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.
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.
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.
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.
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.