Anh-Chi: I could honestly write a novel about my mom and our relationship, but let's suffice to say that she's by far the most devoted person in my life (other than my husband, of course).
Women often say, "Nobody will love you as much as your mom," and now that I think about that, it's true (or in my situation at least). The more and more I reflect on my mom, I've realized no matter what we've been through, she still loves me unconditionally. Our relationship has been through quite a few bumps throughout the years, but nonetheless my mom will always be there for me. She even thinks of me as her little girl still, and calls me "Be" in Vietnamese, which means baby. It's a common term of endearment in our language ... even my great grandmother called her daughters "Be" up until old age.
My mom's sacrificed everything to provide for me. She went through extreme lengths to escape Vietnam and pursue a better life in America. When she was only 6 months pregnant with me, she even spent several nights in prison, as she stood up for her beliefs against the Vietnamese Communists. My aunt finally sponsored us 4 years later, and we lived in the Philippines for one year before immigrating to the States. I actually lived with my grandma initially, since my mom wanted to find the very best place to raise me. She chose Santa Barbara, and for the next 13 years my mom and I lived humbly and simply.
With meager earnings, my mom still made sure I had a normal childhood and felt equal to my peers. I was very blessed to attend a top-notch private school from elementary up until junior high, in addition to a solid education in music arts (with the finest piano teacher in town and a weekly Music and Arts Conservatory).
Yet high school was the beginning of our rocky relationship. I didn't excel academically anymore, I spent most if not all my free time socializing with the wrong crowd, and I abused my mom's trust on numerous occasions. It was incredibly difficult for my mom, and I could vividly remember the times she broke down and cried uncontrollably. I can now recall the sheer amount of hurt she experienced, and I feel so, so terrible for putting her through that pain. From then on, it took her a very long time to trust me again, since she was terrified I would repeat those mistakes and at the worse, destroy my life. Luckily, I improved dramatically during my junior and senior year (since I transferred to another high school). I returned to my "normal" self again, and our relationship became stronger and stronger every year.
Just as my mom and I began rebuilding our trust, I moved out during my sophomore year of college and attended UCLA. Although I never hurt my mom as I did in the past, I did become increasingly independent, which was devastating for her. She was depressed for so many years without me, while I was okay with our separation. She couldn't possibly understand how I'd be happy on my own. My friends became my family, which caused my mom a lot of resentment, hurt, and confusion.
Luckily my mom is genuinely happy for me now, since I'm married to a wonderful man. In fact, if it wasn't for my mom, we wouldn't be together. So she doesn't feel this need to compete for my love and attention anymore, and we're doing our best to get along and make the best of things. It's overwhelming to think about the myriad of experiences my mom and I went through (both good and bad). And I'll never truly comprehend the depth of her love, until I become a mom myself. I'm terrified that my own kid(s) will defy me ... However, I think my future as a parent will be different. I have an extremely supportive husband by my side, who will be undoubtedly an amazing father. That's the difference ... I didn't have a father figure growing up, and unfortunately I got away with challenging my mom's authority. So I'm praying that I can provide a stable life for my own children. I hope they'll look up to me as their friend, confidant, and disciplinarian.
Motherhood is a woman's most challenging career, and I won't take this responsibility lightly. I promise to love and cherish my husband and future children, yet also love myself. I promise to be humble, and learn from my mistakes. I promise to be patient, forgiving, and compassionate, and never forget to laugh and just enjoy life's simplicities. That is all I can offer ... and the rest is beyond my control. At least I can say I've put forth my absolute best. As the saying goes, "It's better to have loved and lost, than to never have loved at all." A mother's love is selfless and unconditional ... and I'm more than ready to offer that kind of love with my own children someday.
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