Like everyone else, I had my disagreements with my parents growing up. However, I was raised not to verbalize my displeasure. And so, I grew up with a lot of pain that I couldn’t properly express to the people involved.
As I got married, moved out of the house, and then moved away from my home country, I experienced things that challenged and, at the same time, reaffirmed many of the lessons I learned from my parents.
As my views changed, so did the way I regarded my mother and father. I like to think that I am more understanding of them now than I was during my angry adolescent years. Having my own children has not only changed my perspective of things, but also how my parents see me. The pain has been redirected into a mutual acceptance and respect.
Throughout several moves in the last 13 years, I have missed my parents a great deal. I longed for them when things were difficult and wished they could share the fun times. Every time they came to visit was always a happy occasion as they would see our family set-up, understand our life a bit more, and get to know our friends.
For most expats, the friends you make while living abroad become your family. They are there for us in everyday life and stick out their necks for us when things get tough. My parents have had the opportunity to meet people who also hail from the Philippines. They were our family by choice, and it was always nice to see how they got along with our family by circumstance.
During their recent visit to Beijing, I bemoaned the fact that our closest friends were away on holiday. However, they did get to meet our driver and ayi; because of their care for my family, they have become much like family too.
It was a treat to see my parents get along so famously with them. They managed to communicate despite the lack of a common language, laughed at things they noticed, and pointed things out to each other (and relied on me to translate).
My staff took great pleasure in showing off their city to my parents. In turn, my parents wanted to show their appreciation for the care they have shown my family. We shared meals together and exchanged Christmas gifts. My parents being artists, they always make portraits of my family when they visit. On this trip, they did portraits of the driver and ayi.
Without any planning, my family by circumstance welcomed our helpers as our family by choice. And they will from now on be held together by the few days that they spent together. Once again, and perhaps without really meaning to, my parents taught me even more lessons in acceptance and respect. And for that, I will always be grateful to them.
Dana is the beijingkids Shunyi Correspondent. Originally from the Philippines, she moved to Beijing in 2011 (via Europe) with her husband, two sons and Rusty the dog. She enjoys writing, photography, theater, visual arts, and trying new food. In her free time, she can be found exploring the city and driving along the mountain roads of Huairou, Miyun and Pinggu.
Photo by Dana Cosio-Mercado