It started out innocently enough. Perhaps because she was the younger child, the second grandchild, her Japanese family just didn’t seem as interested in her as in her older brother.
I thought perhaps since they only had sons, or that my mother-in-law only had brothers, they were not sure how to interact with a small girl.
I suggested things that she liked to do, bring over toys she likes to play with so they could interact. (This resulted in my brother-in-law developing an iron-beads addiction, but had no impact on the grandparents at all.)
Then there were subtle things: talking over her, not listening, not answering when she asked a question. Some people are just like that to children, I thought, though I knew in my heart they hung on every word my son said.
“She is talking, too, let’s listen!” I try to draw attention to her.
Then they joined in the cacophony of voices around us, “Girls don’t sit like that. Girls complain too much.”
“It isn’t only girls,” I try to laugh it off.
We would go their house, and they would put out only one cookie, even though there were two children. “We didn’t think that she would want one.”
I make the children share, or I go to the store for another ice cream or bottle of juice.
She received only half the amount of money at New Years for otoshidama (a cash gift given to children from relatives,) and was specifically told it was because she was a girl. “You must have heard wrong,” said my husband.
When we went home, I made the children pool the money and split it evenly.
Then this year on Children’s Day, we arrived at the in-laws house to find a beautifully wrapped present.
My heart sank because I knew. I knew that now she would know; that I couldn’t cover it up this time. There was no misunderstanding. This wasn’t a snack brought home on a whim, or an envelope that looked the same on the outside but was different within. This was a gift that had been searched for, lovingly wrapped, put in a place of honor for all to see on a day to honor our children.
But it wasn’t for her.
I saw her eyes dazzle in excitement, dart in confusion, then steel over with resignation. Her big, brown eight-year-old eyes.
She didn’t say anything, she didn’t cry at the injustice, until we were at home.
“Why is he more important than me?” she asked.
The simple truth is that they are both important. The sad truth is that there are people out there who refuse to acknowledge that, who treat these two children that I love equally with all of my heart in a very unequal way.
I wish sometimes they weren’t so close to home.
I can see that it is damaging to have that dynamic in our extended family, against the backdrop of a world that is unkind to women (to put it lightly.)
In the moment, I decide against explaining to my little girl that the cards, in many ways, are stacked against her. Instead I hold her close and tell her that all children are important, and anyone who thinks otherwise is wrong.
Have your children experienced instances of sexism? How do you talk about it at home?
This is an original article by World Mom, Melanie Oda.
I don’t know if many people will agree to this but we Filipinos are known for having close-knit family ties, wherever we might be located in the world.
We cherish our relationships with the members of our family, and love spending time together — eating, chatting, laughing, even singing together (even if we sound off-key)! One of the relationships that I personally treasure is the one I have with my own parents — and, in effect, the relationship my kids have with them.
You see, growing up, I wasn’t able to spend much time with my own grandparents. My parents, like many Filipinos I know — were what we call “OFWs” or overseas Filipino workers. They worked for the Brunei government for many years, thankfully, my siblings and I were allowed to join them.
Because of our situation though, we would only see our relatives, including our grandparents, during the times when we would go home to the Philippines. So I didn’t really get to have many bonding moments with them, unlike my cousins (and my older siblings, who went home to the Philippines for further studies).
Fast forward to the present time. My grandparents on both sides have already passed away (and oh, how I miss them). I am also a mother now, with kids of my own, who absolutely love being with their grandparents!
In fact, they are thrilled every time they are allowed to sleepover at my parents’ place, and I am happy about it too. They get to build lasting bonds with their lolo (grandfather) and lola (grandmother), plus play with their cousins, because my brother and his family live with my parents.
It’s a win-win situation actually, my kids and my parents get to strengthen their relationships with one another, and this mama gets some “time off” (though now, with the newest addition to our family, it’s not really “time off,” if you get what I mean!).
I know not many families are as blessed as mine is — to have grandparents around who are always there to help out with the grandkids, and this post isn’t meant to make anyone feel bad. It’s primarily to emphasize the value of the grandparents in our lives… and I guess, indirectly, the value of the elderly in general. The generations before us — those who are wiser and know better.
On a personal level, this one actually goes out to my kids’ grandparents, especially my parents. You see, our family has been having our share of trials lately, especially after our youngest was born, and my mom and dad have been our strongest allies, supporters and prayer warriors. Honestly, I don’t know how we could have “survived” the past few months without them!
So yes, if you’re reading this, and your parents (your kids’ grandparents) are still with you, I encourage you to find ways, even simple ones, to tell them how much you value them. Even if it’s difficult to do so. Even if you don’t feel like it. Don’t wait till the last minute — till someone is on their deathbed — to speak of love, forgiveness and gratitude. Realize the value of grandparents, and help your kids do so, too. It could possibly be one of the greatest lessons you’ll teach them.
How is the relationship of your children with their grandparents?
Picture Credit: Author
This summer, we found out that my grandpa has cancer in the bile duct of his liver. This word is not new to my family. In 2010, we lost my grandma to a five year battle with ovarian cancer. But, what is new is my children’s awareness of what is happening now as opposed to five years ago. They were only two and five at that time; almost still considered babies.
Now, they are seven and ten, and they question everything. The first question they both asked me was “Is Grandpa going to die?” (more…)
I still have vivid memories of my great-aunt seeding and peeling off the skin of grapes for me to eat. I enjoy thinking about the times my mom dropped me off at another great-aunt’s home and how we would walk to a store and she would buy me my favorite chocolates from the candy counter. I remember my paternal grandmother teaching me to make home made flour tortillas and the love and care she put into making dozens of freshly made tortillas every morning for her family to have for breakfast. My maternal grandmother has always been willing to remove whatever accessory she’s wearing and immediately gift it to you if you just mention that it’s pretty.
I grew up surrounded by women who generously gave all of themselves to their children and grandchildren and I pray I can be at least a little bit like them.
Since my baby boy was born, I’ve been living with my parents (or it’s the other way around – they are living with me). We all live together in a two-room flat. I share the bedroom with my boy, and my parents sleep on the bed couch in the living room. I know that in some parts of the world, it’s normal. It’s not that usual in my part of the world. Family don’t live together for too long. Parents don’t come back to live with their children when they are getting old. But more and more often, children come back to live with their parents, after leaving home to study. They even come back with their kids or spouse. This is due to unemployment, real estate prices, life getting more and more expensive.
I was not ready for this. I was not ready to sign for it. But I was not alone. I had a little one to take care of. And I was on my own, separated from the father of my son. I had an entire life to rebuild. I needed help. I could have asked other people for this help. But they’re my parents and at the time I came back home, they were the only ones who could offer me the support I needed. My parents don’t care much about travelling or enjoying time together. They are family people, and they were delighted to be there to help me raise my little man.
So we started a new life together, sharing each moment, each joy and nearly each moment of pain, doubt, worry.
When it was becoming difficult for me to handle everything, I only had to look at my son’s face and see how delighted he was to have loving people around him. I only had to look at my mum and dad and see how much they enjoyed being with their grandson.
Day after day, it helped me to accept my situation.
Kids need love and support, and the knowledge that no matter what, we’ll be there for them. Kids need encouragement and the knowledge that we have faith in them. My son does not get this from his dad, because he does only sees him twice a month, for two hours at a time, under supervision. Without his dad being around, I am happy that he still gets a role model in his granddad. He is growing up in a secure environment, a much more secure one than the one he would have known if me and his dad had stayed together.
Whenever I feel like I want another life, whenever I feel squeezed and under pressure, I remember what the paediatrician told me:
“You are giving the best to your child. I can understand it’s hard for you. But for him, it’s all good. Under three years old, he needs this closeness. He feels secure this way.”
So what’s good for him make it bearable for me. Even if some days I wish for both of us to be on our own, so I don’t have to make efforts and compromise every single day (this is another story).
Do you feel like you could live with your parents again? Or is it natural in your country for all family to live together? If so, do you have your place as the mother of your kids or do you fight to find it?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Marie Kleber of France. Photo credit to the author.
The author and her brother, as children, with their paternal grandmother, Loli.
Among the greatest blessings I have ever had in this life is the time that I have spent with my grandmothers, Loli and Mama. They were two of the greatest women I have ever known.
Loli is my paternal grandmother, and Mama is grandma on my mom’s side of the family. While they are no longer around for me to hug, the lessons and wisdom that both have given me remain in my heart.
Today I share some of these lessons with my fellow world moms:
1. True love DOES exist
My maternal grandparents spent 68 years together before my Mama passed away. Those years of marriage were not perfect, and of course had their share of ups and downs. But on her deathbed, my grandmother opened her eyes and focused on my grandfather, sharing a final moment with him before she left us.
At the end of it all, we knew that there was no one in the world she loved more than him. We could feel that she didn’t want to leave him, and in the end, the assurance that he will be okay was what she needed in order to let go.
I will never forget the way my Mama’s eyes would twinkle each time she looked at my grand dad, how she would laugh at his jokes and hold his hand while they walked. Marriage is hard, but it can be worth it. And true love does exist.
2. Make sure to create memories with your loved ones
In my family, there is no shortage of photographs and stories to turn to when we want to remember fun times. I appreciate these so much more now that I am older.
My grandmothers made sure that we planned something for every occasion, be it Christmas, birthdays, or even random, ordinary Sundays. What mattered was that we made time for each other, and that we made our time together count.
3. Come what may, you can always count on family
There is comfort in knowing that your family will be there for you no matter what happens. We were raised to love one another unconditionally, and to watch each other’s backs. Our grandmothers had our parents make sure that it stayed this way, even as we all grew up.
We now pass these close family ties on to our children, who are not just cousins but also the best of friends. Truth be told, I cannot imagine what life would be like without my siblings and cousins.
4. Allow your children to be spoiled by their grandparents
This one is a tough pill to swallow, and I fought against it for many years with my own son and parents. But looking back, the best memories that I have of my grandmothers were those times I had alone with them, where I was the princess and got whatever I wanted.
When I was pregnant, my Loli would steal extra packs of lunch or save half of her share to bring home to me as treats after her meetings and get-togethers. My Mama indulged me in mini birthday celebrations in her home, complete with spaghetti, ice cream and cake, when I was already in my 30’s!
These are memories that I hold so dear. They have their own happy places in my heart and can never be taken away. Someday, I hope that my son remembers moments with my mom and mom-in-law with the same kind of fondness.
5. At the end of it all, love is what lives on
I’ve had my fair share of scolding and tough love from my grandmothers, but not once in my life did they ever make me feel unloved. I miss them each day, the nagging phone calls, their funny tales from the past, their hugs and kisses.
The love that they left behind lives on in me, and in each of us in the family. It’s what binds us together now and keeps us strong.
Theirs was the kind of motherly love that transcended generations, the kind of love that I, too, hope to give to my family through the years.
The author and her sister with their maternal grandmother, Mama
*In loving memory of Natividad F. “Loli” de Castro (1921-2008) and Presentacion T. “Mama” delos Santos (1929-2015)
This is an original post for World Moms Blog from our contributor in the Philippines, Mrs. C
The images used in this post are attributed to the author.