Sunday, February 24, 2013

Family Time

Because I haven't been able to leave the house this whole week due to my beloved Aunt Peta being sick, yesterday was such a welcoming change.  She was well enough for me to finally able to leave the house and see my two oldest sons, whom I missed so very much.  I imagine it's going to be the same way when the rest of my children will eventually leave our nest and make us empty-nesters.  That's the Inevitable.

Next year my youngest son Mahonrai will graduate from high school.  He will turn 18 and will be old enough to leave on a mission.  I miss him already!  These children are so full of life that there's never a dull moment with them.  With their constant fighting and bickering, to loud singing and laughter, then smothering me with kisses and hugs, most times I'm amused  and grateful, then there are those pothole moments where I wish they could have stayed asleep all day in their beds or SHUT UP!

The house is slowly coming together.  It's such a fun project when everyone puts in their efforts to help.  While we were toiling in cleaning, hammering and dismantling a fireplace, my son Leli walks in with a bunch of cereal boxes in his arms.  As always, he's like a ray of sunshine brightening our day when he comes around.  The girls almost doubled him over with hugs and I had to almost literally shove them out of the way so I can get my hugs in too.   He's used to this kind of welcoming when his sisters and I are around.

I said, "Man Leli, we hardly ever have time for a decent conversation anymore."  Anticipating his keen wits, he replied:  "We, young adult males do not have time to conversate with older women! We're too busy with girls our own age." 
"So I've been hearing from the girls about cancel dates and some scheming to break up a certain girl from her current boyfriend."  His voice boomed in laughter,  "How did you come to hear that?"
"The girls here told me.  I hear there's a (I mentioned various girls name)  Which one is it Lel?
"Non in particular because I like to leave my options open mom".

I treasure Family Time with all the children.  Whenever one is missing, they're great missed.  My husband often mocks me for openly displaying affections for my children.  It's not a very common thing among our Polynesian people.  We love greatly, but display of affections are not publicly shown.  My children often asks us, "Mom, why don't you and dad ever kiss".  My answer is always, "We're Tongans, we don't kiss in public".  Not even in-front of our children.

Earlier to-day, my two youngest girls were curious and they asked, "Mom where did you and dad first kissed?"  (Mind you, no normal Tongan children will ever ask this question to their parents).  My reply was short and to the point.  "On a bench."  Boy did that tickle their stomachs as they giggled and laughed.  "On a bench?"  That was it and that was too much information already for me.

But anyways, back to showing affections to my kids, my husband overhearing me telling my boys that I love them would often remark:  "How many times do I have to tell you to stop saying "I love you" to the boys before they become wussies.  They're men and you're too soft with them."  My husband sometimes reluctantly shows his affections to his children on special occasions.  However, his children never doubts his love for them because it's always there in the way he talks to them and the things he does for them.

This is one of those posts where I can't get enough talking about my children.  LOL.  I just love my family so very much.  

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Best of both worlds

Started this post on Valentine's day and just now have time to finish and post it.

All I can say to-day is that I'm glad yesterday is over!  You know when you have one of those days where everything goes wrong from sun up to sun down.  And it was Valentine's Day for Pete's sake.  Well into sun-down though, things gradually got brighter.  With my two youngest girls pampering me with waffles and kisses until my world light up with laughter and gratitude.  It all ended in jubilee and when I close my eyes to sleep, I welcomed the abyss of darkness and rest, allowing my body and mind to embrace nothing but the bliss of a deep goodnight sleep.

This morning I woke up refreshed and grateful.  Never appreciated my roots and where I came from more to-day then ever before.   Back in the island we weave our mats as tightly as we weave the bonds that bind our families together.   One that can not be unraveled by time and runs deep as the ocean that surrounds us.  We are Polynesians and we're unique and unmatched when it comes to taking care of our families, immediate and extended.

Yesterday, I truly questioned myself as a mother because it felt like I disappointingly SUCKED at it.   Perhaps because I measure how good a mother I am by the behaviors that reflects from my children.  Which I know I shouldn't.  Any may be, just may be because I'm too Americanized and forget to instill our Tongan ways, (anga faka-Tonga) to my children.
"Just because we are here in America, does not mean you forget about your roots and your culture!"  I reminded my daughter
"Then you should have born us in Tonga", she cuts in.

We came here because we wanted a better life for ourselves, our parents and our children.  A better education and an opportunity to improve our way of living.  While we seek these things, we struggle to retain our identity as Tongans and keep our traditions and cultures because this is what defines us as a people. 

The very CORE of our Tongan culture branches out in two-folds: KINSHIP and RESPECT.  Our family circle does not end with mother, father, sisters and brothers.  It includes aunts, uncles, cousins etc etc etc.  Your house is not only your house, its' your "kainga's" (relatives) house as well.  Our house was always full because my mother brought many of her relatives to live us so they can go to school at Liahona High School.  She worked and provided for us and them because that is just the way our Tongan custom works.  You take care of you family and your relatives if you are able to.

Respect of elderlies and respect of parents and others is the epitome of our Tonga culture.  Children are taught to respect those who are older then them and honor their parents.  When parents speak, children listen.  There's no back talking or murmuring.  I don't ever remember talking back to my parents. I respected and love them too much.  I might not agree with what they're saying, but that doesn't mean I have to disrespect and talk back to them.  This is just part of honoring our parents and our culture.  Moreover, children are expected to take care of their parents when they get old.  It is the way it is.  Not put them out in some Senior Citizen facility when they are old.  It is very very rare that we see any Polynesian putting their parents in rest homes.  Very rare indeed.  We take care of our old.  

I have made a drastic mistake in not teaching my children our Tongan language.  Perhaps this is the gravest mistake I made.  When we loose our native tongue, everything else is bound to slip away.  Slowly but surely.  My children blames me for this.  They long to learn how to speak Tongan.  My son is determine to have us speak in Tongan to his children.  I'm obligated to live by his request because I have error in not teaching them the language.

Our generosity as Polynesians knows no boundary.  Sharing and giving has always been our way of life.  There's no "me, myself and I".  It's always, "we, us and ours".   There's no such thing as "independent" for our 18 year olds.  You live with your parents until you're good and married then you can go off and build a shed somewhere and live there.  Here in America, parents can't wait to push their children out the door when they turn 18 and then 18 year olds can't wait to be on their own.   I've learned to tolerate the two.  What's more important to me is the time I still have with my children and how we choose to spent it.  The door is open if they want to leave, but if they don't, they can stay as long as they want.

There are good in both worlds as a Tongan living here in America.  Instead of juggling between both world, I can do my best to adjust and to teach good values to my children so they themselves can adapt.  My son Leli said the other day:  "It's a doggy dog world out there mom, every one fends for themselves!"
I say, "No son, it doesn't have to be."  Only those who are self-centered, self-obsessed and selfish, sees a world where everything is about "me, me and me".  Look around you, there are people who are always in need and it is our responsibility to lend a helping hand and make their life better.

I am proud to be a Tongan in this wonderful America.  There is so much goodness in my rich Tongan heritage and this magnificent land of opportunity and freedom. 


Friday, February 8, 2013

Lesson Learned

It got ugly yesterday.  That's all I'm going say for now.  What I knew was going to happen, happened and I saw it coming a long time ago but my husband chose not to listen to me.  So, in all life's lesson, this one is learned.  A bit too late and not short of tearing all our lives apart.  However, the Lord always has a solution for every problem and a way to teach us all a lesson.  Then he allows us to work on putting all the pieces of lives back together again, with His help of course.  One I am always counting on and He has never failed me. 

If we chose to hold grudges and not forgive, then there's a deeper pit lying within everyone of us that remains bitter, angry and unforgiving.  I myself have been, what some may claim,  "cursed with a kind heart".  Not that I mind at all and it definitely is not a curse but there are some who thinks that it is indeed a curse.   Many years back, we went to this Medicine Woman, a lady who by looking into our eyes, can tell us everything that is wrong with us.  She can see cancer, if you have it or any kind of sickness or disease presumably.  She took one look into my eyes and she said,  "You have the biggest heart ever.  A big, big heart."  And she smiled and that was that.

I love people and I see goodness is every one.  My husband says that I'm naive and gullible.  When things happens to prove me wrong, he'd say "I told you so".  But this doesn't blur my vision of seeing goodness, sweetness and mercy in others. Not matter how flawed they are, I try to understand where they're coming from and why they do the things they do.  So many things have happened in my life that had it happened to anyone else, would cripple them with anger and rage.

Yes,  I get can angry and disappointed but have learned to let things go and not hold anything against anyone.  Nor remain angry after the sun goes down.  When a new sun rises, my hopes are renewed and I'm looking forward to a new beginning and a second chance.  Everyone and everything deserves a second chance.  This is the story of my life and I'd have it no other way.  I love this life and the people in it.  So precious and wonderful.