for my very own tiger mom

There are a lot of things I miss while I’m away at college, from home-cooked meals to soft carpets that I can walk around without shoes on. But aside from the very apparent difference in comfort, what I miss most are the small moments and simple pleasures, ones that I took for granted when I was living at home. Like getting up early in the mornings before school and padding downstairs to practice piano while I was half-asleep, watching the whole house slowly wake up to the music. Or warm summer days where we’d swim as happily as fish in the pool from morning until late at night, when the last candle outside had burned down and our eyes were hazy from the chlorine. Or even just eating together with my family at dinnertime every night and hearing stories about the day.

I had a pretty great childhood. And it was mostly because my mom did everything for our benefit. From giving up her career to single-handedly raising three daughters, the last 21 years have pretty much been a test of will and an exercise in sacrifice. So ever since I was little, for every special occasion—birthdays, anniversaries, and everything in-between—one of my favorite traditions was my sisters and I waking up early to make her breakfast. We would wake her up with homemade cards and gifts and sit on her bed in our pajamas, eating breakfast with her.

Now everything’s different. Tiny little moments of happiness like that make me wish I weren’t 200 miles away, missing yet another one of those breakfasts, and that I’d gone home for Mother’s Day so I could give her a hug in person. I’m not really the artistic type, so my cards were never that great anyway, but I know she subscribes to my blog, so…Mom, if you’re reading this (you should be, because I told you to this morning), here’s my Mother’s Day card to you.

The only picture I have of just the two of us that I could find on my computer. Circa '96, bowl cut, matching sunflower outfits and all.

The only picture I have of just the two of us that I could find on my computer. Circa '96, bowl cut, matching sunflower outfits and all.

Mom,

You and I were always an unlikely pair. I know we all used to joke that I was adopted because I looked so different from you, but in a lot of ways, we’re polar opposites. You’re much more rational than I am, much neater, and much less clumsy. You know better than anyone that I am not an easy person to get along with, that I’ve always been opinionated and stubborn with a quick tongue and a fiery disposition, and it would be an understatement to say we’ve had our fair share of battles. But now that I think about it, every time you chastised me for those things, it wasn’t ever to tell me to stop, but rather to teach me how to turn those flaws into something constructive.

You are the reason I believe women can do everything men can, and often with much more kindness, grace, and compassion. You taught me to be brilliant, independent, fearless, and relentless. Although you weren’t exactly a tiger mom in the traditional sense, your strength and your ability to rise above circumstance are truly inspiring, and you don’t get nearly enough credit for it. I definitely don’t say that I appreciate you as often as I should, but I do, especially as I get older. I won’t say you were always right or you always made the right decisions, but I know you always tried your best, and that was always more than enough for us. Every time I tell someone our story, they’re always left speechless with admiration. They tell me how much of a badass you are, and I’m always so proud to call you my mom.

Thanks for always pushing me to do the things I don’t want to do or the things I’m too scared to do, for always packing me lunch in the mornings and taking me to aikido, and for never forgetting to say “I love you, I’ll dream about you” every night when I was little. Thanks for teaching me ’60s lingo, how to pump gas, and that it never hurts to ask for what you think you deserve. Thanks for always supporting me throughout every career phase I ever had (remember when I wanted to be an inventor?) and almost all of my decisions in life. Thanks for simultaneously spoiling me and teaching me to work hard for what I want.

I hope I grow up to be just like you. And I know we’re not the most conventional family, but you deserve all of the clichés in the world and more.

Happy Mother’s Day. I love and miss you lots, and I wish you so much happiness today and every other day. I’ll see you soon.