The despairing fate of women
My mother would drown herself in the work of “caring others.” She was a full-time kindergarten teacher. She had two daughters, but my sister and I were just like “additional humans she had to take care of.” At least, that was how I felt. When she took care of others, it didn’t seem to come from her desire to do good for others or her sense of obligation as a woman, mother, and kindergarten teacher. Neither her heart nor mind was there, but just her body functioned as a caring machine.
She took care of my grandfather at the hospital in his last days. She’d spoonfeed him and brush his teeth afterward as if he was a small child. My father did much less. When my grandfather passed away, my mother moved around nonstop for the wake and funeral while my father drank beer and chatted with relatives and acquaintances. My aunts and uncle arrived and treated my mother like a maid. Even my sister was useless and reading manga upstairs while my mother barely slept nor ate. I tried to help, but she kept telling me she was ok. Soon after caring for my grandfather was over, she started taking care of my grandmother. But this time, there was the help of my sister and her healthcare professional husband, who moved in with my parents when they got married.
Perhaps manual labor kept my mother from getting emotionally overwhelmed, but she would burst sometimes. She’d shout at my father when she thought something was unreasonable. But what I heard that afternoon was something different. I could hardly believe my grandmother would demand anything or be unreasonable to my mother. My grandmother hated having to be helped with everything. So my most disturbing guess is that my mother shouted at my completely vulnerable grandmother. My mother’s words were indecipherable, but her scream was a visceral cry of despair to the other woman and mother. I once heard my mother grumble to no one specific that it was all my grandmother’s fault for spoiling my father because he was a man and the eldest son. But in my opinion, my mother did the same to my father. And then, she prepared her daughters for their predestined path as women.