My Mom

December 29, 2009
My mother loved movies. The day after we set foot in America, she insisted we go watch a movie. After paying for the movie “Original Sin” she excitedly led us into the dark aisles while explaining the concept of original sin in the Bible. I don’t know if you’ve watched that movie, but the first scene is sexual, and it is not what my mother thought a “Christian movie.” She was shocked, I was shocked, my five-year-old brother and my fourteen-year-old sister were both baffled. She covered our eyes with her hands as she quickly led us out of the theater. Once outside, she said to herself, “This is America.”

She became a devoted Christian when my father left her for a woman half her age. She also picked up smoking cigarettes and crying softly in the bathroom every night. My mother is a very strong and smart woman, but she definitely did not understand the American culture. For lunch every day she packed boiled eggs and rice for my brother and me. She also called me “Mei-Mei” (my Chinese nickname) very loudly in front of all my friends. Little do I need to say, I slowly realized how different I was. I began to throw away my lunch when I walked out my house door and bought school lunch like all my friends with quarters I found around the house. I started to tell people that I didn’t know how to speak Chinese when people would ask me to say this or that in Chinese for their entertainment. Unlike most of my friends who grew up in one place their whole lives, I’ve grown up in several. My mother enjoyed moving as if she was always searching for something. I realized later that this something was better educational opportunities.

My mother was a busy woman. She was always on business trips or on the phone. Because of this, my sister took care of me, and I took care of my little brother. My mother never cared for the details. I vacuumed and sprayed the house with Febreeze to get rid of the smell of Chinese food when my brother would have friends over. My brother and I put up Christmas lights when we realized we were the only house in the whole neighborhood without them. I signed my brother up for football and myself for gymnastics. She would often forget to pick us up.

Freshmen year of high school I decided to go live with my dad in California, because I was sick of changing schools. I wanted a stable education and a stable family. My dad fixed plumbing problems and cooked me meals on time. But the area he lived in had a high crime rate and the high school I went to lacked the classes I wanted and had so many students that I often felt invisible. When I told this to my mother she asked me to wait one more year. A year later, she offered to pay for a boarding school education for my brother and me.

Now, I haven’t lived with her since I left four years ago, and she and I have both changed a lot. I am no longer afraid to be who I am or to show off my culture. She looks much older now with wrinkles around her eyes from working long hours and is less devoted to Christianity since she got over the pain. But I am who she makes me to be. I am detail-oriented, have maternal instincts to protect my little brother, and I love stability. But I am also courageous, affectionate, and sometimes rebellious just like her. During my breaks off from school, we often watch rated-R movies together with my arm through hers. Yes, this is America, where a mother and daughter can share differences, take their own paths, watch inappropriate movies, and take control over their own future.

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Asianflowers said...
Jun. 2, 2010 at 1:27 am
I. LOVE. THIS.!!!! You are a brillant writer and have gone through so much. Your feeling are expressed clearly, but you have an unquie way of writing that draws me in. GREAT JOB!!
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