When my brother was little, he was very much a mommy’s boy. We all believed that it was probably because of the long period he spent with her at hospital as a baby. Since he was born with a heart disease, from the first day of his life on earth, he was thrown into an intensive time in a hospital emergency room, and my mother was the one who stayed with him 24/7. With this unique history, the emotional tie between my brother and mother was even stronger than the usual case of a toddler boy and his mother.
My father often ran into a problem with this. There were times when he had to stay with my brother alone while my mother attended some task – for example, my special event at kindergarten. When this happened, my baby brother wouldn’t stop crying for hours despite my father’s greatest effort until my mother came back to him, leaving my father weary and frustrated.
Even though my brother got better at spending time with other people as he grew older, this pattern of tension between my brother and father continued.
When my brother was about two, every Monday and Thursday were shared between him and my father while my mother went to her work and I went to kindergarten. This father-son time wasn’t without its own perks, but the atmosphere became ominous when my brother started missing my mother. My father would try his best to keep my brother happy, but at some point, his patience would reach its limit. There was a final sentence he often used toward my brother in this circumstance.
“Mommy won’t come back!”
After this point, there was no more meaningful communication between the two.
When my mother finally came back from work in the afternoon, as soon as the doorknob turned, my brother would run to the entrance. He was never crying – that was something different from the time when he was a baby – but his lips were tightly pressed against each other, his eyes red, and his ears waiting for kind words.
Looking at the messy room and my brother’s expression, my mother would immediately know what was going on. And she would say to my brother in a kind voice.
“What’s the matter, Sweetie?”
Then my brother would finally burst into tears.
None of this I witnessed myself because when I was around, this kind of tension never happened between my brother and father. It was something that existed only between the two of them. Nonetheless, my mother and I used to love talking about this memory.