My Non-American Mom

I’ve often dismissed the idea of Mother’s Day, and last year I just forgot about it. My mom was upset, and even a year later I still regret not acknowledging how amazing and kick-ass she is. Even though my mom and I fight all the time, and even though we bicker and act petty, I still love her, and she still loves me. So here is a shout out to my crazy, funny, Japanese mom.


She’s been hard working her entire life. She’s a pianist, and I grew up listening to her practice Chopin ballades and teaching kids of all ages to play. Because of her, I got a few chances to play at piano recitals and concerts myself. Without my mom, I wouldn’t have been able to find my love and appreciation for art and art history--my current academic major.


Japanese culture is weird in the way that love is not explicitly stated or shown like in America. We rarely say I love you, or hug one another--that’s just so American! Growing up, it was weird for me to see my American friends interact with their parents in such a way, and I often envied them. But that doesn’t make my mom a bad mom. She shows love in so many different ways.


I can distinctly remember multiple times in high school, I pulled all-nighters, and my mom would stay up late and make a midnight snack for me. Instead of encouraging me to do well, or to get a good grade, she simply said “make sure you go to bed soon so you don’t get sick!” Those are a few of my favorite memories of us, and although she didn’t explicitly state I love you, I know that was her way of doing so.

Image provided by the author.


She makes every single family meal, and it’s put in with love and effort. Even when I come home from a party late, or get up super early for my flight back to Colby, she gets up to make sure that I am content and full of food. Maybe it’s a cultural thing, or maybe it’s just my mom. But I know that she loves me, in her own special way.


Because English is her second language, I’ve often double checked her emails and even texts for her. I used to be, and sometimes still am, embarrassed when she doesn’t understand English, or pronounces simple words wrong. This Mother’s Day I know that I need to put her needs first instead of my selfishness, and be sure to help her more. She is intelligent, kind, and awesome, and just a few language and culture barriers won’t change that.


She raised me in a stereotypical immigrant fashion, by making sure my education and schooling came first. When I was a kid, I was ashamed to be Japanese surrounded by my American friends. I didn’t like that I was the different kid, with weird, non-American parents. I think we often forget about our roots, our identity, and heritage. As I grew older, I’m so grateful for my mom for raising me biculturally, even though people thought it was “weird.” Now, all my friends ask my mom to make them homemade sushi. And when they get a chance to eat it, they’ll know that it was made with love and care.