Same experiences in a different world

Today, I finally was able to meet the third of Chris’s best friends. It’s taken over 6.5 years of friendship and almost three years of us being together for this to happen. I guess it hasn’t helped that she has been living across San Diego, Singapore, and now Jakarta and has given birth to two babies since. She’s also never overlapped time with us in Melbourne. We just happened to be at the Gold Coast at the same time and met for lunch with her husband, two children, and mom.

Chris always used to say that when he would hear stories about my mother from me, he would be reminded of this friend’s mother, who had a similar background as my mother in terms of coming from a war-torn country, immigrating to a western country and raising children with those experiences framing their minds. When we met today, it was like meeting someone who actually understood not only how I felt, but also tried to empathize with my situation given she’s experienced most of this, and also tried to see things through my mother’s eyes.

The most memorable moment I had when we were chatting and getting to know each other was when I told her that my mom has repeatedly told me that I need to get married and have my first child by the age of 30. Otherwise, she would forbid me from having children period. When I have told this story to others, it’s usually received with laughs. Everyone just thinks it’s very comical and doesn’t take it seriously. No one thinks one step deeper about what a statement like that says when it’s exchanged from a mother to her daughter. But when Chris’s friend heard this, she cracked not the slightest smile. Instead, her face turned sour, and I could see fiery in her eyes. And she launched in a tirade, saying, “Doesn’t that frustrate you? Who does she or anyone else think she is trying to control your body? It’s not her body. It’s yours!” It was clear she completely understood our relationship because she had almost the same relationship with her mother.

“It’s a really sad and painful thing to know that your own mother will never really know who you are, who you truly are as a person,” she said to me. It’s not that they don’t want to know us… It’s more that they just can’t handle that we are so different than what they had envisioned and hoped for based on different cultural backgrounds and their painful life experiences. “It’s hard, but I deal with it by knowing that I will not be that way with my own kids.”


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