Monday, December 12, 2005

What a "Blah" day!

Today marks one of the "lowest" days this year.

It started pretty normally. A meeting that I thought would have been difficult to handle was pleasantly successful and delightful, to say the least.

What I was dealt with later in the form of an email from my mother left a bitter taste on my tongue. To be brutally honest, I am sick of it and am totally disillusioned by the manner in which it was conveyed to me.

It has to do with money. The root of most evil.

There is an age old chinese tradition - when the child grows up and is working, the child gives money to the parents as a sign of gratitude to them for bringing him/her up. The ethos behind this? Filial Piety.

I use to give mother money when I was living at home. Well, that is to be expected. I cannot expect free lodging and sponge off them once I start drawing a salary. When I migrated, I continued the money contribution or otherwise known as cyber-board. Then I stopped for various reasons and that was when the relationship slowly took a dive.

It worsened last December when mother and father came to stay for the holidays. To cut the long story short, they shortened their holiday for various reasons and I thought we had mend those fences when I rang and had a heart-to-heart indepth conversation with them a month later. All was forgiven, for awhile at least (to my knowledge).

In the last few months, this issue of filial piety more specifically in the area of money contribution started to rock the already fragile relationship. Everytime I ring on Sunday, the phone conversations would be one-sided. Mother whinging and me just making acknowledgement noises. This goes on for an hour every week. The phone conversation naturally ends with her making a point about the $ contribution. This is usualy followed-up by an email the following day.

In the last month, I have resorted to only ringing her every fortnight because I didn't want all my Sundays to be ruined by her. My compromise? To have 2 very-good sundays and 2 not-very-good sundays.

The email today topped it off. She undertook research on how much $ my cousins were contributing to their families as compared to my lack of. Naturally, I emerge the villian and them, the angels! Her friends, according to her, told her that it was a big mistake that I left Singapore because I would change.

Well...first, she cannot compare apples with oranges and second, of course I have changed.

Comparison in this case is not fair. For one, all our circumstances are different. Most of them are staying at home and don't have mortages or home-related bills to deal with wherelese, I do. Those who have mortages use their CPF and interest rates are very low as for me, my mortage is being paid off using both hubby and my monthly pay cheques and the interest rates are at 6.7%. Income tax over there is relatively low as well as compared to me i.e. 42% of my monthly salary goes to the Australian Taxation Office! I could go but what is the point. All these were made known to her, did it sink in? Obviously not!

Me having change. Yes, I have and I don't have to justify those changes. Let's just say, I have grown to be more resilient and logical in my approach. Well, I have to.

It is not easy making a life for myself outside of the only ocuntry and home I have only lived in. To survive well in a foreign country and make a mark for myself requires more than just survival. I question intent/motivation in whatever I do and am not blinded by the cloud of tradition.

Friends who know me well, would consider me as generous and open person. I willingly give up my own time and even money if the circumstances calls for it. But I do not respond well and don't think I ever will respond to demands/expectations.

So do I give mother money so that she would shut up even though it does against my principles? Isn't being a family about love without strings attached?

p.s. I know they are not financially unsound. They have been on more holidays than I have in the last two years. The last holiday for me was two years ago on our honeymoon.


At 4:39 AM, Anonymous Sue said...

Have you ever thought of sending her your income tax report plus the bank interest rate and the cost of living in Australia or you can just ignore her for a few months by not contacting her at all. If she calls you just boast how wonderful and generous your mother in law is

At 9:21 AM, Blogger Magdalene said...

hahaha...thanks for the suggestion. Another friend of mine suggested sending her a blank cheque with only $10 in the bank account!

It is awful that the relationship has disintegrated to this point because of $.

She is afterall, the only mother I have. So the compromise? I will send her some money home every 2 months (b'coz of the exhorbitant bank fees) just so I can have some peace.

With age and menopause, she has gotten really irrational. Can't stand it!

At 9:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Filial Piety is embraced by three of China's main religions: Confucianism, Buddhism, and Daoism.

Are you one of these? Are your parents???

If not, don't do it! You would be condoning the practices of these religions by giving moneys! (and denying your own beliefs)

It would be better to give the money to charity and get your parents to match you dollar for dollarīŠ

See where there heart is?

At 11:18 AM, Blogger Magdalene said...

Hi anonymous

Thank you for your comments. Interesting perspective!

Just to answer your question - my folks are catholics and they are both chinese.

A lot of traditions overlap regardless whether one's religion is based on the buddhist or christian faith. Making it rather confusing.

For me, it is the logic and intent behind the act which goes against my principles.

However, in saying that - she is my mother and family. I cannot turn my back against her either.

BTW, what made you interested in reading my blog?


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