this winter we celebrated warmer, spring-like days here in South Texas. There
was so much happiness and hope in our little family – the way spring is
supposed to be. What spring is supposed to mean. But as all South Texans know:
if you don’t like the weather: stick ‘round, it’ll change.
With a fierce, biting wind reminding me it was still winter, my world became
cold and barren.
the definition of a normal, modern, blended, American family. We struggle with
schedules, negotiate the school-work balance, commute to and from
extra-curricular activities, schedule social time among adolescent and adult
friends, cope with extended family matter dramas and move through our daily lives as
a family living alongside two ‘tweens.
had written off as normal ‘tween girl drama I can retroactively see now as
warning signs. Stereotypical signs, too! Tumbling grades (check!), increased
arguments with us, (check!), a new passion for fighting with her brother (check!),
yelling matches and hurling hurtful words (check!), periods of deafening total
hip, consciously-aware, educated, socially active mother (certainly not like
the old-school Korean mother I grew up with!) I knew and understood the stage of growing up she was
going through. She was in the
early stages of adolescent spring! The winter of child childhood fading. I could even empathize with the season of
adolescent spring: the bright sunlight moving from family to friends, chores and
homework to trips to the mall with friends and PG-13 movies in giggly, awkward groups.
here I was am trying to understand. I’ve Googled. I’ve
read. I’ve Tumblred. I've seen and read things that have broken my heart a million times into a million pieces. I’ve gone to see our family therapist. I’ve cried. I’ve begged. I’ve
pleaded. I’ve prayed. I’ve overdosed my daughter with “mommy and me” time(!) not
because I particularly enjoy spending countless hours talking about My Little
Pony, cats and watching Animal Planet, but because I’m too scared to leave her
alone. Too scared what I may find when I come back.
what I know about Koreans and depression; knowing what I know about my Korean
parents, depression and alcoholism; knowing what I know about my own struggles
with depression, alcoholism and addiction I wish I knew more about how to help
I think we are moving through this season of hurt, but then I am reminded of
the very meaning of seasons and that cutting isn’t just a one time thing, a one hundred
time thing, or even a one thousand time thing . . . it’s a lifetime thing.
Today I attended a conference about intimate partner violence (IPV), or domestic violence (DV). It was the 10th anniversary celebration of some sorts. I don't work directly in the field but my work partners with the folks who do the work.
Why am I writing this post on the Kimchi Mamas blog? First because it's near and dear to my heart and second because Korean women (and their children, wives of Korean men, women of all color, and even some men) continue to be victims of intimate partner violence. I want to do my part to help it stop.
I learned today that IPV is complicated. I knew that but I think I still had some amount of judgement deep within me. It really is not as simple as "Why don't you just leave?"
The facts are that most women do end abusive relationships. It takes an average of 5 - 7 years and many attempts before she leaves, but still, she does leave. These women are resilient and should be commended for their resiliency.
I also learned that children who witness domestic violence can be scarred for life. I mean, I kind of knew that from personal experience. The worst thing that my dad did was get a knife from the kitchen and threaten to kill my mom and us. I think I partially blocked this from memory but I remember that knife vividly. I was very young. What I didn't know is that children's brain development can actually be affected by witnessing IPV and that they can get post traumatic stress disorder as well. And most of us probably also know that there is a cycle of violence. Children from violent homes grow up to either become abusers or victims themselves.
At the conference today, one of the speakers shared a training video that all police officers have to watch. They were pictures and voice recordings of actual victims. As soon as they started playing the 911 calls from children, I had to leave the room because I could not control my emotions. As a mom, it just hit a nerve that never was there before.
As a 1.5 generation Korean woman, I am finding my relationship with my parents rather superficial. I'm kind of estranged from my mother at the moment, and my father lives about 300 miles away and I barely see him once a year. I find myself wondering, what is a "normal" Korean child-to-parent relationship when the children are all grown up?
From what I see, I see either super codependent Korean children who seek their parents approval of everything, even their choice in career and spouse, or I see super independent offspring who don't give a shit what their parents say. I'm kind of the latter, if you couldn't tell already. I mean, I don't really not give a shit... I want them to be proud of me, of course, but I don't consult my parents advice about what to do about X, or how I should handle Y. Maybe that's what they WANT me to do, and since I don't do it... that's the cause of our "bad" relationship?
Disclaimer: I got a free copy of this book to review.
I recently finished reading To Be Sung Underwater by Tom McNeal. The book tells the story of Judith Whitman, a film editor who lives a posh life in Los Angeles but has may doubts about her life. Doubts about her relationship with her husband, doubts about her abilities as a mother, and doubts about her first love whom she left behind in Nebraska when she got accepted into Stanford.
The book is beautifully written but I found Judith to be unlikeable. I found her to be vain, selfish, and self-centered, not really giving a sh*t about her daughter or her husband and shrugging off her responsibilities to go off to meet her long lost love. Her husband seemed like a prick, and her daughter seemed spoiled.
I just finished reading Please Look After Mom by Shin Kyung-Sook. It's one of a few Korean books that I've read that's been translated from Korean into English. I think I've actually read more books in Korean. This one was conveniently available to me at the local library and after reading this racist review, I had to check it out for myself. I tried to get a Korean version of it in Garden Grove this past weekend but it was sold out!
The book was a quick weekend read. I did not find myself crying or feeling guilty about mistreating my mom. Rather, I found myself being drawn into the life of this woman who got lost in the city.
I burst into tears when I read the last couple paragraphs. I wish I could go back in time and make this compulsory for all first generation husbands and fathers...how many awkward or broken relationships would this have mended?
Have any of you ever heard of Father School before today? I cannot believe this is the first I have heard of this, especially since it's based right next to my hometown!
And while I'm here, I wish you all a very happy Mother's Day!!!! Whether it's your first or your fiftieth, it's always nice to see your kids try to show their appreciation (or at least get some brunch buffet).
Recent conversations, FB status updates and varying degrees of parent status of fellow parent friends have me wondering about the great myth of “the light at the end of the tunnel.”
I don’t know what’s in the water, but I have what seems to be a lot girlfriends who are expecting in the upcoming months. All of them are looking for the light at the end of [their] tunnel. (*I apologize for the crude joke . . .) Some have spent a blissful 6, 7, 8, or 9 months of pregnancy; others have suffered swelling, nausea, and “tummy issues” for 4, 5, or 6 months; while others have had a combination of both the sweet and the sour.
Then there are my mother-in-arms who have infants and toddlers. The tantrums, sleepless nights, crying, screaming and disciplining. And those are just the parents… Their light at the end of the tunnel comes down to wanting a semi-regular schedule, a little person they can reason with without the tears (mom's or child's) and maybe getting into the shower before 2:30 in the afternoon or eating a hot meal that does not include partially chewed-on rice and ghim rolls.
There are my parent pals who have school-aged children. The light at the end of their tunnel is blocked by soccer/basketball/t-ball/baseball practice schedules, music lessons, language school, Sunday school/CCD, gymnastics, endless birthday parties/slumber parties and ensuring their well-roundedness as responsible, compassionate members of a global community on top of burgeoning school assignments and other academic pressures.
And of course there are the tween/teens. Changing bodies, changing voices . . . changing smells(?!). Hormones, tantrums, sleepless nights, crying, screaming and disciplining (it’s infants and toddlers re-do but super-sized!). New fears about sex[ting], drugs and rock and roll in the car while driving… Where has the child who used to fit in your lap gone? And who replaced him/her with this giant, taller-than-mom, locust eating his/her way through this week’s groceries in 3 day’s time? The light at the end of the tunnel is a well-rounded child who will take their place in our world and a fridge that’s no longer raided by marauding teenage school-band gangs . . .
But alas, then it’s onto young adulthood. You’d think watching your son/daughter get through college, medical an/or law school (Tiger Mom moment) and develop their place in our world would be the light at the end of the tunnel . . . Instead, it’s the time to see your offspring become the adult you always knew was in there, meet and fall in love with someone who makes them happy . . . and then observe as you watch them journey through their search for the light at the end of their tunnels.
--Angie in Texas knows not all tunnels are dark . . .