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Friday, March 29, 2013

The gift of an ordinary day

It dawned on me today as I watched a video featuring an excerpt from The Gift of an Ordinary Day by Katrina Kenison - how we neglected the void we created in our parents' lives as we walk right out into exciting, new chapters of our lives as we grow up. We do not realize that we mean the world to them and leaving them to a quiet home and an empty room where we used to occupy is difficult to cope.

I have to admit that I'm my dad's little princess and he takes care of all my needs too well for over two decades. Without fail, he'd ferry me to places, buy my favorite food on weekend mornings while I sleep in, stock the refrigerator with snacks and drinks I like, do the household chores & cook despite having a full time job and just yesterday, fetching me from the airport at 5.20am in the morning! When I moved to a hostel during my university years, he even came by to help me spring clean when I moved in. It's become so clear to me now that I've become a parent myself, how we will always remain the little child we were in our parents eyes and have their unconditional love, care and concern. And yet, we very often take things for granted, and can be really rude to them with our words and actions.

I moved home after I graduated, but working life & being in a relationship left me with very little time at home. Two years later, I moved out for good after I got married. This is an even bigger step (= permanent void in our parents' lives). I recall how I cant wait to begin a new chapter with my newly wed husband, and look forward to a life together. I didn't think much about how my parents felt, but focused more on myself. I enjoyed being away, leading our own lives and lesser interaction means lesser friction and disagreement with my family. My dad was very involved during our renovation, and when we moved in, he continued buying the snacks I like, preparing fruits for me and leaving them in the refrigerator when we are not around. He also replenishes the drinks Darren likes when he goes grocery shopping, even till today. It must have hurt him when I walked out of his life. I can imagine whenever he eats out (maybe often alone, as my mum's working hours are different), he must have felt so lonely without our company. When he goes to the market, he will be reminded that he need not buy breakfast for me. When he is at home, he has the remote control to the television all to himself, and he does not need to wait for me to get ready in the mornings to fetch me to school/work. He can have all the food he likes without leaving the best bits for me and he does not need to check on me & whether I will be home late.

To date, six years after moving out, my room at my parents' place is left largely the way it was, used for storage and more recently, Aiden's room when he stays over. It must have been sad adjusting to the fact that my room is no longer occupied, that the sheets need not be changed, that my clothes need not be ironed and that he & mum need not walk in to wake me up in the mornings when I moved out.

This really is a wake up call for me, and I will cherish the time I have with my parents and family. To be present and care for them, as this will not be forever. As a parent myself, I will also need to learn the art of letting go as Aiden grows up. He may not want to hold my hands, let me kiss his cheeks and read to him when he is older. Instead of having to look back and regret what I have done or not done, I will enjoy every moment I share with him, and focus on the present. Before I know it, I am sure he will be grown up and I will miss his fingerprints on the television screen, the marks he leaves on the walls with his ybike, the crumbs he leaves behind after every meal, switching on the lights in broad daylight and him craving for my attention all the time. 

Dad and me at 2 year old

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