Life Advice for an ABC mom

I  saw this post in my Facebook feed earlier this week and thought it was brilliant.

Especially now with young two boys that prefer to grunt and point when they want something, I feel like these are the messages I try to weave throughout our day: ask questions, tell people what you want, and don’t be afraid to say something even if you think you could be wrong or ask when you’re not sure. This includes expressing how you feel: hungry, frustrated, happy, tired, grumpy. I tell Jpeg and Pnut now all the time when I’m starting to get tired and when I need to excuse myself because I need to rest or be alone. (I’ve found it way more effective than pretending to be fine and barking through the last hours of the evening before bed.) And of course in trying to be a good parent, I tried actively practicing the advice in the image for the few days after I saw it.

Except that’s not Chinese folks roll

Growing up, my family was never the huggy “I love you” types: we just never did those things. My parents never held hands,  rarely walked arm in arm, and even more rarely ever said “please”, “thank you”, “sorry”, or “I love you”. So neither did me or my two older sisters. We were really good at name calling (“stupid” and “dummy” were our choice words) and hitting each other on the arm till I was about 11, but apologies and words of appreciation definitely were foreign to us.

As we’ve gotten older I’ve gotten a lot better at doing these things with my mom and dad. I can’t exactly encourage my kids to give hugs and kisses to their grandparents if I don’t touch them myself. The first time I remember my mom telling me “I love you” as an adult was probably a few years before kids or maybe when Jpeg was a baby as I was leaving after a weekend visit. It was so awkward that I’m not sure I even said it back. Wait, whut did you just say?

It’s not so awkward anymore. Though I still can’t just sit her down and have a heart to heart with her and my dad to tell them how I feel, I can usually write my dad an email to apologize if I’ve snapped at my mom, or tell them how much the kids and I love spending time with them and how I miss them. The truth is I never want them to leave. My dad is a very poetic writer and can usually write a response that makes me cry with love.

Work in progress

The part that I struggle with though is – partly due to my own insecurities – what do you do when you tell someone how much you care about them, try to support them, try to be closer to them, and they don’t really seem to reciprocate? It’s scary and awkward! My Chinese-ness can’t help but just avoid confrontation, pretend there isn’t a problem, and hope it’ll go away. So I continue to live my life quieting those Asian instincts again. Some days are better than others.

I guess that’s one part of the life advice that didn’t fit on the image as easily: be ok when other people don’t follow this life advice.

Does this ever happen to you? What do you do to deal with it?


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