The umbilical cord

the-umbilical-cord

Earlier today, when I told my Mom that I would like to go back to the city by late afternoon, she said I should stay until tomorrow morning. The conversation went intense and reached the point where she lamented my behavior. Mom said that she has spent her whole life raising a child without knowing that he would seize any chance fleeing home when he grew up. Rather, he should be aware of how little time his parents have left and appreciate every single moment of reunion.

In a second, I thought that I would argue immediately, but something, probably my laziness, held me back. It might as well do less harm to the current situation. But then I wanted to dissect those thoughts, assuming there’s something that could ease my guilty conscience. If I were to say something, it would be about the absurdity of parenthood. A man’s life is not supposed to be around his parents. Works and money, albeit often regarded as the scapegoat for most family separation, are not even close to the real reason. 

Generations have tolerated such a conception that long-distance relationships are intrinsically bad. But they’re not. Living independently and away from home is crucial to self-development. It’s a chance for me to wake up to the fact that I am absolutely alone, living or dying, so that I’m totally free to pursue whatever I find worthy and meaningful, which could probably be much more than a stable job, a happy marriage or even a child. 

Yet, if I were to have a son, I would tell him right at his college graduation ceremony, that from then on, his life would officially be of his own. And it doesn’t mean that I don’t love him. It means that he has to take full responsibility for whatever life choices he makes, since I won’t be there forever to lift him out of his troubles. He does not need to live up to my or anybody’s expectation. He doesn’t need to be rich or have kids. At some point, he might want to go to Tibet and become a monk. Or he might want to be a gems trader in Myanmar. He could take a tedious job in Europe or live as a nomad in Africa. And the last thing I want to see is my son suffering from an obligation to go home and serve as my walking stick. All he needs to know is that he can come back anytime, but it’s not his duty to do so. I want my son to know that he bears no constraints, and he is totally able to live the life he wants. I don’t want him to grow old and blame me for something he couldn’t have finished.

A child is born neither for the sake of his parents’ pleasure of nurturing activities, nor for the comfort they might receive during their solitary later life. Love should not be in the form of burden.  

Although my Mom is a strong-minded woman, I know for sure that this philosophy is too much for her to handle. And I can imagine myself some years later, when life offers me no choice but to succumb to my parents’ wish, when we have to see each other everyday but joy is too rare to be found. What’s left is a great reluctance in accepting the fact that my life could not be otherwise, just like that of a small town girl whose marriage has already been settled without her consent. 

But I will try not to be angry and not to blame anybody for my shitty life because after all, there might be not much difference between various ways of living in this futile universe. 

Photo from Mama Ping Pong Social Club

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