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Mother's Day special: The Language of Love

May 11, 2014 - 3:01am


There's a special bond between mother and daughter. Marie Lim meets four tight-knit pairs.

Lin Meijiao, 50
Veteran local actress
Chantalle Ng, 18, 
Third-year polytechnic student;
Acting in Channel 8 drama World At Your Feet
How often do you see each other?
Meijiao: We sleep in the same bed.
Are you both similar?
Chantalle: I didn’t think so at all until I went to film. The crew said even the way I held my bag and walked around was just like my mother.
How does she show she loves you?
Meijiao: She’s caring and sensitive to my needs. During the Star Awards, I was so busy I didn’t get to eat. When I got back home, she cooked me my favourite millet porridge.
How do you show her that you love her?
Meijiao: I hug and kiss her every day and tell her ‘good night and sweet dreams’. 
When she was young, I would write her cards saying, ‘You are a good girl. I have to go to work but mummy loves you a lot’.
Chantalle: She would stuff sweets under my pillow. I thought it was gifts from hu gu po (a character from a Chinese folktale).
What was it like when Chantalle was young?
Meijiao: She asked me to buy a cane so she could try how it was like to be caned. 
Chantalle: I was young and naive. (Laughs.) I thought I was missing out on an important life experience.
Meijiao: In the past, I would help her cut her hair. I would tell her that it was very nice.
Chantalle: It was disastrous. She would cut half bangs. (Points to middle of forehead.)
Meijiao: I’m a kiasu Singaporean mother. Cut more better, won’t need to cut so often. I even helped her friends cut their hair. 
Chantalle: She sounds so confident, so they let her.
Meijiao: So far, no complaints.
Most memorable gift you got her?
Chantalle: Last year I got her a necklace for her birthday. When I buy presents for her, I have one rule. Choose something I can use, so that if she doesn’t like it, I can use it. So I’m using it (the necklace).
Cynthia Sng, 47
Managing director for Haba Skincare and Cosmetics
Megan Lau, 13
Secondary 1 student
How do you plan to celebrate Mother’s Day?
Megan: Probably get her a cup. She would always say, ‘Please don’t get me another cup’. And I would get another just to provoke her. It has become a tradition.
Most memorable gift you got from her?
Cynthia: I love her dancing. She’s always very shy. Her performing a dance for me in front of all my friends for Mother’s Day last year made me really happy.
How do you show her you love her?
Megan: I hug and kiss mummy in public. When she is free, I ask her to shop with me. I ask her to pat me at night (when I go to bed). 
Cynthia: Every other night, she’ll ask if she can sleep with us. If we say no, she’ll be an illegal squatter and sleep on the floor (in our room) in a sleeping bag.
What do you talk about?
Cynthia: She tells me about her friends, gossip, complaints and we discuss how to deal with things.
Megan: Boys, too! (Giggles.)
Do you have similar interests?
Cynthia: Her father and I try to enjoy the things she enjoys, like K-pop. We watch the videos and go with her to SNSD and Big Bang concerts. We were the oldest people in the moshpit dancing along.
What’s your wish for her?
Cynthia: I wish that she will take over my business one day. She is quite business-minded so that would interest her.
Megan: During the holidays, I would ask for a uniform, stand at the shop and ask mummy to pay me. (Laughs.)
It sounds like you both have a lot of fun. 
Cynthia: I let her play with make-up. Sometimes it’s a disaster.
Megan: Once, I drew a unibrow on mummy and she drew a moustache on me. 
Cynthia: We do masks for each other. We’re more like friends.
Julia Nickson, 55
Retired actress who was born in Singapore; Acted in Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985)
China Soul, 25
Circus entrepreneur
How are you celebrating Mother’s Day?
China: I’ll be back in the UK
Julia: I’ll be in the US. We’re not going to be together. So I planned a special Mother’s Day trip to Singapore. The last time she was here was in 1998.
Most memorable gift you got from her?
Julia: She wrote me a song one year called Golden Child. It was about how beautiful I was; silk dresses; a mother carrying a baby in nature. 
China: I never recorded it. That was just for her.
Julia: She’s much better at gift giving. I love her, supported her and paid for her education. (Laughs.)
China: Like all mothers. (Laughs.)
Did having a child change you?
Julia: My belief is that motherhood is the most defining part of a woman. You must embrace change in yourself to become a mother.
I had to become very patient. Before, I moved very fast, was always on the go. When I brought someone to life, I had to accommodate the beautiful baby.
Did having a child affect your career?
Julia: Being an actress is an incredibly selfish kind of work. But when you have a child, you can’t be on the road, travelling all the time. Many successful actresses did not put their child first and suffered the consequences.
When she was nine or 10, she flew by herself. I forgot to bring my passport when I when to collect her at the airport. They queried her about who her father was, David Soul. They wanted to make sure I wasn’t going to kidnap her.
How does she show her love for you?
China: By taking me along on this trip here. She’s always giving me advice. Whenever we speak, she’s telling me, ‘Take your vitamins. Eat your salad. Have you been to the doctor?’
How often do you keep in contact?
China: Once a week on the phone.
Julia: If I call her every day, at some point, she’ll tell me to get a life.
What’s your wish for her?
Julia: I always thought she would be brilliant in musical theatre. But that’s my dream, not hers. 
Are you both similar?
China: When I answered the phone (when we were living together), people thought I was her. Even when I was a kid.
Maddy Barber, 40
DJ and assistant programme director of Kiss92;
Mother of two
Lee Sock Kiang Teresa, 69
Retired Chinese and arts teacher
What’s your most memorable Mother’s Day?
Teresa: Last year she got me a ring.
Maddy: She remembers it by the presents she gets. (Laughs.)
Teresa: I enjoy seeing them (Maddy and siblings) sit together and talk. When the family is together. 
Every day can be Mother’s Day. When your children are happy, you are happy. 
Maddy: I’m not so selfless.
Teresa: Mothers must not tax their children too much, leech off them, say bring me here, take me there.
Maddy: I wouldn’t mind that.
How does she show she loves you?
Maddy: It’s always about whether I have eaten and how warm am I. How much did I eat? How often? Did I eat on time? Am I keeping warm? It’s the way she loves.
Teresa: When Maddy joined the choir, she was supposed to get home by 4pm. She was late and I was annoyed when she finally got back. But she had gone to buy a jewellery box for me. Luckily I didn’t scold her. She would also pluck wild flowers from the drains for me.
How do you show your love?
Maddy: My language of love is buying and giving things. And I like to get things. I’m the shopaholic of my family.
Are you both similar?
Maddy: We laugh a lot. When we’re happy, laugh. Excited, laugh. Awkward, laugh. Angry, laugh. When in doubt, laugh. It’s better than crying.
But we are very different people. She’s a perfectionist. I’m the type to throw caution to the wind and see where it all falls. As we got older, we learnt to meet each other half way.
She likes to nag, tell me the same thing five times. I’ve learnt to laugh instead of getting annoyed. Embrace being different and know that it’s okay to be different.
Are you happy with what Maddy has achieved?
Teresa: She’s someone who knows what she wants. She likes music and singing, but not the rest. I’m happy to see her keep on with what she’s doing. She’s very cheerful to listen to. She brings joy to others. 
Maddy: Means that she’s happy (with what I’ve achieved).
I could be richer. (Laughs.)
Was mum very strict with you?
Maddy: My mum is very soft-hearted, which means I got away with murder most of the time.
I was very rebellious. She would tell me to do something and I would purposely do something else.
Teresa: I would never give up on you.
Maddy: I wished you would. (Laughs.)
Teresa: Best thing I’ve done is to allow her to mess up the kitchen. Now she can cook and bake. These are life skills.
I love and protected her. But I wasn’t over protective. (During an incident) I didn’t panic.
Maddy: You’re the panic queen. 
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