Why I Love Mom – Special Blog for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

Throughout the month of May, we are encouraging readers to take a moment to reflect on the mothers or mother-like figures in their lives. May also happens to be a special month celebrating Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States, so we thought it was the perfect opportunity to share a few stories from the CPAF staff to get you started in thinking about your own relationships. Here are a few prompts that you can think about as you get started on your journey of gratitude.

Anna Lee, Development Coordinator

Anna Lee and her mom, Jane Lee

Why I Love My Mom:

“My mom is my rock, though I haven’t always seen it that way. I am truly blessed with the family I have, and a strong mother whom I choose to turn to when I need guidance or solid, foundational advice.

Mama Lee is smart – she’s quick to calculate, and it’s hard to get anything past her. In that way, I guess she ingrained in me the horrible feeling of lying and why I avoid it today.

Mrs. Lee is hands on – before calling a technician, she’ll troubleshoot the problem herself, and if she needs a professional to do it, she’ll call them, but she’ll know the problem and solution better than they do 80% of the time. Again, nothing gets past this woman. She’s taught me to take initiative.

She’s definitely more firm than gentle. When I sought sympathy, she’d call me out on the real problem instead – keeping me in check, and being real always. She taught me not to pity myself or seek pity from others; she taught me to admit my wrongs and be stronger for it.

Oh, and she’s 5 feet. That just makes all the above that much more entertaining. What’s not to love?”

What I Learned from Mom on Being Asian American:

“Growing up, being Asian was never directly pointed out or discussed in my family. I grew up in a predominantly Caucasian community, and never really thought too much about being Asian. Even when I brought purple rice to school for lunch in 5th grade, questions were asked, but I wasn’t phased. I maybe felt weird a couple times when I would wear shoes INSIDE the house of some of my friends.

I think the more impressionable discussions come from very recent times, when my mom talks about her mom and family – about how they were impacted by the Korean War, and the hardships that stem from a patriarchal society where the man is respected and the woman isn’t, especially the daughter-in-laws of families. My grandmother has lived a tough life with a lot of unfortunate and scarring events, to say the least. When I asked my mom how she and her siblings all turned out to be fairly healthy and “okay” even with such a traumatic past between their parents, she responded, “‘It’s because of your grandmother. Her strength. Her love. That is why the mother is so important.'”

Christine Lee, Community Engagement Manager

Christine Lee and her mother Kyong Lee. Courtesy Pat Shannahan, The Arizona Republic

Why I Love My Mom:

“My mom brought me up with a lot of love in a country that was foreign to her.

She was a single mother, and she raised me without a dad but gave me a loving family atmosphere despite that with three aunts and a pair of grandparents.

My mom sacrificed a lot of things in life, like her career, to make sure that I have the best chance of success living in America.”

What I Learned from Mom on Being Asian American:

“My mom taught me about hard work and perseverance.

She made sure I was well-rounded (playing piano and violin; taking ice skating and swimming lessons; going to Kumon and other tutoring services) so that I can get into a good college and live a life she couldn’t live.

My mom told me that she gave up being a nurse when she immigrated to America during the 1970s. The language barrier was too difficult for her to overcome, so she started a small business then made her way into becoming a government employee.

My mom wanted me to be a doctor or engineer like many other Asian moms, but she compromised when she learned that I really wanted to become a storyteller. She believed in my desire to do something other than what she had hoped for and has been supporting me ever since.”

Michelle Esperanza, Development Director

Michelle Esperanza, Development Director at CPAF

Why I Love My Mom:

“My mom is pure love. She is kind, thoughtful and caring about her family and community. She is an inspiration.”

What I Learned from Mom on Being Asian American:

“Mom came here as a child when her father, who served in the U.S. Navy, moved his family here. She lived in Florida in the late 1950s – where people stared at them openly, came out of their shops to ask where they were from – and California in the 1960s. She continues to lives her life with grace each day and celebrates Filipino family traditions while incorporating elements from her life as an American.”

Ellen Hong, Community Program Director

Ellen Hong, Her Two Daughters, and Her Mother Li-Shun Huang Hong

Why I Love My Mom:

“My mom is one of the most humorous, compassionate, nurturing and humble people I know.  As a Taiwanese immigrant, she and my father pastored a small Taiwanese church.  When my mom wasn’t working or taking care of our family, she spent a lot of time visiting parishioners, particularly those who were ill or elderly.  I recall a particular woman named Peggy who was diagnosed with cancer whom my mom visited on a weekly basis.  As busy as my mom was, she would cook for Peggy and bring her chicken soup with special Taiwanese herbs.  Not realizing it at the time, these visits gave me a window into my mom’s love and compassion as an outward expression of her faith, which has left a lasting impact on me.

As a mom of two girls now, I also hope to instill values of love and compassion in my children the same way that my mom instilled that in me, through her actions and her words.”

What I Learned from Mom on Being Asian American:

“My mom has always taken pride in being Taiwanese, but she is also incredibly open when it comes to those who hold differing world views.  Her humility is evinced in the way that she actively gleans and learns from others’ perspectives.  While she has faced the struggles common to many immigrants, she also doesn’t see herself as a victim.  Rather, she boldly engages and looks for opportunities to exchange ideas and experiences. She is the lifelong learner that I hope to be.”

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