Visitor

by Jinryu

[CM]’s mom, [Momcat] has been living with us for the past month or so, visiting Sydney to see us on a little mini vacation.  It’s been an interesting time.

CM, from time to time, worries that maybe it’s stressful for me, but I assure her– it’s not a big deal.  For some reason, Momcat has very much mellowed out since the last time I saw her.  We can hold pretty long conversations about all sorts of things, so you might even say that we’re getting along!

 

That’s a pretty big change from my past opinion of her from the time I was visiting CM in Hong Kong and Malaysia, where it seemed like Momcat was borderline hostile to me.  This time, it seems that she’s actually quite supportive of our relationship– she’s been doing her best to try and give us life advice. I mean, practical tips on how to make things easier, and shows of support in this or that way.

 

It’s been nice to have mother-level cooking in the house again.

 

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Every now and then, Momcat will talk about something she regrets from her days when she was my age or CM’s age.  Sometimes she’ll say things like, if CM feels a bit standoffish or like a loner or antisocial, she probably inherited it.  I’m not sure what to make of tidbits like that– CM is fine to me the way she is, but the idea of regret is just generally interesting to me.

I wonder sometimes how much of what we do in life is driven by regret, or is somehow some sort of penance for some sort of guilt.  The part of that that I don’t understand, and this includes about even my own regrets and guilts, is that they’re externally based– sometimes the source of that motivation is something completely fabricated.  It’s hypothetical and then materialised: it isn’t always something actual until we make it important.

 

For instance, Momcat seems to describe herself as a loner who has difficulty staying in one place for a long time.  That’s an awkward conversation killer… because what I wonder about is whether or not she was forced to be that way? You wouldn’t continue like that, even now, if you didn’t want to, did you?  Why are you telling me about this regret if all you need to do is simply change the habit?

I wonder sometimes if my parents regret or are guilty about the way they parented me.  I’m not saying they should be.  I just wonder.  How many things do my parents do that they have decided are “bad,” as in, they feel a bit guilty or regretful about it, but don’t do anything different and just keep on doing it?

Life isn’t like movies where you get that dramatic one liner at the end of everything and say “I love you,” or “I’m proud of you” or “I’m ashamed of you” and it is supposed to somehow be the defining moment of the relationship.  Real life doesn’t tally so easily– there’s a lot of nuance and baggage that doesn’t simply get swept under the rug that easily.

 

What I’m getting at is that I don’t know what to think about words that are used in that way.  They’re ineffective at really telling me anything, except the current state of morale turmoil. 

 

From other conversations, I understand that Momcat is very proud of CM for everything she’s accomplished.  So what is she trying to tell me that she regrets imparting certain bad habits on her daughter?

 

I think the only safe conclusion that I can reach is that relationships are really impossible to be defined.

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Parents are strange people.  But I guess that doesn’t tell you anything either.

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