Mother’s Day is here and many families are planning celebrations like lunch or dinner buffets for the moms in the family. Major shopping complexes would undoubtedly be jammed packed with families. Just like Valentine’s Day, many will end up paying for overpriced menus, flowers and gifts.
But for my mom, she would always opt not to celebrate. Whenever I wanted to take her out for Mother’s Day meal or on her birthday, she would undoubtedly protest- saying that it is an insult if only one or two days of the year is set aside to remember her. When I asked if there is anything further I could have done better, she said I’ve done more than enough.
So we will normally spend her birthday or Mother’s Day in quite a low stay at home kinda thing- because the time which I managed to drag her out for a meal, she will end up complaining that we are paying so much for such horrible tasting food.
Still, parents are parents and most often, they are more concerned for our welfare more than their own. No matter how grown up we are, they never cease to worry about us- my friends who are now young parents, finally understands after having their own babies. One look at their newborn and they know that they will love and care for him/her for as long as they live.
How do we show love and care for them?
1. If we are trying to make a living in another town or country, we could teach our parents to set up webcam and use microphone to chat and talk to each other. This means a lot to them.
2. If we are staying with our parents, we must always look out for their health and welfare. This does not mean taking them for health treatment when they are not well but to involve in preventive actions. When our parents get old, the important thing is that they are able to perform day to day function well. Exercise-like walking and qi gong are good for their health. But most of the time, they will not want to go alone- so you have to go with them. Just for once a week, instead of your normal sprints at the treadmill, just be patient and go for a slow walk with them.
3. Don’t ask- just do it. Don’t ask what they want because they often will not want to intrude too much into your life and welfare. Do something that puts a smile on their face- and often, it does not involve expensive material things
4. But it does not mean that you replace time and care with material things and Astro (cable TV- sorry, in my opinion, too much TV is bad for your brain). To your parents, often, all they ask for is to have you around to spend the evenings with them. If they are staying in another state/country, then make the effort to contact them at least 3 times a week.
The best way to repay the kindness and sacrifice of our parents.
Years ago, when I was still a student, I attended a talk by Ajahn Brahmavanso. That time, he was not as famous as he was now. He imparts great values through his stories. During question time, I asked him on what is the best way to repay our parents’ kindness?
Those days, I lose count how many times I broke my mom’s heart by being rebellious, stubborn, going against her wishes and making her constantly worried. It was finally getting to me as I grow older on what a brat I was.
Ajahn Brahm looked at me but the look is as if he looked straight into my being to see what my troubles were. Then he told me, the best way for me to repay the kindness of my mother and father if we able to teach them the Dhamma and through it, they become better persons. Because as Buddhist, we believe in karma and rebirth, therefore if they are able to practice good values, it helps them in the journey of their future lives. I’ve always remembered his advice.
Of course, this would apply in the context of other religions-if you are a Christian, then, would you be able to inspire your parents and make them understand God’s teachings?
And it does mean that we become hypocrites, that we are not able to practice what we preach. Most of the time, it requires patience and setting a good example. In the process, we are challenged to transform ourselves as well. When our parents see that we become better persons, they are interested to follow as well.
My Silly and Humble Example
Here, I just share with you an example. I know some people finds it silly. But I always feel very sad if I see animals suffer. So, from young, my heart bled for stray dogs on the street who has nothing to eat. When it rains, they shiver in cold and hunger. I’ve always wanted to feed them but felt self-conscious and worried about what others may think about me.
But slowly, I started collect leftovers from my friend’s lunch boxes and parties to feed the stray. At first, I was very self-conscious. Now, I don’t give a hoot about what others think. I just feed the stray out in the open- in my heart, I felt that these animals don’t have a choice- they cannot work for a living even though they hope to. I can’t take them home and care for them, there’s just too many of them- but the least I could do is to take away their hunger for one meal. After a while, I noticed there are others who did the same.
Anyway, a few times my mom was with me while I stopped the car and take out some dog biscuits (used to keep in a bottle in my car) to feed the strays. At first, she felt it was utter nonsense. But slowly, she started to feel a bit sorry for the strays. So one day, there was too much of leftover food that even my dogs cannot finish. So she took and feed a stray. And the next day she went.
After a while, the stray recognized her. When my mom put the food down, she turned and walked away. After a distance (about 100 m) when she turned back, she found that the stray was still looking at her, with what she described as ‘as if it was saying thank you to me’ before it finally ate the food (see, even strays have common courtesy). It made her feel happy- after all, my mom had grown up in poverty, so she knows what hunger meant.
Now, she’s even more diligent in feeding the strays. If she knows there are strays hanging around the area, she will take extra food with her on her way out.
HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY TO ALL MOTHERS 🙂