It’s a Girl Thing

A few months ago, I received an invitation to attend a Mother-Daughter Connection programme organized by Focus On The Family, an NGO that advocates family values. The invitation seemed to jump out at me, grabbing my immediate attention. The only thing that came to mind then was: ‘We’ve got to go for this!’

It had been two years since my Indonesian helper had left us and I used to wonder why Muna, my teenage daughter, missed her all the time. One day, when we had the opportunity to chat, she told me something that made me think.

“I’ve got no one to talk to,” she had said, referring to the fact that she is the only girl in the family of 3 boys. “You can talk to me,” I offered, to which her reply was “But you’re always so busy.”

Ten years ago, I remember hearing the phrase ‘Children spell LOVE as T-I-M-E’ when I was first introduced to Focus On The Family. Hence the invitation to attend one of their parenting programmes came at the right time.

We only managed to catch the afternoon session because of another family event in the morning of the same day. But the first thing that struck me was the number of moms and daughters who were there that day.

Too many moms with too little time, just like me.

The programme was comprehensive, with talks by experts on body image (for the young ones to know that they don’t have to thin to be beautiful and they don’t have to fall head over heels with the first guy who tells them they are beautiful), how to ‘speak’ the same language (for moms who might have forgotten the wonders of being young and vibrant) and how to bond.

Fun activities included a sushi-making session, live performances, even a one-of-its-kind treasure hunt termed The Almost Amazing Race. The main idea was to get moms and daughters to get to know each other better through the activities as they shared problem-saving skills and creativity.

The irony was that these activities came naturally in the past.

I remember learning to cook as I watched my mother in the kitchen as a child. She always got us to help out, whether to pound chillies, clean and cut vegetables and something or other. In the same way, I picked up sewing skills watching her at the sewing machine as she made bedsheets, clothes and blankets.

Today, these activities are either handled by domestic helpers or are made easier with the easy availability of ready-cooked food, clothing and household materials. In simple words, everything can be bought, saving us lots of time.

Yet this is the very T-I-M-E that we were missing out with each other as mother and daughter. No longer do we share experiences cooking, baking, sewing, gardening or cleaning, to the point that we had to attend a bonding session to rediscover the joy of doing things together.

To make a long story short, we both enjoyed the session. And yes, it broke down many walls that kept us apart. It gave us the opportunity to see each other in a new light and understand each other’s pain better.

We talk more these days and she confides in me sometimes, although not as much I’d like her to. But it’s a start, and I’d glad I captured the magic before it was lost.

*Focus On The Family holds various community development programmes for parents and youths, including programmes for father and son, father and daughter, and mother and daughter. To know their programme schedules, please visit www.focusonthefamily.org.my

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