I need to be needed

This story involves a mother, her only son, 10 dogs and 15 cats living together in a tiny apartment approximately 500 square feet. (China, 2017)

The precious son left home for military service and returned 2 years later to discover his new “siblings” had occupied the home that he missed so dearly.

To take care of her “babies”, his mother would wake up at 4am in the morning to clean the cages and walk the dogs, change the litter, feed the pets. These chores continued until 7am before she goes to work.

The apartment is neglected and dirty, stank like the zoo. The son didn’t understand why his mother had adopted so many pets. He didn’t know why his mother had more affection towards the animals instead of him.

She is no longer the mother he knew. She is a complete stranger. Is she possessed?

Needless to say, quarrels and arguments over the pets are common. Furthermore, his two years in military had influenced him. Like a “true man”, he did not express his affection openly. He did not tell his mother, how much he loved her and missed her during his two years in military. He didn’t let her know that he is worried over her health because she slept so little. He was hiding his true feelings and being man about it. Something that he learnt in military.

Finally, he seeked help to understand his mother better. During consultation with the professional consultant, another big fight broke out between them. This time, he is able to express himself better but he still couldn’t help yelling:




Being a single mother wasn’t easy and she loved her boy dearly. She wanted the best for him and in her mind, that means he should become a responsible adult with a stable job and a wife. A family of his own.

However, she felt that her precious son is too attached to her. He is too sensitive, almost effiminate. She thought the reason is due to the absence of a father figure in their live. How can he get a wife in that manner?

So she decided to send him to the military!

When she returned home after seeing him off on enlistment day, she regretted her decision immediately.

Home alone for the first time, she cried her heart out. She missed her son already. “It is all for the better”, she consoled herself. Her only companion was a pet dog.

To occupy her loneliness, she got another dog. Then she adopted a stray cat. Before long, she had 25 cats and dogs to take care. That responsibility helped to soothe her lonliness. Her job and pets occupied her entire day. In that manner, she spent her 2 years, tiring herself to bed each and everyday, while waiting for her precious son.

When her son returned, he was shocked by the condition of his home. His mother looked tired. Communication broke down when he asked her to get rid of the pets. He shunned the home and shunned the “strange” woman who was his mother.


Because, I need to be needed” his mother sobbed.

She still misses her son who was so close to her, who was so attached to her. Subconciously she still misses the boy who is dependent on her. She wants her mummy’s boy back. The man that came back from military training is different.

Mother and son broke down and cried.


Human relationships are complicated. When we love another person, we wish the best for them. We only can remember our present life and believe that our way of life is the best. The only way that will bring happiness. We want them to follow our footstep.

We judge because we love, without realising it causes suffering to ourselves and the ones that we love.

It is good to be relied on. It makes our life purposeful. It assures our existential role. We like to be loved, we want others to need us. When that is missing, we look for alternatives. In this story, the mother fulfilled this by becoming the “mother” of twenty-five pets! (In a 500 square feet apartment)

The independent man that returned from military is a stranger to the doting mother. Both mother and son reunited 2 years later to discover that they are now strangers to one another.

Luckily, there is still a softness in the son’s heart. He truly love his mother and he wasn’t afraid to seek professional help. Through consultation, the consultant managed to help them communicate again. They still love one another.

They managed to find people to adopt the dogs.

Hopefully they will be well and happy.

Be mindful of our emotion, truly understand ourselves and do not be confused by our endless thoughts.

Be mindful of Dharma, for it brings us wisdom.

Be careful for what we wish for when we are still unenlightened.

and lastly, try not to judge another person’s life just because they are different from you.



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