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Alex Tse's picture

My mom taught me how to be tough.  Not tough in the way we usually think of the word “tough,” you know what I mean, bleeding from the head, walk it off, fistfight on the school bus, that sort of thing.  (My mom’s like 5’ 3” and only weighs a buck and change maybe, though I did once witness her take a swing at some would be pick pockets in NYC, but that is a story for another time, if at all.)


No, my mom taught me toughness in the most important way—the toughness of responsibility.  I was about 8 years-old and my sister about 2 years-old when my dad got a really good job in Los Angeles.  My mom didn’t want to move to LA (neither did I) but the job was too big to give up. So my father commuted from LA to San Francisco every week, coming home Friday evenings and leaving Monday mornings.  This meant that during the week, my mom, who was a full time teacher already dealing with other people’s unruly children, had to take care of me and my sister alone, which she did for six years until my dad got a job back in SF.  And though we did have other family around that could help out, my mother still did everything.  She did it without complaint, without feeling sorry for herself, without any air of being overwhelmed.  She got her Nike on and just did it. 


We live in a world today where there are folks who fall into a panic without a nanny or a night nurse (obviously I live in Los Angeles) and as someone with a child (soon to be children—ahhhhhhhhhh!) it’s refreshing to reflect on my mom handling her business as she did.  I didn’t realize I was being taught toughness then, nor do I necessarily think my mom was consciously aware she was teaching this, but that’s how the best lessons are often taught—by example.


And perhaps this is my way of paying my mother back, by teaching her that it’s completely unnecessary to continue trying to tell me what to do today, at the age of 37, and that her best lessons have been taught by example.  I look forward to her continued wisdom to be delivered in this fashion and not verbally about how I need to wear a jacket outside or if I’ve sent cousin so-and-so a gift for her so-and-so.  Thank you and you’re welcome.


Happy Mother’s Day, mom.


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