Sunday, September 19, 2010

3 Things I Learned About My Mother

Cousin A's mother and my mother are sisters. Cousin A and I were able to catch up on some family gossip when Domestic Partner and I took her to brunch for her birthday today. My mother, who is originally from Japan, is now in her mid-sixties.

Here a few things I learned about her.

1.) My mother had attended a prestigious university in the Tokyo area before meeting my father. She did not graduate. Instead, she married my father and moved to America with him. My Ojii-chan, my mother's father, supported her decision to quit college and get married. Cousin A has worked in Tokyo. She told me that the same university still has a well-known and respected reputation.

2.) If it had been up to my mother, she might have chosen to have less than four children. It was my father who had wanted a large family, after having read "Cheaper by the Dozen." I remember feeling, at age 13, slightly offended when I had learned that my mother had had her tubes tied after my youngest brother was born.

3.) In the early 1960's, there was the possibility that my mother might never meet anyone and get married, according to Cousin A's mother, who had expressed that opinion out loud. I don't know whether she truly thought that or if she was just saying that to her older sister in jest.

But it makes me wonder: did my mother accept my father's marriage proposal because she had feared that was the one and only offer she would ever receive?

Was it both the post-war era and Japanese culture that reinforced my grandfather's support of my mother dropping out of school to get married?

My parents were married for thirty years before my father asked my mother for a divorce.

How much did my mother sacrifice to marry my father? What else did she give up? What if she had contributed less to her roles as a wife and as a mother in order to realize more of her own potential? What if she had been allowed to shape more of her individual identity personally, academically, and career-wise?

Did my mother end up feeling she was held back by marrying my father?

I wonder if I had missed the chance to view my mother even more as a positive role model while I was growing up?


thelastnoel said...

I always think it's interesting what we find out about our parents. We are a luckier generation with a wider lot of choices.

Cheryl said...

It's always interesting to get other family members' take on the histories your parents have told you--you learn so much.

And hey, at least your mom didn't get her tubes tied after *you* were born. It's your little bro who should be insulted. :-)

Lori said...

It's been a strange and eye opening experience, getting to know my mother as an adult. In recent years she's decided to let me in on all kinds of things that I never would have guessed about her in a million years. I often wish she'd shown me the cracks in her foundation a little sooner. I've always felt a little inadequate when I compared my life to her's, but now that I know what she's struggled through, the mistakes she's made. Turns out we have even more in common then I ever thought possible.