When it comes to life lessons, I am open to admitting that most of my life, the most underrated advice I have overlooked are the words of my grandmother.
A petite Asian woman who is soft spoken, beautiful and bashful at times. However, don’t let that fool you, as she knows what she is doing. Occasionally she may forget her teeth but when it comes to life’s serious lessons, she knows how to steer the handle as a woman.
I always believed to an extent (though I did not admit that to myself for a while) that for most women, their real strength does not come from what they can do in the material world; making money, having physical strength and even beating men. Their real strength is subtler but not weak in any way, such is the art of the woman. Softness, beauty and emotions can become a strength normally underestimated, that is why it can be so effective. Many successful men in history had wise and gentle women right behind them, offering counsel and emotional warmth. In relationships and marriages, harmony can be achieved when a woman knows when to submit or offer help and advice, when she learns to trust her good partner. When they work together to their strengths and know their roles, they stop competing against each other as copies of one another and become a true team.
My grandmother had always known this, but I had made the mistake of not listening to her earlier.
This is the difficult thing with being an immigrant. While it is good to assimilate into the values of the country you come into (as I certainly did and continue to do), every culture does have a few downs, some more than others. One thing I absorbed all too easily when I came here, in an effort to fit in (without being critical enough), was feminism. Very quickly, during my pre-teen to teen years, suddenly my grandmother became a figure of the past, with outdated advice that is not suitable for any modern woman. A relic. At some point I had even thought that if I listened to her I would be weak and oppressed by a man.
Boy, was I so wrong.
It was hard to resist being indoctrinated, as an immigrant you want to fit in and everybody around you is basically spouting out the same ideology. Your friends, your teachers, even the media too. To the point that even my housewife mother then started to feel ostracised and everyone in my family gradually began to push all their female children to careers even more. The excuse was that ‘as you would have not had these opportunities back there’ that careers are the only way to go, simply because other women in my previous country did not have the choice. Which is quite the irony, since there is a pressure to forego one choice to another, which negates the idea of a choice in the first place! Along with that, my grandmother became a loved matriarch and mother, but just that and nothing more. The implication was there that her daughters and granddaughters could do much better than she did.
Though the truth was…she was already quite successful.
She had kept her family together, loved her children deeply and cared for her husband as well without fail for decades. It is a slightly different definition of success than most women would offer nowadays, but it is still success.
Now I hope to be her heir…well, heiress. Her legacy. I am the only one in my family now who truly values her for what she had been, the only one who idolises her. Other females in my family are not interested but I covet this role highly, all I know is that they have no idea what they are missing out on. Now I take every word she says as the valuable knowledge it is, to the point that some of it I have written down for the future generations. I hope to be another girlfriend, wife, mother, housewife and heart of the home.
Nothing more, nothing less.