Essay: Reflections on Mother's Day

The ones who always give unconditionally are parents!

1. She/He Once#

++My parents met through a relative's introduction.++

In the 1990s, my father inherited a small storefront from his grandfather in the village and opened a small tobacco and liquor retail store. As he reached marriageable age, my current aunt (my mother's older sister) introduced him to my mother, who was working in Guangdong at the time. According to my mother's recollection, my father had almost nothing to do besides handling incoming and outgoing goods at the small storefront, so he wrote her letters every day. However, due to the underdeveloped postal service in the 1990s, their conversations were almost monthly. In countless envelopes, the seed of love quietly grew between the lines. Due to the limitations of time and space, as well as the appearance of the wave of migrant workers heading south during the mid-term of the reform and opening up, my father entrusted the storefront to my uncle who had just returned from the army. With only a small amount of money for food and lodging and a hard-earned train ticket, my father went south to meet my mother==1==.

In my memory, my mother had an iron needlework box, and no matter how many times we moved, I could always find it among a pile of miscellaneous items. Curiosity cannot be hidden. One day when I was cleaning, I found it in the dusty pile of things and finally got a chance to see its true appearance. The iron box was actually a very large square biscuit tin, with rusty marks and damaged Russian words on the top. It took a lot of effort to open the lid of the box. Compared with the mottled exterior, the inside seemed to have been treated with rust prevention, unexpectedly clean. The first thing that caught my eye was a small notebook==2==, with my father's full name written on the first page, with slightly organized and somewhat sloppy handwriting. The notebook contained many yellowed sheets of paper, and when I randomly picked one and spread it out, two hearts that were passionate over a decade ago appeared on the paper. I didn't look closely, as I thought it should be a train ticket from my mother's return to the 1990s. The naive young boy and girl were my mother's little secret, and she was just the best mother in the world to me.

Next to the notebook was a small envelope that had become brittle due to repeated dampness and dryness. It contained many slightly faded old photos. The style of the photos was bright and realistic, unique to the period of the reform and opening up. In the first photo, my father, wearing an ill-fitting gray suit, stood together with my mother, who was wearing a white long dress. The background was a basket of large red flowers and a bustling crowd in a city square. From the photo, it could be seen that it was the period of passionate love. My father held my mother's waist and stood in front of the camera, seeming uncomfortable with being photographed. The two of them looked shy in front of the camera and were frozen in that moment. The next photo was a group photo of my mother and her friends. The current aunt and the girls from that time sat in front of the camera, hugging each other and laughing with open hearts, with various styles of clothing in the background, and a painting-like style of the welcoming pine trees of Huangshan Mountain==3==.

Time became tangible at that moment, as if the envelopes and photos were not the parents who were separated from their children due to the need to make a living, but the children they were more than a decade ago.

2. I Once#

The childhood of a left-behind child is always lacking in some love. When I was in elementary school, I was always the happiest during winter vacation because it meant my parents were coming back. In the days of waiting for my parents to return, I would brush my teeth, go to bed on time, eat well-behaved, and look forward to waking up one day and seeing my father leaning over my bed, scratching my little face with his stubble. I looked forward to being gently awakened by my mother's whisper in her soft embrace one morning. In the first few days after my parents returned, I was the happiest and happiest child in the world. But even then, I understood that happiness must come at a price. After the Lantern Festival, I didn't want to sleep anymore. No matter how my father and grandparents scolded me, I refused to fall asleep. I was afraid of losing, afraid that when I woke up the next day, there would be nothing around me, and I was even more afraid that there would be only the empty indentation left by my parents on the bed.

At that time, I didn't understand why my parents had to leave quietly at night, until one year after the Lunar New Year in elementary school. That night, my mother lay beside me, constantly messing up my hair and then rearranging it with her fingers. She told me to study hard, to tell my grandparents if I was bullied at school, not to be picky about food, and to take care of my younger brother.

I couldn't speak because my throat was choked up.
I couldn't open my eyes because tears were streaming down.

It was one o'clock in the morning when I heard my father packing his luggage outside the door, and my mother sobbing softly beside me. And I, a member of the millions of left-behind children in rural Henan, could only pretend to be asleep at that moment. I really wanted to hug my parents in the last moment, but I still couldn't gather the courage. After my mother quietly turned off the bedroom light and closed the door, I turned over and hugged the blanket that still smelled like my mother and silently cried.

++"Parting at night is silent, and the reluctant emotions are swallowed up in the dark night. When you wake up, you will mistakenly think that the reunion was just a dream."++

Perhaps my parents had a special attachment to letter writing, or maybe it was to cultivate my writing skills. Before applying for a QQ number==4==, they always asked me to write letters and instructed my grandparents to send them to my parents' workplace through the local post office to express my longing. Before writing this article that you are reading now, I found some of the emails my mother sent me more than a decade ago. I am very grateful that Tencent QQ has saved them for so many years, allowing me to recall those days as a left-behind child.

Because my childhood name had the word "dragon" in it, they called me "Dragon"

3. We Now#

Last year, I sent my mother a red envelope on Mother's Day and replaced her old and lagging Android phone during the Chinese New Year. This was the first time I used my own salary to give gifts to my parents after starting work, and I was very happy because it felt like being an adult. Perhaps because they rarely receive gifts, my mother was very surprised when she received the gifts, but she kept refusing and looked uncomfortable, which made me can't help but laugh. My father also laughed happily, even though his gift was relatively inexpensive, hahaha.

Friends, perhaps my story is just a miniature of the countless ordinary families. But in a lifetime of decades, childhood memories will always be a precious seed. It takes root and sprouts after adulthood, soothing wounds when our souls are lacking, and healing our hearts when we are tense and overwhelmed. No matter when, the ones who will support you and have your back will always be your own parents. Love them more!

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The original link is https://www.xiaohanwu.com/posts/essay/mom


  1. The decision made back then has been more than 30 years.

  2. At that time, I couldn't understand what was written in the notebook. Looking back now, it should be my father's graduation album left behind when he graduated from high school. The contents inside were also graduation messages left by his classmates.

  3. Most of the photos from that era had fake backgrounds, with Tiananmen Square and the welcoming pine trees of Huangshan Mountain being the most popular.

  4. It was applied for so early, and it was still a ten-digit QQ number. It can be imagined how popular Tencent was back then.

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