When I was in 5th grade, I had a favorite snack at a local cafe that I would get pretty regularly. My mom would drive me to the cafe, wait in the car right in front, and I would pop in and buy it to take home and we'd be on our way. I had probably gone to that cafe multiple times a week for months. But one day, I went in for my usual snack stop-in, and the cashier at the shop had some of his friends hanging out while he was working at the register. They were a bunch of high school teenagers which in itself was intimidating to a 10 year old. While I was waiting for my food, I heard them making sounds about me like "ching, chang, chong" over and over again. For an Asian American kid struggling just to fit in, that's pretty much the worst thing you can hear. Tears started flowing out of my eyes and I ran back to the car leaving my food behind. I got into the car with tears streaming down my face and told my mom I just wanted to go home.
She asked me what had happened. I didn't want to tell her and only said I didn't want to go back there ever again. I finally told her about what had happened, and she replied, "Wait here. I will be right back." When she came back, she got the food I had left behind and she said, "He won't bother you again". It took me a while to want to go back there but when I did, the guy apologized to me. Still to this day, I have no idea what my mom said to him.
My mom is one of the most private and non-confrontational people I know. But in that moment, any worries about confrontation or her broken English completely went away. She did what moms do…she made me feel like everything was going to be okay and did her best to ensure that I would not get hurt in that way again.
It's amazing how much more inner strength you gain once you have someone you want to be strong for…someone you want to protect. Like all those mothers who somehow lift heavy objects that have fallen on their child or that warrior that comes out of you if anyone attempts to hurt someone you love. Inner strength doesn't mean that you aren't scared or that you know exactly how things will turn out, it's that you know things will be okay at some point in the near or distant future. You project that strength to those around you so that they, too, feel assured and okay with whatever obstacles (big or small) they may be facing.
As we approach Mother's Day, I can think of so many times my mom has been strong for me throughout my life in both big and small moments. Have you seen this P&G Thank You, Mom video? This really captures the ways I want to be strong for my children and makes me think about my own mom and all that she did for me. It will make you cry but also make you appreciate the strength of your own mother and inspire you to be that for your own children today or someday in the future…
Happy Mother's Day to all you amazing mamas out there!
This post is in partnership with P&G. All words are my own.