new bridges

July 15, 2011 |  Category:   family growing up half life parenting

I’ve referred to my mom quite often in recent posts about childhood and parental role models, but not much about my dad. If you’ve been here for while, you may know that my relationship with my dad has been complicated and I keep it generally vague, partially because he started reading the blog about a year and a half ago (you think it’s awkward to get a Facebook request from your parents? Try having your parents read your blog!! Awkward x 10!). But as I’ve written before, the kids have been a great “buffer” in our relationship and he adores them. We see my parents quite often, every 3-4 weeks, and summers are particularly fun because my dad teaches the girls how to harvest lettuce and cucumbers from the backyard garden. We often eat outside, grilling Korean barbeque from a tabletop grill on the patio and Mia’s love of Korean food never ceases to be a source of pleasure and pride for my dad. I often look at the girls and my dad together, when they are out in the garden or taking the dog for a walk, and imagine an image of myself with my dad at that age in their place. While I see snapshots of moments through old photographs, I don’t have a whole lot of early memories of he and I together. I guess that’s not so important anymore. Instead, I’m building new memories.

btw, don’t the girls look like 2 little ajumas? If you’re Korean, you’ll understand.

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  • Susan July 15, 2011 at 6:32 pm

    My parents also read my blog, and I really love that they do. They learn a lot about my passions as an adult and have a much more in depth view of my life. Your girls are always looking cute!

  • Rebecca July 15, 2011 at 6:49 pm

    This is my first time posting a comment on your blog. I accidentally came across your blog via b for bonnie’s blog and I’m so glad that I did. As a fellow Korean woman/working mother of immigrant parents, I can relate so much to all of your postings. Although I grew up in the west coast (SF bay area), I had relatives in New York and also had a job there earlier in my career (mid town Manhattan) for a couple of years too. This particular post is so “Korean” if you know what I mean … the table set with Korean marinated meat for bbq, plates of fresh peppers, lettuces, and of course the Kimchee, etc. It’s so familiar to me and puts a warm smile on my face. In fact, I’d say all of your posts put a smile on my face … one way or another. Thank you for your writing and sharing it with the world. Please don’t stop!

  • Zooey July 15, 2011 at 7:02 pm

    The most adorable little ajumas, that’s what! But it’d be even funnier with the perm šŸ˜›

  • Jenna July 15, 2011 at 7:05 pm

    @Zooey, you mean the KoFro?

  • Audrie July 15, 2011 at 7:25 pm

    I know how you feel… about a year ago my mum told me that she and dad have started reading my blog. I wanted to tell them to stop it but it would’ve been pointless! From then on, I’ve had to watch my words VERY carefully lest I get an angry email / text / call from an angry mum.

  • Julia July 15, 2011 at 7:37 pm

    Kimchi squat + sun visors = mini ahjummas

  • may July 15, 2011 at 8:28 pm

    The visors had me laughing. So awesome.

  • Sue July 15, 2011 at 8:29 pm

    I would kill to have parents that could cook up some yummy Korean food. My mouth is salivating over the kimchi. One day I will go back to Seoul. Love you blog, your girls are adorable!

  • anna kim July 15, 2011 at 8:45 pm

    haha. the visors are a staple item for ajumas. they got it down!
    as a fellow korean american, you continue to inspire me with your thoughts + ideas. thanks for sharing.

  • Patty C. July 15, 2011 at 8:55 pm

    I started reading your blog last week and absolute love it! Your honesty and openness are truly wonderful. Your daughters are adorable!!
    I relate to a number of your posts growing up as a child of Korean immigrant parents. My parents had similar job circumstances – Dad owned a store, Mom was a nurse. My dad hated owning a store – he felt like he was in jail and on top of that it was a liquor store in a bad neighborhood near Washington Heights. It took him ten years to figure out what he wanted to do after selling the store and he took a huge risk which proved to be very lucrative.
    The visors are so cute. Ajumas are so into those large visors because they do not want to darken their complexions and get sun spots!

  • tanja (iheartmyfood) July 15, 2011 at 9:40 pm

    this is just the loveliest post.

  • finley {mommy chic} July 15, 2011 at 9:44 pm

    Awww, so great that your girls are ‘kimchi squatting’ with their grandfather! ;)) I remember my dad eating kimchi when we were growing up and the smell would make me gag!

  • Charity July 15, 2011 at 9:54 pm

    “Instead, Iā€™m building new memories.”
    That’s a great viewpoint to have–we can’t change what’s happened, but we can work on what WILL happen. Love your blog!

  • Leah July 15, 2011 at 11:01 pm

    Beautiful pictures! And delicious looking dinner too!

  • Andrea July 15, 2011 at 11:31 pm

    It’s so awesome to be able to harvest greens from your own garden.
    Totally get where you’re coming from on feeling awkward that your parents read your blog. My mine reads mine and my co workers as well (got my job through my blog) so.. ya. Though I think getting my mom on FB is worse because FB is for friends so I’m more liberal with what I say but my blog is on a public domain so it’s more ‘constrained’.
    P.S LOVE your girls.

  • the other jenna July 15, 2011 at 11:33 pm

    the squatting and visors! ha, totally cute ajumas šŸ˜‰

  • Joy July 15, 2011 at 11:56 pm

    Haha they do look like mini ahjummas. But so cute so very unlike them in that aspect. Having someone you know IRL to read your blog is awkward! That’s why I’m not telling anybody that I have one…for now.

  • cindy July 16, 2011 at 12:11 am

    They have the kimchi squat perfected and the visors are an awesome touch! love it!

  • Smama July 16, 2011 at 12:28 am

    Their sun visors as well as squats are very familiar!

  • Susan July 16, 2011 at 12:33 am

    I can see your dad is making up for the times that he could not spend with you through your daughters. He seems to enjoy his vegetable farm. Look like good times. =)

  • Jen July 16, 2011 at 1:34 am

    Yum. I love Korean food and love that my son loves it too.
    New memories. I love that. I am always trying to look forward and not dwell on the past. And your girls, they really got the ajumma look locked down! Too cute! I’d love to hear more about raising bi racial kids or even keeping your kids connected to your Korean heritage or not…..

  • Gower July 16, 2011 at 3:01 am

    The visors are awesome. They rock them better than most ajummas. šŸ™‚

  • Amor July 16, 2011 at 4:11 am

    Haha.. Right Jenna. The hats are giveaways.

  • chris July 16, 2011 at 5:33 am

    There are always complicated things between a parent and a child. With grandchildren is always easy – and so sweet. I love the relationship grandparents with grandchildren. so much calmer, with no anxieties, more understanding, etc. It is lovely – it is also an opportunity for you to see your parents in a new way šŸ™‚ love your blog

  • Cynthia July 16, 2011 at 7:23 am

    You can see your dad’s pride and joy are his granddaughters and his garden(s)…both veggie and flowers. I always love the pictures of the tables overflowing with delectables.

  • sooki July 16, 2011 at 9:43 am

    oh yes, you can’t be an ajumma w/o sun visors! cute. your spread with the fresh ssahm looks so good!

  • Sarah July 16, 2011 at 9:46 am

    i stumbled upon your blog because google reader suggested it to me and i’ve been reading your blog for about 2 months. seeing a piece on you on ‘a cup of jo’ made me realize that i should let you know that i enjoy your blog and pictures; i especially love how candid and real you are. the fact that youre korean is a random bonus for me. i especially liked your post about mixed-raced kids and this one. this particular post reminds me of growing up. i think it’s the visors that make the kids look like ajummas.

  • gina July 16, 2011 at 12:06 pm

    Love that square kneed Korean squat!

  • Erin July 16, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    haha love the ajumma reference!

  • sherry mcrae July 16, 2011 at 7:56 pm

    what a wonderful yard and garden your father tends! You do not get something like that without putting a lot of love into it. It shows. How special for the girls to be able to share with and learn from him. These days will become life lessons and treasured memories. You are all very lucky to enjoy each other like this, continued happy summer!

  • Chantale July 17, 2011 at 9:53 am

    Sigh, just ate mediocre korean food last night at a restaurant and this post is making me so hungry! Your dad looks amazing and I love how he’s teaching his grand kids the magic of growing your own garden.. Love this. And yeah, they do look like little ajumas! More modern ajumas since they’re wearing those sun shield caps and not scarves tied around their heads. lol.

  • Nicole Franzen July 17, 2011 at 10:59 am

    gorgeous garden, swoon, This city life is making me nuts. Need garden, outdoor time pronto! x N

  • My-Tien July 18, 2011 at 1:53 am

    when I saw the grill I knew it is Korean food, which I haven’t had any for a while now. Estranged relationships are hard to mend because we don’t know how to start it. Maybe it will be better with your girls as a “buffer” šŸ˜‰

  • Sharon July 18, 2011 at 8:40 am

    This is my first time posting but I had to chime in! I’m also one of what appears to be many Korean-American readers of your blog. I have similar memories of being out in the my parents’ garden as a kid helping my dad with whatever he was doing. Also, I’m envious that you are able to see your parents so often (never in my life did I think I’d want to see my parents as much as I do now… Eesh). When I moved to Brooklyn I left my family back in the Midwest, 500+ miles away. That’s the one big regret that I’ve had since moving.

  • Meghann July 18, 2011 at 11:15 am

    I definitely know relationships with our parents can be difficult. My mother and I have had issues on and off for years. I have a bitter taste in my mouth do to a lot things that went on in my childhood because of her and/or her actions/choices.
    I’ve also learned, that unless I put the past where it belongs, I’ll never have a good relationship with her. I also, don’t want that to hinder her relationship with my daughter.
    I wish you the best of luck.

  • Sora July 18, 2011 at 1:13 pm

    Yes, the visors are definitely ahjuma staples! I think you nailed it on the head when you wrote about envisioning yourself with your father walking the dog or gardening…I too am able to relive my childhood (in a happier way) through my parents’ relationship with my kids. Thanks for another great post.

  • Claire July 18, 2011 at 8:45 pm

    This is making me think hard about future choices with regards to where I’ll live so that my kids can be close to at least some of their grandparents.

  • Naomi July 19, 2011 at 12:19 am

    The sun visors complete the ajuma look! I love it. Not to mention the perfect Korean crouch and the flip flops. Looking at these photos reminds me of my mother bent over washing cabbage to make Kimchee every October.

    Also the comment about your father’s pride your daughter’s love of Korean food rings true to me. My mom would always lament over the fact that we didn’t crave kimchee like her friend’s kids did (we are 1/2 Korean and wanted burgers and hamburger helper back then). She is one proud mama now that I have grown and love it : )

  • Lois July 19, 2011 at 8:08 am

    hahaha! Sun visor = ajuma’s favourite accessory. The girls are so cute!

  • Misha July 19, 2011 at 8:24 am

    I really liked this post. So heart-warming. Sometimes, I wish the world was much more peaceful than it is, so moments like these could happen all the time.

  • hana July 19, 2011 at 11:18 am

    these pictures make me teary eyed for many reasons. it hits home on so many levels. so many things as a mom i’m always trying to do and yet I am still a child.

  • Funaek July 20, 2011 at 11:06 am

    Your daughters are totally cute lil ajumas! Excellent kimchi squats. I’ve been following your blog for a while now and I love your honest and thoughtful posts, especially coming from a first generation Korean family and having lived in New York. Your cookies drew me in, but your blog is my regular indulgence (because if I ate your whiskey sandwich cookies all the time, I’d have a bunch of other issues). Like you, my sisters and I have a bunch of conflicting emotions when it comes to our parents. There were a lot of confrontations and ugly fights as we grew up and as adults we all made the unconscious decision to move on and not dwell on the past. I think we all realized that we can’t change who our parents are (especially at their age now) so the best we can do is try to accept them as they are and figure out how to deal with them the best way each of us can. For one of my sisters that means keeping some distance to maintain her own sanity, for me it’s maintaining a close relationship with my mom and trying to find a way to coexist with my dad. I totally agree on building new memories and hoping for better times in the future. Because the other option is to bleak for me. And of course there’s nothing better to bring together Koreans than a bbq meal. Mmm.

  • Truly Smitten August 21, 2011 at 12:56 pm

    haha, they make two very adorable ahjumas =). I’m so envious of your parents’ backyard garden!