May 10, 2009 |  Category:   family remembering


I’m breaking my mini blog break because I’ve been wanting to write this post for a while. I think about my mom a lot since we’ve started the business. I guess you can say she is my role model for diving into things and taking risks and chances, so of course she was the first one to encourage us to start our own business when others close by told us to play it safe. We don’t have that “best friends” kind of mother-daughter relationship like some people do, but at the end of the day, she is the person I admire the most and I know I don’t say it enough.

Sometimes when I think about how overwhelmed I am, I think about how much my mom has gone through to get to where she is and it checks me in place. She was the first in her family to come to the US in the 70s with about $500 dollars and little knowledge of English. She came to NYC alone to work as a nurse, leaving me when I was a year old (for reasons I won’t go into here). Growing up, she lived through the Korean War when she was a little girl and has early memories of walking south from Seoul to the tip of the peninsula with her family to escape the Japanese. She grew up in a poor, fatherless, broken family and endured hardships like the stuff you see in movies that she and her sisters can laugh about now (she once told me that she remembers being 3 or 4 and being left outside all night, naked in the cold by her father because she cried too much). We didn’t have the happiest family life growing up (and there were times when things tiptoed to the edge of near destruction), but she was there for us always, wanting to give us what she didn’t have. When you’re a self-absorbed teenager dealing with angst and other teenage drama that prevents you from seeing anything beyond your own little world, you sometimes don’t notice that your mother spent nights studying to finish her college degree, that somewhere along the way she switched careers and went into real estate and found herself really good at it. And when she became really successful in her company, she jumped ship and took a huge risk to start her own partnership with other colleagues right when the economy started going south. She still works 7 days a week, but like me, needs to keep busy or else her mind gets restless. This I inherited from her. What I didn’t quite inherit is the fearlessness to take chances, understanding that it might cost you in money and maybe a little self-dignity if you fail, and the confidence to never look back and have regrets. Sadly, I also didn’t inherit her pure and complete selflessness and generosity or her optimism, despite the hardships that would have knocked any person down. I am trying though, everyday.

So it’s Mother’s Day today. Mia’s been super excited about the holiday in her own hyped up way. I’m trying to remember what Mother’s Day was like for me when I was a kid. You see, when I was reunited with her here in NY when I was 3, two years after she arrived alone, I rejected her, kicking and screaming, which broke her heart. We didn’t have the easiest reunion and this is probably the very first memory that I have. Obviously, I accepted her eventually, and the one Mother’s Day that stands out in my mind was the year I turned 6 or 7. I walked to the store down the street by myself (have times changed or what?) and after some careful consideration, chose a present for her. I walked home with it clutched tight in my hand and couldn’t wait to give it to her when I got home – this little rubbery, stretchy Bugs Bunny figurine. Don’t ask me why, but it’s what I chose. And I remember her accepting it like it was the greatest gift in the world. Thanks mom.

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  • cyndi May 10, 2009 at 5:20 pm

    What a touching tribute to your mom! Happy Mother’s Day to you as well 🙂

  • Michelle May 10, 2009 at 5:27 pm

    Wow that was a beautiful tribute to your Mom! Your Mom is also very beautiful inside and out. Have a wonderful Mother’s Day.

  • Amanda May 10, 2009 at 7:22 pm

    What a beautiful post, and what a beautiful mother you have! Seriously, was she also a super model?!

  • Lara May 10, 2009 at 8:17 pm

    this is really beautiful to read, and I can relate, especially to aspects of having an immigrant mother who went through a lot with incredible mettle and hard work. Your mother is absolutely beautiful in those pictures too.

  • Liza May 10, 2009 at 8:53 pm

    jenna, what a beautiful post. i also think a lot about my parents, particularly my mom, especially since becoming one myself and all the hardships they went through. immigrating here from taiwan/japan with so very little money and knowledge of english and western culture was a shock to them and add to that the challenges of raising young children…oy! i can totally relate to your story. and despite the difficulties growing up, like you, i now appreciate it all (though i certainly didn’t feel so at the time). what a wonderful day to reflect on what your mom means to you. hope you had a great mother’s day. btw, your mom is gorgeous in those pictures, as are you! 🙂

  • catherine m. May 10, 2009 at 9:35 pm

    i love that story! a lot of kids of immigrant parents can relate to the stories of sacrifice and selflessness. btw, your mom is gorgeous!

  • InkSpot Workshop May 10, 2009 at 9:42 pm

    Simply touching.

  • unha May 10, 2009 at 9:44 pm

    Beautiful post. You look a lot like your mom. Happy mothers day. Xoxo

  • danielle May 10, 2009 at 9:51 pm

    She’s so gorgeous 🙂 Happy mumma’s day to you both!

  • xj May 10, 2009 at 10:08 pm

    Your mum is so beautiful!

  • RJ May 10, 2009 at 10:19 pm

    Beautiful. Happy Mothers Day…

  • carolyn May 10, 2009 at 11:32 pm

    When I first looked at that photo on the right I thought, “Who is that holding Claudine?!” You look so much like your mom and Claudine looks so much like you! Beautiful post, Jenna.

  • OUX May 11, 2009 at 4:23 am


  • nichole May 11, 2009 at 7:22 am

    Wow, Jenna. This is absolutely beautiful.

  • Patricia May 11, 2009 at 8:10 am

    My parents were immigrants too so I can relate to much of what you’ve said. Very touching Jenna.

  • jennifer May 11, 2009 at 8:39 am

    This is such a sweet and honest post, jenna.

  • Marisa & Creative Thursday May 11, 2009 at 10:40 am

    this is truly beautiful jenna ~ My mom also went through a war as a child WWII. thank you for reminding me to appreciate what she went through to be here & give me the opportunities I now have.

  • naomi May 11, 2009 at 12:18 pm

    A sweet, beautiful and lovely post.

  • Betty May 12, 2009 at 3:51 am

    What a beautiful post!
    I’m sitting here with a big lumb in my throat. Thanks for sharing!

  • Susan (Artkitten) May 12, 2009 at 2:18 pm

    This is such a wonderful post, your mother is beautiful and it is so touching to read such an honest, from the heart story. Thank you for sharing.

  • Becca May 13, 2009 at 1:18 pm

    How lovely, she looks and sounds like a really beautiful lady and like the kind of person I aspire to be! Mothers are amazing things, I imagine one day your kids will be writing the same about you 🙂

  • Shannalee May 31, 2009 at 10:58 pm

    Oh, the tears are flowing here. Beautiful story – thanks for posting it.

  • Julie August 16, 2009 at 12:24 pm

    Hi Jenna.
    I happened to find your blog by accident. I’ve been reading it for an hour now.. I had to leave a comment on this ..
    Thank you for posting..

    Julie.. from Downunder..

  • young September 7, 2009 at 9:55 am

    Just found your blog so i’m back reading, but this reminded me of my own story with my parents. They left me too and when i flew to america at 3 by myself i was kicking and screaming that i was being kidnapped. as soon as they took me home, they sat me in front of the TV and that was the end of it =)
    thanks for your blog! you have a beautiful family!