Great happiness came over me as I read an email message from my mother today. Basically, it was in response to one I had sent to her a few days ago. The overall theme of the message I had sent her was of the same vein as my weblog posting yesterday. She responded as a good mother should, with words of encouragement and also revealed something new about herself.
She told me that she had some regrets about how she raised her kids, the four of us. She stated that, if she could do it all over again, she would change how she dealt with us throughout our years with her and Dad. I have never seen this side of her before. Prior to this revelation by her, all I heard from her regarding this subject was, “I did the best I could at the time.” Of course, that still holds true, but she has added a caveat that she now knows some better ways.
My parents have softened quite a bit in their recent years. A few weeks ago, my mother turned 70 and I think she is reflecting upon her life a bit. Even though she feels that she “did the best” she could “at the time”, she is realizing that her best wasn’t necessarily the best.
Because Mom shared this with me, I feel closer to her. Now I see her more completely. Before, she was just the best mother I could have ever hoped for. Now, she is that and more; she is a well-rounded person. Sometimes my mother has come across as having her head in the clouds, pursuing some get-rich quick entrepreneur ventures from time-to-time, but she has always had her feet on the ground.
Though I don’t really know the specifics of how she raised my brother and two sisters, I do feel that she couldn’t have done better with me. If there was a theoretic rope attached to me during my rearing, my mother held it tight enough so that I wouldn’t hang myself, but loose enough so that I could follow my dreams. She always emphasized that I could be anything I wanted to be, if I only tried.
Another thing I loved about how my mother raised me, among many things, is the fact that she was always there for me, at home. Her sole occupation wasn’t a housewife during those years. She worked also. However, her job was as an elementary school librarian. The reason for having that particular job was so that she could be home when I left for my school and be home before I returned. Because she never brought work home with her, I only saw her as the kind nurturing mother that I have always loved so much.
I wish that my wife Shu Mei could be such a mother. Thus far, she has been doing a wonderful job. She is a stay-at-home mom for Billy and Tyley and does various activities with the both of them. She really cares for them. Still, I am worried because she has a burning desire to get back into the workforce. I stated my position to her against this quite clearly on more than a few occasions. However, Shu Mei is adamant about pursuing money-making opportunities outside of the home.
This is difficult for me, given my point-of-view. The fact that I am supposed to be the sole bread-winner exacerbates the situation. I feel that I am may not be doing as well as she expects. Otherwise, I figure, why would she see fit to seek additional income for our household? I feel inadequate and, because Shu Mei handles our family finances, I have an uncomfortable awareness now that we may be poverty-stricken. I know that I earn far less money than I did in America, but I thought the lower cost of living here in Taiwan more than compensated for that. Given Shu Mei’s actions, I could be dead wrong.
Therefore, I have recommitted myself to the attitude of spending less, even though I have no idea how I could possibly do that. I mean, I have come a long way from my first marriage, where I was a verifiable spendthrift, even to the point of spending more than I had. (Can we say credit problems?) When I met Shu Mei, I thought I was doing fine, staying on top of bills. However, she showed me that to just stay on top of the bills isn’t enough. One must prepare for the rainy day.
So, I got out of debt completely and have been ignoring the temptation to go back into it. Debt was such a horrible thing. Being out of it felt like what it must be like to get out of prison. I don’t want to return to that dark cold place. In fact, there have been a few times when Shu Mei has suggested we go into debt to buy something. Ironically, it is I who has stopped us from going forth with that desire of hers. So, I’m proud of myself. Notwithstanding, I must maintain focus on spending as little as possible.