Ghosting My Birth Giver19 April 2018
The act of ending a relationship by suddenly ceasing all contact. A technique commonly employed by Tinder dates, it’s impossible to avoid in our tech-dependent world: at some point you will be the ghost or the ghosted. But what if we applied ghosting outside of romantic relationships?
In the name of student journalism, I tried to answer this question by ghosting my own mother.
Mum is what Parents Magazine would define as a helicopter parent. She hovers, is overprotective and won’t let me sit through a movie date without calling. I am not an expert ghoster. I can’t mentally, emotionally or physically stand not replying to a text. Would the anguish I was about to unleash on both mother and daughter be worth the social experiment?
12:23AM. “Are you home?”
12:26AM. “Darling, let’s video call?”
12:45AM. “Hello darling!”
12:54AM. “Are you asleep?”
To which I casually responded: “NEW NUMBER WHO DIS?” Although I always hoped that I would use this line on an ex, there was something very cruel in sending it to my birth giver. Only 40 minutes into the experiment, I already felt like the world’s worst daughter.
“Ummi…” she replied.
I left another incoming voice call unanswered. Ignoring
Mum’s calls became difficult so I switched my phone off and tucked myself into bed.
Even though I was ghosting my mother, I could still communicate with other family members, right?
However, it’s hard for my brothers and I to have a quick, quiet chat. What start as sweet hellos become little jokes and funny insults, and we end up in a rather heated argument.
Upon hearing my brothers bicker, mum came bursting in: “IS THAT YOUR SISTER?”
I took that as my cue to leave and hung up, rejecting her calls.
She quickly crept into my Instagram DMs.
“Good morning! It’s past noon here in sunny Singapore!”
The Instagram stalking continues.
“Are you out shopping?”
She began watching my friends’ Instagram stories. When she realised I wasn’t responding, she attempted to lure me back from the dead by sending me pictures of my favourite foods.
Cashew kernels. Mum and I loved chomping on them whilst cuddling on the sofa, usually accompanied by a horror movie or the latest gossip in my romantic life.
Nasi lemak. A Malay fragrant rice dish cooked in coconut milk and pandan leaf, it’s a Singapore classic. Mum first introduced it to me when I was eight and I’ve loved it ever since.
Sour airheads. Mum hates them. The fact that they were in her office meant only one thing—she desperately missed me. Despite my craving for an authentic Nasi lemak, her tricks didn’t work. I resisted.
By day four, my guilt had reached an all-time high. My brothers were commenting on how she wouldn’t stop moaning and moping. I woke up to not one, not two, but three selfies of my mum giving me puppy eyes and pouting. Attached were messages: “Darling, why are you ignoring me? :’(“, “I love you” and “Please reply me.”
I received an Instagram DM, three missed calls on WhatsApp, three more on FaceTime and another selfie of her with puppy dog eyes.
I was itching to respond. My heart ached to see her so upset and I wanted desperately to put her out of her misery.
My family were appalled that I could do such a thing to my dear mother.
That day, I was bombarded with 20 text messages with excessive heart emojis. I couldn’t take it anymore.
I replied: “I love you, I’m so sorry.”
I confessed that I was ignoring her so I could write an article. Mum, being the most understanding person on Earth, told me that it was okay and that she loved me too. And just like that, the tears streamed down my face.
Sensing that I was feeling upset and guilty, mum changed the subject: “I’m hungry, what should I have for breakfast? :p”
Anyone who can ghost someone they supposedly love either has a heart as hard as rock or an acquired taste for guilt. Social experiments should be reserved for desperate singles on Married at First Sight. You can ghost the Deans and Davinas of this world, but don’t you ever, ever, ghost your mother.