I love my parents. They’ve made me who I am from the day I was a fetus inside my mother’s belly.
I would like to share a few wonderful things that my parents have taught me with their actions, words, and thoughts.
My mother used to play Mahjong* alot, especially when she was pregnant with me. Her dad always said that she wasn’t applying herself and just playing “games” and wasting her youth. She rebuked, “do you know how much concentration it is required to play Mahjong? I’m teaching my fetus how to focus!” I did turn out to be whole-hearted at any task I take on, so mom stuck to her in urtero education theory. One of the 20+ books mom authored was titled, “From Mahjong Table to Berkeley” which discussed how my father and she parented my sister and me and detailed the triumphs and struggles we faced like most FOB (fresh off boat) families.
Mom used to say, “DFD, you must be tired from studying. How about take a break NOW and hang our laundry to dry on the porch? You can also wash the dishes during your next study break.” These study breaks indeed miraculously refreshed me! Hence, I learned to rotate between productive tasks and treating each subsequent task as a break to the prior one. The other day, my wise little sister brought up a good point, I don’t know how to take a “real break.” When my precious 2 weeks vacation of internship arrived, I was getting so excited to clean the house, write my blog, re-evaluate and adjust my financial goals/strategies, continue my various book projects. My sister said I didn’t have a plan for vacation that most normal people would and that she was in fact quite concerned about me and wondered how sustainable my constant maximization of time and energy could be.
I’d say this long practiced quality of mine is deeply ingrained, and both a blessing & a curse. I told my sister, that I would be ok with working this hard (which sometimes doesn’t really feel like working anyways, as I felt I was taking a break from the prior task), and just drop dead one day… I have accepted that I don’t really know how to slow down. My sister said I should consider slowing down so I can be there for Joy more, so I promised to seek help and start working on moderating my relentless inclination to maximize.
Necessity is the mother of inventions. Having little teaches me a lot. My mother always says the mountain doesn’t give, but men make roads to wind around it. I’ve learned early on from both of my parents to work WITH my circumstances instead of complain about them. I’ve turned every marketable skill I had into a job, hence I had 7 jobs and managed to send some money home while double majoring in college.
I don’t know how to quit. Again, this can be a curse & a blessing. My father is one of the most enthusiastic, idealistic, and excitable person that I know of. If he sets his mind at a goal, he will exhaust everything he has plus everything my mom has to accomplish it. It could be stressful for mom at times, as she’s frequently dragged onto the roller-coaster dad has created throughout the past 33 years of their marriage. While dad embodied perseverance in pursuing his professional goals, mom had also exemplified resolve in her unwavering support for dad.
I’ve learned from my parents to persist against challenges and adversities in both my professional and personal life.
Taiwanese educational practices could be considered CRUEL in the American “feel good, feel positive” standards. We were ranked by our test scores starting 1st grade, at the tender age of 6. I was ranked at the bottom of my class, #45th out of 46 kids in my classroom. I brought home “Zeros” on my math tests. I just wasn’t aware of what’s going on around me. Often time, before I even figured out “this was a test,” the teacher already told us to pass the paper to the front so she could grade them.
For most Chinese parents, I would be the shame and disgrace of our ancestors for my academic failure. But my parents could not have cared less. I didn’t remember one single instance of them discussing my report card with me…
One day, something clicked. I began to pay attention when the teacher talked, asked questions when I didn’t understand, studied when I go home… In 5th grade, my grades ranked top 3 in my school of 600 kids from one semester to the next.
So I asked my parents, “If you are so proud of my academic success now, why weren’t you ashamed of my failure back then?”
My father said simply and quietly, “We had too much confidence in you to worry about you Not succeeding. We know you will succeed, it was just a matter of time.” Their fore-sighted and accurate optimism stay with me till this day and I have the same optimism for Joy.
My father is an optimist and a dreamer. My mother is a pessimist yet still a dreamer. They are quite the pair. Dad always had grand ideas on how to save the world and leave the earth a better place. Mom always opened up our home and albeit limited resources to friends or even strangers in need.
For as far as I could remember, there were so many people in and out of our home. Mom would cook meals for her hungry friends, let them crash on the sofa or use my bedroom if they needed a place to stay. Some of these people betrayed my parents, but some stayed life long friends. Regardless of what they received in return, my parents continue to save the world (in small ways) and help those in need.
The way they live their lives taught me to believe in the goodness of humanity. Made me naturally want to help others and derive great happiness from doing so.
*Mahjong, also spelled majiang, mah jongg, and numerous other variants, is a game that originated in China. It is commonly played by four players (with some three-player variations found in South Korea and Japan). The game and its regional variants are widely played throughout Eastern and South Eastern Asia and have a small following in Western countries. Similar to the Western card game rummy, mahjong is a game of skill, strategy, and calculation and involves a degree of chance.
There are a few more things I would like to share, but my parents are visiting today and I want to get the house ready first 🙂 TBC
- Hard work