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I learned from my mother that hard work is vital.

Joined: 6/9/2011
Posts: 1
My mother has an oval face as smooth as the moon. It possesses few wrinkles and nearly no imperfections. As I sit, watching her painstakingly sew a loose hem on one of my dresses, I find the courage to ask her one thing I do not know about her. Before the words leave my mouth, I hesitate; my mother and I keep our conversations restricted to education and work. It is a quiet, solid relationship— one built upon mutual reliance and love, but by no means is it affectionate. With my father, the words have always come more readily. We talk about books, politics, and general social media. We are witty, quick, and dismissive. My mother reads very little, cares for no particular political sect, and never touches a magazine or online blog. The medium between the two of us has always been one of silent resilience, yet I feel it change as I find the courage to propose my question. “Mama,” I start, “please tell me something I don’t know about you.” She looks up and puts down her work. Her voice is as smooth as her complexion: unmarred and placid as a river stone. “Do you know why I never taught you to sew?” she asks. I look away, annoyed. As I try to start again, thinking she does not understand, she continues. “You have beautiful hands. I wanted very badly to play the piano when I was younger, to do something with my beautiful hands. My own mother was very poor, so I worked at a sewing factory, mending and sewing.” Her English has a slow lilt to it; she spent her girlhood in China. As she speaks, the image of her native town blooms in my mind. I visited it once, naïve and excited for the chance to travel, yet my dainty eyes were met with imposing buildings and smoggy streets. It did fit to my taste like the image of an untouched, exotic Asian country did.
She does not stop there. After her working experience in the factory, she went to college early on a scholarship. She tried to find employment at the university’s research lab, but no one trusted a woman to conduct any important research, so she was given custodial duty more often than not. Menial tasks, I recall her saying with shame and disappointment. I have never known my mother to be disrespected; in my mind, she has always been the determined, lauded chemist in the high station she worked hard to achieve. Of course, I knew that the success she’s garnered did not come without difficulty, yet I never imagined that she endured so much. Her moving story made many things clear. She has always motivated me to never accept tedious tasks, nor to be anything less than excellent. Her cornerstone has always been hard work, but I see why now. The afternoon we spent chatting was enlightening, but moreover, it made me realize that I should strive for greater things.
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