Welcome! Read the latest issue of PROGRESS, featuring civics programs in Virginia. Read PROGRESS

The Love of Parents

by Meimei Liu

The cold air stretched from night to day. It has rained for many hours. Gradually, the rain changed to snow. The snow slowly covered the houses and cars. Finally, the world outside was blanketed in white. Inside, a house is decorated with red paper scrolls, red lanterns, and calligraphy. A family gathered together, making dumplings. The children stirred the flour to make the dough, while the adults wrapped the fillings in the rolled out dough with a light twist. The fragrance of ginger, garlic, chives, and minced meat covered the house.

Suddenly, I woke up. Chinese New Year was approaching; I had been dreaming of this scene several times. I told myself, ‘You are not one of the members of that house; You are in the USA now.’

I haven’t spent Chinese New Year with my parents for seventeen years. Seventeen years is long enough to make a person from middle age to old age, from a father to be a grandfather, from a worker to be a retired person. Seventeen years is also long enough to make one person from a teenager to a mother of two children, from a student to a working person.

Since the pandemic began, the outlook for international travel is grim. I haven’t gone back to my hometown for three years. Last year, I moved to the USA because of my husband’s work. The physical distance between my parents and I got further and further away. I am the one always absent at Chinese New Year. Going back to my hometown has become a luxury that neither time nor money can buy.

When I was nineteen, I didn’t want to spend all of my life in a small town in China. I wanted to see the world outside, I wanted to learn a new foreign language, and I wanted to meet different people who came from diverse backgrounds. So I decided to go abroad to satisfy my curiosity. I couldn’t forget my parents’ expressions after I told them my idea. There was a great weight in their faces, but the shock and hesitation lifted almost instantly. My father held my hands. ‘Do what you want, we are not familiar with the outside world, but we support you.’ Then, with their support, I quit my university in China and began a new life in Japan. I enjoyed the years living in Japan. I went to a new university. I found a suitable job, met my husband. We had two kids.

But at the same time, the time I spent with my parents became shorter and shorter. I never imagined that I would only see them once a year for a short week. I had many reasons that I didn’t go back home. My job was busy; I was traveling a lot for work. My kids were young. Yes, all of these reasons were excuses. I was so selfish. I had forgotten the days my parents called me every night when I was lonely and scared, in Japan; I had forgotten they encouraged me a lot when I failed job interviews. I had forgotten how they used up their severance pay to support my life in Japan, and supported my dream.

I didn’t know a love like this until I became a mother. Being a mother, I always think about their best interest. Being a mother taught me that there isn’t anything that I am not capable of doing to help my children. My relationship with my daughters is such a blessing. I am sure my parents felt the same way toward me. They supported my dream instead of persuading me to stay with them. Someone once said, you have to find your own rainbow. There is no gold at the end of someone else’s rainbow. Will I be able to let go when my children grow up?