My Mother is a Housewife
She turns on the cooker and gently simmers food in a pan. Tired as she is after hours of household chores, her face still gleams with dedication. As I watch my mother, painful memories flood my mind. Just four years ago, at this very table, we had a bitter quarrel. Despite hurt feelings and many tears, the conflict ultimately sparked my development into a passionate independent thinker.
I used to wish that my mother was a businesswoman. Vietnam was undergoing rapid changes in all areas of life, including women’s scope for career. Women nowadays aspired to go head-to-head with men, taking part in professions that men had ruled for centuries. This social trend formed a stereotype about modern successful women: wearing suits, driving cars, making big deals, and being on the go all day. Scores of kids at my school had mothers who were successful professionals. I was jealous of them. They had role models to guide them to success, while my mother was a mere housewife. When my friends boasted about their mothers, I joined in, proclaiming, “My mother is a head manager too!”
I harbored this irrational wish so intensely that I turned cold toward my mother. Then, one night during dinner, I found myself talking between the silent intervals of my mother.
“Mom, do you remember my friend Huong? Her mother is a doctor. How lucky she is! … And you know Lan, right? Her parents are both university professors. Isn’t that great?”
And she got it; she got my message. It was never hard for her to know what I was hinting at.
“Are you ashamed of me?”
That was true; that was how I felt, but I couldn’t face it. I didn’t dare look her in the eyes. I rushed out of the kitchen to my room. I heard her footsteps approaching my room.
“I can’t believe I raised you for fifteen years and then you hate me for being jobless!”
“Go away! Leave me alone!”
Soon, I heard her crying outside my door. Guilt engulfed my mind. I had hurt her.
That night, lying in bed, I cried my heart out. I thought about her words, and realized that I should have felt lucky, not ashamed, for having her as my mother. In order to have me, she had given up her career. Mothers who worked all day had little time to spend with their children, not to mention cook large dinners for them. My mother, on the contrary, lavished me with care and attention.
My belief in the successful woman stereotype had blinded me from my mother’s sacrifice and commitment. I realized that one’s dedication is what matters, not one’s job title. My mother loved mothering no matter how it was valued by others or what the social trend was.
From that day, my mother became my role model. I wanted to be like her – whole-heartedly dedicated to my passions. I stopped comparing myself with other people and endeavoring to be like them. I became confident in deciding what I wanted to do and devoted myself to doing it.
What I learned from my mother allowed me to discover my own true passion: Literature. Literature in Vietnam is valued lower than more practical and career-oriented subjects, such as Natural Sciences and Math. Previously, though interested in Literature, I had followed others in pursuing the more prestigious subjects. However, inspired by my mother, I decided to plunge into the subject that has stirred hearts and minds for centuries. With every work of Literature I read, I wrote down my own impression, review, and critique. Novels kept me reading until dawn, and single lines of poetry lingered in my mind for days. More significantly, I went beyond my teachers’ lessons, exploring works and discovering new insights on my own. Almost daily, I visited my local library to discuss my writing with people who shared my passion for Literature. I felt transformed from a mediocre Literature student to an intellectually independent learner.
Now, as my mother joins me at the dinner table, I remember Confucius’ advice: “Chose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” Literature, analysis, and writing have become the love of my life. And I owe this love to my mother.
I am so lost in my thoughts that my mother asks, “Hey, what’s the matter with you? You don’t like the food?”
“No, mom,” I respond, “The food is great. Thank you. So much.”
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