Giving thanks on Thanksgiving.

During the lunch event with my relatives and extended family this Thanksgiving day, my cousin proposed that everyone gather in a circle and say something he or she is thankful for. It was during this time where it dawned upon me: I’ve never reflected on what I’m thankful for this day.

I immediately thought about my mom. She’s what I am most thankful for. I meant what I said to everyone at the event: I owe my mom everything for what she’s sacrificed for me. I am not the greatest son, yet she’s the most selfless, amazing person I know.

A major reason why I’m trilingual is due to her efforts. I’ve never been to Chinese school; she home-schooled me until 8th grade. Six days a week, she hand-wrote tests, analogies, and various exercises for me to work on my Chinese. I had to read a short story to her, fix my mistakes on her tests, and apply new characters I learned into sentences. I dreaded those times, but I thank her now for the lifelong benefits of being able to read Mandarin, read and write Chinese, and understand Taiwanese.

I’ve never had a professional tutor. Whenever I needed help on any school subject, she’d spend time going over it with me. She endlessly helped me with math. Due to her, I was 1-2 years ahead of math than the average student (took Calculus my junior year in high school). When I was going through my rebellious, unmotivated phase in high school, she’d read my Physics book and teach the information to me at 11pm.

Never has she let me gone hungry unless it was a personal choice on my part. I’ve come home at 12am or later in the morning to have her prepare a meal for me. I bought lunch at school <10 times in my pre-college days because she prepared every single meal. She brought hot lunch to me in elementary school. She made sandwiches, cut fruit, and prepared snacks every single day. She woke up at 5:30am every morning to make breakfast for my dad before he left for work, then prepared food for my sister and I.

Despite the cultural and generational gaps, she has tried her best to compromise with our differences. Never did she exert overwhelming academic pressure onto me. Never did she forbid me to engage in underage drinking. She tried her best to understand my usage of marijuana; she wishes for me to stop but does not force it. As long as I alerted her, I had no curfew starting my sophomore year in high school. That’s giving a 15 year old an enormous amount of freedom. On top of that, she had prior knowledge of my intentions to get tattoos and made no attempts to restrain me.

She gives me more space than anyone can ask for. Although I complained when I wanted to be left alone, she only approached me when she absolutely needed to. For instance, most of the time she “bothered” me was to ask what and when I needed to eat. Otherwise, she’d come to me when she came home from work just to hug me or tell me she loved me.

She’s never given up on me. When I was absolutely fucking up in life, my dad had given up on me. He had suggested I get my act together else getting kicked out of the house. My sister had given up on me, claiming I was wasted potential. My grandma constantly compared my lack of success to my cousins’ opposite status. My mom, on the other hand, did everything she could to bolster my curiosity in whatever potential fields.

I was never forced to work. We aren’t rich, but my mom is the key role in our financial freedom. The money she makes from her two jobs aren’t critical to the family’s success: she does it to make life easier for her family. Therefore, the only reasons why I’ve worked was not for the money, but for the experience.

She puts up with my bullshit. I was a teenager at one time. I had a temper (still do). I talked back to her. I told her to go away or leave me alone. I cursed around her and said hurtful things. It hurt her, yet she only verbally stated how I was making her feel. Other than the normal spanking as a toddler, she never hurts me. Unconditional love.

She’s never imposed her will on me. Instead, I made most of the demands. She only requested that I behave in the best way possible, not to get involved with bad people, and to try my best in whatever I do. Needless to say, I disappointed her countless times, yet she never became authoritative.

It’s 2am and I haven’t been sleeping much, so I can’t think of anything else to say about her. But trust me, there’s a thousand more positive traits about the most amazing person in my life. I’m going to go wake her up and give her a hug now. Good night.

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