Thank you to all the Moms who helped me become the Mom I am Today

Posted on May 8, 2011

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I'm at Rancho Las Palmas in the desert contemplating motherhood and...life.

The boys have gone out and it is very quiet in our hotel room.  The airconditioner is buzzing and I’ve fallen asleep twice.  It’s a nice quiet though, relaxing. We are in the desert, our first time.

It’s Mother’s Day weekend and there are muilti-generation families celebrating here. They wear matching outfits.  If my mom and grandmother were alive, I don’t think we’d be wearing matching outfits but still, it looks kinda cool.

My thoughts have turned to motherhood of course..this is my weekend.

No doubt being a mom was the best thing that happened to me- it gave me purpose, it gave me a better sense of self. I can only hope that I don’t nag my boys too much (I know I do, just hope it’s not too much). It’s hard being the only female in the family. (Even our dog is male!)  Many times my kids and husband gang up on me  — not really — but you know — the fart jokes start flying and sometime it just gets too much.

It’s funny. I’m raising boys when I was raised in a family with strong women.

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My mom and my younger sister

My mom passed away when I was a freshman in college and my younger brother and sister were still in high school. It was a very difficult time.  It still hurts to talk about sometimes — because we practically watched her die. Cancer.  Her mother, my grandmother, had passed away from it as well.  My first cousin has survived it, my sister’s had her scares.

I am scared too of course. But I try not to think about it.  I have my boys, my family to think about.  My mother was just a few years older than I am now when she passed. That’s a weird thought. I think I am a very different mother than she was — she was fun and more easy going. She was a young mom. I became a mother when I turned 30.  I’m a bit stricter.  And I’m living in America in a totally different time, doing my best to introduce bits of my Asian culture in my family’s very Western lfiestyle.

Sometimes I can’t remember her. There are stories and pictures of course. But I can’t remember her — how she felt or smelled. It’s been too long. But I have a sense of my mother — her creativity, her style, her energy — even her angst and pain. Had she lived  longer – I think at some point, I’d have grown up ahead of her. I guess I’m more serious. But who knows — maybe I’d have turned out differently.

But I am who I am now — and one thing I do know is this — when my mom passed I felt the need to be around other women, to guide me… and so today the eve of mom’s day I want to acknowledge the strong women who were there for me.

First and foremost is my grandmother** (featured in the big photo accompanying this story), who was very present even when my Mom was alive. I often say that I was raised by my “wawa” my dad’s mom, with whom we lived for most of my childhood. She was the maternal figure in our household, the disciplinarian. I was very close to her and so you can imagine, how devastated I was when she passed away just a year after my mom.

Next is my aunt and godmother, Z, with whom I have a very special bond. I was her first niece — the kid she doted on- way before she had her own.  She is an amazing woman whom I have grown closer to as I’ve gotten older. We work well together… we have chemistry. Our current project together is developing my cousin (her son)  J.A.’s  art career.  J.A. is an artist with autism so I’ve witnessed how she’s nurtured him –how she’s helped him grow and develop despite his challenges.  And yes, how she’s raised her two older children as well – A, a doctor and G, a talented writer.

Finally, there is  my stepmom, C. – who in the early years I had called “my father’s wife” out of spite.  Her personal story before meeting my dad is filled with both tragedy and triumph. Her strength is inspiring.  While we may disagree on many things and do not have a lot in common in terms of likes and hobbies… like me, she is a people person… and from her… I learned to be more gentle….She is a portrait of grace.  And I love her for being an awesome “grandma” to my kids.

And to the countless teachers, friends, and aunts that have been there to guide me, chat with me, and mentor me, Happy Mother’s Day!

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