My mom called at around ten at night yesterday. “Bao bei!” she exclaimed. “I don’t think we’ve talked for a couple of days! How are you doing honey.”
“Mom. We haven’t talked since New Year’s day.”
“Oh, has it been that long? I’m so sorry, I am very busy nowadays with the gym, hanging out with Raymond’s mom, and work. But I thought about you today and thought I would call you. I miss you, honey! Tell me what you’ve been up to.”
I was just about to tell her that everything was going great when she interrupted me and said, “By the way, I saw Nancy today, took her to dinner and then took her food shopping. She is doing great. So skinny now. She is getting very healthy. I’m so proud of her…”
“That’s wonderful to hear!” I was glad to hear that my sister was doing well.
“…and then I went shopping. Did you know that clothes are super cheap now? I went to Lord and Taylor and bought some things and then I went to Abercrombie and Fitch and Wow!! Their clothes are all on sale now with an extra 75% off. I bought a lot so you and Nancy can pick what you like.”
“Thanks, Mom but I haven’t worn Abercrombie for years. Maybe I’ll just see if I like anything…”
“I know, I know but it was so cheap I couldn’t help myself. Bad habits. I love to shop.”
I laughed. “I know, Mom.”
I was delighted to be talking to my mom. She is truly amazing. She is such a brave, independent woman who lives life to the fullest and does exactly what she wants all the time. She loves talking, loves making friends, absolutely loves shopping, has the biggest and most naive heart in the world, and a strong, stubborn spirit that she uses however she pleases. There is no taming her. Not even twenty five years of a bad marriage has stopped her from being who she naturally is.
I learned a lot from my mom. As a kid I learned about how fun the world is because of her. My mom is spontaneous. She used to wake up in the morning and say to me, “Stephy, let’s go on a trip today!” We would rush through brushing our teeth and I would still be struggling to tie my shoes (I hadn’t quite learned how yet) when she hollered from the car saying, “Let’s go!!!” When I took a second too long she would rush back, scoop me up and say, “Come on, Steph, we have a lot to do today!”
“Mom, we haven’t even had breakfast yet!”
“Don’t worry, we’ll get it on the way. What do you want? McDonald’s? Burger King? Want to go to this new restaurant I drove by yesterday? Or we can go to Thai food if we drive around for thirty minutes…they open at 11.”
I decided on the Thai place. So we drove around aimlessly for ten minutes. Then my mom spotted a TJMaxx across the street. Swerve! My mom turned the corner and got in the lane to make a U-turn. We would spend forty minutes in the store and I’d sit in the toy section while my mom tried shirts, dresses, and pants on.
During lunch we would giggle about the people at her work place. They were so silly. My mom would over-dramatize everything that was going on and tell me things like, “Mary is so silly. Sometimes she sneaks into the break room and eats other people’s food. It used to make me very upset but then one day she accidentally ate my curry. Her stomach couldn’t handle our Asian food! She was in the bathroom all day!”
It was all so funny. My mom has a way of making the world seem as hilarious and awe-inspiring as a space-themed nightclub with flashy disco lights.
My mom taught me about sadness. Sometimes, she would stay in bed in the mornings until very late and moan into her pillow. “Oh, God! Why do you do this to me.” My dad was usually the source of this trouble. I’d sit and stroke her hair and say sweet things to her.
“Mom, I love you. Both Nancy and I love you. Isn’t that more important?”
She sighed. “Yes, honey, of course. I love you both too. So much! Oh! Don’t ever leave me! Let’s be best friends. We are mother-daughter best friends.”
She would still go on to talk about my dad for the next hour or so. Some of the things she said made me feel really bad. I started to be scared of my dad and I wanted to protect my mom. I also wanted her to stop crying. Life was pretty difficult sometimes.
She taught me to be serious. There was one time when we got into a major car accident and we all got cuts and bruises. My mom and an oncoming car had crashed because the traffic lights were off by one millisecond. I remembered the lady in the other car. She was blond, older, and made a big fuss about needing an ambulance. “Stephanie, the world is a scary place sometimes. People are not all nice. In fact, everyone has a mean side and a nice side. You have to try to make people stay in their nice sides. Right now I am going to fight this lady in court because she wants to sue us.”
And fight, she did. She is a librarian so she knows exactly how to research and look things up. She fought that lady with big words and with God’s help. I learned how to fight too.
She still teaches me life lessons now, even though I am grown up and on my own. She asked me through the phone, “My baby, how are you doing? Are you dating anyone new? (I just went through a horrible break-up)”
I slowly responded. “No, I want to take it easy. I’m starting to see that there are other options in the world.”
“Honey, do you know how beautiful you are? (she’s really good at flattery) Seriously, my friends with girls were always jealous because their little girls didn’t have your big eyes and beauty. And you are so ambitious, intuitive, and smart. You deserve the perfect man. Don’t settle for anyone who doesn’t fully appreciate you. Make sure you end up with someone who feels like he won the best prize in the world.”
My mom is still teaching me to love myself. I never had enough confidence to do so. She has some bad qualities, but all of those little things are overpowered by her sweet nature and true heart. I am different from her. I am more careful and fearful. She is a wide open book. I am a worrier. She has an overabundance of positivity. I love talking to her.
“Ok, I have to go. I want to watch my Taiwanese dramas before I go to sleep. Love you, honey. Take care of yourself. Since you’re coming for Chinese New Year next week I’ll schedule you for a massage on Saturday morning, my treat. Love you!!!”
She hung up before I had a chance to. She’s so cute. I love her with all my heart.