How My Singaporean Mum Expresses Her Love
I often find myself complaining about my mum’s authoritarian parenting method. I’ve had several discussions (okay, gossip sessions) with my friends about how our Singaporean mums are too strict and unnecessarily paranoid.
In spite of all these rants, deep down in my heart, I know that my mum’s quirky actions are ultimately done in the name of love.
From scolding me for falling sick to judging my outfits, here are 15 ways my typical Asian mum indirectly expresses her love that I am sure every Singaporean kid can also relate to.
1. She scolds you when you fall sick
As a child who had to visit the doctor every 2-3 months, I hated falling sick. As if I didn’t feel terrible enough already, along with the pain and discomfort came additional scoldings. My mum would attribute my sickness to my unhealthy habits, such as having insufficient sleep, not drinking enough water and not eating my greens.
I guess I was more afraid of my mum’s incessant nagging and lectures than the actual physical suffering that accompanied my sickness.
2. She sends PSAs in WhatsApp chats that turn out to be fake news
My mum is one of those typical Singaporeans who believes every piece of news she reads, such as the highly circulated WhatsApp message claiming that NTUC FairPrice’s jasmine fragrant rice was made of plastic (a rumour, of course).
Over time, she became my family’s serial fake news propagator, and we stopped taking her WhatsApp PSAs too seriously.
But knowing how paranoid and concerned my mum is, my sister and I are aware that she does this unintentionally. Her sole concern is simply ensuring that we are always on our guard against potential threats and are updated on the latest news.
3. She insists that she’s right just because she’s your mum
Growing up, it was impossible to win against my mum in an argument, simply because she’d assert her authority over us every time. Wanting to have the last say, she’d usually end our arguments by exclaiming, “I am your mother! This is for your own good!”
Fast-forward to today and true enough, I am (mostly) grateful for her forceful ways, including making me take up swimming lessons when I was little, despite me crying after every lesson and begging her to let me quit. Today, I am able to swim and participate in water sports, all thanks to my kiasu Asian mum.
4. She sets a curfew for every late night out
In secondary school, I was always the one who had to leave social gatherings earlier. My mum would make sure she had the detailed itinerary of where I was headed to before I left home. It was up to her to decide what time I had to get home every night, based on why I was out and who I was out with.
My mum also made sure she had my close friends’ contact numbers, so she could contact them if I didn’t pick up her calls.
On nights when I stayed out late, my mum would refuse to go to bed just to wait for me to reach home. While I couldn’t help but feel envious of friends whose parents granted them more freedom, I knew that these were all done because she was worried about my safety
5. She scares you into heeding her advice
Since I was little, my mum would guilt-trip me into finishing every single grain of rice on my plate. She claimed that the number of grains left would cause my future husband to have the same number of pimples on his face. *Rolls eyes*
She would also let out a loud “tsk” and proceed to nag at me whenever she caught me shaking my leg. According to her, doing so would result in me losing all my luck and wealth.
On hindsight, such tales were told so as to scare my sister and I into following her advice, and to stop us from developing what she deemed to be bad habits.
6. She willingly (or unwillingly) assumes the role of a domestic helper
Having lived with a domestic helper since I was born, I didn’t think my mum would take over the role when our last helper recently left us for good.
But now, she’s always the first to get up every morning, boiling water and preparing food so that the rest of us can conveniently wake up to find breakfast on the table.
From doing our laundry to mending our clothes, she doesn’t shrink from these responsibilities despite having to juggle them with a 9-to-5 job. Even when she has to work overtime occasionally, she returns home late at night and dutifully resumes her roles of wife, mother and homemaker.
In her words, whenever she gets tired: “I’m worse off than a maid… at least they get off days!”
7. She steals glances at your phone and laptop
I first created both my MSN and Facebook accounts when I was in Primary 3. Back then, I shared my credentials with my mum, thinking that she could remind me of my passwords if they ever slipped my mind.
Today, I no longer share such confidential information with her. While she does not demand to know the passcodes to my laptop and phone, I often catch her stealing glances at my screen.
At times, I’d return to my desk only to find her peering at my devices, checking out what I was surfing online and reading the Telegram notifications that popped up on my phone’s lock screen.
In her defence, she claims that this is not an invasion of privacy, but a mere act of concern.
8. She judges your outfits
“So many holes and rips in your jeans, later people think you no money to buy a proper pair!” Most of the time, I can’t leave home without my mum commenting on my outfit. While she rarely says that I look good, she is quick to criticise me if she thinks I look too untidy or too scantily clad.
My mum always says that she’d rather be the one who points out the flaws in our dress sense than have us ridiculed or criticised by an outsider.
9. She constantly asks if you’ve eaten
This happens every single day. Be it on the phone or when I return home, “Have you eaten?” always pops up, almost as if it’s a greeting.
Ensuring that one’s child is well-fed is of utmost importance to most parents, including mine. If I were to reply my mum “no”, she would rush to the kitchen to cook up a storm.
10. She pushes the “paiseh piece” to you at the end of the meal
Somehow, there is always that one last piece of seaweed chicken or last morsel of fried omelette left at the end of our family dinners.
In the same vein of making sure I’m well-fed, my mum always pushes the last bit of every dish, aka the “paiseh piece”, to me. She’d always chant, “Aiyah, as a teenager, you can afford to eat more!”
11. She is stingy with praise
My mum has never explicitly said that she is proud of me. In her opinion, too much praise goes to the head, and I might end up being arrogant and complacent.
Instead, a smile or celebratory look from my mum would suffice. That is her way of showing appreciation and recognition for my efforts, and I don’t need her to sing my praises to feel a sense of self-worth. Her face of approval will always be my strongest motivation for working hard and striving to excel in everything I do.
12. She scolds you for crying
Simply because that was her way of showing that she wanted me to grow up to be a strong and independent woman.
13. She nags at you for splurging on gifts for her
Every year before Mother’s Day and my mum’s birthday, she deliberately reminds me and my sister not to get gifts for her.
It’s not because she doesn’t want a gift, but she’d rather we save the money or spend it on ourselves instead.
Nevertheless, I have never failed to present her with a card and a gift on both occasions every year. Her first reaction would always be to bask in happiness. But shortly after, she’d go back to nagging at me for splurging unnecessarily and going against her wishes.
Oh well. I have long accepted that this is how my mum reciprocates my love for her.
14. She saves the best part of a dish for you
The slice of pizza with the most toppings, the crab pincer with the most amount of meat, the biggest chicken drumstick, etc. One moment, I’d see the huge prawn gone from the serving plate. The next moment, it would be sitting there on my plate, completely peeled and waiting to be devoured. *Heart eyes*
15. She lets you sleep on her shoulder
When I was little, I enjoyed taking public transport with my mum, because I’d always get to rest my upper body on her lap whenever I needed a nap.
Up till today, while I can no longer inch my way onto her lap, she still allows me to rest my head against her shoulder and take a whiff of that familiar motherly scent of hers.
How Singaporean Mums Express Their Love
As I mature day by day, I’m better able to put myself in my mum’s shoes and be thankful for the things she does to achieve the best for me. Most importantly, without her, I wouldn’t be who I am today.