I feel the generation/ cultural gap between my mum and me widen into a chasm whenever we talk about relationships. The way she dated when she was my age is so different from the way I date now and I think we’re both aware of that. I feel her self-consciousness when she tries to relate to me and my love life. What begins as an awkward navigation through questions about me and O, becomes underhanded insults towards me.
Why does he like you?
Maybe he’s just trying you out for the time being?
I know the undercurrent too well. When I was little, my mum would warn me of my friendships with people who weren’t Chinese – they don’t understand us, soon enough they’ll reject you, best to stick with people like us. Now that I’m older, I know that this is her projecting her fears onto me. She did this then and twenty years later, she’s still doing it now. I know that this is an expression of love (in a way), her trying to protect me. She’s worried that O will eventually reject me but all I get out of conversations like this is that I’ll never be enough.
The other day I saw this meme that said immigrant parents were tasked with survival but immigrant children get the privilege of seeking self actualisation. I really love my mum, she is the strongest woman I know and I will never know the extent of the sacrifices and resilience it took to forge a new life in a foreign land. Maybe the way to bridge the gap is to remind myself of this – that my parents are fearful because of their experiences and the fact that I’m carefree is a privilege that’s come from a sheltered upbringing, which my parents gave me.