Child driving shopping cart in Japan

Image via Wikipedia

Today on my way to ASDA (international version of Wal-Mart) to pick up groceries, I ran across a friend of mine (who we will call Sue for the time being) on the bus.  She decided to accompany me along with a few friends to go shopping.

After I had purchased my crisps (potatoe chips), chips (fries), biscuits (cookies) among other things, I carried my trolley (grocery cart) back to the front of the store. Bypassing a lady pushing a Pram (stroller), I felt compelled to ask Sue about her child.

Her face lit up as she described her 4 year old daughter that has the looks of her dad but the adventurous personality of her mom. Like me, Sue is an international student. Like me, she decided to further her education. Unlike me, she is a married mother.

I asked her why did she decide to go abroad. Of course, I figured she would have wanted to stay home with her child, especially at such a critical stage of development for her baby girl. She replied that she wanted to set an example for her daughter and to show her how a woman can have a career and have a family. In her country of Korea, she stated that it can be difficult to do both but that she wanted to show her daughter that it could be done so that one day, she would be inspired to do both as well.

She stated that it was very difficult to leave her child and husband behind. She stated that she always thought she was a strong woman, but even she was not compared for the mental and emotional distress that accompanied her departure. She said that she has not spoken to her daughter since she came to the U.K. (about two months ago). She does not want to cause her daughter sadness and thinks it would be worse if she spoke to her daughter on a regular. She will be here for a year.

Her response made me think of my own mother and her parenting techniques. True, she did not raise me. True, she was not there for all those little and big moments in my life. In fact, I spent the majority of my childhood/teenage years with my Grandmother. However, I believe, like Sue, my mother did things with my best interest in mind. She focused on the fact that her leaving and being stationed in various military bases would help me in the long run. I must admit, years later, I reckon that it has. My independence, maturity, and self-starter attitude derived from her absence. But, although she wasn’t there her hard work afforded me the opportunity to do many things like travel to other countries by the age of 15.

Like Sue, I imagine that my mother had a difficult time being away from me. Missing me, wanting to see me, wanting to talk to me, to hold me, etc.

I could not imagine leaving my child–someone I carried for 9 months. However, Sue’s testimony has shown me that it takes a strong woman to be a mother. To see that sometimes, a temporary absence can create limitless opportunities.

My mother’s temporary absence did that for me and I pray that Sue’s absence from her daughter does the same. Sue told me that being a mother was the hardest job she ever has had. But, I’m sure that she would probably also say that it is the most rewarding.