Skip to main content
Journal Kids

a mother’s strength…



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.


  1. i’m so curious about what she said! i don’t have a kid to protect but as someone who is also very non-confrontational and who has experienced similar things, i would love to know what you would say.

  2. Beautiful story, and I must say that this partnership post has been the best one yet. Your voice was truly heard, not just the company’s. Brava

  3. Having lived through this myself as an Asian American and having also an awesome mom, your post is perfect. Thank you for sharing this and reminding us that our Mom’s are our heroes and the muscle when you need them the most! I have a 4yo daughter who I’m trying to raise to be independent and fierce, and I hope that she will always trust me and rely on me for strength when she needs it the most. <3

  4. So great to see a picture of your beautiful mom. Also thank you for sharing such a personal piece with us. Here’s to strong women, may we know them, may we be them and may we raise them. Happy Mothers Day!

  5. In what can be such a cruel and ill-will world, there’s nothing that makes us feel more protected than to see our moms go at bat for us. Thank you for sharing your story and reminding us all how courageous women make this world a better place to live in.
    Happy Mother’s Day to you!
    xo, Bev

  6. …And there goes the ugly cry. Every sentiment you just shared is what swirls around my head on the daily and then I watched the P&G commercial and lost it. I’ve always been a blubber butt, but motherhood has sent me over the edge. Feeling all the feels. I want to hug you and pinch you for making me cry on a Friday morning, woman!

  7. This memory is a beautiful tribute to your mother! It brought tears to my eyes. Happy Mother’s Day to you and your mother.

  8. This post really, really hits home for me. Joy, I must truly say: you are an incredible inspiration and I cannot find words to tell you how I adore everything you do and what you have accomplished. I was raised in an area where people were less open-minded and faced very similar situations when I was growing up. I hope you had a wonderful Mother’s Day… your children are sparkling with radiance! Again, you have accomplished so much: from having a beautiful family, to a wonderful career, and your talents in blogging… you’ve become a great person to look up to!

  9. I had a similar thought a few weeks ago. The strength of women is amazing but its rarely the kind of thing that gets shouted from rooftops or written in books. But those who were lucky enough to witness it are deeply impacted by its courage and kindness. Your mama is one bad ass lady.

  10. I love that your mom went back and dealt with that guy. Asians have had to go through so much bullying but look as us now, Our kids are kind and generous, do great in school, don’t get into trouble, are not the rude bullies, respect the teachers and authority. We are well representd in law and medical school. China is rising and is already taking over the world.

  11. I remember that same moment when someone did that to me as well. It’s sad that that memory sticks in your mind so vividly. So great the way your mom handled it!

  12. There’s a lot shared in the blogs, about Asian American moms.
    I feel their strength outweighs other limitations.
    As said in your experience, “mom is one of the most private and non-confrontational…” I see this as an inner strength of an enduring and embracing person and yet capable to practice good family values when times in need.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Follow Along