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.