Strawberries

Visiting a strawberry farm was the very first activity we did together with my parents in law when they were visiting us in Finland last summer. Okay, not really the very first activity as this was most likely getting home from the airport…

Strawberry
A big red one

Anyways, why visiting a strawberry farm? There are actually two reasons for this. One, my wife always wanted to visit one and handpick herself strawberries (she loves strawberries) and second, my parents in law could not imagine picking berries themselves and eating them without some very thorough cleaning. Especially the second part seemed to be an impossible task for my father in law due to his OCD. Nothing is ever clean enough for him except he cleaned it himself three times.
But imagine our surprise when he went and started picking up strawberries without gloves and ate them without any cleaning. When my wife asked about it he just shrugged his shoulders and said “It is so much cleaner here than in China” and continued collecting more strawberries. No further information given by him but he looked relaxed while  walking those fields and searching for the biggest and reddest berry yet. All my wife managed to say about it was “I don’t believe what I am seeing” and stared at her father.

strawberryfam
The family evaluating the strawberries

Besides being busy with collecting and eating strawberries my parents in law were also surprised that there were so many people in the fields instead of just buying the berries from the supermarket. According to mom in law there wouldn’t be many people in China going to the countryside to spent hours on a field picking some strawberries and then paying for them. Later on my wife told me that her parents had never done anything like this before so I guess it was a nice first day in Finland for them.

On a side note: I did not collect even a single strawberry as I was more content filming everything and furthermore my father in law seemed to overcome parts of his OCD as he even touched one of our rabbits, he has not touched a single animal in a long long time.

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How have you been lately?

The closer mom in law’s arrival day for her next visit gets, the more my wife gets frustrated. Not so much by the fact that she will have to endure her own mother for three months, oh no, it’s the calls and messages she receives from her mom. It goes even that far that my wife tries to ignore the calls at some days or not even looking at the messages and the reason is very simple: She knows exactly what her mother will ask her again.

Let me give you an example of a normal conversation those two are having

Mother in law: “You are everyday home, why you don’t call me?”
Wife: “Because there is nothing new to talk about, you ask me the same things over and over again every single day!”
MIL: “I see, so how have you been lately?”
W: “Exactly this mom!! You just asked me the same yesterday and the day before yesterday and all those days before! You think I wouldn’t tell you if really something would happen here?”
MIL: “I see, but what should I bring with me? I have no winter clothes yet, what winter clothes do I need?”
W: “Again mom! I know already for half-year that you don’t have winter clothes and we will buy everything necessary here, so stop it.”
MIL: “Are you sure? What should I bring for my grandson?”
W: “…”

And the conversation goes on …  surprisingly even though my wife loathes those calls they can take several hours a day.

I am especially amused by the part of winter clothes which comes up in every call. Not just because of the constant repetition of it but more because I know how much mom in law loves shopping (soon she might be a shopaholic). So each time she asks her daughter she tries to get something like a “permission” to go on a winter clothing shopping frenzy. Granted, she needs winter clothes but for the short time until we buy clothes together, she will get some stuff from us.

Mother in law in Stockholm with Royal Guard
Mother in law in Stockholm with Royal Guard

Do you have similar stories about calling your mom or family?

What to do later?

 

This is something we have discussed a lot in the past years. “What to do later” actually means what do we do later with her parents when they need help.

Planing ahead on how to take care for your parents has in Asian countries a whole different meaning than in many European countries.

In Germany most elderly people are often pushed by their family into retirement homes rather than taken in by their families into their homes to be taken care of. In China on the other hand it’s the other way around. Even when those families do have money to send their parents to retirement homes, they prefer taking them into their own homes and either take care of them by their own or hire some nurse to help out.

 

I guess most Chinese living abroad have been wondering about the very same question rather much. This is because if they build themselves a life in a foreign country they would need to give it all up just be with their parents back in China. Why giving it all up? Well, the world is a cruel place and many countries make it under normal circumstances nearly impossible to get your own parents to stay with you. Sure there are exceptions, as I know some Chinese in Finland who own restaurants and basically get first either their mother or father to work there for 5 years to get a permanent residence permit and afterwards get the other parent as this one will get a residence permit immediately due to the permit of the partner. Indeed not an easy way.

 

Now back to my story. As we plan to move soon back to Germany it will be pretty much impossible to get her parents to stay with us later. The law in Germany is pretty strict and chances are close to zero to ever getting her parents live with us. My wife pretty much doubts also that her parents would feel comfortable in such a different environment.

They are happy in China and life is so very different in Europe.

So what does it leave us? We have actually no clue at all. We have been discussing this topic so often that it is currently on hold because neither of us wants to think about it anymore. Not only because it is so complicated but also it is just awful to think ahead and imagine your own parents in a condition that they are in dire need of you.The only thing we can think of is either hiring professional help later in form of a nurse helping them out in their own home or somehow finding a very good retirement home (which are often incredible expensive and at the moment out of our league).

 

Many might say “Just move to China!”. It is not as easy as it sounds and you never know when this situation of need might occur. Maybe it is in the middle of your own children’s school education or during important project work for your company, can you just leave everything behind like that and start entirely anew? Furthermore, my wife has no wish to ever move back to China. For her, a month staying for holidays in China are already too much, she hates the pollution, the noise, and the people (the mass of them and mostly their behavior).

 

As you can see, we still have much to figure out. We doubt that the migration law in Germany will change anytime soon in our favor in this situation so we really have to create other plans for the future.

 

Do you have similar troubles when thinking ahead in your life?

 

P.S. as this blog is titled “My Crazy Chinese Family” I did not talk about my own parents who are actually a whole bit older than my parents in law. But do not fear, I have no wish to send them to some retirement home and thus far my wife shares my opinion.

My crazy Chinese Family I married into…

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