Sunday, February 1, 2015

Help, I'm turning into my mother!

I caught a video today put out by the Singapore government. It's the usual cheesy spot about how well Singapore takes care of its seniors or "pioneer generation" but there were a couple of scenes with old ladies that had me going "uh-huh".

I always thought I was different from my mother and swore to myself that I wouldn't be like her. She was a hoarder. For her, it was never enough to have just one of everything. She had to have at least two, "just in case" she said. So she would have a spare wok, a couple of spare kettles, innumerable sets of dishes and tea sets. If she found a pair of pants that she liked in Marks & Spencer's, she would buy them in all the colors available. After her death, we unearthed bales of cloth, all kinds of material that she had accumulated through the years, whether to sew outfits or do craft work with.

The scene in the Singaporean video of the old ladies who helped themselves to the free plastic bags in the vegetable aisle had me smiling. Yup, my mother used to do it. While I haven't gone to the stage of accumulating more than one of everything, I do find myself stocking up on stuff like detergent, shower gel, toilet paper. Oh yes, toilet paper. I can't resist the luxurious 3-ply kind if it's on offer, so at any time I'll have at least two jumbo packs of the stuff in the house. Just for me. I'm also terrified of running out of staples like rice, noodles, pasta, so there are always spares around.

While my mother was a fantastic cook, I used to tell her off for using so much oil in her cooking. When stir frying vegetables or meat, she would ladle tons of it into the wok, and while the vegetable oil she used was probably better health-wise than the lard that was a feature in her cooking decades ago, I still thought that the amount was way too much. Nowadays, I find that if you don't use enough oil in your stir fried dishes, the flavor is just lacking. So I go through bottles of cooking oil just as quickly as she did!

Another scene in the video which saw an old lady repeating herself to her grandchildren resonated with me too. My mother used to do it as she grew older, partly because she was growing deaf and partly due to forgetfulness. I used to joke about it with my colleagues, as we went "What? What?" to each other. To my consternation, I find myself doing it for real nowadays, and dread irritating the younger folk around me with my repeated questions and requests.

Much as I hate to admit it, there's more of my mother in me than I realize. I like to think that we're quite different. She was a social animal, loving nothing more than going out or meeting up with people. I'm a loner like my father. She was a strong-willed character though, rather opinionated and stubborn, and in that, I see the similarities between us.

Just the other day, I was at H&M where I  came across pants that I really liked because they were perfect for either the gym or a meeting. And I so found myself picking up all the colors that they came in. Have I turned into my mother? Well, there are worse things in life, right?

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