There are so many things I don’t know about my mother. One example would be that I don’t know what it’s like to not have a mother. She has known that feeling for 50 years plus a day or two… but I suspect that even just one day without her mother felt like 50 years, so maybe it feels like ten lifetimes now – today – when she writes it down and relives it in written form, maybe for the first time, and sends it to me to review.
What a great job my mom did without the guidance and assistance so many of us take for granted in our mom’s when having children. Although I don’t know it (gratefully, honestly!) firsthand, I know it to be true. She had a strong-willed (to put it mildly) daughter as well as a son, and a husband who traveled frequently for his career. She had a big, gigantic, reality-altering move down the Eastern Seaboard in the early 80’s and said goodbye to friends, family, community and she did it with a smile even though it probably destroyed a huge part of her, for a while, at least.
She wrestled with my independent and at times indomitable spirit … literally and figuratively, and probably doesn’t realize how much she helped to mold me into the strong and I’d say fairly decent woman I am today. Obviously, as a grad student, I need to write papers – which I love. Recently, I had a project due where I discussed three values that I’d learned formally through education but also learned by my family in an informal socialization style. One of my values was “hard work ethic” and one of the sub-values I sussed out was “strictness.” Through my readings, it became apparent to me that mom’s value of strictness – and it was a serious value – is very Asian.
In many Asian countries, parents are expected to treat their children with the utmost strictness; to do otherwise would be showing they had no love for their children, as well as no respect for their parents, who had acted in the same way, promoting strictness as a value. Studies showed Asian parents now living in the US with children attending Westernized schools trying to maintain that same sense of strictness – of love – but to the detriment of their children. Strictness is not looked upon favorably by children or their peers! In turn, it’s not always looked upon very favorably by other parents, who find it tedious, or a chore, to monitor their children that closely.
What many of my friends and some loved ones see in me is an overly critical inner voice that is hard on myself. Strict, if you will. What I see in myself is a personal, inner strictness that helps to define me. It is the flame of inspiration that keeps me going. It makes me jog a tiny bit further up the mountainous trail because I know it’s good for me. It makes me wake up at 5:30am even though I’m unemployed and could sleep until whenever, but I need to work on my grad school papers and kick major butt because there is absolutely no excuse not to … I’m unemployed! It keeps me conscious of my checkbook and my desire for a coffee or a new t-shirt or an extra tank of gas. I’m very grateful and thankful to my mom for helping to foster this innate sense, and a part of her that she gave to me will forever be alive, helping to guide me through my many chapters.
- Posted in: Mother's Wisdom