Mommy Dearest; Kuv Leej Niam

Late night reflections

We celebrated/did my new nephews hu-plig khi tes this past weekend, once again I get to painfully witness my mothers hard work, stress, and dedication to her children (it’s not to say she wasn’t happy for the occasion). My mom is a giver, she gives and gives and gives all over again and because of that, sometimes it’s so easy to forget to give back to her. My relationship with my Mom has had its dips over the years. I definitely loved and treasured her in my childhood, every project, every art work, everything I did at school, it would all be for her.  She made sure to always keep the four of us (me, my older sister, and my two younger brothers) close to her heart and under her wings. She worked for $4.50 an hour, and it took every ounce of strength in her to get up and go back to work every day. It’s hard to reminisce and not cry about moments like this.  Very little did we know she held us to bed at night and cried herself to sleep. She suffered hatred, mistreatment and prejudice at work.  But with very little power and barely a hint of English she muted herself and focused on providing for her children and putting my Dad through school. They wanted us to grow up in a happy home so we never ever knew until we were old enough, and we would have never known, because we were never deprived of ANYTHING.  She cooked for us and prepped us for school.  Wherever she stood watching us go to school was where she still stood when we made our way home, and we came home to hot, warm bowls of ramen noodles, and yes it may have just been ramen noodles but we felt so RICH; so LOVED. When all four of us were enrolled full time in school, she went back to work.  Working almost 10hr shifts a day, and you think she would falter; but she just got even more better.  When my dad woke us up in the morning for school, there would be food left covered on the table and all of our school clothes were laid out on the living room couch with our backpacks.  We ate out almost every Sunday, 7 big mac meals for under $20 back then.  Yeap, just McDonalds, but we felt like the luckiest kids in the world.  They didn’t like the food, but they did it for us, they knew American food was always a treat.  In the fall before every school year they would throw us a little party with cake and all and tell us just how proud they were of us and ask about our goals.  Those were some of the best years of my life and the memories are still very vivid to this day.

And then eventually I grew up. As a young teenager I loved to hate her; to rebel, to fit in with the rest.  But little did I know in my young and tainted heart, she would be the only person in the world to stick by me through thick and thin. I am not proud of myself that when I was younger I tormented her. I loved my baggy jeans, my bell bottoms, my dark lip liner, my split hair and flicked out ends, my dark eyeliner, my platforms, my bad-boys. I wanted to be and do everything she wished for me not to. And then in the blink of an eye I made a mistake at 15 and my life was forever changed (that is another story on its own). Barely got to experience being a teenager.

After I resurrected from that dark point in my life, I became a whole new person. I restarted my life with continuous reflections just as I am doing now.  I try to give thought to every decision I make and everything I do; every one I touch.  I’m not saying my relationship with my Mom became perfect and that we always got a long. There were some hardship, but I never lashed out again at her as the young me would have. She not only my Mom, she became my Friend, my Best Friend.  I broke her heart so many times and in so many ways but the goodness in her always took me back in and loved me even more. I’m not going to say that I never partied or had fun as a young woman, I did, but my priorities were always different from everyone else’s.  Every chance I got, I wanted to be with my Mom. Traded many girls night out to sit home and watch movies with her.  Told her about all my dreams, all my heartaches, all my boyfriends, all my love stories and everything else in between, I knew all secrets were safe with her. So as you can imagine my wedding was very hard on the both of us, but we knew it was inevitable.  Even after marriage she continues to be my strongest supporter, to openly share all the things she has done for me would make it look like I never grew up, but in a sense also shows you just how much she means when she says she loves me.  A lot of decisions that I make, or forcefully make in my life has a lot to do with that fact that I owe so much of me to her.  By saying that I mean that she gave me not only 1 life (mine), but 2, my son’s. She gave me my son (well–her and my dad).  I know what you’re thinking, and it’s not as crazy as it sounds.  They searched far and wide for a shamen and paid a lot of money to help me conceive my son.

Now that I am a mother I get so much more teary eyed when I think about my son.  I go all the way back and cry for all the times I’ve ever hurt my mom, all the times I’ve ever retaliated and wanted to be different and disobey her. I take a big breath and sigh knowing that the future lies so far ahead.  My son is only 3 and there’s already been so many moments in his life that’s made me cry to bed at night, I can only imagine what my Mom went through all of those years.  He sits at the dinner table with me spooning out the last of his little dinner into his mouth with crumbs fall all around him and he smiles at me and asks for “more”, or how he runs out of his room and waits for me at the top of the stairs when he hears me come home from work.  It lightens up my heart and right then and there I know just how much my Mom loves me and how much she’s always loved me and wanted the very best intentions for me.  So I’m going to use the rest of my life to give her everything, to shower her and love her so unselfishly and unconditionally like every daughter should. 

I believe every child deserves that kind of a love; that strong of a bond with their mother.  It is so worth it to live only once and witness something that powerful and beautiful.  I know there is nothing you can do to change your past if your mother never shared your life’s greatest moments and tears with you, but know that YOU have the power to build that kind of relationship with your children.  I’d live a hundred lives and pray to be her daughter in everytime.  “Kuv niam, yog zoo li dabtsi uas xaiv tau, thov kom yog muaj txoj hmoo, lwm tiam cia kuv los ua koj niam es koj los ua kuv ntxhais, kuv mam li hlub koj pauj rau tiam no. Thov kom koj tsuas muaj noj qab nyob zoo nyob dawb nyob huv ua kuv niam kom ntev ntev mus lawm yav tom ntev nawb”

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