Do you know what it feels like to grow up with a constantly distressed mother?
We used to have a great relationship when I was a little girl, where she would often play around with me and call me her best friend.
However, things took a dark turn once I turned 9 years old.
As a child, I couldn’t really tell what brought it on, but around that time she became surly and would always yell at everyone in the house.
Especially me, since I am the black sheep of the family.
“Stop talking!” or “I’ve sent you to good schools, why are you so slow in Mathematics?”
Actually, I thought she hated me because I’m not good at Mathematics, since she’s a bank accountant.
So to avoid being a disgrace to my mom, I studied very hard and finally got my first A in Mathematics, for PMR.
Sadly, her response was not something that any mother should say to her child. She said, “That’s just luck because they lowered the grade for that year.” Ouch.
There was really no way to please her.
Even asking harmless questions like, “How was your day, mom?” will result in her snapping at me to shut up.
There wasn’t a time where she was not angry
In fact, when I was 12, she even slapped me when I accidentally burned some “keropok lekor” on my first attempt at cooking.
I was left traumatised by the incident because I was so young, and that’s the first time I felt hatred towards the woman who birthed me.
As a result, I started to spend time in my room alone to avoid being anywhere around my mother, so that I didn’t get on her nerves.
When I was a kid, it was my dream to be just like my mom. She’s pretty, she’s smart and she’s ambitious. She was my role model.
But seeing her go down the path of the sour train, and realising that I’m also starting to do the same, it’s now more like a nightmare.
I found myself slowly turning into my mom
When I turned 25, I started going through a quarter life crisis. Transitioning from a carefree young adult to the reality of adulthood was stressful and confusing.
I had just started working and my boss was a real piece of work.
Although I was the new PR executive, a fresh grad, I was given the major responsibility of managing the company’s marketing efforts.
Meanwhile, my supervisor and CEO were busy having an affair. To make things worse, the CEO’s wife was our HR manager. She kept drilling me to spill secrets about them.
Stressed about the workload and unnecessary drama, I started to snap at my family members without realising.
On a particularly stressful day, I came home from work and noticed my sister had parked her car in my spot. I rushed into the house to scream at her.
It was then that I knew that something was off with me, but I didn’t know how to stop myself.
I even went to the psychiatrist to seek help. I tried methods like counting to 10 before getting angry at something. Nothing worked. I just didn’t know how to control my temper.
Despite all my efforts to avoid inheriting this trait from my mom, I am now the mayor of Grumpy City.
My dad’s confession & his bankruptcy
Finally, I had a much needed heart-to-heart conversation with my mom.
They say everything happens for a reason. I found out why my mom has been acting the way she did.
When I was 9-years-old, my dad cheated on my mom with a widower. He was about to marry this woman and bring her, along with her sons, into our family.
Luckily, my neighbour caught them on a date, and alerted my mom about my dad’s infidelity.
That’s when everything went haywire.
My dad owned a kopitiam in Kuala Lumpur, which he named after my mom. Business was not bad. At the time, we could afford three cars. Life was pretty good.
My dad thought that he had made it in life, which is why he considered marrying his girlfriend, since he can afford to take care of two families.
Thankfully, my mom stepped in and put an end to the relationship.
But as ill luck would have it, my dad was so focused on having another wife that he neglected to tend to his business.
All of this culminated with my dad being forced to declare bankruptcy.
Of course, it was not easy to get a job after that — he had to resort to selling roti canai, while borrowing my pocket money when he really needed it.
Despite the cheating scandal, my mom forgave him anyway.
There’s a quote that goes, “A man’s loyalty is tested when he has everything, while a woman’s loyalty is tested when a man has nothing.”
That is exactly what happened to my parents.
For 9 years after the incident, my mom single-handedly supported the whole family while my dad was busy looking for a stable job.
Despite everything, we were always fed
Even though she worked from 7AM to 7PM, she always cooked dinner for the family as soon as she got home.
We live all the way in Shah Alam while her office is in the heart of Kuala Lumpur. So you can imagine the pain of going through the crazy traffic, and then the rush home to prepare a hearty meal.
The fridge would always be stocked with our favourite food and candy bars.
From when we were kids until now, she would also sneakily surprise us with our favourite toys from time to time.
It was a little game we played to hide the snacks from my dad (because he hates it when my mom spends unnecessarily).
I now realise that this was her way to tell us that she loves us, since Asian parents don’t really know how to showcase their emotion. It’s a fact.
I’ve come to understand my mom
At 25, I finally realised that my mom DOES NOT hate me.
Maybe it’s because of work and her brain was spinning with all the things that need to get done.
Maybe it was because we were so loud while she was cooking dinner and it grated on her nerves.
It was probably a combination of everything, plus the fact that she was cheated on by her husband. I would go crazy if that happened to me.
My mom not only kept the scandal a secret, but she also never resented my dad for it. All she wanted was a steady, happy family.
Meanwhile, all I wanted was to have a better emotional relationship with my mom.
Thankfully, we’ve had the opportunity to talk things through and I’m trying my best to reconnect with my mom.
Humans make mistakes, and moms are no exception.
She soldiered on because she came from a broken family and didn’t want us to know what that feels like.
I understand now, mom. You’re just too tired from everything.
And that’s why I think she is my ultimate hero.
For more stories like this, read: My Dad Cheated on My Mom and She Doesn’t Know and My Daughter Was Taught by Her Mother to Hate Me – Here’s My Story.