The Wish That Could Not Be Fulfilled

 

        My mother came from China to be with me. She has been here for almost two years now, and my father and all the relatives are in China. It is time for her to go back. I understand how hard it is for her to make this decision. She wants to stay here longer to make up for my childhood Ė to spend more time with me as I wished she had when I was young. She knows that, even though I have never complained, the fact is that during my childhood, I needed affection and attention from my parents, but fate denied me that and the impact has affected me deeply.

        In the late 1960s, the Cultural Revolution was underway in China. Schools were closed and Chairman Mao Zedong sent 17 million junior high and high school students to remote villages in the countryside to learn from the peasants. My parents were both college-educated and were sent down to the countryside like many intellectuals. The standard of living in the region where they had to settle was fairly backward and poor. They lived in a cave dwelling instead of a house. The food supply was limited, and they had to go to a well to get water for daily life. There was no electricity. Under those circumstances, my mother became pregnant and I was born. There was only one school in the whole village, which was supported by a factory. Therefore, in order to give me a comfortable life and some schooling, my parents sent me to live in their hometown with my grandparents on my fatherís side. Since I was the first child in our family, my grandparents adored me, regarding me as a pearl in their palms. Thus, at that time, I didnít care about whether my parents lived with me or not since I got all the attention and love I needed from my grandparents. That was the happiest period of my life.

        However, that happiness didnít last very long. My grandmother died of cancer when I was six years old. Then I was sent to live with my grandparents on my motherís side. From being a precious pearl, I became an insignificant blade of grass. My grandparents had to take care of four grandchildren, including me, and they never liked girls. All of a sudden, I had to learn how to cook breakfast for the whole family, how to do the dishes with freezing water in the winter, how to wash my own clothes on the big stone next to the well, how to force myself to swallow the awful food under my grandmotherís glare, and how to arrange my time for homework and housework. Little by little, I became strong and independent.

     When I started school, I excelled. I was always the best in my teachers' eyes and set a good example for others. No one but me knew that I did so many difficult things out of a thirst for being loved and cared for. Deep in my heart, I knew I was very vulnerable and that I craved my parents' love. I wished I could live with them and have a normal life like other kids; I wished I had parents who appreciated me and were proud of my progress; I wished I had parents who listened to me and helped me when I encountered any difficulties; I wished I could be taken to the park to play on the children's playground or be taken to the store to choose a present; I wished I could occasionally ask for my favorite candy or some other tiny snack; I wished I could bring the food I liked instead of regular breakfast when I went on field trips; I wished I didn't have to weep under the quilt at night from loneliness and the need for love.

  My parents would come back to visit me once every two years. On their first visit, I didnít recognize them at all. At that time I was eight years old. One month later, when I had just gotten over feeling strange and started tasting the sweetness of love, they had to leave. I was crying, screaming, and running to follow them to the train station.  Finally, I was exhausted and totally disappointed.  From then on, every time they would come to visit me with my little sister, I pretended to not really care about them. I deliberately spent more time on schoolwork and housework, especially when I saw my sister had such a close relationship with them. I knew I would have to live on my own eventually and I would never get what I wished for.

 

  Now I have been a mother for almost eleven years. I have started to understand more and more about the decision my parents made. I don't blame them, and my own childhood is not important anymore. The most relevant thing for me is to love my son as much as I can. From my bitter experience, I know that for children, the happiness of being with their own families is way more important than anything we can imagine. I want to let my son feel that he is loved, appreciated and supported. Also, I want to teach him that material conditions can't compare with the emotional needs that will affect us our whole lives. Finally, I would like to give all parents advice: no matter rich or poor, don't ever leave your children for a long period; no one can replace the love that you alone can give.

Wendy Xu