I recently watched Buzzfeed’s video called Children of Asian Immigrants Reveal Sacrifices Their Parents Made and it got me thinking about the sacrifices my own parents made in order for my sister and I to live a comfortable and loving life. Here is their story…
My parents had a “whirlwind romance” and met at their work in Manilla, Philippines. They dated and married within a year and soon made plans of living life together. After my parents married, my dad had to take a job in Saudi Arabia and my mom headed to Hawaii where my grandma and her other sisters were. For months, my parents lived separated only communicating through snail mail and every once in a while through phone. Finally, after my dad’s job wrapped up they met up in Hawaii and decided to move to Southern California. Their first place in states was in a small and cramped apartment that they shared with my mom’s friend. My mom got an admin job in downtown Los Angeles and my dad worked a warehouse position out near the ports of LA. For awhile, they had to make due with what jobs they had and try to make a new life, here in the states. Within a few months, they were able to get their own place together in Koreatown. They lived in a studio apartment in the heart of K-town, which wasn’t the safest at the time. My dad use to tell me stories of when he would head out to work, he would have no gas because someone had pumped it out in the middle of the night. They use to tell me when I was younger, that the size of our living room was the size of their first apartment together.
In 1986, my sister was born. At the time, my mom and dad had already gotten jobs with the state and were making just enough to support them. They were able to save enough money to purchase their first house in the suburbs. It was a small house, but it was just right for the 3 of them. When my sister came along, my dad took some odd jobs here and there to earn extra money. My mom told me of stories of how my dad would wake up in the wee hours of the morning and go do paper routes and then after he would go to his normal desk job. After my sister was born, my couldn’t take a lot of time off for maternity leave, she only was able to take about 6 weeks off. Every morning, my mom would have to drop off my baby sister to a baby sitter and wouldn’t see her until about 6 or 6:30 PM to work her job.
I was born in 1989. We moved into a slightly bigger house in a better neighborhood. My mom and my dad were working hard at their jobs and got promotions that they deserved, but that meant less time spent with me and my sister. My sister and I grew up with baby sitters, being in after school programs, and being home alone in the summers. My parents wanted to keep us busy during the times we didn’t spend with them, which I didn’t understand when I was younger. All I wanted to do was stay home and do absolutely nothing. In the late 90’s, we moved into our current house which was situated in a city where the schools were very good and the neighborhoods were known to be very safe. I knew my parents were proud of themselves for being able to look back at where they started from and realizing how far they had come. I, on the other hand, did not want to move or lose seeing my friends. But looking back on it now, I don’t regret it at all.
Growing up, I would say I was a trouble maker. I was a rebellious kid and didn’t want to listen to my parents. We fought… we fought a lot growing up. My parents gave me a lot of tough love, which at the time, I saw as them being super strict, but now that I am older… I really appreciate. I didn’t care about anything growing up. I didn’t care about my future, I didn’t care about school, I didn’t care at all, which is what caused a lot of our arguments. At the end of high school, I finally got my shit together and straightened up . I got into California State University of Los Angeles and received a Bachelors of Science in Health Science. My sister, the smarter one 🙂 (which I’m totally fine with), went to UCSD and UC Berkeley. According my parents, education was everything and school had no cap in terms of dollar amounts. Wherever we wanted to go, my parents would make it work. Ever since my sister and I were little, my parents saved their own hard earn money into a college fund for us and in turn, we were able to go to college debt free. They could have spent that money on nice cars, expensive jewelry, luxurious vacations, or a huge house, but they saved it for my sister and I and for our future.
My parents taught me and my sister to be ambitious and to dream big. They taught us that with hard work and an education, that we can make anything happen in our lives and that we can live our lives to fullest as long as we worked at it. My parents taught me a valuable lesson that nothing comes easy or free in life.I could still be living at home with them and live an easy life off of them, but they taught me that I should be proud of being independent and earning and saving my own money. I grew up in a community where kids drove Mercedes and BMW’s in high school and their parents gave them everything. But did that make a strong relationship between the child and the parent? Not always. When I think about it now, I really appreciate the tough love that my parents gave me. Instead of material things to look back on that my parents could have given me, I have memories to cherish with them. I’m so grateful for everything that they have shown me and given me. My relationship with my parents is wonderful, I can talk to them about almost anything without hesitation. We even have a group chat together!
My parents could have had a nice and easy life in the Philippines, but those chose to leave their families, their siblings, and their livelihoods all behind to have a better future in the states and for their future children. They’ve missed so many birthday celebrations, holiday celebrations, family reunions, and even deaths because they were in the states raising me and my sister. Growing up, I use to resent that my parents put in the long hours at work and that I only saw them at night or in the morning when they were dropping me off to school. I didn’t realize that it was for me and my sister and for our future. Now that my parents are older and my mom is retired and my dad will be close to retiring, they deserve to live an easy, happy, and loving life. And now that I’m older, it the time for me to repay them for the things that they had given me. Not necessarily in terms of money, but with memories that we create together and living a successful life. I’ve never said I love you to them as much as I do now, but I truly and deeply mean it with everything that I am. I know that they will probably never read this, but I cannot say thank you enough to my parents for the life that they have given me and my sister. They have sacrificed so much in order for my sister and I to live the lives that we do. If it wasn’t for them, my sister and I wouldn’t be where we are in lives and I thank them for that.
Thank you Mom & Dad, I love you.