photo for illustraition
My mother grew up in a family that clearly privileges the males in the household disproportionately more. It doesn’t help that she only has one male sibling.
The only male heir was the centre of the entire family. He was the youngest, because they tried several times in hope that they would conceive a son.
She is the eldest sister. And being the eldest in the 60s-70s meant that she had to shoulder a huge portion of the domestic chores, caring for younger siblings, etc. She was her mother’s best helper, the one who knew all along the silent hardships and untold sufferings that my grandma kept to herself.
But my mother, despite all her contributions to the family, was not well-appreciated.
She never got to eat the drumstick during special occasions. She never got the extra dollars to get new clothes for the year. What extra resources was available in her poor household went to the golden boy. The one who had the right biological composition and genitalia to become the symbol of hope and progress for the family.
She grew hard under the abuse and indignities of favouritism. She knew that it was unfair her and her sisters were doing so much but her brother remained the only one who was praised for tiny steps.
She even had to fight to pursue her education in diploma. She got it on scholarship, much to the resistance of her parents.
Even though the diploma education was sponsored, it was not free because it took up two years, and time is money because she could have been working to provide for her brother’s education. I am glad she insisted on the diploma for herself. At least she could break out of where she came from and to Singapore. She was most successful amongst her siblings to break out of the poverty trap.
And, when my grandma suffered a stroke, she depleted all her CPF savings (10 years of slogging her guts out) to pay the high cost of hospital treatment and nursing home fees as a PR.
Fast forward, my mother, now a 50 years old woman is now living a relatively adequate life. Not rich, not even close. But just enough to live without fearing insufficiency.
Both her children are in university. Intergenerational mobility seems to be looking promising for her. But as her daughter, I see and experience it – the continuity of the “son privilege” tradition.
I cannot believe my mother would continue to practise a habit that she suffered so much for. My mother loves my brother very much. It has reached a point she doesn’t bother to cover up the bias. I used to beg my father to persuade her to love me a little more but that was ten years ago.
How does she not understand the importance of treating and loving your children equally? Does she want me to go through the exact same troubles she had when younger?
When you play favourites with the children, you divide the family inevitably. You estrange your child from yourself and the siblings from each other. In a nuclear family with average one two children, can two siblings afford to be on bad terms? Who will they rely on as they become older?
Why wouldn’t she think of it? This is the part that infuriates me the most – not even the actual favouritism. But the very fact that you have first-hand experience of being the neglected child and yet you CHOSE to let it happen again.
I love my mother, but maybe because I feel obligated to. I love my mother in a way that is never consistent. How can I be consistent? I get food, shelter, warmth and free home Wi-Fi.
But I don’t have love.
Oh. And she doesn’t keep in much contact with her brother ever since