David Wertime

Millions of Chinese Netizens Pour Hearts Out: Loving Mom Is Bittersweet

Loving someone is always complicated. This may be doubly true for Chinese netizens on Mother’s Day, which China celebrated on May 13. On Sina Weibo, China’s Twitter, two mom-related topics sat in the top 10 “hottest” topics at day’s end, evincing the deep love, and in some cases deep shame, that Chinese netizens feel when they think of their dear moms.

Let’s start with the sweet: #My Mom Is The Best#

One hashtag, “My Mom Is The Best,” (#世上只有妈妈好#) is the title of a famous Chinese children’s song (see one version here). Its simple but endearing melody accompanies powerful lyrics. To wit: “Kids with no moms are like a lone blade of grass/When I leave my mom’s embrace/Where will I look for happiness?”

User @KenKen肯肯 posted this image of her and her grandmother singing "My Mom Is The Best"

This tenderness animated many of the Mother’s Day tweets. @吾亦数欲静而疯不止 wrote, “I called three times before I reached my mom, then I sang ‘My Mom is the Best.’ My goal was to make her cry, instead I ended up crying.” @邓厚余, presumably a student, wrote that “songs about moms are drifting all about the dorms today…listen to your moms, My Mom Is The Best.”

Being the best doesn’t come easy. @MissChen_陳 mused that “Being a mom is a tragic role to play” because a mother’s “unrequited love” has only one condition: That the child grow up to be happy. But this can never be guaranteed. @兔子–叶: simply promised her mom, “I will change as much as I can.”

Even gift-giving can be fraught. @Ultraman-Tiga wrote, “Today I spent 400 RMB to buy mommy a pair of boots. Then she gave me 500 RMB spending money.” @伊伊诺 tweeted that she gave up on gift giving some time ago, adding, “Mom, thank you! Only when I am myself a mom will I be able to truly understand your love! Whatever I do I will do it will, that is my best gift to you!”

But we should all be grateful to still have that problem. @云龙山居士 simply shared: “After mom died, I lost the most most most most dependable person in the world. I hope my mom is resting well in heaven!”

Then there’s the bitter: #My mom judges me#

Many netizens also knew their moms found fault with them, and even the most well-meaning criticism stings. As a result, “My mom judges me” (#我妈嫌我#) has also climbed into Weibo’s top ten. Many started complaining but ended up expressing their deep love for their moms–this despite common charges of being “messy,” “lazy,” “not as good looking as my mom,” “not saving enough money,” “spending too much time on my cell phone,” “spending too much time on the Internet,” and generally being “unmarriageable.”

User @范家吃货囧 posted this picture, writing she was a "sad reminder" of Mother's Day because of her many flaws as a daughter

One netizen (@警魂丶) even complained his mother had learned to use Weibo in order to track his progress at work. He pleaded, “Mom, there are a lot of important things about my job that I can’t write about on Weibo.” Hopefully she got the message.

But it’s all out of love.  @开膛手Jack0508 wrote that “mom is the kind of person with a hard mouth, but a soft heart.” @牛杂碎 hopes to break the cycle: “Mom thinks I can’t compare to the other kids, but she loves me. Now I am teaching my child, and doing all I can not to compare him to other children, and just to love him so that he believes he does not have to be just like me.”

Mom, the guardian angel

If losing one’s mother brings tremendous grief, one can only fathom the pain that a mother feels on Mother’s Day knowing that her son has been taken away, a “mere blade of grass” again. One user, @寻找伍文轩–literally, “looking for Wu Wenxuan”–has tweeted over 300 times since her little boy was abducted on February 28th, in hope that “good-hearted people” will keep an eye peeled for her treasure. Today she wrote, “Today is Mother’s Day, and all I can do is endure the loss of my child. Who took my boy?” 

Those of us still with our moms in fine fettle–fine enough perhaps to remind us we still don’t have that boyfriend or girlfriend, or that dream job–should feel lucky. @神秘读心术 shared this apt story:

Before an infant is born, God says goodbye to the child that is about to be born. The child keeps crying: “I’m scared, I will be so small, so helpless.” God comforts him: “Take heart, child, I have already arranged an angel for you in the human world, to protect only you, look after you, love you. The child ceases his crying, [asking] “What is the name of this angel?” Laughing, God answers, “The name is not important. You can just call her ‘Mama.’”{{Chinese}}[[Chinese]]婴儿诞生之前,上帝与即将出发的小孩道别。 小孩一直在哭:我害怕,我会变得那么小,那么的无助。 上帝安慰他:放心吧孩子,我早已安排好一位天使在人间,只为了保护你,照顾你,爱你。 小孩停止了哭泣,那位天使叫什么名字呢? 上帝微笑着说:名字不重要,你可以叫她—妈妈。[[Chinese]]

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David Wertime

David is the co-founder and co-editor of Tea Leaf Nation. He first encountered China as a Peace Corps Volunteer in 2001 and has lived and worked in Fuling, Chongqing, Beijing, and Hong Kong. He is a ChinaFile fellow at the Asia Society and an associate fellow at the Truman National Security Project.