Five Instances of My Mom Being Epically Badass


I don’t appreciate my mom enough. I don’t think any of us really do. We forget to call. We rarely visit. We pray that our mothers don’t find us on Facebook.

Most us act like ungrateful brats 364 days out of the year (365 on a leap year). But when Mother’s Day comes around, we remember again. We remember their sacrifice, their unconditional love, their bottomless pool of patience. We remember how amazing our mothers are. And we remember how cherished they should be.

For me, Mother’s Day is also a reminder of my mom’s epic badassness — the reasons for which I will share with you:

Five instances of my mom refusing to be anything less than epic:

Gave birth. Repeated three times.
I don’t even think I need to continue past this point. But I will. Only because I do love me a good list.

Lived through the Vietnam War.
I’m spending my youth in New York City during the hipster war on hygiene. My mom spent her youth in Vietnam during an actual war.

I once (probably underestimating this number) stumbled home at dawn after an evening of alcohol-fueled festivities. My mom was once abducted from her home at dawn by Vietcong soldiers, blindfolded, and dragged away to a public execution.

Married at 33.
My mom was a single 33-year-old female in Asia, where 25 is considered past your peak of desirability and 30 is basically RIP-uterus time.

She could have married any of her suitors to guarantee financial stability. Society was screaming at her to do so. She yelled back. She gave societal expectations the middle finger and refused to settle down until she met my dad. He wasn’t rich and he certainly wasn’t handsome back then — being a POW for six years is really harsh on your skin, fyi. But, he had pride and intelligence. He looked like a man with goals, she once told me. (I think that’s the equivalent of swagger.)

Dropped out of school.
My grandfather passed away when my mom was just a little girl. Her newly widowed mom struggled to take care of seven children. To make matters worse: they were poor — not “my rent check might be late” poor, but third-world-country poor. So, my mom dropped out of the fourth grade to take care of her younger siblings. She tended to the rice fields. She worked at the market. And she made sure her younger brothers and sisters all graduated from high school, even if it meant that she never would.

Left my father.
I love my dad. I do. But he wasn’t a great husband once upon a time. Great father, yes. I could fill a book recounting all the times my father put his children first. We were his everything. This love, unfortunately, wasn’t transferred to my mother.

Maybe in a patriarchal society, all men take their wives for granted. Maybe my father couldn’t grow to love the object of an arranged marriage. Whatever the reason, he was very cruel to my mom during the early years of their marriage. He used to drink, gamble, lose it all, and then take his rage out on her.

One day, she left him.

She had no money, no job, no education — really, no way to survive on her own. Still, she left. She said she deserved better. And she fucking meant it. My mom didn’t come back until Dad showed up at my grandma’s house three months later as a sober, gamble-free, humbled, and much better man.

One day — a very distant day from now — I will be a mother. And when that day comes, I hope to only be half as epic as my mom.

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