November 28, 2020
Reading time: 3 mins
What does it mean when our typical Asian mothers stay up until 1am just to make sure we come home in one piece?
What does it really mean when no single soul in the household mutters the words “I love you” and when you do say those words, they think you’re drunk or in some sort of accident?
It means two things: we are lucky to have our mothers in our lives, and we express our love, thoughts and feelings differently through differences in our upbringing, cultures and values compared to our parents.
So often, we take things for granted. For most of us, ‘forever’ is defaulted in our system: if our parents have always been around within 15 missed calls and striking distance of what we’re up to, then where else are they going to go anyway?
As you and I both know – nothing lasts forever. Growing old is part of the human equation; at some point, you start to see the strings of white hair you hadn’t noticed before on your mother, and your father’s walking pace begins to slow down. When once upon a time you feel the lively energies clash in the household, you now, or will in the future, sense more peace and simple joys within them.
The big arguments over small issues, the constant nagging, the over-protective actions – conflicts ensue. But why? In 2019, nearly 30% of the Australian population were born overseas. Like so many of us, we are either first-generation or second-generation Asian Australians. This means that more often than not, our parents were born in Asia and raised in the traditionalist cultures and values that may be quite foreign to us. To us, being out past midnight means having real freedom and a social life; waking up at 8am on Sundays does not make any sense; going to Asian language schools seems ridiculously useless. To our parents, being out past midnight might mean danger with crime gangs ruling the suburban towns at night in Asia where they once grew up in; waking up at 8am on Sundays might mean more opportunity for us to be more productive so to avoid having the deal with poorer standards of living that they had experienced; going to Asian language schools might mean we can communicate and share love with them more deeply because of all the little nuances and slangs we would understand in the languages they speak.
When we try to put ourselves in their shoes, we soon realise that like all parents on earth, they just want the best for us. No matter how many times you come home at 1am and times when you try to distant yourself, they’re always trying to look after us and connect with us, until one day they are physically unable to. In the middle of all the yelling, the shouting and the sighing, we feel mad at the world and intentionally express anger towards them. That’s normal. But it should also be normal that we feel so lucky and grateful to still have them around in our lives, and recognise the unbelievable hardships they went through, physically, mentally and emotionally, to give us a better chance in life, a bigger margin of victory.
So what does living through the stereotype really mean?
It means we are smiling and shaking our heads at why the stereotypes also apply to us – and it means we are smiling because we are incredibly blessed, for most of us, to still have at least one of them in our lives. Have the courage to connect with them more, and be thankful that they still have enough energy to be nagging us on the little things.
We recognise the incredible luck to have grown up in a safe and normal childhood with an abundant of opportunities to choose our own goals, interests and careers. At the opposite of the spectrum, hundreds and thousands of children in Asia and around the world are forced to abandon their lives and souls and be sold in sexual and child trafficking operations. That’s why for every tee you purchase, we will donate a portion of the profit to Destiny Rescue, a non-for-profit organization committed to rescue children, especially from south east Asia, from child trafficking and sexual exploitation and help them stay free. The Relatables Collection is out now.
March 24, 2021
The world is grieving.
They were mothers, grandmothers, sisters, daughters, aunts, nieces, cousins.
Though some 15,000 kilometers away from the United States, the recent tragedy in Atlanta has had a profound effect on all of us in Australia, especially within the Asian community.
What's the one thing we can all do to make the world a better place to live in?
December 12, 2020
As a kid I lived in an Asian society where school grades were everything that mattered, and my B+ was always compared to the A+ someone else got.
It was never the poorer grades, the C’s and D’s, that someone else got.
When I wanted some new toy cars to add to my existing collection, I was denied and asked by my parents to think about kids whose parents couldn’t afford any toys at all.
It was never the kids with a bigger and better collection that my parents asked me to think about.