When I told my mother I was going to be Wonder Woman at age four, I am almost certain that she laughed and thought it was cute. When I told my mother that I was going to be writer at age eighteen, I really didn’t know what to think because she didn’t really say anything. Those of you with Asian mothers know that not saying anything is worse than if she had told you to your face that you will not entertain thoughts of creativity and buckle down and be the lawyer or doctor that I want you to be. If she had any doubts back then, she kept it to herself. I didn’t care. I was going to be a writer and that was that.
Fast forward about ten years. John Heckathorn, the then editor of Honolulu Magazine, called to tell me that I had just won their fiction contest. It was my first big award for writing. I was elated. When I told my mother, she was actually a little teary-eyed and definitely moved. I waited for her to say something, anything.
“You know,” she began, “I didn’t think you were a very good writer. When you said you wanted to be a writer, I read your writing and it wasn’t anything special or unique.”
The look on my face was priceless. “What? Why are you telling me this now? Didn’t you hear? I won an award for my writing.”
“I heard. But isn’t it great?”
“Now you don’t have to prove anything to me. I believe you’re a good writer.”
To say that I had mixed feelings about our conversation was an understatement. But since that time, my mother has never wavered from her support of my writing. Every time my father gets into that my-dream-is-for-you-to-be-a-state-worker mode, my mother talks him out of it. Whenever the writing and publishing process with its rejections and obstacles feels too long or too difficult, my mother scowls, “So you’re just going to give up?” I nod. And then she says, “If you give up, then you’re not my daughter.” Talk about a shot of courage. And whenever I get a story right that makes me jump for joy, my mother chimes, “That’s my girl.”
I am so grateful that my mother has never given up on me, that she has faith in my dream to be a writer, that she knows me so well that she knows I won’t be happy unless I’m creative.
For those things and so much more, Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!