really great, Alison. Neat to compare and contrast your experience with your mother’s. Now that I think about it, mine and my mother’s are vastly different. Really enjoyed reading!
    Just Jennifer recently wrote…TGIF: Gumby EditionMy Profile

  • November 5, 2011 Julie

    Neat to see the comparisons. Hubs and I made a list of things we wanted to do and things we did NOT want to do based upon our raising.

    I think that in the nature vs nurture battle, the nurturing will take you so far, but a child will be who he or she is going to be, so it’s funny that even if we do things differently, we’ll probably end up with a kid who is just as stubborn and strong willed as the two of us. πŸ™‚
    Julie recently wrote…This is why we can’t have nice thingsMy Profile

    • November 7, 2011 Alison

      Genes run strong πŸ™‚

  • November 5, 2011 Missy

    What a great comparison of how kids can grow up well-loved and successful, with different upbringings. What’s the commonality though? Love. Your parents loved you, just as you love your son and your new little one on the way.
    Missy recently wrote…Don’t Throw Up at the DoctorMy Profile

  • November 5, 2011 Sarah

    This was a very insightful post. There are so many ways to parent without any being “right” or “wrong”. We are all trying our best, loving our kids the best we can, and doing what works for our own families. Kudos to you for sharing that lesson!
    Sarah recently wrote…H&M: The Real Price of Fast FashionMy Profile

    • November 7, 2011 Alison

      Thank you for reading, Sarah!

  • November 5, 2011 Sandra

    This was terrific and so true. My mother was very similar to yours, except for saying she saw girlie bits while giving birth herself. No girlie bits were seen. But raising me and my brother the way she did made her a much more caring and loving grandmother.
    Loved this post Alison!
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    • November 7, 2011 Alison

      I do believe my mother is a much caring and loving grandmother too!

  • November 5, 2011 Lisa

    I like how this post tells the story that we can parent differently but still see the same results, strong and fiercely independent, loving and open minded.

  • November 5, 2011 Phelps Son

    Nice post … The information about how we can parent differently was a helpful pointers for me. Thanks !
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  • November 6, 2011 elizabeth-flourishinprogress

    For a long time, I wanted to believe that my mom and I were vastly different in our parenting styles and beliefs. I don’t know why it was so important to me…but you know, I’ve realized lately that my mom and I, as well as our experiences are very much alike. And it makes me feel closer to this woman who has seemed like a stranger, sometimes even an enemy, for my whole life.
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    • November 7, 2011 Alison

      I know exactly what you mean.

  • November 6, 2011 Leigh Ann

    Alison, this is such a lovely piece. I wonder sometimes if my mom gave me as many hugs and kisses as I do my girls. And how that will affect them. Finding your own way as a mother is so important.
    Leigh Ann recently wrote…An Attitude of Gratitude #21My Profile

    • November 7, 2011 Alison

      Yes, that, exactly. Finding your own way. Perfectly summed up πŸ™‚

  • November 6, 2011 Jen Has A Pen

    So crazy how different you are! It’s hard to imagine you were raised in a home with limited displays of affection, as you are so outwardly loving towards your son.
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  • November 6, 2011 tracy

    Will you be my mom? I love this post.

    • November 7, 2011 Alison

      Hee hee!! I want to be your BFF.

  • November 6, 2011 Brittany {Mommy Words}

    This is beautiful and so wonderful to read more about your family. Kids have all different backgrounds and still grow up with love in their hearts. I love hearing your story!
    Brittany {Mommy Words} recently wrote…Stiff Upper Lip: Dealing with DisappointmentMy Profile

    • November 7, 2011 Alison

      Thank you Brittany! I am blessed and lucky, it could have been so easy to go the other way. πŸ™‚

  • November 7, 2011 By Word of Mouth Musings

    What a wonderful post … so touching a tribute and a thank you almost rolled into one!
    So thrilled you hit your second trimester …
    congrats again!
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    • November 7, 2011 Alison

      Thanks Nicole!

  • November 7, 2011 Jamie

    We differ on many things but agree on more. She’s never pushed her ideas on me, always assuming I knew more than she did. A great story to share Alison. Thank you.
    Jamie recently wrote…weekend wisdom 16My Profile

  • November 7, 2011 Galit Breen

    Alison, this is stunning. I adore the way you glimpsed to you, your mom, the way your stories relate and puzzle piece. A lovely part of you revealed- and you know how much I love that. πŸ™‚
    Galit Breen recently wrote…Giving InMy Profile

    • November 7, 2011 Alison

      Your words mean so much to me Galit. Love that you loved it. xo

  • November 7, 2011 Alexandra

    Just saw your post on JBE being on it’s final link up for you.

    Going over now.

    Hope you’re feeling good.

    Alexandra recently wrote…My Week End Was Not Mine and Now It’s MondayMy Profile

    • November 7, 2011 Alison

      Thank you dear friend, for your support. Feeling awesome!

  • November 7, 2011 crittersandcrayons

    Funny- your post sounds like my life. I’m half-Korean and I parent in a diametrically opposed fashion from my mother- I’m finally making my way to your blog after you commented MONTHs ago on a guest post of mine at the Scary Mommy blog (The Myth Of The Super Mom). You said that your cupboards look neat on the outside but they were chaos inside. Mine, too. If I’m guessing right, your mother’s cupboards were probably quite neat all the time. πŸ™‚
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    • November 7, 2011 Alison

      Thanks for stopping by!! Yes, my mother’s cupboards are SUPER neat πŸ™‚

  • November 8, 2011 FranceRants

    Just caught up on your posts.

    Where 2 start??


    Love the pic of your son, plus loved the ode to your mom!!

    Stay healthy my dear!!
    FranceRants recently wrote…Forgive Me RantMy Profile

  • November 8, 2011 Tina

    Beautifully written!
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  • November 9, 2011 Barbara

    What a great post Alison and so very true.
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  • November 9, 2011 Carolyn

    Great post.
    It is important to recognize the different times in which our mothers raised us, and that we’ll raise our children differently. And that both ways were/are right.
    Being a mom now, I appreciate A LOT more what my mom did for me.
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