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[Opinion] Breadwinners Are Still Their Mother`s Sons at Heart

[Opinion] Breadwinners Are Still Their Mother`s Sons at Heart

Posted May. 04, 2005 23:46,   


The English word “family” originated from the word “familiar,” meaning a close relationship in which people know of each other well. There are Chinese and Japanese versions of family, which all imply “a group of people living under the same roof.” Meanwhile, the Korean version of the word connotes “a community whose members share rice for their meal.” Normally, cohabitants are different from family members in that they do not normally share the same meal.

Men in their 40s and 50s, as breadwinners, sometimes feel unhappy when their wives do not serve a meal for them, or they hardly remember when they last shared a meal with their children. These men, even when they come home drunk late at night, badly miss the childhood comfort of their mothers serving them a hot bowl of rice warmed under blankets. Mothers used to tell their sons to eat their rice or their stomach would not feel comfortable. This was at a time when family members were much closer than they are today.

Men in their 40s and 50s sometimes have a strong impulse to leave their house when their children become demanding or their wives and children together “bully” them. They feel grateful when their children emerge from their rooms to greet their fathers. After an exhausting day at work, such family comfort is deeply appreciated. Some say that children have their feelings hurt by parents, but sometimes the opposite is true, and parents are hurt by the words of their children. Parents just do not express their hurt as clearly.

I wish I could enjoy “Children’s Day.” I would like to go to my mother’s home, where she lives alone, and stay with her overnight. Even a 50-year-old son is a baby to his Mom. My wife’s generous meal would be nothing compared to what my mother used to prepare for me. I am so used to her cooking style: no matter how good my wife is at cooking, I still am more used to my mother’s. It is said that mothers in the 70s and 80s are worried about their old children with graying hair and miss them on Children’s Day. It is parents that worry about their children forever, and it is children that make them worried forever.

Oh Myung-chul, Editorial writer, oscar@donga.com