You know, whenever you come back from travelling overseas – even if it was not really for a “holiday” – there is always that moment when you thump back down to earth.
It’s true what they say about “a change being as good as a break” and even just being away from your usual mundane routines and in a “different” place tends to give everything a more – er – “exotic glow” ;-) Maybe part of it is that you behave a bit differently, when away from home. I don’t know about you but I make much more effort when I’m “away” – I paint my toenails, put on make-up every day, actually wear dresses (as opposed to drool-covered trackpants and comfy, old sweatshirts) and even wear jewellery! I feel like a much more glam version of myself – doing much more glam things!
But maybe more of it is having to put everything – all your usual everyday stresses and duties – on hold for a while when you are away, whether you like it or not, and that in itself is so refreshing, even if you haven’t been lucky enough to spend a couple of weeks in a tropical resort!
I certainly wasn’t expecting my recent trip back to Taiwan to be a holiday, especially as I would be spending most of the time in hospital looking after my mother, but I actually had a great time and enjoyed the ‘quality time’ I got to spend with my mother, in spite of the unholiday-like environment & circumstances.
OK, I have to be honest – living in the same room with your mother, is
not for the faint-hearted a big challenge at times – especially as my mother & I are such different people, with completely different personalities, attitudes and habits.
I’m a lazy slob, happy to leave the unwashed dinner dishes till morning whereas she is a neat freak who can write a manual on the number of times you need to flush vegetables with water to get them really clean.
I’m a cynical, cold-fish who analyses and plans everything with logical precision whereas she is an emotional drama-queen with a soft heart who always loves first and asks questions later.
I like quiet, alone time and express myself best through writing – whereas she is a social butterfly who is happiest chattering to an audience.
She thinks tearful family sagas and cheesy romantic comedies are the ultimate in entertainment whereas I groan at the thought of having to endure another “selfless-mother-dying-of-cancer-whose-ungrateful-son-finally-realises-his-wrongs-and-cries-buckets-while-also finally-proposing-to-the-cute-neighbour-girl-who-has-been-patiently-waiting-for-him-all-this-time…” (GAG ) . Give me a serial killer thriller or X-files monster mystery any day.
So, put all this together in a room, 24/7, for a few weeks and you’ve got a pretty explosive combination! ;-) Plus it doesn’t help that even though you’re just 2 years short of 40, mothers still always treat you like you’re 14 and constantly
lecture you give you ‘suggestions’ on how to live your life.
And since we’re both strong personalities, we’re not afraid to
have a yelling match – er, express our opinions! Especially in Taiwan, which can still be very traditional in its attitudes at times, I think many of the nurses were shocked at my “unfilial” behaviour – for daring to even disagree with my mother, never mind argue with her passionately!
But in my family, we’ve always believed in “better out than in” – if you want peace & quiet and polite, restrained behaviour, you don’t come and stay at our house! We yell a lot, get very loud, wave our arms around and then it’s all over and forgotten
Me: “What do you mean? I never said that -”
Mother: “Aya! You never listen what I say -”
Me: (gasp) “ME? YOU are the one who -”
Mother: “I DID NOT. YOU NEVER LISTEN TO ME -”
Me: “NO! YOU NEVER LISTEN ME!”
Mother: (noticing the hotel directory) “Oh! You see they have Shanghai restaurant here? Do you want to try for dinner?”
Me: “Really? I love the cucumber pickles! And do you think they have those crispy frog leg things I really like…?”
Well, at least we can usually agree on food! No, seriously, it may sound nasty and awful but actually, my mother and I have a very good relationship. In fact, all my brother & sisters, family members love each other and are one big warm, happy family…but that doesn’t mean that we don’t argue and fight and yell at each other a lot!!
So yeah, all in all, I had a good time and really enjoyed myself, especially as my mother’s early discharge from hospital and rapid recovery meant that I had an unexepected few extra days in Taipei, at the end, to do some “fun stuff” (and my poor mother could finally get her shopping fix! A bit of double knee surgery was not going to stand in her way when there’s a good sale on! Actually, a lot of our “fights” stemmed from me trying to get her to slow down and be sensible & careful – a tough ask for someone who has always been very independent & full of energy, easily able to do tons…getting her to learn to “take it easy” (at least for a few months post-surgery) was a big feat!)
But all the fun & good times did mean that it was even harder making the transition back…!
But of course, there are some things that make it wonderful to come back home.
Such as this…