A couple of days ago, I talked about my mom with a few ladies and felt it necessary to point out that there are many versions of Chinese mothers. There's a stereotype about Asian moms in this country. I consider it an insult because there are many different Asian moms just like there are many different moms of other ethnicities. To ask someone if his or her mother is a stereotypical Asian mom equates with, "Hey Whitey! Your mom feed you donuts?" So when I talk about her, I feel I must say that I don't want to box her into a stereotype. But it's weird because I also want to talk about her culture and how it interacts with our relationship, or lack thereof as it currently stands. Gah. It can seem so complicated.
She's a magnificent woman in many ways. When I think of her now, I see a strong woman with determined values. She married out of her culture and traveled across the world. An adventurer! The issue of late is that she won't agree to listen to me and treat my opinions with respect. As in, I asked her in an email if she would be able to listen to my opinions and treat them with respect. She promptly responded and said she was unable to answer the question. (!) I'd told her that I'd like to be friends, that I don't know how that will be possible if she doesn't respect me. I recapped to her our previous interaction and the particular behaviors that didn't sit well with me. Then I described the behavior that I need in a friendship. Her reply: I am your mother not your friend. I'm an adult and my mother won't treat me as such. Maybe other people can relate.
Back to mommers. Her complete lack of empathy in some regards really floors me sometimes, even to this day. I spent years in the same home with this woman. I thought at some point, she'd soften and come to realize that my position as a daughter is important in the relationship between us. Instead, she won't see me or my opinions as worthy of respect. It's hurtful because I put in a lot of effort to get to know my immediate family, my mom especially. I did everything I could think to do, and she won't acknowledge me as a full individual. Maybe her neural pathways aren't built to individuate in this manner. Ok, even then - I can't do a relationship in which the other person doesn't know that he or she can respect me. I love her, and her stance really offends my personality. One of my female friends whose mother practiced similarly inconsiderate behavior offered this: She would never expect the same stuff of others that she feels she expects of herself in relation to her mom. I thought that was an excellent point.
So now I focus on breath exercises, do what I can to keep attuned to universal respect. Yes, it sucks that my immediate family situation is so distant and void of empathy right now. Sometimes we put in effort and the other party isn't able or doesn't want to reciprocate. It can feel painful. I tried many times with my mom, and now I see that she isn't able to or won't offer me what I need. I didn't want to give up on a relationship with her. The "good girl" inside of me didn't want to "be that way" and "the Chinese part" of me didn't want to "act so American." Maybe it's not giving up. Maybe it's acceptance of her limitations and my own.
Well hello there.