Takeaway Point

“When you are feeling lonely at home, let us know…speak up…talk it out.”

Dear children

Many years ago, I remembered there was a week I had to attend a seminar and I felt disconnected with you both. I was exhausted by the time I came back every day and I felt mentally drained and all I could think of was ‘I have another long day tomorrow and I must prepare for that’.

By the time the seminar ended (just five days), it seemed like 5 years had flown by, and I found myself feeling ‘strangely alienated’ from you- what seemed easy to communicate to you before then seemed suddenly and strangely awkward when I sounded it out. E.g. like asking you what you wished to eat …it was like asking a stranger. How could it be? It had merely been 5 days!! I now understand why some busy parents get estranged from their teenage children as the latter get older.

I have never told you (both) this but for the first time since I raised you from the cradle, I did not feel confident …I realised not being physically present could distance you and us (papa and me). And yes, I realised never to take my bonds with you for granted and I now understand why some parents say one has to be physically present before one can connect…

Ah…but then, just the other day, you took me by surprise (again) – I am getting used to that, not liking it much, to be honest, but adapting to your roller coaster moods and upheavals and mood shifts – You…said… you… were… lonely…

At that time, even if one of us was around at home to instil a sense of security, stability, and routine, you said you were lonely. Perhaps you were not feeling ‘connected’ to us?

Therefore, Dad and I decided to spend some ‘one-to-one’ time with you all, and you responded, ‘No, we can’t, we made plans..we are going out with friends’…

I was beginning to feel flustered. I realised parenting is a lifelong affair and I will only cease caring when I drop dead 6 feet underground!

So how do we stay connected…to you?

Or, how do we continue to try?

By now you know we always have a family lunch at a designated time which we established as a tradition since you both led even busier lives than us.

We would stubbornly uphold it. Hailstorm or school deadlines or ‘Mum, my friend has a birthday party and I must attend’: if an excuse holds its significant weight, we would shift the timing of our ‘family date’ around, no problem.

But we always tried to uphold it. Honour a family ritual and routine. It was a way to connect – all of us – to chat and rant and banter. And for the ‘quiet’ ones who were not good at ‘talking’ – we had that covered too. To stay ‘connected’ to one another, the ‘quiet’ members would offer car rides, chauffeuring, buy ice cream, and buy food that family members liked. Love can be communicated in so many ways.

I still think it gets more challenging to stay ‘connected’ to both of you. I realized that in the face of rapid changes all around us, every bond I had tried to create with you could disappear in the blink of an eye, just like that, in an instant, because life is in some sense usually uncertain…

Since then, we have learnt to let go. We determined that as parents we would respect the evolving adult you were becoming and we listened to you as intently as we listened to our colleagues at work when you had something to say.

You also know I ‘stalk’ you all a lot right? I am glad you all know I do and I just want to say I am glad for the ‘communications’ you relay to me on these social media platforms because it allows your father and me and your other relatives (who might stay overseas) to stay ‘connected’ to you:)

Hence, next time when you need someone to show a little love, shower a little more attention or just that opportunity for you to rant in a secure setting, speak up a little louder or suggest a meeting ..we can miss it if we are absorbed in our thoughts.

I am glad you did express it to us that day…, if not we would never know, and yes..point acknowledged, it is possible to feel lonely even if someone is staying physically close with you.

As an afterthought, as Papa and I get older, the takeaway I stated at the beginning of this post is something we will follow up on too:)

Your loving mum