My eldest sister recently confided in us (my other sisters & I) about my niece, who has increasingly shown characteristics of a soon-to-be angsty teen. After considering what advise would be appropriate, I can only come up with suggestions that stemmed from my experiences when I was my nieces age- and why I acted the way I did. My mom was never the ‘lets talk about our feelings’ kind of mom, nor was I the sort of kid who wanted my mom to know what I did anyway- If I had a fight with a friend or had bad grades, my mom will be the last person to know. I’d feel more comfortable confiding in my sisters, friends, aunts and sometimes even friends parents. Maybe it’s because mom was always busy working & that perhaps in her opinion, in sacrifice of our ‘connection’, providing us with shelter, good health, education, food & safety was sufficient enough proof of her unconditional love instead. Or maybe it’s because she grew up in a traditional Chinese household where talking about your feelings is simply non-existent. So…you kinda get the picture, my mom is a tough-love kind of person. Where insults mean they love you (you are not eating enough/ you are getting too fat!), endless lectures of your spending (my mom is flabbergasted a coffee can cost up to $5, well technically so am I) exaggerated warnings of dangers (don’t go out with male friends/just don’t go out!) non-valid explanations (if you are tanned, you look like a labourer & no-one will marry you!) illogical health advise (don’t play with pets or your kids will grow fur/have asthma attack!) Hahaha, Asian friends, do some of these sound familiar? Don’t get me wrong, my mom is a supermom in every other way, but seeing eye to eye with each other & having a great conversation, is just not our forte. For some reason, reflecting back struck a chord: that I’m going to be a mother soon too, and my daughter may one day associate me with similar feelings. On the positive side, you appreciate what you don’t have, and what I didn’t have, was a ‘confidant’ type relationship with my mom. Everything that I was missing, has made me more aware of what I need to give to my daughter. I realise that everything I have experienced so far in my life- the good & bad, will only prep me better for this exciting new role.

In some ways, I’ve found pregnancy and the idea of having a baby so overwhelming that I forget that our daughter won’t always be an infant. That she’ll grow up, go through that angsty teen stage too & keep secrets from me. And for that, I keep promising myself to strife in providing & maintaining a relationship where I have the ability to shape and inspire through even the smallest gestures- from a simple “is everything OK?” to meaningful keepsakes (like the bracelet G & I bought from Florence which we will one day give to her). Impending motherhood is incredibly intimidating, but when I focus on something as simple as how a pretty bracelet can flood me with such happy memories and how many funny stories we can’t wait to share with her, the pressure is lifted, if only momentarily.

As for my niece, well my sister is an awesome mom. She has been through so much in her life, I am sure she can make a playbook out of it. My niece just doesn’t know it yet & I guess these things take time. Valerie, if you are reading this one day, you should know your mommy really cares for you & she is the coolest mom ever :)

 Mothers & soon-to-be mothers, what are your thoughts of your relationship with your mothers & how that affected your relationship with your kids?

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