When Did You Last Call Your Mum?

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Image: David Hseih

From Lancaster to Taipei, Google maps shows 9740.5 kilometers as the total distance between them. This is my first time leaving home and living so far away from my family, friends and out of my comfort zone. I Skype my parents every three or four days, and it always takes me at least an hour to talk to them. My mum loves to share such trivial things happened in daily life, like how “Pookie (my pet parrot) has dug a hole on our sofa again!”, and I know this is how she convinces herself that her daughter is still by her side. My dad is a businessman, who always travels to China for long periods of time. That’s why I spent literally 10 years being with my mum every single day, and she can give me all her attention for such long amounts of time. Even though she didn’t say she missed me, I can tell from her facial expressions. Because of the time difference, she needs to wake up so early to contact me yet she never complains about it. This is how she expresses her love.

Throughout my life, I’ve always had an intimate relationship with my mum.

The strict side of my mum

In Taiwan, our entrance examination system is quite competitive. We have a large population with limited top schools, so every student strives hard to enter those schools. That’s why we have two main exams in our lives. One for entering high school, the other one for entering universities. For the entire 6 years, we spend much of our time studying, and that’s a kind of unique experience that people from the West don’t usually encounter. My mum was pretty strict at that time. It’s not like she would scold me for bad grades, it was the rather high expectations she imposed on me since I have always had good performances in academic work. I needed to get back home before 11, and I couldn’t have a boyfriend in high school – even though I did anyway!

The fragile side of my mum

My family had experienced some hardships in a long period of time when I was in junior high, so I became my mum’s best listener and psychological counselor at that time. That’s an entirely different “version” of mum, and that’s when I truly understand her. Under her sternness and methodical soul, she is just a wife, a mother, who is sentimental and fragile sometimes when it comes to facing some cruel realities. At that time, I told myself to strive hard, reaching my goal in the future, and that one-day she will no longer need to worry about these financial problems. However, even in such difficulties, my parents never reduced spending that they think is essential on me. With their support, both mentally and physically, I got multiple chances to gain different kinds of experiences. They had a plain lifestyle, while always willing to give the best to me. It is that kind of selflessness I appreciate even now. 

How my family matters to me in my college life

When I entered National Taiwan University, I’ve cultivated a habit of calling my parents (especially my mum) every now and then. However, my freshmen life in Taiwan was full of fun and activities. Sometimes I simply forgot to contact her. I was young, wild and free, and sometimes I just ignored her messages. In that period of time, I only contacted her once a week. When I gradually grew up, those social activities were not so attractive to me anymore. I started to think about future, career, and things like that, so a close relationship between my mum and I started to rebuild once more. I felt guilty when I looked back at those crazy moments when I failed to contact her, expressing my love to her.

When I broke up with my ex-boyfriend, I rushed home crying in her arms. When I entered the best school in Taiwan, or when I got my first internship, I called her to tell her good news immediately. She never was absent in every important event in my life. Sharing every part of my life, sharing my emotions is all she asked. Family is always the best support for a uni student. Whenever you need it, it’s the one and only place you belong. I realized this truly and deeply in my sophomore year in college. Right now I’m a 21-year-old student, getting ready to graduate, and I still firmly believe that home is the only place I can count on.

So, when was the last time you called your mum?