I have lost count the number of times my mother and I have been in a spat when it comes to keeping my place clean.
She can’t help it of course, it’s how older people are in many parts of Southeast Asia where she grew up. I mean being a stickler for absolute spick-and- spanness, and okay, maybe a little bit about the snooping in my space too.
I’m no slob, don’t get me wrong, but an errant shirt left on the floor from that one night I was too tired coming home from classes to do a Kobe and three-point it to the hamper, she will spot it the next day and proclaim my future husband will probably send me home back to her because I cannot keep a clean house.
I suppose it isn’t her fault, it’s how she was raised. It’s an unfortunate truth in our culture that girls are brought up to just be suitable brides, and not much else.
One time in high school, she pulled up the husband threat again and I remember looking her in the eye and saying “Well, then he should have hired a maid instead of getting married! I’m no maid!” and shutting the door so hard in her face the house shook.
But I still cleaned up my room so that when she walked in the next day like nothing happened, as she is accustomed to doing, I wouldn’t hear a word.
But a few nights later, something out of the ordinary happened. She actually apologized.
“Anak,” she started. “I am sorry. I do not know what else to say because that is all that I heard growing up.” Of course I can’t stay pissed at my mom for too long, so we hugged it out.
“It doesn’t work anak, because a spotless toilet and nightly home cooked meals didn’t keep your dad at home, the bastard!” she laughed, remembering the person I only thought of as a sperm donor.
If I do get married, I told mom one night after that, it will be to someone whose mother raised them right, and didn’t let her pick his clothes off the floor like she never did with me.
I’m glad my mom and I reached that turning point in our relationship and how we saw our roles as women, which was that she isn’t supposed to make me believe marriage and ‘keeping my husband happy’ was the end-all, be-all of things. I could be so much more than someone waiting hand and foot on their partner, but no hate of course to those whose happiness is doing so. It just isn’t for me.