Conversations With Mom #3

Among the fifteen nights I shared my bed with Mom, there was one night that I clearly remembered in particular. That night we were both already under the duvet, ready to sleep. That was, until she said something that led us to a longer conversation than we usually have before sleeping.

"I think someone should conduct a research about a correlation between what a mother's activity during pregnancy and how that could eventually affect the child", she said while looking straight to the wall in front of us.
"Huh? Why?"
"Because I was doing my doctoral program when I was pregnant with you. And see, now you're the only child who has taken PhD"
"Oh, really? You never told me about that. All I knew that you left me for three months when I was nine months old to do the sandwich program in America", I said while looking at the blurry darkness outside the bedroom window. 
"That's also true... I did it as a part of my doctoral program", she was still gazing at the same direction. "You know, you're lucky to be able to do your PhD at a very young age. No kids to worry about while you are chasing your dreams"
"Yeah, I guess so. It's actually one of the reasons why I finally decided to pursue my PhD before having my own family"
"I believe you chose the right decision... And you can get your professorship easier and faster if you keep publishing journals, doing researches, community services, and lectures", she looked excited.

I took a long, deep sighed.

"No, Mom. I dont think I would pursue my professorship after this... especially now that I realised my main goal in life isn't a position"

That moment, I glanced at her. She raised her eyebrows and there was a change on her face. 

"But how about your degree? There is no point going through all this only to reject the opportunity of professorship"

I woke up and reached for my glasses case which was laid on the bedside table. 

"It's funny how I always told myself and other people that I'm not the type of person who prioritizes career over everything. The main reason why I decided to undertake my doctoral program is just because sooner or later, I need to do it to fulfill the obligation of being a lecturer"

I put the glasses on while continued talking to her

"But I've finally come to the realisation that I was that person… Whenever I heard voices in my head, 'I will present a conference paper every year in different part of the world, I will do the dissertation based on publications so I will be able to finish my PhD with four peer-reviewed journals, I will take the opportunity to teach and supervise master students in here', I thought it's because I'm always eager to learn and create new things... but actually, without really realising it, there was a part of me that intended to do those things because they are beneficial for my career. They will help me to get higher position in my university where I work, to apply for post-doc and professorship"

She turned slightly to my direction.

"So…. why do you change your mind? That is the way it should be, for lecturers"
"Because I completely understand now that I was going to chase my career just because I was curious about it… how does it feel being in 'that position'? But I have always known that, I'm not that type of person"
"What do you mean? You haven't been there yet"
"Yeah, that's true…  I'm still no one with no important position and my salary is still below the range of  those who work as managers of multinational corporation. But I know I'm at the highest position of myself than I've ever been... and you see? I get drained so much faster than before"

She turned her position towards me and hold my hands. 

"Oh, please don't get me wrong… I've been very, very blessed… it's just… I'm not suitable with this kind of life"
"Maybe you're just exhausted... I'm sure you will change your mind after a while"
"No, Mom... you don't understand..."
"What things that I don't understand? I've been there… it's common for PhD candidates to experience a down period, when they start to lose confidence and ambition"
"No, Mom... it's different… it's not only a temporary thought. I'm fully aware of that"

I was too tired to explain this more, but I know this is the right moment to tell her what has been on my mind.

"Growing up had made me realised that we need to choose not only what we think are important, but also what suits us best… it's easy to say that we would like to conquer the world, reach all of our dreams, experience as many things as possible, satisfy every last bit of our curiosity, and these sorts of things. It happened to me too... for many years I had those urges too, as there were countless things of interest, waiting to be explored. I even called myself as a girl with a thousand dreams". I found this a bit odd, how the sentence sounded so cool when I said it years ago, and now it sounds strange to me. "But now, I think I've reached the age where that no longer drives me, and that I can clearly see the things that are the most suitable for me"

She stayed silent. Her expression was intense. 

"Now I completely understand why some people don't have a big house even though they could. They prefer to have this modestly sized house which can bring people inside together that a big house just couldn't… some people keep their coffee shop to just one small store, not because they cannot make it into an expansive franchise, but because they just don't want to expand their businesses. They appreciate the authenticity of the process behind it rather than the commercial potential of it… some people have already been producing lots of works and yet are still not as popular as the newcomers. It's not because they are blind to the market, but because they'd rather retain the originality of their ideas rather than just providing the demand of the market… and some people decided to stay as a staff, not because they are incompetent to be a manager, but because they prioritise family over career"

We were both quiet. The only sounds came from the cats scratching their toys downstairs. 

After a while in silence, I turned my face to her, who was looking at me with an expression of disapproval. 

"So, yeah, it's ultimately a matter of choice. The older I get, the more certain I am that I belong to the latter group of people. And as years go by, the stronger I feel about the idea that being an adult is about conquering my own self rather conquering the world I live in. I'd rather spend more energy to keep the peacefulness inside myself, to spend more quality time with the ones I love"
"Ok… if it's what you want to do"

She turned her back from me. I knew she would be disappointed with me. 

"Ah, and one more thing, Mom… I don't think my PhD would be going to waste if I decide not to be a professor or anything on that level.  The knowledge that I have obtained from this journey so far, how it has fundamentally shaped me, and how I could share all this with people back home… and I think you already know that I always strongly disagree with the idea that our educational background should dictate who we should be".

She stayed silent. 

I took another long, deep sighed. This time it was a mixture of relief and contentment. 

I hugged her from behind, but she didn't budge. 

But a few minutes later I heard her snore. A good sign that indicated what I had told her earlier did not bother her at all. Because after all, she could sleep as fast as she usually does. 


  1. Terimakasih sudah menulis ini Kak Ozu, aku pun sedang mengalami penemuan semisal. Kayaknya memang semua orang berproses untuk mencari.

    "not because they are incompetent, but because they priorities future family over career"

    1. Hi Arfika! makasih juga udah nulis komentar disini. Iya, betul sekaliii. Hidup itu pada dasarnya memang proses pencarian. Dan setiap orang punya waktu-nya masing - masing untuk akhirnya menemukan apa yang mereka cari selama ini. Semoga apapun yang kamu temukan, itu bisa membuat kamu lega :)

  2. OH MY GOD!
    Nazu, your post represent what I have been thinking lately. Aku juga khawatir kalau aku cuma lelah, tapi pemikiran untuk 'berhenti sejenak dan memikirkan apa yang paling cocok untuk diri sendiri' sedang menaungiku berhari-hari ini. Salah satunya adalah, aku sedang dalam proses memutuskan bahwa menjadi dosen bukan tujuan hidupku. Namanya juga S2 kan banyak orang berharap aku jadi dosen. But then I contemplated, and I know it's not for me. Aku mau jadi apa, aku masih mikir. Tapi mengambil langkah yang tidak sejalan dengan ekspektasi orang pada umumnya, ternyata agak menakutkan. Hehehe. Semoga aku tidak salah jalan dan tetap berbahagia dengan apapun yang aku pilih. Kamu juga!

    1. Primaaa... sebenarnya kalau jadi dosen aku enggak masalah sih.. aku pribadi memang suka mengajar dan melakukan riset. tapi disini aku lebih menekankan kalau rasanya mengejar karir sebagai apapun, termasuk dalam dunia akademisi, bukan lagi hal yang sesuai dengan tujuanku menjalani hidup. terlepas dari itu, aku enggak menyesali sedikitpun keputusan yang aku ambil sejauh ini.. karena kurasa aku enggak akan pernah benar - benar menemukan siapa aku kalau aku enggak mengambil jalan yang aku jalani sekarang. so, please don't be afraid to follow what you want. because life will always surprise you, no matter path you choose ;)

  3. Ozu, mau peluk boleh ga?

    1. Fionaaa, sini sini kita berpelukan *sending virtual-big hugs*

  4. Ahhhh Kak Ozu, deep conversation as always! Ternyata itu perasaan yang gak cuma yang ngerasain yah? I mean soal mengejar karir dan berkarir sendiri. Aku kadang bingung dengan diriku sendiri soal berkarir. Apalagi aku masih dalam fase temen-temen di sekitarku pada memimpikan pekerjaan yang wah wah. Sementara entah kenapa aku pengen bahagia aja, dan bahagia di pikiranku nggak melulu tentang mengejar karir yang gimana gitu. hehe just sharing :)

    1. Ernyyy... kurasa itu semua tergantung ke individu masing - masing yaa. pasti ada aja tipe orang yang justru semakin tua merasa bahwa posisi, karir dan apapun yang berhubungan dengan kekuasaan dan material adalah hal yang penting. Tapi bagi tipe aku (dan mungkin juga kamu, secara kita mirip-mirip yaaa hehe), menjaga kebahagiaan lahir batin itu lebih penting daripada hal - hal tersebut. Thanks for sharing your thought, Erny ;)

  5. "I always strongly disagree with the idea that our educational background should dictate who we should be" is the line that strikes my soul the most as it resembles the current condition of me being an undergraduate student overseas yet aiming not to go bigger but to become a dedicated mother because why not, rite? Thank you for always enlightening me with your writings, Kak Ozu! Been following you for a year and half around but this's the first time I'm commenting here, hehe. Berharap sekali untuk bisa tukar2an postcard dengan Kak Ozu suatu waktu ^^

    1. Hai Nida, salam kenal yaa. Thanks for following my blog and even letting me know. I'm so glad you found my writings useful!:)

      Anyway, aku pun udh merencanakan sejak lama buat post-crossing. Nanti akan aku post di blog dalam bulan ini...Sukses selalu untuk kuliah dan rencana kamu lainnya ke depannya :D

  6. Ozuu, OMG, I've always admired you and your family. Ibunya Ozu sih, kalau dengar dari cerita-cerita dan beberapa post kamu dan uni, keren banget nget so no wonder anak-anaknya keren hehe :3 Kupikir memang yang namanya orang tua pasti selalu ingin yang terbaik untuk anaknya, tentunya terbaik versi mereka. Apalagi dalam hal ini jalur yg Ozu tempuh sama kaya Ibunda... So she definitely would think that what worked for her would work for you as well. However, there's no way you would disappoint her. Dengan kamu yang secemerlang ini dan berprestasi, hehehe. Mungkin akan butuh beberapa waktu saja untuk mengerti keputusan Ozu nantinya :) Eh ini aku berpendapat sebagai orang luar sih yang nggak kenal, tapi aku pikir sebagai seorang Ibu, pasti seorang Ibu akan tetap bangga pada anak-anaknya yang mandiri :)

    1. Putyyy, beda yaa memang kalo udah jadi ibu, pasti lebih memahami sudut pandang orangtua ketimbang hanya sebagai anak. Aku pun merasa sebenarnya terlepas dari perbedaan pendapat aku sm ibu aku, pada ujungnya beliau pasti menginginkan yang terbaik untuk aku, sekalipun keputusannya berbeda dari yang beliau inginkan. Makasih putt buat nulis opini kamu tentang ini :D

  7. CRY deh nih baca ini x')) Kamu mature banget sih Zu, kayaknya uni baru bisa mendapatkan insight ini setelah berkeluarga lho haha. Bener banget poin2 yang kamu tulis..#eaaaaaa *cuman mau ngomong itu doang. Abisan gada tombol like atau love gituuuu..

    Dan kebayang banget ekspresi Bunda.. xD Apalagi pas 2 mgg ini uni ke Jakarta, Uni bahasnya seputar ini (gelar, jabatan, prioritas dalam hidup, peran yang ingin dijalani, tujuan hidup: pursuit of contentment)..!

    1. Uniiiii, aku jg baru bener2 ngerasa begini pas ngejalanin PhD kokk. Kayanya memaksa untuk bs lbh dewasa yaa wkwkwk.

      HAHAHA yaa secara Bundo gitu kaan.. awalnya geleng - geleng kepala, meski pada akhirnya sih pasrah juga sm keputusan2 kita yaa Un ;)

  8. Ozu ... (maaf sok akrab manggilnya) .... salam kenal dari teh Ida (sepupunya Ara .. cuma umurnya jauuuuh lebih tua) ... kagum dengan tulisan mu, dalam umur semuda itu sdh menemukan pikiran dan perasaan yg "wise" ...semoga misi dan visinya tercapai yaa ... dan memang manusia yg terbaik dalam agama kita adalah manusia yg memberi banyak manfaat untuk saudara/lingkungan nya ....

    1. Haloo teh Ida, salam kenal jugaaa :)

      Wah, nuhun teh udah baca tulisanku hehe. aku juga bersyukur udah diberi 'pencerahan' di usia ini... aamiin , insya Allah teh, doain aja yaa :)


Post a Comment