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It's been 3 months since I've slept in my own bed. My mom stayed with us for the duration of her second knee replacement. Our cozy 754sf home with 1BA/1BR felt like a shoebox but somehow we made it work. How? I mean, I think most people would lose their shit. Did I mention there's also a Pekingese and a Mex under this one roof? 

At first, we both were very obliging. I went to town cleaning our humble abode to make my mom comfortable. We moved the bed to make it easier for her to get up and down from it. We made space in the bathroom for her toiletries and such. Ok, this time around she'll be much more comfortable!

Our first bit of conflict came about when she voiced her desire to lose weight. I got psyched! Here's my chance to educate her and rock her world! Not so much. We hit head on.


She didn't see how eating the cheapest, most processed crap was bad for her. "All of China use MSG. What's wrong with cheap eggs? I drink diet milk (translation 2%)" 

The carpet was too dirty and needed to be steam cleaned. She had to be in our small kitchen at the very same time as me to put the dishes away while we were in a hurry to make breakfast and head out to the studio. My mom's hearing was even worse than mine! Oh, and of course there was still a bit of a language barrier. For someone who made a living working at a computer as a desktop pubisher, she wasn't very tech savvy. Simple web browsing was as foreign as trying to read alien %&^$#. Arggghhhh!

Oh and of course there was no pressure to have grandkids. "Shaun has good strong body. You so-so, not so young anymore. Better have baby now."

I finally gave in, not to the baby part. I was mentally drained, frustrated and a tad claustrophobic. I was annoyed with myself for feeling this way. It's my mom for chrissakes! Why couldn't I bend? Why did I have to be right? I knew she really didn't want to stay with us but had no choice. What it must feel like to be a prisoner in your daughter's own home.


It hit me hard. I was being selfish. It was my way or it was wrong. She's lived her life much longer than me and from a different cultural background altogether. That's when I first resolved to start compromising for the sake of our relationship. My first white flag was getting what my mom really wanted...instant Ramen noodles, the 20 cents variety.

I was sad at first but then it felt like this big weight had been lifted off my shoulders. While I wanted her to eat healthier, it wasn't worth the anguish arguing over it. Once the pressure was off, I saw she really didn't eat those fake noodles all that much. She just wanted some sense of her former independent life. 

Then, I took her to Lotte, an International grocery store near our studio. It was like watching a kid in a candy store. I haven't seen her that happy for a long while. My compassion for my mom grew even deeper. I patiently accomodated her queries no matter how elementary they may have seemed. 

Her slouchy posture started to improve, her furrowed brows started to relax, she laughed and smiled more. While most of her time spent at our home were either watching Chinese drama or banging around in the kitchen, the other times were spent with us. 

I made every attempt to put away my computer and sat patiently to listen to her stories. She's very funny and entertaining. I was reminded that I should let her retell her past over and over. She just needed someone to listen to her. 

My mom's a strong survivor, albeit from a totally different reality than mine. She survived my dad who passed away in 2012. He was supposed to live another 20 years, at least that's what the docs told her. She wasn't prepared to be alone. My dad did everything from pumping gas to paying all the bills to operating the washer to cleaning the snow off the car. My mom had a crash course in learning how to live without my dad. They'd been together for 40 years. Even though it wasn't always a happy marriage, she still had a companion.

Lately, I saw more similarities between us than differences. I was a kitchen banger and binge watcher too! We both got giddy when we ate something we shouldn't have. I caved in and had more than a few onion pancakes, a Chinese yum yum. Some things were just not meant to be Paeo-fied. It was worth it. We sat there making these things from scratch. She eagerly taught me how to make them and I was amazed how little measuring was done. It was all by a feeling. There was an eerily familiar bonding moment.

I've learned instead of focusing on our trivial disputes, I searched for common ground. There was more commonality than difference.

I will miss you mom when you go back home. I hope your stay with us didn't suck too bad. I will miss making you coffee every day and seeing you smile when I give you a slice of my homemade cheesecake. I will miss giving you baths and pedicures. I will happily brave the Asian grocery store parking lot to get you your veggies, packaged noodles and exotic yet questionable seasonings.

You're welcome to stay with us anytime. I will gladly sleep on the floor. Love you.