Everyone’s been in a very reflective mood these days, probably because of the new year. But for me, I have been extra reflective because our first wedding anniversary is approaching soon.
I have been spending a lot of time with my family and extended family from mum’s side because 3 of my cousins got married in December and we also had a big picnic with almost everyone on 31 Dec. That was when I realised how much I miss them.
The separation anxiety was instantly strong when I first got married and moved out of my parents’ house. And then I slowly got used to it and adapted to marriage life with my husband, living on our own. Now, almost one year on, I am starting to miss them again, but in a different way.
When I first moved out, I miss my family because I miss my mum’s cooking, sleeping with my sister although she kicks me in her sleep all the time, waiting up for my brother then disturbing him when he reach home late at night, and all the simple things we used to do together on a daily basis. But those are easier to get used to. Now that I have lived without my family for almost one year and established my own new daily routine after marriage and managing household chores on my own, I realised it is not just about missing living with my family and going on our routine every day. I don’t just miss having my family under one roof. I don’t just miss seeing their faces every day. I don’t just miss having mum around because she cooks and cleans and does the laundry for us every day. I actually miss growing with them.
Even though I try to meet my family every week and catch up, surely there are some details or little bits of information that will be left out simply because I don’t live with them and we don’t get to share how our day went when we get home from work. And when all those bits of information that are left out have snowballed for almost a year, it really feels like I have been missing out on their life. Because those details are not merely information, they are also what makes up experiences, life and growth. Like how mum has been bullied at work, my brother’s journey of pursuing his part time degree and looking for a new job, my sister’s thoughts on her new job while waiting for her O level results and starting her poly education, my dad’s constant struggle in trying to keep his career alive as a taxi driver.
The last time I experienced something like this was during my exchange when I lived in Toronto for 5 months. But that was different because I knew I was going to return home. So it just felt like my family life was paused for awhile. This is entirely different.
I am sure they adapt better to living without me than me adapting to live without them. I’m sure they are very understanding when I cannot spend too much time with them because I am supposed to put my husband first now and I have been busy with setting up my BTO house. As H and I have been adulting so much for the past one year and busying ourselves with our new life, I realised we take it for granted that our families will always be there, going on with their day-to-day life, giving us moral support from the sideline and watching us as we set up our new home. We tend to forget that our parents are also growing older and getting physically weaker. Their eyesights are blurring, their legs are not as strong any more, their health is deteriorating, even their tastebuds are getting less sensitive. Our siblings are also growing up every day, meeting new people, making new friends, learning new things in school or at work, and all these will shape their personalities and perspectives as grown-up adults. And not living with them means not being in their journey every day or every step of the way. And this is what has been causing a small hole in my heart recently.
But I guess it’s understandable for me to feel this way because I’ve been living with my family for 26 years. I just need a little time grasping the fact that I will never be a part of their lives the same way again and that my new life with my husband will probably last more than 26 years insyaAllah.
Haiz kan dah emo..
With this realisation, hopefully I will put in more effort to be more present every time I spend quality time with my parents and siblings and show more interest towards their individual lives. Life is too short to take these little things for granted. My family has never been the kind to show affection openly and my relationship with my dad has never really been that great. But since we are now quite “far” away from each other, perhaps it’s time to put away the awkwardness and show how much we really treasure one another. My siblings and I are more grown up now and this is usually the point where the kids start to take care of the parents more than the other way round. Our parents should be parenting us less now and befriending us more. After all, their jobs are almost done now that their kids are almost all grown up. At this age, their mission in life should be different now and old people just want to focus on their iman and spend time with their kids and family. And I look forward to see our dynamics improving.