Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mother's Day

I sent my mother tulips for Mother's Day, along with chocolates and a little balloon.

The other half of the present is a promise to provide technical support by phone, twice a week for the next month. My mother is making a web site for her friend in China, and has a lot of questions.

My brother called yesterday. "What did you get Mom? I want to get her a new cleaver."

I told him.

"You know that'll be at least an hour each time. Wow, if you think about how much your time is worth, that's an expensive gift. Man, I was just going to get her a cleaver." He sounded pensive as he compared it to his own gift.

He called again today. "Mom says she already has two cleavers in the pantry. Can I get in on the technical support gift?"


I'd like to share my favorite story about my mother. I heard this from her best friend five years ago.

My mother was in her 20s during the Chinese Cultural Revolution. She lived in Beijing and worked at a crafts factory carving lacquered bowls:

One evening, everyone in her division was gathered into the auditorium for an all-hands meeting. The division leader had one of the factory workers, a young woman named "Jan", sit on a chair onstage, facing the audience who sat in rows of chairs below.

It turns out Jan got pregnant, without being married. The leader wanted to gather everyone together to discuss the immorality of this act, and show Jan the error of her ways.

At the time, the government assigned jobs. If Jan got fired, she would be unble to find another income source, possibly for the rest of her life. Her superiors had the power, and indeed the responsibility, to dock her pay for immoral actions that went against government teachings. Jan was stuck. Everyone else was under the same restrictions, so they had to go along with the leader.

For the next two hours, the employees took turns standing up and denouncing Jan. They said she displayed the worst of capitalism, that she was a traitor to the ethics of her country, etc.

After two hours, the division head looked around the room and noticed my mother. "咱们听听苏明发表意见." ("Let's hear what Ming has to say.")

My mother looked up, startled. She stood up. "她怎么了? 不就是怀孕了吗?" ("What's the big deal? She's just pregnant, right?")


When my mom's best friend finished the story, she added, "Many years later I saw Jan at a reunion. She brought up the incident, and said, '当年只有苏明帮我说了一句公道话.' ('The only one who put in a fair sentence for me was Ming.')"

I appreciate having a mother with a non-conformist spirit.

Also one who approves of out-of-wedlock pregnancies.


KE Liew said...

Would be funny when we were all young and our parents say "I will only support you for one year, then you're by yourself." Now it's like "Yea sure, where's my money?" or "Yea that's no probs, can you do this for me too?"

Talk about relationship. The lines between friendship, business and family are so thin these days, it's outrageous.

John said...

You're reference link to "Convo with Andrew" and comment "falling in love is so unlikely!" is so pessimistic! There are plenty of people who fall in love (staying in love is another thing...)

Just freeze some tissue and beat "the clock":
New Way to Extend Fertility: Freeze Tissue From Ovaries

Jason said...

That's a cool story! And you have a kick-ass mom, though my mom is always better. For Sunday, I just gave my mom a "Happy Mother's Day!" via phone since I'm a poor college student. The meaning is what matters the most.

Bene said...

I'm still looking for that "Proudly Born a Bastard" button - I think I'll have to make it myself. My parents got together in order to have kids - and then got married a few years later (I was their Best Man at age 4). Married or not, a mutually intentional pregnancy is a wonderful start to life.

Anonymous said...

I'd like you to talk more about adopting little piglets instead...

Anonymous said...

What an odd mixture you have:

1/2 pride for your heritige, as expressed in this post and others.

1/2 shame for your heritige, as expressed in your posts indicating that you refuse to date men of your own race.

Actually, now that I think about it, it's not that odd. In the Bay Area at least. Still, I don't understand it.

Niniane said...

I do not refuse to date men of my own race. I just filter out the non-sweet ones, which, alas, is a large percentage.

Daniel Erat said...

I've been enjoying Riding the Iron Rooster: By Train Through China by Paul Theroux; he spends a lot of time soliciting reactions to the Cultural Revolution (this is all in the mid-1980s). I'm about two shuttle rides away from finishing it, so feel free to YJ me if you want to borrow my copy. :-P