The holidays bring up so many emotions, mostly a reason to reflect on my blessings. There are so many and I don’t even know where to start. I am inspired by a Disney movie I watched recently. I know, so cliché, but I am a little girl at heart when it comes to Disney movies, especially all those stories make up so much of my childhood! Moana, a simple story about how a girl journeys away from home to save her people from the wrath of darkness and death. Moana’s father prohibits her to ever leave the island, but it in the bottom of her heart, she knows she must go to find and conquer that calling from the ocean.
The truth is, many of us believe that we are meant to do greater things in life and the only way to do so is to leave home and find out what is out there for us. I spent 16 years away from home and I can tell you that I don’t regret a single decision I’ve made except not taking enough time to appreciate the efforts my mother put forth for me to do all the things I wanted to do. My mother sent me away for high school because my father who was schizophrenic and had manic depression along with heart disease and diabetes. She didn’t want me to see all the hardships she had to go through and be affected by the illness that draped a huge blanket around who my father really was.
There was a time where I resented her for sending me away from home. I wanted to be with my friends and I didn’t understand due to me naïveté. I am still scarred from our fights from long ago where she even went to the extent of telling me I was a mistake and should have aborted me when she could. That scar is forever there, but I have come to terms with it. I know she loves me very much and would always encourage me to better myself through higher education and new experiences. I was never denied a path I chose. I guess that’s how I ended up with 2 masters degrees and a handful of experiences from traveling, living and working in all sorts of different countries.
It took a few years for me to understand that my mother never wanted to push me away, but she knew that it was the best thing she could do to make me a better person. Moana’s mother help her pack up her boat and wished her the best of luck. My heartstrings were definitely pulled to the max at that moment of the movie. Sometimes I really wish I wasn’t so emotional, but I just can’t help it.
I moved back home about a year ago mainly because of guilt. I was far away from home, emotionally and physically and even during a few of my mom’s hospitalizations, I wasn’t able to be close enough to fly back in a timely manner. I returned because I knew my mother needed me and I needed her. My mother is the strongest woman I know who can withstand some of my father’s uncontrollable and unreasonable episodes. I may have been young, but there are those memories that are forever etched into my brain. I used to ask God, “Why me!?” and “Why don’t I have the perfect family like my neighbors do?” Well, those questions were never answered, but doesn’t mean I don’t believe that we need lost to appreciate what we have. Perfection falls on the same line as being normal. We cannot really explain what perfect or normal really is and it’s really alright with me.
My dad passed away almost 8 years ago now, and I haven’t really let myself spend too much time with my mom to see how much she has aged and is now someone who needed help.
Selflessness is a trait of many woman–me like my mom always put others in front of us. I hate relying on anybody else but me. I was hesitant when my mother actually asked me to return home. I took me a while to succumb due to my head strong personality. I had a career of my own that provided me with everything I needed. I was the most difficult decision of my life to leave my life and career in Asia to come back to the small city that I once lived. Well, the small city is not that small anymore, and has grown exponentially in 16 years time. Time does change everything!
Adapting as a daughter is more difficult than defending my master’s thesis! I now have a responsibility, a task that I was never great at. I am coping with the issues of understanding why my mom can no longer do the things that she used to do so well. After hearing her repeat the same thing 5 times make me snap sometimes– it usually is too late to take back the snapping when it already happened. We are all human after all. The thing that gets me the most is she still calls me to see if I put on enough warm clothes for the weather after I just yelled at her for being annoying 10 minutes ago. That’s when the guilt comes in, along with me being angry at myself. Now we have a constant cycle of love, anger, guilt and love that happens at least once a day and I have yet to figure out how to be a better person because of it. Not like before, my mother is not encouraging me to leave, but to stay and be closer to her, but still trying to give me advice and the best things she has to offer.
As a daughter, I will always be receiving the love that my mother is so willing to give me unconditionally. The love that I return is never going to be equal to what I have already received. I can’t stand how I still get impatient with her knowing that all she wants is still the best for me. I guess we can all just keep trying to become better daughters one step at a time. All I really want is for her to know how much I really love her and appreciate all the things she’s has sacrificed for me. She once told me that all she needs to see in return is that I am happy and healthy. I only wish I can be half the women and mother that she is. She is turning 70 this year and I threw her a celebration and I’m giving her a gift that I’ve been building up for a bit now. I donated to a charity to help build an elementary school in Jiang Xi, China in her name. A memorial plaque will be erected in one of the classrooms for her.
Those of you who still have their parents and grandparents around, take a moment to appreciate the love that they have given you. I was not lucky enough to know my father, but for those of you who do, take a moment to understand how lucky you are! I wish you all the best for 2017.