What I Got For Mother’s Day

Me: Did you know tomorrow (Sunday, May 14) is Mother’s Day?

Mr. FAF: Ok. My mom is not here.

Me: But I’m a mom now.

Mr. FAF: You can ask Baby FAF to give you something.

Me: But he’s too young, so you need to give me something on his behalf.

Mr. FAF: You can wait until Baby FAF grows up to give you a gift.

Me:…

This is the conversation we had on Saturday morning (May 13). I didn’t even know Mother’s Day was coming up until I heard some commercials on Pandora and read some blog posts about it.

So what did I end up getting for Mother’s Day? The answer is simple: Nothing.

My conversation with Mr. FAF above is just an example of how unexcited he is about holidays and presents. After I got a $300 dress and a bouquet of roses from Mr. FAF, I’ve decided not to expect any more gifts from him.

The only two special occasions where celebrate are our anniversary and the Chinese New Year.

We ended up going to the movies on Saturday night to see The Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2. It was more Mr. FAF’s choice than mine. We can NEVER agree on a movie both of us would like, so one of us has to compromise and let the other person choose.

I know that if we see a movie only I like, Mr. FAF won’t really enjoy it, which will make the movie less enjoyable to me. I always let him pick the movie.

He was ecstatic about this fi-sci movie, and I was more like “Hmm ok it’s interesting, I guess.” It just reminded me of all the sci-fi movies I had seen before such as Independence Day.

I’m more into romantic comedy while Mr. FAF likes science fiction. All of this movie going had nothing to do with Mother’s Day. In other words, it wasn’t a gift to me from Mr. FAF.

However, seeing people celebrate Mother’s Day reminds me of my mom and the influence she has on me as a new mother.

My mom

I grew up in a low-income family in Asia. My mom didn’t buy makeup, skin care products, expensive clothes or accessories. She cut her hair by herself and had clothes she had bought 10-15 years before.

I didn’t grow up eating snacks or sweets often just because my mom wanted to save money for the real groceries. When I was little, I often pictured myself enjoying everything I wanted at a candy shop. But it was just my imagination.

My mom rarely bought me new clothes. I got a lot of hand-me-down stuff from my uncle’s wife, who was the same size as me when I was in middle school and high school. My aunt would buy me a new T-shirt or sweater on special occasions every once in a while.

I remember wishing I would grow up faster and start making money to buy whatever nice clothes I wanted. I didn’t have many.

My mom wasn’t stingy. She was just frugal.

The one thing that she was more than happy to invest in was my formal education. I never had the opportunity to learn any musical instruments, dance, or art. My parents just didn’t think it was a priority and thus wasn’t worth the money.

But whenever I wanted to take classes outside of school to improve my English, Math, Chemistry, and Physics, they rarely (maybe never?) said no.

If you ever wonder how a girl growing up in a low-income family in a third world country could afford an expensive education at private universities in America, it’s because I got a full ride scholarship for both college and grad school thanks to the education my parents had invested in. It turned out to be a great investment for them.

Now my parents are financially better off than before. But my mom still remains frugal. She doesn’t want to spend even $2 on a haircut but would be happy to give me $20 for a haircut when I visited home (in Asia) from college.

I had that $20 hairdo twice and realized what a waste of money it was. I also felt guilty for letting my mom spoil me.

Me

Seeing how my mom forwent her wants and needs to take care of the family helps me realize what a good mother should do.

I’ve gotten hand-me-down clothes and toys for Baby FAF. But I want him to get the best education Mr. FAF and I can ever afford to give him. If I ever have to spend money on a toy, it’d better be educational.

Baby FAF is a bit older than two and doesn’t live with Mr. FAF and me at the moment. But when we’re reunited as a family, I plan to teach him how to read and write starting as early as two and a half.

I will try to make learning as fun as possible, but learning without discipline is just not sustainable. I want to give Baby FAF the lessons that I never had: musical instruments, martial arts, swimming, summer camps, etc.

I’ll also want to show him the importance of personal finance. The best way I can help him learn this crucial lesson in life is to be frugal myself. I saw how frugal my mom was growing up and have adopted a similar approach about money: saving for the future.

What I’d Do Differently

One thing I’ll try to do differently from my mom is not comparing Baby FAF to other kids and complain that he’s not as good as them.

My mom used to do this to me a lot, which made me really stressed out and depressed. I never felt like I was good enough for her, for myself, and for anyone around me.

Throughout elementary school to high school, I spent most of the time wishing I was someone else. It could be my best friend, who was doing much better in Math than me, or the prettiest girl in class who was exceptional at Physics and Chemistry.

That just made me feel miserable, but I didn’t know how to stop those thoughts.

I don’t want Baby FAF to have those same thoughts and emotions. I’ll try to encourage and motivate him in the most positive way I can.

Conclusion

Being a mom is no easy task. My mom may not be perfect, but she has done her very best to give me everything that I have today. And for that, I’m forever grateful.

If there’s one thing I want from Baby FAF, it’s that he will be successful and happy in the future. Mr. FAF and I will give him two of the best tools he needs in life to explore his endless potential: education and personal finance.

The rest will be up to him.

Related: 

Why We Sent Our Son To China

The Pros & Cons Of Living With In-laws

When You Are Ashamed Of Being Poor

The Struggle For (Financial) Power In A Marriage

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12 thoughts on “What I Got For Mother’s Day”

  • Hey there Mrs. FAF, your mom seems like she really had her financial stuff together! It’s awesome when you parents are naturally frugal and have influenced you to be the same way.

    Thanks for sharing and Happy Mother’s Day 🙂

    • Thank you, Erik! My dad has had his fair share of financial mistakes. But my mom definitely helps him stay on track and keeps our family together. Seeing how much they value $1 throughout their lives makes me think in a similar way. They’re frugal but willing to help family out financially to the extent that they can. It’s true for my dad’s siblings too. 🙂

  • It might be a cheesy thing to ask but it sounds like Mr FA really doesn’t value giving gifts at the same level as you do value receiving them. What does he value doing / receiving instead? I ask because PiC is someone who values giving physical gifts AND giving gifts of service whereas I’m almost entirely gifts of service and don’t like him to spend unnecessarily on physical gifts. We meet in the middle, he only gets me small gifts now to satisfy his need to give them but also to honor my desire that we don’t spend lots of money on birthdays and Mother’s Day (less than $20!).

    It feels like such an Asian thing to constantly compare your kid to other “more successful” kids, and I often wondered why so many parents did that. I think pushing our kids to excel is so important, but that seems like a destructive way to do it. I hope we break that cycle with our kids.

    • Mr. FAF values gifts of service (i.e. cooking for me , driving more than 20 hours almost every month to visit me in DC) than giving/receiving physical gifts. He’s appreciative when I clean the house, make him a simple breakfast, or bring him clothes after he takes a shower.

      I’ve asked him multiple times what he wants for some special occasions, and he just said Nothing. One time I took my chances and bought him some new T-shirts. But he said he didn’t need them, so I just returned them.

      I think we’ve come closer to the middle too. I no longer want him to buy me flowers or any expensive gifts. He’s made an effort to get me those. But overall, I’m happy with the way things are. I wouldn’t want him to spend money on something unnecessary either. 🙂

  • My partner and I don’t really “do” gifts. I love getting gifts, and I love giving gifts, but my partner doesn’t believe in manufactured reasons to celebrate (birthdays, holidays, really any time you’re “supposed” to give a gift.) It kind of bothers me because, like I said, I like to give and get things. He doesn’t care what we do for his birthday (which is on Valentine’s Day) but I try to make sure we do something out of the ordinary (I have had varying degrees of success with this.)

    This year I told him that I want him to plan for us to do something for my birthday. It doesn’t have to be expensive, and it doesn’t have to be ON the actual day, but I am sick of planning my own birthday. Now that he knows I want him to plan an activity, he is on board. But I know if I left it up to him he would just suggest treating us to going out to eat.

    Maybe you can tell Mr. FAF that you like getting gifts and that you find holidays like Mother’s Day important. Like next year instead of saying “you know it’s Mother’s Day,” say “I want you and Baby FAF to celebrate Mothers day with a card and a gift of x.”

    • Hi Jax, it’s such a great suggestion. Thank you so much! I’ll definitely try that next year. 🙂

      Your partner sounds very similar to Mr. FAF. Mr. FAF would suggest going out to eat to celebrate any kind of occasion. He also doesn’t care about his birthday or Valentine’s.

      I’m glad your partner is on board to plan a birthday party for you. I can see he’s trying his best to make you happy. That is really sweet! 🙂

      Btw, I tried to leave a comment on your most recent post but kept getting an error message “Blocked as suspected bot.” Not sure why 🙁

  • Your mom sounds a lot like my parents 🙂 Right down to comparisons. Although my parents only did that when they considered I could have done a better job. If I wanted to do something ‘stupid’, they’d change their minds and say “If the other kids would jump off a cliff, would you?”. Well, that was a confusing childhood! 😀 hahahah!!

    On a more serious note, I think growing up in a normal income family helped me learn about frugal living as well. We rarely exchanged gifts growing up (except for birthdays and the big Holidays), so now with my other half, we chose to do the same. I don’t need a gift from someone to know they care about me. Their everyday actions are enough of a ‘proof’ 🙂

    • I totally know what you mean. “Other kids” could be either exceptional or the opposite, depending on the context and what my parents wanted me to do. It is indeed a confusing childhood since we don’t really know most of those kids but hear about them all the time! 😀

      My family also rarely exchanged gifts. In fact, I had probably 3-4 birthday parties growing up. Those were great memories but not something I got to experience every year. Mr. FAF and I only celebrate our anniversary and the Chinese New Year by eating good food.

      It’s great you and your significant other are on the same page about giving and receiving. It’s great to know how someone cares about us through their actions every day ^.^

  • I think my parents put the right amount of pressure on me. They expected good grades but not perfection. I was allowed to get B’s in high school and college without getting the riot act. Since that worked out well for me I’m hoping I can model the same type of behavior for my son 🙂

    • Thank you for sharing your experience! I’ll try to have reasonable expectations of Baby FAF in the future so that he won’t feel inadequate all the time like I did. Pressure and discipline are necessary for kids, but sometimes it can get a bit too much and then make them think negative thoughts.

  • It sounds like Mr. FAF and I have similar personalities. When my wife first became a mother, I didn’t really realize that I was expected to get a gift on her behalf for Mother’s day. Well I sort of did and I would take my wife out to eat. Although my co-workers got on me for not giving an extravagant gift for her first Mother’s day especially since my wife basically delivered the baby at home by herself! (The doctors kept sending us home saying we had time!!) Anyways, now that my older one is…older I’ve made him make some arts/crafts for my wife =) But I do take her to lunch and get her a small gift from him too.

    • Hi Andrew, I did read your post about your wife’s delivery. I really admire her for giving birth on her own. I had a team of doctors and nurses surrounding me when I gave birth since my baby was a bit on the bigger side and wouldn’t come out. I can’t wait until Baby FAF is old enough to make me some arts/crafts. I think I might even cry if he does!

      It’s so sweet of you to take your wife to lunch and give her small gifts. My birthday is coming up. Mr. FAF asked me if he needed to get me anything. I said not really. And he seemed super happy @_@

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