My mom is at it again. This time she has a set of hand tools and is ready to attack the footrest from my father’s study that’s laying upside-down. Before she gets started, she drapes a Los Angeles Dodger hoodie over the footrest and examines it. “Is it awkward to have this pocket across the top?” she asks, showing me the lower pouch pocket for someone to hold their hands in. I don’t think it’s necessary to worry about it, although sometimes I’m not sure why she asks me. It seems my mom knows a lot of things, not just about re-purposing a footrest with a Los Angeles Dodger hoodie. When it comes to just about anything I’ve done, whether it’s developing an interest in sustainable fashion or determining another travel destination or deciding on whether or not I should buy something for myself, she’s always had good ideas. Our relationship may have changed over the years, but she still remains someone I ask for advice or another opinion. Do I always take her advice? No, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t know a thing or two. In fact, here are a few wonderful things about my mom and how she’s influenced my life:
She’s always had the environment in mind. She’ll remind my dad to turn down the water in the sink when he’s grabbing dishes from the counter, she loves being able to compost in the summers, and she always finds a way to recycle as much as she can, even if that means she has to take it with her on a trip to Salt Lake City. When it comes to climate change, she’s baffled by those who don’t believe in it or want to take care of the world we live in. While learning about sustainable fashion, I found specific principles, mainly recycling (or up-cycling) and re-purposing. Immediately I thought, “My mom already does that!” as I thought of the Los Angeles Dodger T-shirts she’s sewn into quilts for my dad. Do you see a theme here?
Speaking of fashion, she has sensibility to keep things simple. While my sister, Ming, and I opt for bright reds, pinks, and purples, my mom never fusses over anything. She keeps her wardrobe simple with blues, greens, and greys, but always manages to find the perfect accessories to brighten it up. Although Ming prefers trends and I love retro and elegant styles, my mom knows the importance of keeping a classic wardrobe that will last for many occasions and years.
She knows classic, traditional principles have value, but they don’t suit everyone. Although she hasn’t always agreed with my unconventional, non-traditional work, when I openly communicate my thoughts and ideas for the future, she finds a way to understand and help me. When I discussed my desire to travel and write more, she has my back. Before I know it, she’s sending me e-mails about writing opportunities and travel options and making sure to save information about travel credit cards for me. She still encourages me to think ahead financially and professionally, asking questions about what I want to pursue, but always letting me take the reins on what I decide. To others she may seem extremely conservative, but to me, she’s merely bringing in another point of view. Like most Moms, she’s only suggesting I be cautious before I embark into the unknown.
The traditions she does conserve and care about are those of her family and heritage. She’s always looking out for my Popo and is always happy to have her around, whether it’s spending time with her in Salt Lake City, or having my grandma in Cedar City. When it comes to Chinese traditions, she sticks to them. During my grandfather’s funeral, she followed traditions of not wearing red, following a procession order for leaving and entering the home, and wearing a colored bow in her hair to signify her status within the family. When it came to entering my grandparents’ house she always made sure we said, “Hello” to my grandparents first and always reminds us to call them on Chinese New Year. I don’t have to look far to see where my interest in cultural heritage came from, I just have to look at my mom and I know.
What’s the best part about my mom? That she’s more than my mom. She’s a confidant when I need another point of view, she comforts me when I’m sad or frustrated, and she makes a pretty good therapist when I need to cry. Despite any ups and downs we may encounter in our relationship, one thing is true: she understands me. She doesn’t know everything about me, but she knows me. I’m beginning to think this is why she’s asking me for an opinion about the footstool. She might have some thoughts already, but she still values what I think just as much. Rather than let her over think something, I respond, “I wouldn’t worry about the pocket. It sounds like a great idea to me to have it there.” She thinks about it some more, makes a decision, and then moves on to cutting fabric for donations to my Aunt Kim’s organization Days for Girls while watching “No Country for Old Men.” I tell her the movie scares me, but at least Javier Bardem is attractive. “I agree, but not in this movie. He has a weird haircut,” she responds. This I don’t disagree with, she knows what she’s talking about.
Over to you now: What is great about your mom? What do you love about her?