Because we are equals, she can sometimes be harsh and give me very direct advice that I don’t always want to hear… It can be tough but I’ve come to realize no one else will ever be that honest (and perhaps in turn, as helpful) as she is to me.
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 it means different things to different people.
It means family and food and many traditions surrounding the lunar calendar.
Being Taiwanese is hard to explain. The experience is influenced by China as much as it is influenced by Japan, particularly for my maternal grandparents’ generation who grew up under the Japanese colonial rule and still feel a certain amount of admiration and connection to the Japanese and their culture.
Being Taiwanese means showing respect to your elders. It means praying for your ancestors. It means being humble, hospitable and appreciative, rarely wasteful, always prepared.
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?)
I have learned how to live and think as an independent woman. My mother went through a rough time getting to a good place with my father’s parents. It took them a while to think she was even worth their and my father’s time. From this experience, she vowed never to be in a position where she could not support herself financially. She gave up teaching to get a degree in business and launch her career in finance and later supply chain management, where she leveraged her Chinese and Taiwanese speaking skills to negotiate big deals with Asian vendors in the tech industry.
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?)
She had a successful career in the high-tech industry, without sacrificing her relationships with me and my brother. She always made time for our school meetings, helped us with our art and science projects, and made sure we had regular story times, sitting around the living room, going around telling stories that we made up along the way. It makes me proud to know how hard it must have been but that she did it with positivity, always.
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?)
Now that I’m in my mid-20s and she in her mid-50s, we see each other as more equals and can talk about things like dealing with death, family dynamics and how to keep good friends and determine solid partners — romantic and business. Because we are equals, she can sometimes be harsh and give me very direct advice that I don’t always want to hear. She is not afraid to tell me when she thinks I’m being lazy, or irresponsible, or just wrong. It can be tough but I’ve come to realize no one else will ever be that honest (and perhaps in turn, as helpful) as she is to me. Likewise I am also able to give her very candid advice about her career, relationships and lifestyle. We have become better friends with time, but that certainly doesn’t mean that we always get along.
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’d like her to know that I hope I can be as well-rounded, fun and generally excellent a mother as she.