Strangers never assume that my mother and I are related. Her fair skin and light eyes are the exact opposite of my half-Chinese complexion and dark almond-shaped eyes (courtesy of my Chinese father). “But don’t you wish I looked just like you?” I had often asked as a child. She always laughed and confessed that it didn’t bother her in the least.
I did inherit a few traits from my mother. Her laugh, which I began echoing at a young age, and her pointy chin. An addiction to coffee, a love of reading books and the impulse to travel. But where I was brash, she was cautious. Where I was hard, she was soft.
“You’re braver than I am,” she said to me, when she hugged me at the airport before I boarded the plane to China where I would begin my life in Beijing. This from a woman who knew her parents would disown her for marrying my father … and moved to San Francisco and married him anyway. She, who soon found herself alone in a strange city with a new baby when my father, a doctor in the army, was sent to Honduras for several months. Through any crisis, such as when my father underwent brain surgery or when loved ones died unexpectedly, she was the strong one who always held things together when it all seemed to be falling apart. She, who stood on the shore cautiously watching her family snorkeling and stayed indoors fretting about us while we skied, is always brave when it really matters.
Mothers take care of us no matter how old we are, teach us everything we know and then have the ability to let us go into the world to make mistakes. But giving us our freedom doesn’t mean they’ve stopped worrying about us. Although I attended college hundreds of miles away from home and have been living abroad for years, when my mother and I cross a street together, she still reaches for my hand.
In this issue, we’ve found a range of mothers, from a grandmother to a woman who just gave birth, a single adoptive mom and a career woman with two children, and we’ve let them tell their stories in their own words (see “Feature: Lessons from Motherhood,” ). Sometimes they don’t have enough time for themselves (see “Indulge: Mom Makeover,”), and they certainly deserve to be treated more than once a year! For ideas about how to spend this Mother’s Day, see our compilation of the best brunches, spas, and restaurants.
But the words of these exceptional women from all over the world do carry one common thread – what they want most is their children’s safety and happiness. So this issue is dedicated to you, Mom. And please don’t worry about me. I’m fine. (And I’m truly sorry about the parasailing, sky-diving and living abroad shenanigans.)