h2>Dating : “Find a nice boy,” says mom
A few weeks ago I told my mom that I wanted to be just like her when I was older. She responded with a sad look and said, “You got to make more money than mama and find a nice boy.”
At first, I was taken aback. My mom was never financially dependent on my dad when they were married. She was the breadwinner and earned significantly more income than my dad. So how could she truly think that finding a husband was that important? However, as I thought about it more, I came to understand her reasoning.
My mom is the strongest woman I know. She graduated from Peking University for undergrad, one of China’s most respected schools. She came to the United States for graduate school from Beijing with nothing but $200 and a red suitcase. She earned a master’s in math and a PhD in statistics from the University of Wyoming. After she graduated, she moved my grandparents from Beijing to the United States, financially supporting them the entire time.
The making more money part isn’t surprising; every parent wants their children to be better off financially than they were. It’s the “nice boy” part that crushes me. No matter how educated, independent, strong, and successful my mom is, she will always see her being divorced as her one great hindrance.
We never went on any long road trips because my mom couldn’t handle driving for long hours at a time. When I would complain about my friends going on these long trips, she would say, “They have two parents. It’s just me here.”
This spring when my lao ye passed away, my mom made all the funeral arrangements herself, not allowing herself to cry because “if I break down, nothing will get done.”
All throughout my childhood and my teenage years, I’ve watched my mom juggle her demanding job, attending all of my and my sister’s school events, and taking care of my aging grandparents. She never complained, always just handled everything by herself.
My mom doesn’t have many friends because she never has time to go out and socialize. Dating is even further out of the question. My mom has always said she doesn’t need a love of her life because my sister and I are the loves of her life. This makes me sad because my mom deserves someone who can support her practically and emotionally in ways that my sister and I can’t.
My mom’s desire for me to “find a nice boy” doesn’t come from outdated beliefs about being financially dependent on a husband.
Instead, it comes from a mom’s love for her children. If my mom had a son, she’d be saying the same thing to him. She’s experienced the burden of going through life without a partner — an equal — by her side. Like any parent, she doesn’t want her children to experience the same burden.
I know my mom can live without a husband. She’s been doing it for over a decade. No one needs a spouse, certainly not my mom. Her “Find a nice boy” comment is a self-reflection on perhaps how much easier the past decade would have been if she had someone supporting her and helping her as an equal.
It wasn’t the outdated, gender-expectation-reinforcing remark that I’d originally thought it was.