As part of the SG50 celebrations (SIngapore is celebrating it's 50th year of independence), I've been noticing many organisations honouring different groups of people: teachers, pioneer generation, etc. So for today's lifestory, I'll be honouring mothers, even though it's not Mother's Day yet. And it is not about my mother.
Since being a stay home parent, I've been hanging out more at the markets, coffeeshops, hawker centres. I'm an introvert so my children are the icebreakers, and of course my very extroverted husband. As I hang out at these places in the morning, I noticed that there are always groups of women gathering together for their breakfast. There a few groups that hang out at the coffeeshop situated at the groundfloor of our block. I must admit that sometimes I talk to these women more so than I talk to my immediate neighbours.
It wasn't an immediate friendship, but a slowly cultivated one over the years as they saw us, we saw them. A smile here and there, then a courtesy greeting and then one day we start sharing more about lives together. And it was an amazing discovery when I hear about their lifestories. You really see the phrase "Don't judge a book by its over" come to life!
As my daughter was just hobbling around the coffeeshop, one lady just started sharing with us that she has 6 children and her grandchildren are all grown up. They used to visit her when they were young but now that they've grown, they don't come by anymore, other than Chinese New Year. And there is this rag-and-bone lady, together with her intellectually disabled son, all dressed up on Sunday to meet her friends at the coffeeshop. I always wondered where they went after breakfast. And one day I found out they were going to church.
As they see my children growing up and always marvelling at how fast the children grow, I also see them growing old. One grandma used to take care of her granddaughter who was the same age as Nat, and so we bonded on sharing about our difficulties in taking care of the children. However, one day her only son decided to go to the states to work and brought the whole family along. Shortly after, she fractured her master arm and from then on, she was never the same confident lady again. She spoke with a quiver in her voice and seldom hanged out at the coffeeshop.
Interestingly, there is one consistent theme in our conversations together, they're always encouraging me in my journey as a mother. Maybe it's just one sentence, maybe it's just a smile, maybe it's just a simple play with the children, I know they're cheering me on because they've been through it and they know how tough it is. Motherhood has been a rather lonesome journey but their presence, even just a 5 minutes chit-chat, means so much to me.
My SG50 wish is that these coffeeshops and hawker centres remain in our landscape. As much as I love airconditioning on hot days, I still love the warmth of these community spaces that a foodcourt somehow just can't give. Coffeeshop talk is what I've come to love in my community. We share cups, we share life. Behind each cup, is a lifestory.
Colouring page from "PS* I love You" little playbook for Colouring, Doodling and Stretching You Creativity. Available from http://arhymingtern.weebly.com/cool-books.html