Relationship with mother and daughter
We, daughters are like a life-long trust fund to our mothers. The start of the relationship was maybe rocky, but it gets gradually better in time, like well-aged cheese. We share similar challenges, experiences, frustrations and joy. We understand each other better as mothers, as daughters, as sisters, as sister-in-law and as most of all, as women. We become friends. Maybe not the best friends, but very trusty friends.
We Koreans are not good at expressing feelings. Of course there are differences between individuals, but the general rule of the society is ‘don’t show your emotion’. The same principal has been applied since thousands years ago. Anyway, so that’s why you don’t hear much of ‘I love you’ or ‘I miss you’ in average Korean families. I surely didn’t hear much when I was growing up. As time goes by, my parents are getting old and so am I, I found out my mum shows more feelings more openly. She mentioned a few times that she’s going to miss having me at home when I leave. It surprised me.
Yesterday my mum and I flipped through old photos. My parents don’t have many photos (of them). It was a rare occasion to take photos when they were growing up in 1950s and 60s (graduation and wedding are the two biggest). They didn’t grow up with money, and neither did we. We were a typical working class, economically slightly below average, but happy family. They do have collections of photos, but they were too busy maintaining life rather than cherishing the good times. Hence, most of the photos were just sitting in big boxes. The piles of photos in the boxes were a mixture of my parents when they were even younger than me, my grandparents and tons of my brother and I growing up. And for the first time in my life, I saw many different photos of my mum.
We have very similar smile
It was very uncommon to take picture with silly facial expressions back then (even now), but I found a few of my mum, having fun. Her facial expressions from thirty years ago were exactly same as mine now. I could tell, without looking at mirror. It was totally me. It’s very natural when you think about it. She raised me for 18+ years, and we looked at each other for almost everyday for these long years; it is only logical that I got my mother’s look. But it was more than the logic, it was kind of a rewarding moment. I always knew that I looked a lot like her. Face, height, figures are very similar. We used to make jokes that we could easily find each other by resemblance even if we were separated by the Korean War. It was a subtle joy. To know the fact, I got a lot of my mother in me made me happy. Biologically, emotionally and spiritually, I am a lot like my mum, not just a face. I wonder if she thinks the same when she looks at me.
Our fashion sense
Of course we wear different style clothes now, since our age difference is more than thirty years, but I could tell she had very similar sense of style as mine now. She liked colours (she still does). She wore something goes well with her height: boots, trench coat and long hair. By the mothers’ nature of saving stuff, my mum saved a few of her items for her daughter, me. Her brown leather boots, trench coat, shoulder bag are now in my closet. Surprise, surprise – I look good in them. My mum looked very graceful and stylish when she was my age. Maybe she had better sense of fashion than me now. Huh.
There were a few photos of her at the mountains and temples when she went hiking. Photos of her with a backpack reminded me of myself, naturally. We went to a lot of family trips when we were little, and it was usually either hiking in the mountains or swimming in the ocean. I climbed Seoraksan to the top when I was 8 or 9. I always wondered where did I get this adventurous nature, and now I know the answer.
She’s my secret admirer
My family isn’t the biggest fan of my lifestyle, but my mum always has been my secret admirer. She asked me a while ago, that is there any way she can see what I do (meaning, look at my websites) with calling somewhere with her phone. She was thinking the logic of phone banking – she thought if she can do all the bank business by phone, why not general websites. She has absolutely no sense of technology. Her asking this adorable question meant the world to me.
The population of pigeons is quite high in Seoul. They were always a part of my daily life. Feeding street animals, cats, dogs, and birds, were quite common when I was growing up. I wonder why pigeons became people’s worst favourite. Anyway, my mum has been feeding pigeons on her roof ever since I could remember. She always saved leftover rice or old grains. Sometimes she carried a bag of rice for the street pigeons. It was her way of loving the world. Ever since I started traveling extensively, she kept the ritual more seriously. She said, she talked to the birds when feeding them, to keep an eye on me if and when they see me. Birds are the symbol of travelers for my mum. It is her way of loving me.
When I hit the hard wall of negativity from the society including my family, I was full of negativity. I think of myself as ‘easy to please’ kind of person, but it was very hard to power through. Friends who were on my side kept telling me, that my family still cares about me even if I couldn’t feel at that time. Honestly I was skeptical about the hopeful future. But I temporarily forgot, that I had my mum on my side. The relationship between my family and I are still not perfect, but we understand each other better. After all, we are the people who are having the longest relationship in our lives. We’ve known each other for 20 some years and we still have many decades to go. Since the relationship is going smoother, my mum is openly supporting my decisions. She’s living her life through me. I’m making her life more fulfilled. I’m the strong woman herself.
My mum may never see my websites on her own, but she will see me standing tall and reaching my goal. Now I now for sure that she will be there, no matter when and where. She will always be my supporter.
The path I’m walking on is not even. There will be a lot of tough moments to face. But now I know my limit is a lot higher than I though. I feel stronger, because I’m more certain that I am the daughter of my mother, the strongest woman I know.
22 thoughts on “Things I Didn’t Know about My Mother”
This is a very heartwarming blog post, Juno! Thanks for sharing it. As you get older, I think all of us tend to find a little bit more meaning behind who are parents are and why we turned out the way we did. Our parents may have grown up in a different era when traveling the world wasn’t so easy and was even less acceptable than it is now, but they may have still had that feeling inside them. After all, someone obviously sowed the seed of wanderlust into travelers like us.
Thanks Ryan. I guess I always saw the wanderlust in my mum’s eyes, but she just didn’t get a chance to make her dream happen. In some way, she’s living through me and I’m grateful for the opportunity.
Beautiful post, Juno!
I truly believe that there is a special bond between Mother and Daughter and it’s apparent between you two. I love that she feeds the pidgeons and asks them to watch over you. =)
I hope that she find a way to see your website soon. I bet she’d be really proud of all that you’ve accomplished. 🙂
I thought so too. I know pigeons are not migratory birds (at least as far as I know), but the underlying symbolizm is quite moving. 😉
So sweet, Juno. I can’t imagine what I’d feel going through photos with my mother. Despite us being from far away places, our families seem very similar. I found old pics of my parents over Christmas, and while my brothers and I were dying, they just shrugged lol.
It was a good feeling, looking at them in black and white photography. These are the perfect example of ‘photography with story’. 🙂
This is so sweet! I can totally relate — Chinese families are similar in not showing much emotion. It’s only been in the last couple years, since I graduated and left home, that I’ve become closer to my mom and learned more about her. We also went through some of her old photos from growing up in China and I went through the same realizations and feelings of happiness! I’m glad you have such a big supporter and strong relationship with your mom.
Thanks Edna. I guess the relationship became better in last two years. My brother always comes first by the male oriented culture, but my mother always had some kind of belief in me. I’m now seeing the love more and more. Good that you had a meaningful time with your mother also. Old photos are great, aren’t they?
This post made me miss my mom! She’s in the UK now and i remember the time wherein she complained that I am not affectionate. It was just recently when I became a bit more open in expressing my feelings. She is not as outdoorsy as me and she rarely goes out of the house, but like your mom, she is also my secret admirer 😀 I get you in most parts of this article and honestly, I can’t wait to travel with her again. It’s just a bit hard for now due to the distance, but i will in due time 🙂
Mother-daughter relationship is getting stronger in time I think. I’m looking forward to travel with my mum in short future. I want to take her somewhere great, so she can see more of the world and her daughter doing well in any part of the world. Do you visit your mum often? I’m sure you miss her a lot.
It sounds like a really special moment with your mom.
Thanks Emily. It was!
Your mother looks so happy in those photos, what a beautiful way to reconnect.
Wish I see more of happy moments with her in the future, not just from 30 year old photos. 😉
Awww! You nearly made me teary lady! I love these old pictures. You really do look like your mom. I’m glad to hear you do have some support on your side.
Right? I was surprised too. I always knew I got a lot from my mum but the facial expressions are uncanny. I got a lot more than I thought. 🙂
Beautiful Juno. You’re right that your Mum definitely has your smile. I love that shot of her in the mountains.
Thanks Pete. I like her making funny faces, because that really does look like me. 🙂
Wow, you too look so much alike in that first photo! And that is a great compliment to you because your mom is a beauty. I love old photos… these are truly priceless.
Great post, your mother IS very proud of you! Paulette loved the story as well. She must have asked me at least 13 times if I read the story. She said it made her cry. Safe travels! Have fun with Jr!
Aw, this is so sweet! You really look like your mom, especially in that photo of her by the monument. I love that she wanted to call your website to see your articles 🙂
Wow, what a lovely post about mother, I seen article related to health, travel, tech & Internet etc but I never didn’t found article realted to mother. To be honest, I really appreciate this post.