27 June 2007

Family Still Confuses Me

I am so excited to contribute to the Filipina Moms Blog.  Contributing to this blog means that I get to talk about things in my life that are very Filipino.  Being a Filipina and being raised in a very Filipino home mean that my upbringing was not like a lot of my friends.

For example, not being able to leave the house or watch television on Good Friday or eating rice with every meal.  Sometimes I wonder if the kooky things that happened in my house were just quirks of my parents or if they were truly part of growing up in an immigrant household.  To this day, some of the kookiness remains even though I am a 30 something mother of 2 toddler boys with a husband and home of my own.

Case in point, my relationship with my parents.  This year has been very rocky.  Earlier this year I had a disagreement with my mother, which means my father decided to put his 2 cents in.  In the end, I stood up for myself and my mother got upset and my father got very VERY angry at me.  So much so that heated words were said by him.

Normally, I would take those heated words with a grain of salt, but for GODS SAKE I was a grown up and I took those words literally as any normal adult would.  As a result, I did not visit my dad for Father's Day - I DID call - and I haven't set foot in their home since.  The boys do see their Lolo and Lola at least once a week, but David takes them there.

Normally, I would let the entire thing blow over and at some point in time, all of us would pretend that it never happened.  Actually, we would pretend it never happened until the next blow-up.  I wrote about this in my personal journal (Chicago Chick) and received a lot of e-mail on how this was normal for a Filipino dad.  Is that really true?  I always thought that it was just my dad's personality - that he was overbearing and controlling.  I never thought that my parents refusal to see me as their grown up daughter and their insistance on seeing me forever as their CHILD was a personality thing.


Anonymous said...

I don't know about Filipino dads, but I can say a little bit about Filipino moms. I happen to be a white, midwestern guy married to the most wonderful woman in the world, who just happens to be a Filipina mom. We've been married for six years and have a son who's almost four and a daughter turning two in August.
My lovely wife, J, says one of the traits that she and her mom share is that of being "maldita." Whenever she's truly upset with me, she shuts down. She will not look at me nor talk to me. The time this shutdown lasts corresponds with how angry she is. When I attempt to ask her what the problem is, she says that I should know what I did and why she's feeling that way. When we were first married, anytime this happened I turned to jello and didn't function too well until the situation was resolved...which was when J decided I had sweated long enough. I have become accustomed to my lovely wife's ways of dealing with things. When she becomes maldita now I find something constructive to do in the house. I do a load of laundry, empty the dishwasher, fix something, or clean a room. I know this will pass and I also know that doing something positive in the home while this is going on is a good thing. Even though she's mad at me for doing something dumb, I still can be a loving and productive member of the household.

J did tell me that she got this trait from her mom. There were times when J was growing up when her mom would ignore her for periods of time when she was upset. When J got older and Mama was living in another town, she would come to visit and stay with J. At times, mother and daughter would get cranky at each other. They would walk around the house ignoring each other until they felt better. J told me there were times that Mama would just get mad and stomp out of J's house and go home to make the practice of silently ignoring loved ones more pronounced. You know...I love my wife and MIL with all my heart, but I chuckle when I think of those two women doing their best to ignore each other.

Here's the kicker...Now, my son is taking on his mom and Lola's trait. There are times when he's angry at his mom and I. We've either disciplined him or not let him have his way. He sticks out his lower lip, crosses his arms, and goes into his bedroom and slams his door. If we try talking to him, he just turns his head and looks away. Gosh, he looks like his mom when he's mad.

I'm wondering if others have had this experience as well. Just thought I'd chime in. I just found you guys and this is awesome. I told my wife about this site and I think she'd get a kick out of it also...she might get mad at me and ignore me for a little while for sharing little tidbit about us...Oh well, I'll just sweep the floor and do some dishes.

SugarMama said...

Again -- welcome to Filipinamoms!

I feel like I'm reading about myself here. I also have that hot and cold relationship with my parents. After reading your posting -- I guess my family is a pretty normal Filipino family. In this case, I'm not sure if that is bad or good...hehe

maria said...

Alas! I do think that a lot of Filipinos have this trait, not only Dads but also Moms. My Dad was like that. When he gets upset with me or with anyone in the family, he won't say a word or acknowledge that we exist. Whether it's a curse or not, I got the same trait and believe me, I think this is better than ending up yelling at everyone you happen to be upset with. At least you don't get to say too much that could hurt someone's feelings.

mamazilla said...

hmmm... i dunno if it's a filipino dad thing or even a filipino thing... my lola (my mom's mom) was like this but both my mom and my father have always been open to talking out problems with us. however, they can NEVER talk to each other. they always talk AT each other or ABOUT each other... which is probably why they're not together anymore. :(

anyway... did i not get the memo that said we were all going to do intro posts!? i am SO behind the blogging 8 ball!!!

Irene said...

To Anonymous - Usually Filipino moms when they're upset are LOUD. You KNOW that they're mad - they'll tell you everything you've done wrong. Not just what they're mad about NOW, but every little thing that you've done in your lifetime to upset them.

I think maybe your wife's silence is a woman thing. A lot of my girlfriends - white, Asian, AfroAmerica - do the same thing to their husbands. Especially the "You should know what you did wrong!" bit.

Anonymous said...

As a white woman married to a filipino man I have dealt a lot with the in laws....my father in law still to this day will barely give me the time of day because of the time I stood up for myself to my MIL....and I have other friends who are also married to filipino men and they all say that it isnt uncommon at all...go figure