Monday, July 28, 2014

Ah Ma's Birthday

Two weekends ago, we celebrated my mother's birthday. Technically, she is 85 (according to her identity card). But she told me she's 86 because.... traditional Chinese count age differently.

This year the celebration is by the beach. So we took a taxi as it's nowhere near a train station.

I hadn't been to the East Coast Park for a while. The last time we were here, we rented our bicycles from elsewhere. This area near the old Big Splash had weird looking "bicycles". It got us excited. Maybe we will come back and rent one of these vehicles. I spent a huge part of my teenage years by this beach. My home then was not far away and on Saturdays, I would come here with my bff and we would cycle and hang out and chat with boys. Hahahaha.

The beach is lined with pong-pong trees. These trees are relatively short and bear fruits which look like green mangoes with the hardness of apples. But these fruits aren't edible. They are poisonous. I used to go to a school in the east and the school was surrounded by these pong-pong trees. My teachers would constantly remind us not to eat the fruits which was a good thing because I kept thinking the fruits looked delicious. The poison in the fruits will very definitely kill you. I often wonder why my school would choose to plant these poisonous fruit trees.

The birthday meal was at the Seafood International Market & Restaurant. We needed three tables because my mother has many children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. I think if everyone had showed up, we would have needed four tables.

There was a lot of food.

This is youtiao stuffed with seafood paste. It's basically deep fried dough and this one is topped with mayo and chicken floss. Sometimes it's served without the floss, but always with mayo. If you've never tried it, you ought to. It's like a glimpse of heaven.

This is prawns. I've never eaten it cooked this way so I don't know what the sauce is - something creamy and just a tad of spice. Not bad.

This is stir fried clams. My kids seem to like it so I went out to Giant supermarket and bought a bag of frozen baby clams.

This is fish soup. It is strangely good.

 Chilli crab - very spicy and yummy.

It comes with these butter buns which you're supposed to soak up the gravy with.

Crab eating requires absolute concentration.

Each table had a different crab. The other two tables had pepper and egg yolk crab. I think ours is the best!

 Roast chicken. I skipped this one.

 The obligatory vegetables - this one in soup.

The obligatory carbo - noodles cooked with vege, clams and prawns.

There was a dessert but I forgot to take a pic. I think I was too full by then.

My niece brought a cake.

 And one for the photo album. I stupidly left my glasses on the table in full view.

Me and my mother. Her hair is freshly cut!

My mother and I have never had a fantastic relationship. Growing up, I often quarrelled with her and at the same time felt neglected by her. But I could understand as she has so many children and so little resources. I find it hard to communicate with her literally as my command of the dialect she speaks is limited. She is illiterate and my greatest regret is not making enough effort to teach her to read. We spent a few years on numbers and alphabets but she found writing hard and soon gave up. I think I should have just concentrated on listening, speaking and recognition. If I could go back in time, this is the one thing I would change.

When I was younger, I often selfishly focused on all the things my mother did not do for me, as a mother should. But after I was married and then had my kids, I found that my mother became something for me I did not even imagine she could be. She became the one person who solidly took my side every single time I turned to her. When my marriage was still young, I struggled with my MIL who was extremely demanding and sometimes quite mean to me. Every complaint to my mother was met with a sympathetic, how could she? it is not right, you don't have to be afraid of her. Even when I was the one being unreasonable and selfish, my mother would not criticise me. When hubs pissed the hell out of me, she would tell him in her limited English: you no scold Jane, I heart pain, cannot scold lawter (daughter). I think hubs practically shats his pants every time I threaten to telephone my mother.

Nowadays I no longer need to complain to my mother about such trivial matters because I am become quite fearless. But my mother has inspired me to be the kind of mother my kids would turn to when they are in need. I often find it hard not to nag, lecture and teach my kids the right thing to do because isn't that what parents are supposed to do? The right thing. This can be very hard to hear when sometimes all you want is something comforting and sympathetic. It is still work in progress but I will constantly strive to find the strength not to scold or criticise my kids and be able to let the small things go.


pennydog said...

I think most kids don't see eye to eye with their mothers as teenagers/ young adults at some point, I'm sure she thinks that too. All the food looks delicious, I could go for a crab curry right now!

Marcie's Quilting Therapy said...

I really enjoyed your blog today -the food looks wonderful - however I really appreciated the photo of your Mom and your family and also the one with the 2 of you.

My Mom is 85, has lived with me for the past 2 years (broken hip then broken arm). I'm certainly not her favorite (I'm the oldest of 3) but I knew when the time came I would WANT to take care of her and I'm thankful that I can.

She, too, was always there when I needed her and in lots of ways I took advantage of her when I was young.

Funny how we seem to see things differently once we become mothers ourselves.

Have a great day!

Sandra :) said...

I'd have the roast chicken and the vegetable soup - I'm not fond of seafood :D Love the family pictures! I think lots of daughters have complicated relationships with their moms - my mom was certainly something - she had problems so our relationship was always extremely rocky. I hope I did the things right that she did right, but didn't do the rest of the crap. I'd hate it if my kids felt like me, the way I felt about her a great deal of the time.

Christel Goh said...

Happy birthday to your mum! Hehe she sounds so cute! Especially the part: "you no scold Jane".
She kinda reminds me of my grandma, who's 88 (or 89) this year. ;)

Linda said...

Lots of seafood! My husband would be in heaven! (I am allergic to seafood, so I would not be!)
My mother is also 85, but we have a great relationship and always have. I am sorry that you haven't always had that, but I'm glad you have learned to understand a little better who your mother is. We all just do the best we can! None of us as mothers are perfect.

Anonymous said...

I used to butt heads all the time with my daughter but my greatest pleasure was after she had her own home for a year or so, she came to me one day and gave me a huge hug and thanked me for what I had done for her growing up, she said she didn't realise how much until she had to do things for herself. Treasure your family!
Mo in the UK

Chris H said...

What a lovely post.
I too spent a lot of time thinking about what my Mother DIDN'T DO for me as a child/young adult.
Now with hindsight, like you, I can see all that she DID DO.
Thanks for reminding me.
I'm glad you had a lovely birthday with her.

tammy said...

I loved this post. I think, no matter what we feel about our mothers, we all learn a lot from them.

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