How do your parents show love?
We can’t choose our family, and that’s what makes their love unconditional, enduring, and complicated. It is what makes it so easy to wave impatiently at the fruit platter placed before us by our mothers, and impossible to walk away after a heated fight with our fathers about presidential politics. Parental love goes unspoken in so many ways. In this issue, we’ll explore love by how we’re first introduced to it: through our parents.
“Because that’s what mothers do. They wait. They stand still until their children belong to someone else.”
— Ocean Vuong
“My mom had tears rolling down her face as the doctors wheeled me into the OR for a simple procedure.”
She cried with me in the car a year after my dog had passed away. She sends me finals study packages when I am away at college. She takes care of my tension headaches even though she herself suffers from migraines. She now tells me that I am too hard on myself. That is how I know she loves me.
When I first heard the Arabic word Ya’aburnee (you bury me), meaning that you would rather die first because you cannot imagine life without the other person, I first thought of my mother. That is how I know I love her.
––– Filipino-American, 21
Park City, Utah
sit up straight. find your spine, stop slouching.
fear admiration respect
one of these things is not like the others
she picks gingerly at my split ends
mixing egg yolk
in a teaspoon of honey
but finds white strands instead
no wonder your back hurts.
she conjugates my shortcomings into her shame
remittance for scrubbing cigarette smoke off my back
the sins of my father
she lapped up his vomit like a dog
now she clears her throat to keep it down
you see this is why we take our shoes off inside:
never leave stains on the welcome mat
i gave you all my best parts
but you look just like him.
trauma has facial recognition--
don’t let it smell your uncertainty
auction off your insecurities
to the highest bidder
and if all else fails
he taught you cheap vodka
just like hand sanitizer
and ignorance is the scapegoat
why don’t you ever listen to me?
apologies are her second language
like trying to write the correct date after a new year
but cross regulation is not sufficient for temporal transitions
if you sleep more you can still grow.
she marinates ox bones into brine
an ancient recipe that tastes like brackish compromise
i swallow it
––– Athena, Chinese-American, 22
“And I wondered if my mother loved me, or if she loved Yale.”
“After I started school at Yale, my mother became obsessed with helping my younger sister attend an “elite” university too. Every night, she scoured for competitions for my sister and selective summer camps and programs she could attend. My mother fabricated a narrative for my sister–––starting a nonprofit in her name and hiring tutoring to write essays for her–––and during winter breaks at home, the two of them barraged me with questions about my Common App and past extracurricular activities. To them, I was a resource. And I wondered if my mother loved me, or if she loved Yale.
At dinner one night, I asked my mother, “Would you love Annie if she didn’t get into an Ivy League school?” My mother replied, “We’re going to try our best. Aim for Ivy.” She hadn’t answered the question directly and somehow, a part of me didn’t want to know. Regardless, she loved me, a part of me.”
––– Chinese-American, 22
New Haven, CT