The Heart of a Small Mom

Mai Quach

© Copyright 2018 by Mai Quach

Photo of a vietnamese woman cooking.

My name is Mai Quach. I'm from Vietnam. I have lived here for more than 3 years. Right now, I'm a college student with Dental Hygiene major. My friend introduces me to this contest because she thinks my mom is quite unique. That's why I want to share my own story about my small mom's life when she was in Vietnam. We are from a small country that we wish we can start a new life here even though we're just small people. Hope to win this contest to let everybody know what kind of small mom's thought about her simple life and her future

Not anyone has noticed how hard to be a mother to a child. It just happens naturally like that without realizing. We thought that too at first. My mom is a second daughter in the house with her older sister and two younger brothers. When people hear it, they probably think my mom is happy because she has her older sister taking care of everything. The two younger brothers will protect her for sure, so she doesnít have to worry about anything and enjoy life. Indeed, sheís happy but it doesnít mean she doesnít do anything and live freely like anyone thinks. It all started with the crazy dream got in her mind. This dream was just so simple that people would think she was just a naÔve girl with her impossible happened imagination. This dream did a great job at first actually. It did showed everyone at last but it didnít go smoothly like I thought it would when I first listened to it. Itís just because I thought if it didnít work, how could I be here, right? I kept thinking this way when I listened to my momís story with the curious eyes of mine. Let just say I was indeed an idiot to be able to think like that because it doesnít connect anything to that aspect actually. I agree. Nothing at all if you ask me. So what did really happen back then ? I looked at my mom with the eager eyes that made my mom laughed a lot. It truly happened like this.

It was when my mom was just a small girl with all her passion to the future, like all kids in the world actually. So with just that simple background, she lived happily like that. My grandmother was still young with all her passion too. She met my grandfather when he was a soldier. To be honest, I didnít know the detail but the only thing I heard was that it was surly a movie that I would wish watching. They lived happily ever after with her four kids. People would say it was an happy ending. I would say ď Not too fastĒ. It was just the beginning of my momís life. When she heard a hard news that she didnít think happen, it did happen after all. They found her fatherís body near the river with a lot of gun holes on his body. I did ask my mom that how her feeling was when she received that news. She simply answered me that she didnít cry at first because she didnít believe it until she saw grandfatherís face. Everyone just told her family that maybe he was shot at night when he returned from his camp. Thatís why nobody knew, but my mom knew for sure who did this even though she was still young back then. ď I was so angry because I couldnít speak my thought back thenĒ, my mom said. Even though she says that, I still quietly think itís like me in the present. It is hard to be her daughter and a sister to my two elder brothers when they never listen to what I say. How angry I am now but she doesnít know though. That was what I feel but it stopped when I listened to her story until the end. ď Go to work now again!Ē my grandmother told to my mom. Most people think, if a family has someone pass away, they should be sad and stop everything. Unfortunately, it would never happen that way. When they hear the chicken cluck, they wake up and start working like nothing happens. ď We donít have time for that actually.Ē My mom said. I can understand her when she says that because her family still has to continue living. If she doesnít work, how can she have enough money to survive. Itís not she isnít sad. Itís just that a normal life. Although that is true, grandfather is always in her heart. That is more important than peopleís thought. I indeed admire her the most when she was just a little girl. ď I was younger than you are now.Ē My mom said. Itís still the past, but to think if I was like that back then, how could I keep living when my mom and dad werenít there anymore. How can I survive without them? I keep asking myself and looking at mom every time when she cooks or helps me with something. Although I am a grown woman now, it is still a no answer question to me.

Continuingly, my mom was in her eighth grade when my grandmother started her new job. My grandmother was a boss actually. Her house turned into a small shop sale rice to everyone in the village. I forgot to tell in detail. The town was small back then so everyone know each other very well. My mom has a cute name. That is how I think. Everyone always calls her ď the little riceĒ, because they always see my mom at the front of the house. My aunt and uncles go out with their friends all the time. My mom always stays at home cooking and helping grandmother. Even when I go to my relatives in New Year, they always say our family should be thankful to have my mom taking care of everything at home. Of course, I feel so proud to be her daughter after all, even though sometimes Iím stubborn and donít listen to what my mom says. How terrible I am but still I know everyone was crazy tough when they were little. Indeed, thatís true when my mom told me about her crazy dream when she was just grown a little bit. I think when people grow up, they always think they are already adult. Itís just the feeling only, because my mom gets mad all the time when I say that Iím not a child anymore so donít yell at me anymore. ď Without me, how can you be here? You, stupid head!Ē my mom said. She hits me with all her strength right in my head. This always happens when I say I donít want to eat too much because Iím on diet. ď You donít know anything so donít say anythingĒ I say. It turns out Iím so hungry that I cannot focus on my lessons. After that I say sorry to her and she says one line that I still remember even now. ď Donít argue me because I knowĒ my mom says. Her dream at that time was going to the city to study and find a better way to make her family become rich. Unfortunately, nobody believed her even my grandmother, because my grandmother went to the city before. It was so hard back then. Itís not like right now people who are from the country side, are going to the city to find a new job, new life. However, my mom was just a little rice, she still wanted to continue her dream. She tries to study hard enough and start to ask about the information about the city. ď How is it like to live in the city? Is it huge?Ē my mom thought. With all her mind focusing on that dream, she thought she would do for sure but it wasnít that easy like she believed. The first person who came to the city was my aunt. My aunt came to the city in order to sale silks and earn some money there. After continuing on, my uncles went there to help my aunt and they earn a lot of money together. My mom was still at the small town. Everyone would say ď what did happen?Ē I did ask her the same question. My mom was silent for a bit. ď Life is not always in your way, but it is good sometime.Ē My mom said. Itís true though because thatís why Iím here now. My mom gave up her dream when she heard that her older sister came to the city for business. It was funny because that business was our familyís business continuously until I grow up. It was creating silks. My grandmother stopped producing rice. My mom started helping grandma every time she finished her school. She also cooked and cleaned the house even though only sheís at home. Even now, she is still the same. She always takes care of everything at home. I want to help her but I burn foods sometime. How clumsy daughter I am compare to my mom. If you want me to describe my mom, I will say one word ď smallĒ or even ď littleĒ. She is smaller than me. She is shorter than me. Even it is really hard to buy her clothes because her size is so small. Sometimes, she also goes to the kid department to buy some pants. She is indeed cute rice. Even though sheís small human, she is very strong in many way. Sheís even stronger than me. I will tell you her secret recipe. Of course, any mom will have this. That was what I thought but I couldnít believe it was happening when I saw it. She just looked at the refrigerator a little bit and find out a menu right away. After that she only cooked that in just an hour with self - reparation. How cool that is. I just saw her open the refrigerator and came back to my room. Without realizing, I came out and saw everything was on the table with unbelievable smell. ď Why are you so quick, mom?Ē I asked her. ď I know. Iím your mom after all.Ē My mom answered. Thatís why I know my co Ė workers always say that can I work at the normal speed. I said that is my normal one and they just laugh. I learn from her a lot. My mom also has this side that I see it is unique personality. Because sheís small so she always tries her best to do things. Even though sheís short, she will still find out the way to solve the problem quickly. For instance, when she wants to take a glass in the corner of the closet and we donít have a gladder though, she will find a way in order to take the glass. She always tries out her way before asking for help. I guess she was only alone when she was still in the town and help my grandma by herself. Thatís why sheís already used to it. ď Sometimes it would be great to have people help, but sometimes you have to do it by yourself.Ē My mom told me. Life is always hard. Itís not smooth like people think. It is rough like when weíre on a broken road. You just have to deal with it and keep moving forward. Even though my mom couldnít make her dream come true, she was still happy, because she did make our family dream come true though. That is the family business ď producing silksĒ.

From years through years, the familyís business was still develop. It was just different only that year. My aunt and uncles came home after living in the city for so long. At first, my mom thought it was something wrong happen. They just wanted to visit home after working so hard there. My mom was so relived. She prepared a lot of foods since she was indeed our familyís chef. On the next day, the environment was so strange that it did change her life forever. My uncles came home with their friend after meeting him at the market. Strangely, this friend was so familiar with my uncles and everyone in the house except mom. Itís not like he didnít greet mom. Itís just like everyone know him except mom. How exciting indeed. This was when my mom met my dad. Turns out, he was my uncleís coworker. She was shocked at first. After that my dad always comes to grandmaís house because of my uncle. Dad was a painter back then. He used to paint a lot of portraits of Jesus Christ and Virgin Maria for the church. Even now heís still painting but itís just for fun. My dad also knows how to play guitar. He plays classical. It was rare because classical was really hard. My dad was so talented that I donít know which one he did use to propose to mom. Itís just a crazy question when I asked mom. She did smile and feel embarrassed. Both of my dadís talents were romantic so I didnít know what to choose, but my mom did answer that were both of them. On the date of fate, my dad gave a portrait of her with a small ring and sang a single not-classical line ď Will you be my wife?Ē It was so straightforward but It was still romantic though. Of course, she said yes, thatís why Iím here now. Although my mom gave up her dream, she still had another dream that she would love to continue forever. She doesnít feel any pressure or tired. It is now part of her life after all. My mom is now our familyís great chef. She gives us an amazing meal everyday with her passion in it. We are always grateful for what sheís done for us. My mom has never complained anything about how hard it is in the kitchen. We moved to the city when my older brother was born. When I was two years old, my grandma passed away. Even though I was small, I still remember my mom carrying me on her arm with a black umbrella. My mom still continued grandmaís business until I passed the entrance exam to go to college. My aunt had a different job. One of my uncle also followed grandmaís business but it was just a different kind of silk. My other uncle continued studying to finish his bachelor. Right now, my mom is only our incredible chef. Thanks to her, my brother and I always have delicious foods to go to work. She always gives us so much foods that sometimes we cannot finish it. My mom is this kind of mom. ď You have to eat in order to work well.Ē My mom told us. Even my dad always says that we are already grown up so no need to worry, but my mom never listens to him, because she knows we will need it for sure. Thatís why I start to learn her recipes in order to help her a little bit. Although my help is not enough, I would love to do every time she needs. As long as she still has her carefree smile on her face, I donít mind helping her anything. My mom is small but she never lets anybody beat her. She can do anything with her best. Even though the problem is hard, my mom still figure it out easily. Even my two brothers still ask her every time they have somethings need to solve. Even I who is her little daughter, still seek her advice often. I know when people are older, they are kind of stubborn person. They usually donít listen to their parents. They think their parentís thought are already old and they are now living in the present. That is the biggest mistake that they have ever made, because I was just like them. Our parentís thought are indeed old. Nobody denies this reality, but it doesnít mean their thought are not working at our time. Their time was completely different from now. Indeed, itís true, but it doesnít mean we cannot use it. Without developed technology, they still live happily. We now have technology, but we cannot guarantee that we can beat their knowledge. I say this because I was in this mistake when I was young. When my mom and I went to the market to buy ingredients for the day, we need a lot but my mom didnít write down or use her phone to remember. She knew everything. Just with her memory and an interesting describe, the saler still understood what she was saying. She is like an incredible calculator. She can calculate so fast that I cannot keep up with her even though I use my calculator. ď I used to it when I was helping your grandmaís business.Ē My mom said. How cool she is. Thanks God for giving me an amazing mom that I have ever had.

For all these years, my mom still takes care us with delicious dishes. She is a strong mom that I have ever met. Thatís my mom who always sacrifice for her husband and children. When she was in hospital for blood transplant, my heart stopped. She was old but I also know she was small. ďHow a small human with that weak body can stand this treatment.Ē I wondered. After finishing the transplant, the doctor said she couldnít eat any foods outside, only home cook. I turned the vice chef that my family needed at that time. The day she finally came home, I also had to work. When I came in momís room, I saw a small women without hair lying on the bed. I couldnít believe and cry next to her. Thatís the first time I saw her like that because she was still normal when I last saw her. My mom was sleeping after fighting with her disease. She touched my hair and said ď Everything will be alright. My hair will be like yours quickly. Donít worry!Ē At that time, I prayed for her. I thanked God for giving me back my mom. I finally understand what a heart of a small mom. Thank you, mom. I truly love you. Always!

Contact Mai

(Unless you type the author's name
in the subject line of the message
we won't know where to send it.)

Book Case

Home Page

The Preservation Foundation, Inc., A Nonprofit Book Publisher