S'poreans share how they are turning into their mothers as they get older

Happy Mother's Day!

Nigel Chua | May 08, 2021, 06:52 PM

It's been said that we all turn into our parents at some point in our lives, eventually.

A 2019 U.K. study involving 2,000 men and women suggested that women start to turn into their mothers at 33, adopting the same sayings and hobbies, and developing an interest in the same TV shows, The Mirror reported.

Men, on the other hand, would pick up their fathers' taste in music and political views from 34.

"We all turn into our parents at some point in our lives — and that is something to be celebrated," said Julian De Silva, the doctor who conducted the research, to The Mirror.

Can the same be said for men and women in Singapore?

This Mother's Day, Mothership investigated (half of) this complex topic using a rigorous research process completely-anecdotal Q&A with a bunch of our colleagues.

As it turns out, while some had specific traits that they hoped to avoid inheriting, the process of turning into one's mother is apparently not something to be feared. And, it's not just daughters who turn into their mothers — but take these conclusions with a pinch of salt of course.

Our seven participants, including two parents with young children, shared how they found themselves turning into their mothers, and more.

1. "I've felt it creeping up a bit" (A, 28)

My mum actually exercises a lot, and even though I probably get my athletic genes from my dad, I think seeing her jog so many times a week inspires me to exercise more frequently. Same for her habit of reading.

We both eat the most tau huey in the family, and when I was younger I never understood why she would add ginkgo nuts to her tau huey, but recently I’ve started to like doing that as well. In fact, I never realised this until today.

Oh, we both are also the only ones in the family who like pulut hitam.

I've also started to help my mum with the housework, as she does most of it even after being at work all day. I realise that I've started to take after some of her habits, like her tendency to want to "do it now".

But I think my mum can be a bit too concerned when it comes to putting on weight. She's quick to point it out when someone in the family does — I think most Asian mums have that tendency? To be obsessed with remaining thin and maintaining her figure.

I definitely want to distance myself from that, but over time, I've felt it creeping up a bit. Like when a little spare tire appears, I start worrying.

Sometimes on a Friday night I find myself debating whether to choose wine over beer just so I don't get a beer belly, haha.

2. Chocolates and ice cream in the middle of the night (T, 28)

When I was younger, my mom would often cry while watching movies with scenes of children and parents getting separated. My siblings and I used to give her side eye and laugh at her.

She would say, "you won't understand, wait till you become a mother!"

These days, I'm getting the exact same reaction from my son, who recently saw me weeping while I watched a baby whale getting captured in a documentary.

I used to catch my mom eating chocolates and ice cream in the middle of the night, while we were asleep. Now, I'm doing the exact same thing the moment my kids go to bed.

My mom also used to have a bag that she'd carry around. You could find everything and anything in there. She'd always tell us it's better to overpack than under-pack.

I am turning into that person now. I am turning into a Doraemon, just like my mother.

Motherhood has changed my career choices, goals, determination to get a higher education and empathy towards others. But it did not change me — it helped me be a better version of myself.

I think back in my mom's time though, Asian parenting was a lot different than what it is today. My mom was not strict at all, but there are many topics that are taboo, or that would just be one-way communication from my mom to us.

But I would like to give my children freedom to express themselves. I think it's important to listen to them and have open communication.

3. Taking a different path (W, 41)

My mother worked as a banker in the 80s, when the industry was very much male-dominated. She then went on to start her own business, dealing in engineering parts.

I had the opportunity to pursue an education in areas where I had strong interest, but the aspiration I had to be successful like her led me to choose engineering.

Alas, engineering proved to be something I struggled to enjoy. I couldn't see myself doing it long-term.

I've since taken a different path from my mother by moving into the media space with Mothership.

Still, my mother is very shrewd with money and has taught me a lot about prudence, value, and saving money. I'll admit that I've picked up both good and bad habits from her.

A plethora of dinner conversations with my mother have been about money and financial oversight, and her over-prudence can put me off.

But I have also been too obsessed with money at times, sometimes to the extent that it could negatively impact other people.

At the end of the day, it is because she cares for us and wants us to live comfortably, while being wise and mindful as we grow old. I'd say that I've learnt to be wise with my long-term financial stability.

4. Striking a balance (K, 23)

I feel like I’ve become more of my mum in the way I view my work.

When I was younger, my mum was always working. To a point where I couldn’t really talk to her, so I always told myself that I wouldn’t be like that, and that I’ll be this super dedicated mum in the future (like those soccer mums), who prioritises family over work.

But, ever since my last year of University, when I started getting more ambitious with my career path, that whole idea faded away.

So I guess, I’m not only becoming more like my mum, but probably having the same mindset she did when I was younger.

That in itself is also something that I’d like to avoid, though.

As much as a career means more to me now, I hope that if I settle down and have a family, I’ll be able to balance them both.

Envisioning myself becoming more like my mum is a good thing. It's created pretty high standards that I want to reach one day. She helped me have a figure to look up to.

Anyways, there’s no one definition of a good mum.

5. Personal discipline (T, 38)

I think I've become more long-winded and naggy like my mum. Which is probably the result of me becoming a father.

I realised this change in myself around three years ago? When my daughter was around four years old.

Obviously, I didn't appreciate my mum nagging at me about housework and homework when I was younger.

But I've come to realise that this is part of personal discipline, and I hope I can train my kids to be disciplined too.

6. Half is enough (S, 21)

Honestly, I'm becoming more and more like my mother each day.

As I was growing up, people always told me that I was the spitting image of my mother, but from about two years ago, people started confusing me with my mum.

Even my brothers sometimes come to the kitchen thinking they're talking to my mum, but then I turn around and then they get shocked.

It's ridiculous. We have the same shoe size, and about the same clothes size. I often wear her clothes when I have nothing else to wear.

Besides our physical looks, I'm starting to notice that I talk like my mother too. For example, when my niece does something naughty, I will raise my voice a bit and call out her name. This is exactly the same thing my mother does when one of her students is not behaving well (she's a teacher, by the way).

My mum's also a clean freak, and it's starting to rub off on me. She hates it when the house is messy and dirty. If she see's that my room is messy, she will start cleaning up right away, even if I tell her that I'll do it soon.

I used to have a high tolerance for mess, but lately I really can't stand it anymore. Once, when my colleague's table got super dusty and messy, I ended up cleaning his table for him because I couldn't take it anymore.

Looking back, that's exactly the kind of thing my mum would do.

On a more personal note, my mum is a very religious person and religion is an area that I've struggled with over the years. But my mum always gives me advice and talks about our religion a lot with me.

I'm starting to follow in her footsteps. Over the years, I see myself doing more good deeds, praying more, making donations consistently, etc.

My mum has always been and will always be my idol. I know she's not a perfect human being but there aren't any behaviours or habits of hers that I want to avoid.

I always tell myself, if I become half the woman my mother is, I'd be happy.

7. "Maybe it’s the difference in upbringing?" (L, 27)

It dawned on me that I had adopted certain habits of my mum’s when I was studying overseas.

It was simple stuff, like how I organised and cleaned my living space, and even my cooking style, like how she executes certain recipes to cleaning up right after cooking.

I realised that mum likes to buy things on discount, even if they aren't necessary, and now, I do this too lol.

And although I might have found certain ways she did things weird, I guess I unconsciously picked some of them up and found myself becoming exactly like her.

When I was younger, I used to think "all fruits are the same, why does mum need to be so fussy." I thought I would be different than that, but when I had to pick fruits for myself, I learnt to look out for the same things that she looks out for — no blemishes, look out for the colour, and most importantly, how much it costs.

As it turns out, when you’re living on your own, you start to realise why mum did things a certain way.

There are definitely some behaviours and habits that my mum does which I would 100 per cent like to avoid.

Maybe it’s the difference in upbringing, but my mum has a tendency to miscommunicate her thoughts and feelings, like, saying one thing but actually meaning something else.

I guess for me, I make a conscious effort to identify these traits and question myself.

Talking it through with my sister, who has been through the same stuff as me, helps. We are able to dissect what isn’t healthy communication and remind ourselves (and each other) that it’s not something we want to continue doing.

Top image by @manfang on Unsplash