Thanks to the kind efforts of the teachers in the school, the kids knew there is this day that has been specially set aside in the calendar, that is labelled Mothers’ Day. A day which is crafted to celebrate everything big and small about motherhood.
Popular restaurants were fully booked, crammed with families out with their mothers, grandmothers, great grandmothers, even great-great grandmothers. Baby prams, wheelchairs, the young and the old, the running and the immboile; everyone seemed to be out celebrating this special day.
I am reminded of my own (superficial) efforts to show appreciation to my mother when I was about 8 years old or so. I saw this red satin covered, cotton wool filled flower with big white words that screamed “Happy Mother’s Day!” at the stationery shop in my neighbourhood. Pressing the centre of the flower triggered a tacky music to play out of the flower. I was thrilled; the perfect gift for my mother! I flipped the price tag over for a closer look – it cost 2 dollars.
I was torn; I had no money then. But I was filled with this desperate need to buy the flower for my mother. I have to show appreciation on Mother’s Day, right? It was something I felt I must do.
So I did the logical thing my silly mind said to do. I ran to my mother, who was doing her marketing at the wet market, and asked her “Ma, can you give me 2 dollars?”
“What for?” replied my mother. “Aiya, don’t ask. It’s a surprise, but I need the 2 dollars.” My mother gave me a puzzled look, but probably saw the impatience written all over my face and handed me the money without further questions.
Clutching the money in my hand, I rushed back to the shop and promptly bought the flower. YES! The flower was mine!
Running back to my mother who had finished the marketing and was waiting for me to re-join her, I produced the flower from behind my back with a dramatic flourish. “Ma, this is for you! Happy Mother’s Day!!” I beamed from ear to ear, proud to show my appreciation to my mother.
My mother said nothing at first; she just stared at the flower in my hand. Then slowly, she took it from me. “So this was what the 2 dollars you took from me for? You used my money to buy me something?” was all she said.
The grin slowly disappeared from my face. What have I done? What was I thinking? Was this how I was supposed to give my mother happiness on her special day? I felt so ashamed of myself.
“Sorry, Ma…” I hung my head down in shame.
“Girl, you don’t have to wish me Happy Mother’s Day by buying me anything. As long as you remain a good girl, every day will be Mother’s Day to me.”
Decades later, I still remember what my mother said to me on that Mother’s Day. And I like to think that I have been a rather good girl since then, well half the time at least. And when my mother casually told my sister and I one day “Ma may have some regrets in life, but I never regretted having you 2 good daughters.”, it meant so, so much to me.
When the kids eagerly thrust the Mother’s Day presents they made in school in my face, I had to summon a lot of energy to be enthusiastic about their efforts, thanking them profusely from the bottom of my heart. And when Matthew offered to eat up all the chocolates he made for me since I wasn’t feeling well that evening anyway, I smiled a bitter smile to myself. And when the kids made me angry on that special Sunday called Mother’s Day despite wishing me “Happy Mother’s Day” just moments ago, I scoffed at myself silently.
The past has come back to haunt me. What goes round does come around…
Still proudly displaying the kids’ work at my work station. Nevertheless. Without any doubt.