For most of us, motherhood is programmed in. As a woman, your biological structure is meant for child bearing, it’s expected that you have children. But my prospects growing up didn’t consist of children running around my house; it involved seeing my name in shining lights and traveling the world!
The moment that changed my point of view came on Thanksgiving Day. I was 16 at the time. Coming from an American and Korean household, the aromas of roasted turkey and stuffing were always infused with the flavors of traditional Korean dishes. My mother busied herself frying the pork eggrolls and tossing the Japchae in sesame seeds when I wandered into the kitchen. She greeted with a smile while wearing an apron that was the very fabric of her soul.
I snuck an eggroll and gushed about how lucky I was to have a mother like her.
She shrugged and said the most basic yet life changing line. “One day I will teach you how to cook these things and then you can teach your daughter how to cook.”
My daughter? Here I was thinking about the turkey dinner I was going to enjoy and she’s talking about some daughter I’m supposed to be sharing secret family recipes with.
That night, I thought really hard about motherhood. What did it mean to me? When was this going to happen? How many children do I want? Do I want a boy or a girl first? But the ultimate question that plagued me was:
Will I be a good mother?
Then a memory struck me. During my 4th grade year, a thunderstorm showered over Giberson Elementary. The school day was over but I was in a panic, knowing there would be no bus or car to take me home. My father was away on business and my mother didn’t drive so I had no one to help. I walked into the rain, scared and feeling alone. A sudden boom and purple flash sent me to the floor for cover. To this day I swear the lightning struck the field right next to me. I had eight blocks to go through the cold and rain. Then, through the blurry mess of water pouring over my face, I looked up to see a familiar figure across the street.
Holding an umbrella that threatened to be swept away by the wind was my mother.
I remember her shouting my name over the thunder and me rushing into the shelter of her embrace. We walked home together soaked to the bone but it didn’t matter. I was safe in her care and nothing could harm me.
All she could think about was her little girl walking home alone in a bad storm. So she showed up. That little gesture of love and security protected me.
Then I started thinking about all the wonderful, little things she did for me. The way she put ice cubes in my ramen too cool it down or the way she celebrated my birthday with a handmade cake and spent all day with me, knowing I wouldn’t have any friends to come over, were just a few of the small gestures that meant so much.
That’s the mother I want to be.
Selfless, loving and always there.
I had a plan. I had a dream. Since that first moment my mother entertained the idea that I could pass along Korean traditions to my own daughter, I embraced the prospect of motherhood and looked forward to a bright future.
But if there’s one thing I learned in life, it’s that not everything always goes according to plan…
- Dianna Nuss