I would like my mother to know that she is the bombdiggity for being the best mother I know.
What did you learn from your mother about being Taiwanese? (妳從妳母親那兒學到甚麼是一個台灣人?)
I learned that my mother is very proud of her Taiwanese heritage. She loves her country, the people, and the culture as if the entire island is her family.
Tell us about one of your earliest memories of your mother. (妳對母親最早的記憶是甚麼?)
I have many childhood memories of my mother. Two memories stand out the most to me. When I was just a toddler I remember my grandfather taking me on a toy horse-ride on the streets in Tainan. I remember crying when the horse stopped moving because I thought it was so much fun! Years and years later when I was in college, I was reminiscing with my mom about that memory. I could tell it was such a bittersweet memory because my grandfather passed away not too long after that. She was afraid that I was too young to remember any memories of the three of us together.
The other memory of my mother was when we moved to America. My mother knew I had a fondness for 空心菜, a veggie that was very hard to grow in the Midwest. However I remember her little garden of tomatoes, green onions and the 空心菜 that she tried so hard to grow. They never turned out as big or leafy as the ones we found in the Asian grocery stores but they tasted much better because, as cheesy as it sounds, they were made with love.
What is the most important thing you have learned from your mother? (妳從母親／女兒學到的最重要的是甚麼?)
My mother has taught me many life lessons that will be always a part of me. One of the most important things I’ve learned is being open to new experiences. My mother married my father in Taiwan and moved back to America with him because of his job. The area that they settled in and raised me and my brother did not have a large Taiwanese-American community. Being straight from Taiwan with very little English-speaking skill, my mom took the new lifestyle in stride. She met life-long friends who later became my adoptive American grandmothers. Being such a young foreign mother in America, I would have thought she would seek out other Taiwanese mothers. However, my mom bravely opened up to strangers and learned new cultures. To this day, she joins these American grandmothers on weekly knitting groups. She created life-long friendships by being so open and curious to new experiences. That is one of the most important lessons I learned from my mom.
Tell us about the ways that your mother makes you proud. (妳母親／女兒讓你感到驕傲的是甚麼?)
I can probably say I am the proudest of my mother. Arguably more than my father being proud of his wife. What makes me so proud of my mother is her perseverance and good heart. Living in a small Midwestern town was tough for my mother. She wanted to find a job and help support my father in raising me and my brother. However, with an accent and no experience working in America, it was difficult finding any employment. I often saw my mother sad but she found ways to help around the family and community that would be a million times more rewarding than a job. She is the best mom. I’m proud of that. She raised me and my brother from a happy childhood to grown adults. She is the one in the community who helps make food for sick friends or visits nursing homes because she is so compassionate to the elderly. Her volunteer services make me so proud and I aspire to be half the mother she is today.
Tell us about how your mother inspires you. (妳的母親／女兒如何激勵妳?)
My mother inspires me to do something worthwhile with my life. She has shown me how opportunities can be fleeting and that experiences are lessons. Just thinking how she can come to a country without knowing the language and become a contributing member to society is so inspiring.
As time has gone on, how has your relationship with your mother changed? (隨著年歲的增長，妳們母女關係有怎麼樣的變化?)
Our relationship has changed since I was younger. As a teenager I would often clash with my mother because of our cultural differences. Thinking back I feel so ashamed how immature I was to WISH my parents were more “American”. As my parents grew to better understand the American culture and I grew to better appreciate my Taiwanese identity; we both came together in a beautiful blend of Taiwanese-American lifestyle. When I went off to college our relationship improved. Being away from home made me miss and appreciate everything my mother did for me. Being a recent graduate from college and trying to be a big girl in the big world has made it harder for me. I miss home and my mother almost daily now.
What is one thing that you would like your mother to know? (有那件事是妳希望讓妳的母親／女兒知道的?)
I would like my mother to know that she is the bombdiggity for being the best mother I know. Her story of coming to America and living here is probably unlike most Taiwanese American mothers. However, her experiences make her stand out like a pink ricecake in a hotpot. I also want to her to know that I am sorry for all the times I shrug her off from talking on the phone or Facebook chat. I want her to know how I appreciate everything she sacrificed to live in America so me and my brother could have the amazing childhood we grew up with.
And that I hope to cook like she can some day.