I remember a woman talking about her mother once, and how she always viewed her mother as weak. She always wanted to be like her dad, a big business man carrying a briefcase full of important documents. It would be horrible to be like her mom. What did she do? While dad was busy on the phone discussing important business related things, what was mom doing—she was just in the kitchen making sandwiches for everyone. While dad was busy traveling for work, what was mom doing—she was just shuffling the kids around between home and school and extracurricular activities.
Then she went on to say that one day she asked her mother why she never wanted a career of her own? Her mother was originally from Scotland, and grew up very poor. Her mother also grew up in a time when tuberculosis was widespread throughout Scotland, and many people contracted it. As such, her mother was also affected by it, and in particular, she contracted it in her fallopian tubes. This meant she could not have children. Eventually, her mother immigrated to Australia, found work, met and married her father, and when they decided to have children, though she wanted more than anything to have her own career, they made the decision that it would be best for her to stay home to be available to their children’s needs. Since her mother could not bear children, this woman and her siblings are all adopted. So, the woman she thought of as weak all these years, gave up her career to love and care for children she never had to love or care for.
Suddenly, she realized she never knew the woman she called “mom.” Had she never asked her mother, her mother would have passed on and she would have one day gone to the funeral of a woman she pitied.
I was thinking about this story this week, as Mother's Day in the U.S. is today; and as I get older, I have all these questions I want to ask my mom
Like this Australian woman’s family, in my family my dad was always the busy business man and my mother, though she was not a stay-at-home mom, worked a more "under valued" career path. My mother immigrated to the United States with my father, not knowing much English. In her native Taiwan she had gone to university and was in fact on a very different career path; but coming to this country not knowing the language, altered her job choices. So, for the entirety of my life and most of her life, my mom worked in our local post office, and still does.
I always admired her work ethic, and knew she made a great impact in her office as well as with her customers, so I’ve always been very proud of her. People respect her, and they adore her. On career day in elementary school, my brother and I even wore her uniform to school. I admit though, when people used to ask me what my parents do, I very confidently told them what my dad does (to the extent that I understand what he does), but when I got to telling them what my mother does, I admitI felt a bit self-conscious. Would they think less of her or less of me, because she’s not someone “more important”? She’s not a doctor or a business owner, or an executive at a large company. When I realized this is silly for me to be self-conscious about where my mom works, I started talking about how wonderful she is at her job, and what an impact she has on our community. There's a bit of a small-town charm to her job, because she sees my friends and their parents all the time, and that’s fun—but this “charm” about her job is actually a big statement to the charm of her as a person. My mother is a personable, big-hearted woman, and does not take crap from anyone. She is her own woman, independent, courageous, and full of love. People who meet her, love her.
So, lately I've been thinking a lot about how to show my mom more appreciation for all the love and inspiration she provided and continues to provide.
I always look fondly on my childhood, because I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been to be a young mother with 2 young children, trying to keep everything together while my dad was mostly out of the house, traveling overseas for business. She didn’t just keep things together though, there were countless trips to Disneyland, to visit my cousins, roadtrips—my childhood was a constant adventure. My dad always reminds us of this, and reminds us to appreciate her because of this. I honestly do not know how she did it, but I hope I can be as a wonderful a mother as her one day.
We think we know someone, until we really find out who they are. Mom and dad are mom and dad until we discover that mom and dad is a pseudonym for superheroes. I've always looked to my dad to show me the ways of the world, and to be the ambitious, ever curious woman that I am; but my mom is my hero, because she exemplifies strength.
BIG LOVE & HUGS