It might seem odd to some of my European friends, but I have been supporting my mom financially ever since I started working. In a ritual that plays out in many families of Asian background, I regularly pass on a portion of my salary to fund my parent’s retirement.
When I was much younger, I resented the injustice of having to support my mom. I felt very limited as I couldn’t make crazy and spontaneous decisions like other young people do. I have to think everything through. Whatever I decide to do, I need to make sure that there is enough money left for my family.
Now I have made peace with it. Mostly because I realized that it was not what my mom intended to do. She would give anything for me if she could.
In Indonesia, we do not receive any public pension plan unless we work for the government. We need to either have our own private pension fund or get very rich to ensure a smooth retirement. When my mom closed her small business, that was it for her. I was her only way out to survive.
Now looking back, I still did a lot of crazy and spontaneous decisions despite of this responsibility. Moving to Berlin was definitely one of it.
Supporting my mom does not limit my possibility to experience life after all. Somehow, it makes me even more creative to find ways to make my dreams come true. In some ways, I’m also glad that I have this purpose that’s bigger than myself.
If I were to become a parent now, I certainly would not expect my kids to support me financially. However, if I could turn back time, I wouldn’t change a thing. I would still support my mom no matter what.