Monday, March 17, 2008

Guilt? Obligation? Nah..... It's Just Love

I was routinely reading on my daily blogs when a certain topic has touched a sensitive part of me. Everyday opinions of this and that never really affect me. I read them, shrug and move on. Even the many colorful comments/opinions on Malu Fernandez or the famous 17 year old Bb. Pilipinas - World has never solicited more than a physical gesture appropriate to the emotion it has raised within me. Not enough to really write about it and pour with all intensity my thoughts and feelings.

Let me introduce the background. I have been reading this blog for the longest time ever and I must admit she has a talent for writing. Since I love cooking, her cooking blog has occupied a place on my Explorer’s favorite’s drop-down menu. She also has a journal blog and a few other sites she maintains. She finished law and practiced for a few years and when she married she has decided to be a stay at home mom. She is a very talented writer and it shows by the number of comments that she receives on her blog. Like me, she is a Filipina, living back home, has a husband in a very well paid job and two teen aged daughters.

If I like her, how come her blog did not earn a place on my favorite site here in my blog? Well, let’s just say that we are not in the same league and that my feet are firmly on the ground and hers is several feet above it. There’s an air of arrogance in her that I am not interested to breathe in. Judging from years of reading her blogs I have deduced that she is very well off. She would show all the nice branded gadgets she or her family has like multiple high end digital cameras, lap tops, cell phones that are bought out of whims. She would write about her life living in a big house, about how good their food is everyday, about her complaints about government services or about her house help. She would paint her page with excellent pictures of their frequent vacation places and of expensive restaurants that they had just dined in. In short, she has created a pedestal for herself. Then, she would lash out at anyone who disagrees with her or her opinions. Never! Never did I read about her or her family helping the poor or participating on any volunteer work that would benefit the poor people around her. She definitely had the money and it would be nice to read for once that she has stepped on the ground and felt the earth on her skin. Well…maybe such is the life of socialites or what they call upper class mentality and that me, being in the lower class cannot really relate to. Maybe that’s just it. Or, it’s just a big prejudice on my part.

The other day, she posted a topic that has touched a piece of my heart. It’s about how Asians should loose the thinking that they owe something to their parents. Here’s an excerpt of her post:

"Your parents are responsible for raising you. You are not responsible for them. Although it’s honorable to make sure your parents have a good life, don’t do it out of guilt.
Remember, realizing that you don’t owe your parents isn’t enough. You have to accept it and get over the guilt. That’s the most important point you have to remember. You have to practice snapping yourself out of that guilt or you’ll end up shaping your life the way they see fit. To me, living a fake life or one that you’re not
happy with is worse than suicide. "

I am a mom and I would not want my children to feel responsible for me when I grow old. There is no question about that. Whether I was able to save money or not for my old age, I would not demand compensation for what I have done for them. Neither does my mom. She has never said anything that makes me feel obliged to give her money.

But you see, I am a child too. I’ve seen how hard life is with my parents and I’ve witnessed the fact that they have done all they could to raise me and my siblings. Mind you, unlike her who is rich and have never felt hungry in her entire life, we are poor. My parents have crawled, begged and broken their back to help me finish my education so I can have a better life. Through these, they were not able to save for themselves but they are happy to see me successful. I have now a better life, I eat good food, I live in a fine house, I have money in the bank, I can buy anything I like. I now ask myself, why am I here? I look back and I see my parents getting hungry, probably just waiting for death to take them away for they’re purpose is done. What do you expect me to feel?? Guilt feeling that I should overcome?? You said appreciation is enough and not obligation. But those were just words. What’s important is action. What am I to do?? Simple and for me no question at all, for a child who appreciate what her parents has done for her, I would obliged myself to now take care of them whether they like it or not. Whether it’s appreciation or obligation, I will not turn my back on them for I love them and yes, I will not be me if not for them.

For a different perspective, even if I grew up as poor as my parents, I still would look after them. Not a matter of conscience or obligation but the fact that I love them and that it is the right thing to do. Who ever is the stronger one takes care of the family. Ours is a closely knit family and we get our strengths from each other.

I now live in a country where old people are placed in special houses. My children are now exposed to another kind of mentality plus the fact that I agree that they should not worry about me when the time comes that they have to live their own lives. As long as they are happy, I will be happy wherever I am and will continue to love them with all my heart.

As for my mom, I’ll take care of her until death takes her away from me.


JTE said...

For whatever reason, the blogger that you’re referring to and the blogger that she applauded didn’t mention anything about their parents’ role in making them successful, semi-rich and articulate. It’s only this idea on how parents shouldn’t expect anything from their children after they are brought up and raised in this world. I guess they have had sad experiences with their parents that they couldn’t get over with and only themselves can live with it. Or cannot for that matter.

Sad tales of parenting abound. It’s true that some parents are incompetent and don’t deserve to called parents and some even make their children’s life miserable simply because they are their children. Is there a vicious cycle somewhere? Is there a cosmic lottery and these unfortunate children didn’t get the prize that they deserve? May God help them.

I guess we are lucky for having parents that we can be proud of, emulate and cherish. It’s a matter of perspective and environment may or may not be a factor in shaping one’s view about parents. Asians or not, one’s deeply rooted values play a crucial role in treating parents especially those who are in their twilight years.

My parents did their best to raise me and my siblings. They did their best to show me how to live a meaningful life. Sometimes, I failed them but I always learn my lessons. Now I’m a parent myself and I guess I can pay tribute to them by being the best parent that I can be to my children. I know that is not enough because what my parents gave to me can never be repaid. I have to be there when they need me. No ifs and buts. And that is what I believe.

EM said...

Thanks for the comment JTE!

It's true! How we feel today is sometimes reflective of what we experience growing up. I grew up resentful to my father. We've never been close to each other.. nor any of my siblings. But in the end, when he was weak and sick, I took the responsibility of taking care of him until he died.

Hmmm... can I ask you a challenging question? What if your parents were not ideal parents when you're growing up. And then time came when they are now weak and sickly, will you take care of them? will you support them financially? How will you feel?


JTE said...

"Not ideal" is quiet broad, we have to be specific. But I take it as something that is below my standard of what I know about parenting.

You see I have a tender heart. Even if they were not the ideal ones when I was growing up, I won't ignore them if they become weak and sick in their old age. I will take care of them in the best way I can.

I'll definitely have a mixed feeling but it won't matter anymore. What is important is to remember that I wasn't born in this world without them. And that is enough for me to make them feel that as their child, I am there to love them and be with them for the rest of their lives.

EM said...

Thank you for the answer JTE. Truly appreciated.

That is exactly what my answer would be. It always boils down to giving, forgiving and not taking or vengeful....

Thanks again and have a good day!

Anonymous said...

You're welcome, EM!

Have a blessed Easter!