August 19, 2007

10 facts about my Mom

Lindsey, Mom, Van, Lindsey's mom and Alex

I had been tagged by Belle on "10 random facts about your mom". It took me 2 weeks to post this entry and I've felt this tug-of-war emotions as am not sure I know my mother well enough like others. It's very cool to learn about other people's moms, and interesting to see the list that comes to them, esp. on the closeness of mother and daughter things, but our family story is a bit unusual. Well, it's not that I think that we have been through more then most, but there is just so much to say that I could probably write a book about it. Where do I begin?

1. First, a little bit of history ... Shortly after getting married, my mom followed my dad over to the small village at the southern tip of Sumatra Island, leaving all her family behind in Bogor, West Java. In her bachelorette days, Mom used to help her eldest brother running a small shop selling basic necessities, such as rice, sugar, oil, flour etc. As for my late dad, he came from Tangerang which is located about 20km west of Jakarta. A bit out of topic, I need to highlight my late dad home town as described in wikipedia :

"Tangerang also has a significant community of Chinese Indonesians, many of whom are of Cina Benteng extraction. Benteng means 'fortress' in Indonesian. They were descended from laborers who were brought there by the Dutch colonials in the 18th and 19th centuries, and most of them are still laborers and farmers. They are culturally distinct from other Chinese communities in the area: while almost none speak any dialect of Chinese, they are culturally very strongly Daoist and maintain their own places of worship and community centers. They are ethnically mixed, yet identify themselves as Chinese."

My Dad believed he could change his wheel of fortune in the new province where coffee, pepper, and cloves are most important sources of income (that time). Dad opened a shop buying and selling coffee beans, pepper and cloves. When they had the third kid (my eldest bro), dad bought 3 houses in different place in the new province but was cheated by his business partner and had to give up one in the city area. He also lost the house that he bought in Jakarta and until the end of his life only 2 houses left but the big one is in a very small village and none of the children would like to live there.

2. My mom gave birth to 8 children ( 5 girls and 3 boys) , at the Catholic hospital run by a Dutch nun which located at the foot valley of Tanggamus mountain. Mom doesn't remember the birthdays of most of her children, but she remembers the day my eldest sister was born. After the first child, just as work had intensified, with my Dad's agreement ... my Mom came up with an idea that the next babies would be best to remain in the hospital until we were able to walk. Because the hospital didn't have many baby patients that time, the Dutch nun agreed to spare one bed for Mom's babies and took care of us. Mom paid a visit weekly or twice a month and paid the fees, of course. We all grew up on bottles and the faces we recognized were the Dutch nun and her nurse assistants. Sister Joseph even had nicknames for us and remembered each of our funny traits when we were babies. I was the fifth in the line up as well as the third daughter. Because I was so tiny, Sister Joseph nicknamed me "Mientje" ... which I so hate since my friends often mocked me that Mientje is a popular name of a village girl, Minah, who moved to the big city and was ashamed with her true identity. I really hated that name and yet that is the name my family use to address me.... arggghhh!!!!

Late Sister Joseph

3. My mom has worked harder than anyone else I know in her family ... she overstretched herself physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially.

4. My mom can count using Abacus faster than the calculator. I still remember vividly the sound of the abacus beads clicking every time she did her book keeping.

5. My mom makes the best bakchang --a pyramids shape of sticky rice stuffed with seasoned ground pork/chicken, mushroom and water chestnut then wrapped in bamboo leaves--, sweet and spicy pork satay, and lapis legit --multi-layered butter cake.

6. My mom had problems communicating to her own children. I didn’t grow up in the kind of family where we talked about our feelings. There have been times when we were younger that my eldest brother bullied and abused me and my two younger sisters (banging our head to the wall, scratching faces with his sharp nails that still left scars until now, if he didn't get what he asked for ... for example), all this didn't go un-notice but she didn't do anything to stop it. It was more like "let’s-sweep- everything-under-the-rug” kind of family. After 6th grade, the kids were sent to dormitory school because there's no good schools near our house. When I was 15, I studied in a convent girls school in Yogyakarta, same with my other siblings ... we left home when we were young. I started working at the age of 18, two weeks after graduated from high school, because my dad was having a severe diabetes and needed a lot of money to pay for his meds as well as my younger siblings school fees. Since then, I've been working in various places, and ends up in Jakarta until now.

7. My mom is so negative, most of the time esp. to the person she considers bad, and it just drain everybody out as she is often biased with her petty judgement. She isn't a bad person she is very protective to her family, she is kind, generous and thoughtful but can be so dammed negative, insensitive and difficult.

8. My mom made the children feel obligated to do whatever she wants, because of what she has done in the past. At times it is like a puppet on strings, and she has the strings ... After Dad passed away in 1988, the family business was going down and mom was in huge debts because she often undertook risks beyond her capabilities. Mom start borrowing money from the bank without our knowledge and when the bank chased her, she made my eldest sister and me paying her debts. She insisted to continue the losing business until we could not tolerate it anymore and made her stay in my eldest sis house until now. She is unhappy at the beginning and told people that we have kidnapped her against her will...LOL!

9. My mom has the green thumb of green thumbs. She has that gift that any plant or tree or flower she touches blooms like never before. To beat her lottery buying addiction, my eldest sis now assigns my mom to take care of the plantations in her small front yard.

10. My mom is superstitious and believe with the people who can talk to spirits. She has many taboos that we must not do but we do not always take her advice seriously...LOL!

Well, good parents or bad parents make mistakes that stick with kids for their entire lives. My mom was no exception. We expect the moon, then feel bad when the picture doesn't end up as we envisioned. Sometimes our mothers hurt us tremendously, and we cant seem to shake off the bad feelings. But there is no changing the past and all things happen for a reason. Even though its a hard path, I've become a very strong person. She is not responsible for my happiness. I am. It is up to me to either stay bitter or make my life better. And I choose to make my life better. Even though we are not best friends, but she is still the best mom I could ever have.


momoftwo said...

Wow! Girl, I admire you after what you've been through at a young age but chosen to make your life better. Thanks for sharing facts about your Mom. I learned from it.

Belle said...

thanks my dear friend for sharing facts about your mom. you know, we are all different, what is right for other people may not seem right for others. your mom thought that you would be better taken care of if you stayed with the nuns because she was too busy working. she did what she though was right.

i may have hurt my kids too somehow but from my point of view, i did the right thing to protect them. they may 18 or above and claim they know everything but we know for a fact that they don't. they need us to help them map out their path.

so, hats off to your mom despite of her shortcomings. and as one of the songs of Steffi says, "there is no such perfect family."

elyani said...

Thank you Fe and Belle. She did the best she could and I understand being a mom is an exhausting and difficult task with hardly a sigh of exhaustion or a complaint.