Three random thoughts by a Hong Kong millennial.
For most of my life, I saw my mother as just that: My mother. The person I go to when my stomach hurts and when I want money for a new pair of shoes. The person who’s always telling me to put on more clothes or tidy up my room. Her job? To love and take care of me, while I go out and do well in life, which people say is the best way to repay your parents.
I really shouldn’t have been that surprised, but I was utterly shocked when a family friend told me that my mom was known in her industry for her looks and fashion sense, especially when she was younger. My jaw dropped to the floor. You mean this woman? The same one who can’t really cook but insists she can, and who always, always loses my school reply slips?! People saw her as cool and desirable?! What do you mean? Then, I also got to see my mother at work. She’s quick on her feet, assertive, and meticulous.
Realizing that my mother is not just my mother rocked my world. I learned to be more forgiving and generous with my love. I saw that to really love my mother means not just filial duty, but to see and respect her as a woman doing her best. She may not be a perfect mom (re: reply slips), but a woman is not just one aspect of her life. She’s also a successful businesswoman, a funny wife, a loving daughter, and a good friend.
Other things I admire in women around me and that I hope to achieve one day: Women who are not afraid to interrupt others, but also does it graciously. Women who own up to their fears. Women who cry in public and don’t care if you think that makes her weak. Women who alternate between tying her hair up and keep it down without anyone noticing. Women whose nails are always spot on — it takes a lot of skills and patience if you’re doing it yourself. Women who hold it together when people tell them they look tired. Women who remain calm when, while celebrating Mother’s Day, everyone assumes you’re gonna be a mother eventually. Shoutout to all of you.
I’m reading this interview with chef and restaurateur Marcus Samuelsson, where he talks about the importance of mise en place, which is a French phrase meaning the “putting in place” of ingredients before the cooking happens:
“The mise en place was really his way of looking if we paid attention. You had to have it chopped, on a towel, on the tray. Mise en place for me, was my way of saying, “Hey Chef, I respect you.” It’s a level of building trust, right?”