Isn’t it funny how you resist and even resent your parents growing up, and only when you become an adult — and more so, when you become a parent yourself — that you realize how wonderful they are?
Many of my readers may already be aware that Korea has deep roots in Buddhism. When I was still living in my native country in the early 1980s, it was not unusual for Buddhist monks to go around to neighboring houses to chant prayers, and ask for donations — in the form of money or rice — in return.
My mother raised my sister and I in the Christian Church, so I have been a Christian for as long as I can remember. Because Christianity was all I knew — because Christianity was what I felt the most comfortable with — whenever the Buddhist monks would stop by our house, I would look at them in disdain, scornfully turning my back on them.
Sometimes, my sister and I would take it a step further by loudly insulting them.
Then one day, our mother caught us throwing insults at the monks. After hushing us, she went to the kitchen, returned with a large bag of rice, and presented it to the monks.
In fact, this wasn’t the first time she gave the monks rice. My mother donated rice every time they stopped by, despite the fact that our family was pretty poor back then, nevermind her not even being Buddhist.
My mother turned to us after the monks left that day, and told us that she was disappointed. She said that just because someone is a different religion from us does not give us the right to look down on them — if anything, they should be treated with greater respect and love so that they could see the love of Jesus through our actions.
I was only 4 or 5 years old at the time, but I will never forget those words.
My mother was also the one who taught me about the importance of love. When I was younger and couldn’t quite grasp the concept of love — ‘Isn’t it just a stronger form of like?’ I believed — I asked her for clarification, and she answered:
Love is something you give away. When you give one love away, you get back two. When you give two loves away, you get back four. You can never give too much love away, because the more you give, the more you will receive in return.
Granted, only now I can see the flaw in this theory…but this is only because as humans, we are only capable of imperfect love. Real, perfect love conforms completely to this message, no?
I have stated before that I do not have many mommy friends, as most of my girlfriends are not yet married and still enjoying the single life. But ever since I became a mother myself, I have grown close to my own mom…and despite the disagreements all mothers and daughters are bound to run into, I am eternally grateful to have her in my life, and to have the opportunity to thank her for everything she’s done for me.
Beautiful story—sounds a lot like my dad (a Baptist minister) who would always spend hours talking to the Mormons when they visited our house.
I,too, dont have many married friends, and am the only one with kids….I understand the feeling about being close to your mom.
Great post, I love reading your stuff.
Such a sweet tribute.
My mom and I were always close, but since I became a mother, she has been especially supportive: giving me help whenever I needed it, being honest about motherhood (something I really appreciate), and constantly providing me with an example of someone I would like to be.
I also have a new appreciation for her willingness to let me make my own choices (and mistakes), even when they weren’t ones she would make. It’s natural to love your children, but loving them enough to let them take their own path without condemnation or disapproval is really special.
Wonderful post, Jenny! I recently saw this quote “The older you get, the wiser your parents become” which I thought was so true and funny. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become better able to understand the life lessons my parents teach me through their actions.
Your Mom taught you a wonderful lesson. Even with my occasional moments of frustration with my own mother, I appreciate her love and firm discipline more and more each day. I hope your Mom reads this today. 🙂
This is a nice post on a day when I’ve been e-mailing back and forth with my mom all day about what she’s going to bring with her when I give birth next month. She’s been scattering in little stories about when she was in labor, and it’s given me more insight in to her experience as a mom. There’s so much more I appreciate about her now that I’m facing becoming a mother, myself.
I like your mom’s love calculus. You’re right that it doesn’t always add up that way, but what a great ideal to strive for.
What a beautiful memory of your mom. I too, appreciate and understand my own mom a lot better now that I’ve become a mom. I look back and can’t believe how unappreciative I was of everything she did for me growing up… and still she gave and gave and gave some more. We’re so blessed.
I love this post. Your mom seems like such a wonderful and giving woman. I think I will always remember that story of her and the Buddhist monks now
Such a sweet post. Your mother sounds like a wonderful person. I love those lessons she taught you. So important.
This post made me tear up. I already missed my mom (she died in 2008), but since becoming a mother myself I’ve missed her exponentially more. Please spend as much time with your mom as possible (even if she drives you crazy sometimes)!
Thank you for this post. Your mother sounds wonderful and you can return the favor by sharing what she taught you to your children. 🙂