Thursday, 20 October 2016

Extending An Olive Branch To My Son


Let’s Talk About It

 

I have  always stood by my belief that if I wanted to invest my time writing a blog post, the content had to stem from a place of brutal honesty and I would never hold back on expressing how I truly felt about issues that were impacting me directly or indirectly. I thought long and hard about writing this post though.  This topic was a sensitive one.  It was a topic that I could discuss at length quite openly, peppering it with a few belly laughs coupled with exaggerated expressions of disappointment that included rolling my eyes and "palming" my face in despair.  Generally, I would be masking my true feelings with humor, brushing my despondency away in the hope that this issue was just a temporary irritation to my otherwise peaceful family life.

 
In reality, this issue had ripped my heart apart into a million pieces in the past, making me question my role as a mother every time the subject got raised.  This was a topic about my son’s romance. It was a subject of much grief at home.  It was the cause of numerous mother-son fights for years.  It was the cause of my depression in the past.  It created a divide between my Mom and I because of our different approaches to parenting.  It contributed to the rows David and I had when we discussed the issue of Joel’s allowance, Joel’s free-spending habits, acceptance of his girlfriend and his lack of time spent with us.

 

A Pressing Issue

 
Having experienced the negativity of past broken relationships and a divorce, I had always advised Joel to keep his options open when it came to relationships. I told him that he had many more years ahead of him to meet many girls and eventually settle on the perfect one later who would be sharing a life with him.

 
When he was navigating his studies at school and now serving his national service duties, I had always felt that he had to be more focused on his priorities.  Falling head over heels at an age where most things in life were transient, could be a complete waste of time.

 
Joel, like his mother, was never good at taking sound advice.  He threw himself into this relationship when he met this girl at school. When we were introduced years ago as he brought her home for infrequent visits, my disdain for her was quite obvious.  My list of reasons why I disliked her, was as long as my bill spent on cosmetics in my lifetime.  I will list just a fraction of them here:

 
1)   I had no patience for one who could not hold a proper, intellectual conversation. Every time I asked her a question, she turned to Joel for an answer.
 
2)   As our family centered our daily lives with fitness, sports, photography and other exciting interests, we felt that she was uninspiring as she did not seem to have any interests outside of combing malls, dining at cafes and catching pokemon.  How then could she inspire Joel to lead a better and more fulfilling life in future?

 
3)   I abhorred clinginess.  When she started work and Joel was waiting for enlistment into the army, she demanded a lot of Joel’s time, to the point that he used to wake up at the crack of dawn, take a bus to her home, and hopped onto the bus with her to accompany her to work.  Sometimes, he would wait around at Starbucks till it was time for her lunch-break, so that he could have lunch with her.  And when she knocked off from work in the evening, he would accompany her back on the bus. There was nothing productive about this daily regime at all.

 
4)   I was disappointed that Joel had even let down his best friends who had come all the way from Thailand to Singapore for a visit and he had no time to spend with them because he would rather be “glue-gummed” to his girlfriend.

 
5)   Having been brought up in a traditional Peranakan Chinese household that valued respect, manners and decent behavior, I was unhappy that while she greeted David and I during her visits, she ignored our helper Evelyn, as if she was a piece of furniture.  When Evelyn cooked dinner for Joel and his girlfriend, she had not thanked her after, nor had she offered to help wash the dishes. 

 
6)   It did not help my already sullied opinion of her, when Joel spent a lot of money on presents for her, from a camera, to a pair of Chanel earrings, as well as frequent cab rides, all paid out of his small allowance.

 
7)   I was unhappy with the fact that while my birthday past me by without a word and a gift from him, he spent time and energy planning a birthday celebration for her.  I mean, for goodness sakes.  I spent my birthday eating at home and watching re-runs of Game of Thrones, while he celebrated her birthday at a high-end restaurant!

 
These were just random examples of situations that led to my disappointment with his relationship with her. I could go on.

 
These issues had escalated to a point where Joel and I would burst into regular heated arguments on an almost weekly basis.  My disdain for her increased as time went by.  For everything that Joel did which hurt or disappointed me, I would blame her as the cause of it. He avoided having a direct conversation with me about the topic.  And he even took to lying to me about the most basic stuff like where he was, whom he was with, what he was doing.  It came to a point, where I could no longer welcome her in my home. 

 
When Joel told me that he wished his national service duties kept him in camp even throughout the weekends so that he need not have to juggle between his girlfriend and I, I felt utterly depressed.  I felt like I truly had failed as a mother if my son was not looking forward to coming home to a happy family, loving parents and hot food on the table.

 

Finding Peace

 
Months and years flew by, and true to Joel’s tenacious nature, this relationship had lasted almost 4 years. However I thought of the relationship, I realized that what I could not change, was that Joel really loved her.

 
So I set out to re-evaluate the whole situation from a more objective point of view – something I found very difficult to do for most things in my life. While I was my father’s daughter, highly opinionated, unbending, tenacious and strong-willed, Joel was his mother’s son.
 

Yes.  He was exactly like me.  Through his relationship challenges, between his girlfriend, him and I, he held strong to the belief that one day I would change my attitude about her and that I would come to accept them as a couple.

 
I looked back at my own experiences with my relationships.  Often, I defined my response to these relationships with a fear of lack of control.  My divorce from my first husband was a result of that.  He had a high-flying career which would see me taking a back seat for the rest of my life.  I was then looking at a future where my life and destiny was “controlled” and dictated by his career progression.  As I did not want to fit into his plans, and would have preferred that he fit into mine instead, I chose to walk out of that relationship.

 
With Joel and his girlfriend, the same theme got played back to me and I suddenly felt that I had lost control of my son.  I thought I was on that right track of creating that perfect scenario of that perfect home, with that perfect family, spending quality time together, having a great time, sharing happy moments.  However when Joel met his girlfriend, it felt like someone threw a pebble into that pool to cause a ripple in that otherwise perfect reflection.

  

Positive Changes

 
A few months ago, Joel’s best friends had a heart to heart talk with him. It was a tipping point when Joel realized that he had been managing his relationship with his girlfriend and us, in a wrong way.

 
One night, while having a conversation with me, he apologized for the years of grief he had caused and explained that all he wanted to do was to present a perfect embodiment of a girlfriend to me.  So if she was deemed not perfect by my standards, he then put a wedge between us by trying to avoid any opportunity for prolonged interaction between her and us.

 
I assured him that I was not looking for perfection.  All I was looking for, was someone with good values, who understood the importance of filial piety, familial loyalty, respect, and integrity.
 

Interestingly, this conversation opened my mind to the root cause of the issue – the issue of fear of lack of control.  I spent my entire lifetime trying to take control of everything.  I was a control freak.  I controlled even the way my son thought, behave, spoke, and forgot that he was one day going to grow up to develop his own identity, formed his own opinions, made his own decisions and shaped his own future.  It made sense now why he would think I demanded perfection from the girlfriend that he was to have.  I had imposed that notion in his mind that any tiny flaw, anything that I could not manipulate, mold and control, was imperfect.

 
Taking on a more objective perspective, I also began to reassess my judgment of his girlfriend.  These were some of my thoughts:

 
1)   When I asked a question and she looked at Joel for a response, was she deferring to Joel’s need to take control the way I normally did, so that he could manipulate her response back to me? 

 
2)   As I had a strong and imposing personality, did her mousey attempts to address David and I, and her whimpers during our conversations reflect her fear of me?
 

3)   Did Joel, on his own accord, instruct her to just leave the dishes in the kitchen sink “so that the helper could wash it” because he was brought up accustomed to the practice of having the helper pick up after him?

 
4)   When Joel bought all the expensive presents to impress her, could it be his immature attempts to keep her sweet when they were going through issues in their relationship although it was not the right thing to do? 

 
5)   As men were generally not as sensitive and…er…intelligent as women, could it be that he took my instructions to not plan or buy me anything for my birthday at face value and literally allowed my birthday to pass  without saying a word?

 


Healing

 
Over the last few weeks, Joel and I went through a period of healing.  We were focused on the goal of reconciliation.  Whatever rift there was that had existed between us, was a result of our different expectations about his management of his relationship. In the wider scheme of things, we realized that we both were still very present in each other’s lives, and just wanted peace and happiness within the family. 

 
In the past, conversations with him tested our patience because he would respond with monosyllables.  Today, we would have open conversations about his life in the army, where he went with his girlfriend, and his general thoughts on most things.  He was more open with what he was spending on as he knew that his free-spending ways in the past was one of my bugbears. 
  

In the past, his life at home was behind his closed room door and in front of his computer. He even had his meal at his desk in his room.  Today, he would try to sit with us in the living room and have a decent conversation with us over dinner.

 
The home no longer felt like his hotel room.  He would let us know when he was coming home for dinner and he would even make arrangements to meet us for dinner after he booked out of his army camp on some Friday evenings. On his day off, he would accompany me to work, and have a cup of coffee with me at Starbucks to help me ease into my day.

 
He made time for us or for things that were important to us, for example, the weekly mass at Church and our weekly visits to Mom for lunch on Sundays.

 
He had also attempted to bring us together by asking me out to lunch with the both of them one Saturday afternoon, when David was out of town.  He was aware that I was going to spend the weekend alone otherwise.  I turned the invitation down politely as I wanted some “me time” spent on boxing training. There was no drama.  He just accepted it and went on his way.

 
The following week, he attempted to ask David and I to spend a Saturday evening out with them at the annual Halloween Horror Nights.  Again I turned the invitation down politely as “two old crusties were averse to the crowd who might knock our walking sticks off our hands.” Again, there was no drama as he had just accepted it and went on his way.

 
Before he left the house to head back to camp last Sunday afternoon, he walked into my room as I was taking a nap.  He planted a loud, wet kiss on my forehead and said, “I love you Mom.  I am going back to camp.  See you soon.” 

 
Deep down in my heart then, I knew that he has indeed evolved from a boy to a man. Whomever he dated, and whatever choices he made, nothing could ever change the bond between a mother and son. 

 
So I extended the olive branch on my end, and bought the both of them a night out to Halloween Horror Nights this coming weekend while the two crusties at home can polish each other’s false teeth.

 


Acceptance

 
As the healing continues, I began to embrace the notion that what I could not change, I had to change the way I thought about it.  His girlfriend is very present in his life, as I am in his.  I had to start accepting the fact that the moments they shared together, would make him happy.

 
I love my son.  All I ever wanted was for him to be happy. If she was going to be one of the contributors to his happiness, I had to start accepting her in his life.
 

My stance against their relationship had thawed somewhat over the past weeks.  While there was still some residual reluctance to letting go of my son who would always be my baby, I knew it was time to do so.

I no longer need to control him and how he leads his life because, as a grown man, he would be ultimately accountable for his own choices.  By letting go, I felt that instead of losing him, I would be gaining his trust and his respect. Beyond love, the bond between a mother and son can never be broken when there is trust and respect. 



 


About The Writer

The writer of this blog post is a Marketing and PR professional for over 20 years.  Due to her love for Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), she is also a freelance sports writer on the side, contributing MMA-related articles to several sports media.  She works in partnership with her husband, David Ash, who is an avid sports photographer from 
www.singaporemaven.com.  She is passionate about Boxing and nurtures a dream to fight competitively one day when her coach stops making fun of her.  She is also a psychic intuitive by birth and runs a consultancy that does tarot and numerology readings under her brand, Sun Goddess Tarot.  This blog is affectionately called "The Crazy AngMo" as she is married to one, although she has not yet explained to THE Ang Mo that when translated, he has been labeled  “the bloke with ginger hair”.  

7 comments:

  1. You are a good mum and you have raise a good kid. I have the pleasure of working with him.

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    1. Thanks Nazri for standing by him. Yes he's a good kid:)

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  2. You are a good mum and you have raise a good kid. I have the pleasure of working with him.

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  3. You are helping me just by being you. I look forward to reading your blog and the things that I am learning from you. Thank you for that. Like you, I am a Numerologist. Although, I am not yet a professional more of an amateur. Could you send me your birth date? I would like to see if what I find in you through your writings coincides with what I find in your chart. If I may, regarding your relationship with your son. Control is a bastard. The more pressure put in the less pleasure comes out.

    Rob

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    1. Really nice to see a wonderful note from a fellow numerologist. Here's my birthdate: 1 Aug 69. And yes I would love to read your interpretation of that. Just to help you along..that deep thinking and introspective nature that is reflected though my writing is manifested in that lifepath number. Do visit my other blogpost at http://sungoddesstarot.blogpost.com and my FB page at www.facebook.com/SunGoddessTarot

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    2. Thank you for giving me your birth date. I have already started on it. It may take a little while for me to complete it. But once I do, I would be happy to send it to you, Thanks again.

      Rob

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