Kathy and Her Mother

No matter what are differences are and difficulties we have had through the years, I still love her and wish her the best that life has to offer.

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?)

How to be supportive of the family (help with chores, listen respectfully).

Food — we were living in a rural area with no restaurants, so had to make everything from scratch. BahTsang, hotpot, soymilk/yutiao, onion cakes, dumplings etc.

Tell us about one of your earliest memories of your mother. (妳對母親最早的記憶是甚麼?)

Making man-to on the kitchen counter. She let me make whatever shapes I wanted, like play-doh.

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?)

No matter how hard things get, don’t give up.

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?)

Being different is ok; encouraged me to be who I am.

Tell us about how your mother inspires you. (妳的母親/女兒如何激勵妳?)

Even though she never made it to high school in Taiwan, she successfully got her GED in the US and then a college degree.

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?)

My relationship with my mom was never the same after she found out I started having boyfriends in college, as if I took the family honor away (how anachronistic!) I was incessantly called every rude name you can imagine, while trying to get through my really tough engineering classes. In trying to understand her point of view, I realize there were consequences to premarital sex at her generation because of pregnancy, so “purity” is important. I just couldn’t understand how any parent can be so oppressive and say such vile things their own child. It took years to regain a civil relationship with her and my dad again, but I don’t think the undercurrent of disgust ever went away, as the years went by with my dating life through my 20’s and 30’s. In my humble opinion, how can we know what kind of person should be our life partner without trying different personalities? It’s like buying the first house that you see.

When I became a mom, there was another strange rough patch, as if she assumed her maternal grandma role where HER grandma (my great grandma). She must have been a tyrant towards my maternal grandma (my mom’s mom), who never was allowed to go to school — like Joy Luck Club, she had been given away as a baby and an indentured servant to that household where she eventually married the son of the house (Ew, gross! Can you imagine marrying your equivalent brother??) Not surprising that my maternal grandpa left his wife when my mom was only 5. My grandma was expected to do the cooking, cleaning, shopping, etc. When she turned 16, she was asked if she wanted to stay with the family and was too afraid to say no.

When my first baby was born, my mom seemed happy for me at first, but as the weeks rolled by, she became conspicuously absent by going to her room like a phantom when I went to visit, leaving only my Dad to interact with us. She would do subversive things like turn up the TV to make sure it wakes me and the baby up when she knows we’re asleep, as if she’s getting back at us for something she keeps to herself and doesn’t articulate to me the things that I could’ve either changed or apologized for. Now with my 2nd daughter, I’m glad her passive aggressive tendencies have diminished, as I’ve learned better ways to react and manage communication through counseling.

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?)

No matter what are differences are and difficulties we have had through the years, I still love her and wish her the best that life has to offer.

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