In my nearly 5 years of being a mother to little dude, a lot has changed. A lot has influenced me in this whole journey of motherhood.
From facing motherhood ‘unexpectedly’ by having my son 5 weeks earlier than expected – thanks to my severe preeclampsia, from dealing with undiagnosed post-partum depression, from moving to China temporarily before moving permanently back to my home country of Indonesia, from the demise of my marriage, from practicing co-parenting…
So much has happened.
My way of motherhood has clearly become one that’s not very mainstream like, loaded with influences from two cultures.
Scoops from two cultures, one heart
That’s my tag line. Two cultures because the influences from my Indonesian – Southeast Asian background and you got the Western parts as my son is born out of two emerged cultures. One heart, because despite the differences the source is one…this little boy who is not so little anymore.
Looking back, frictions of having my own beliefs when it comes to parenting/motherhood and that of my cultural upbringing were not as bad as I feared. Of course it was slightly overwhelming at first, just like when my mother suggested that I strapped my post-emergency-c-section-tummy with a girdle or put a coin on my new baby’s belly button to prevent him from being an outie – which by the way I refused to practice and his belly button looks normal now.
Now that I had readjusted myself to be living back here permanently, I am more in-tune with whatever works for us – this little boy and his mommy – instead of what is demanded by society.
Easier to say than done…I’d like to think it developed over times and will continues to do so as I travel this journey of motherhood longer.
When I first brought my son home to Indonesia, he was about 10 months old. I hated the way strangers would come and pinch his cheeks or hold his baby fat covered hands. Maybe because back in Alabama people just doesn’t do that, but overtime I came to understand that these are just the admiration gestures my own people have. A gesture that has been going on for decades if not million of years ago. I even blogged awhile back about this very topic of please don’t touch my baby!
Now that I’m a single mom who is learning to master the art of practice co-parenting, there are still miles of challenges up ahead. Be it from my inner self and also from society who sadly still have huge doubts about co-parenting, some people here even still looks down on single moms.
It may looks like I have plenty of internal wars within me from trying to combine and maintain a balance of two cultures in raising my son but in the end what matters is that one heart…that is growing outside my body.
Our two cultures maybe quite colorful but if we take the goods out of both worlds our lives will be rich and this boy will grow up with pride of having the best of both worlds. And that is one of my motherhood purpose…
This month World Moms Blog is celebrating their 1 year blogiversary and I am linking up with them and many other great bloggers from across the globe. Come check it out and travel the world of motherhood.
20 thoughts on “Two Cultures, One Heart”
I think you’re doing a great job embracing both cultures for your son. You’ve had a challenging road in the past but I really believe your future is bright!
Thank you so very much, Maria. It has been a challenge but I’m thankful for everything that has happened 🙂
Thanks for sharing about the coin and the belly button! It is so interesting to hear the rituals from around the world. And I loved this quote from you “A gesture that has been going on for decades if not million of years ago.” This is the good stuff!!
Thank you for linking up for the World Moms Blog Blogiversary!!
They did the whole coin thing on me when I was a baby which my then-young aunts always stole. My father still reminiscing on that story once in awhile. Thank you so much Jen and thanks for being the founder of WMB!
This post is so very honest and raw. I love the way that you recognize what does and doesn’t work for you and your son- truly the heart of your family.
Thank you Galit 🙂 I love your post too!
Time flies, happy birthday to a soon-to-be b ‘day boy. Yes, I noticed that people stared at mixed racial kids. We experienced that when we visited Indonesia. whenever we went, people would surround us, and touched the boys, and even kissed them. There were several people who asked if they could borrow my kids. Pardon me? I don’t mind people talking to us, but I was not thrilled with strangers kissing my boys. We were just visiting for a short time, we didn’t want to catch any illness. My husband been to Indo 5 times, and everytime, he got sick. The first time the boys and I went to Indo, they got sick. The second time we were there, all of us had to be admitted to ER. Been living in the US for all their lives, their immune system is not strong enough to handle the germs in Indonesia….lol. A lot of times, I do not realize the differences among us. I teach the boys both the Eastern and Western culture. Now that Jake is in Middle school, he learns Mandarin. And he loves it. I am so proud of him. We are planning to visit Indo again nest Summer, hope we are all physically strong 🙂
Hahaha they can borrow the kids when they have full blown tantrums, how bout that? I noticed that too that people here has higher immunity systems because we’re more exposed to germs and hygiene are still questionable on some parts but I totally understand how you feel about being sick during vacation back home.
Big kudos to Jake for learning Mandarin. How exciting!
Maureen, I can totally relate to this as my son too, is born of two cultures. As a person who’s never been traditional or conformist, I think it prepared me to deal with the potential conflicts of the very different cultures he’s been born into.
We just do what is best for them – sometimes I take lessons from my upbringing, other times, I draw from my personal experience. At times, I have let his Arabic side take over once in a while 🙂
Alison, that’s so wonderful that you have found the balance and are well prepared to face the potential conflicts. Yes, I think we as moms from dual cultures just have to embrace whatever works for us from whatever sources. Thanks, girl! 😀
Being part of two cultures must be such a great thing, although challenging at times, great article!
It has enrich our lives, Asta but I’m trying to look into the blessings more than the challenges 🙂 Thank you!
Parenting is hard work, single mom parenting is even harder work. I did it for several years with my first son, then I got married and threw in the step parenting complications as well.
This is such a lovely, honest and open story of how you came into motherhood and the challenges you faced. We all face our own challenges as parents and it doesn’t stop (even like in my case when they are now teenagers or becoming parents themselves)
Thank you for sharing your story of motherhood and mixed cultures.
Your own story is an inspiration! Thank you so very much for your kind comment. I tried step parenting when I was still married, it’s not easy but now I have great relationship with them even after their father and I split.
Thanks Maureen for another great post. I loved the bit about pinching the cheeks. My daughter hates that so much! We bought some crayons she could use to put a design on her t shirt and she decided she wanted a t shirt with ‘JANGAN CUBIT!’ (don’t inch my cheeks) written across the front of it. 🙂 You must be just about to go to Rote any day, Maureen? My daughter is here in Indonesia for a couple of weeks and we’re going to Bangka next weekend. Can’t wait!!
Hi John, oh your daughter is a genius! I will buy that t-shirt if she decided to make one big enough for me 😀
Sadly, I had to cancel my trip to Rote because of my father’s condition. Rote will always be there and one day I will definitely go there. Have fun with your daughter in Bangka. 🙂
My son hates it when someone piches cheeks or admires him with their physical gestures. But well, its their way of showing love and someday he would understand. In India here, when someone wants to say, cute baby or love you, they do it more physically with hugs and pinches and kisses and a toddler can feel smothered 🙂
I love the way you have written your heart grows out of you, as a product of two cultures. Beautiful post! The boy has a very loving mom; God bless him!
What a lovely post, and the lessons you are teaching by exposing and teaching such different sides to your lives.
Our youngest, adopted at 5 weeks is African American and way too many people feel the need to comment on the mix of our family and our choices!
btw Tomorrow I am hosting World Moms Blog – super thrilled!
Society on the whole has grown up a lot when you consider how our children are dubbed “Bi-cultural” instead of “Half” like they were called when I was little. It’s a little sad that we may never fully understand what our children experience as Bi-cultural people, just as my own mother never understood my childhood as an Asian-American but you are doing the right thing by having the right mindset.
Beautiful post, Maureen! And, I think you are doing a fabulous job in upholding and respecting your child’s two cultures. As a mom to cross-cultural children, I can say that I have learned so much from your story. I appreciate all the help that you’ve provided me and see only bright things in your and your little boy’s futures.