The state of being a parent and the responsibilities involved.
I supposed in the broadest sense, the aforementioned definition holds true, but if I were to describe parenthood I would say:
The complete sacrifice of oneself.
It feels demeaning to describe what you did as a simple "state of being," because in reality, what you did was proactively abandon your dreams, and strive to provide the best for me. I always say how I will never have children because I know what I, as a child, took away from you once I came into existence.
At the young age of 20, you gave up everything. You could have continued to pursue your career in interior design, but that didn't pay well enough, so you chose to wash other people's feet and listen to their inane jabber while carefully painting their nails. Working 70 hours a week didn't give you time to have a social life; you couldn't even hang out with other parents because that required money—money you didn't have. So you were basically alone in all of this. Never mind the fact that he never paid child support, he also tried to crush your spirit. Nevertheless, you never stopped living for us. No one acknowledged your exhaustion or sacrifice because all everyone else saw was a young, single mom.
Today, I cry for the innocent, sweet, bright and young Korean girl who was forced to grow up without warning—away from the comfort of her own mother. The girl who was left to face the tribulations of society alone. The girl who, herself, was just a child made to take care of her own children without any guidance.
I remember one night, you held my hands and cried that everything was too hard, and said "I'm still thankful and happy that I have you to rely on" (엄마는 혜정이한테 기댈수있어서 너무 고맙고 좋아). That was twelve years ago, and I know the same sentiment does not hold true today. I suppose as the years went by my ego and selfishness got the better of me, and I forgot to take care of the one person in my life who matters. I conveniently overlooked what you had given up, and complained about such simple tasks like having to tidy up around the house. The wall of apathy I had constructed as a defense mechanism had suddenly reached out as far to you—the one person who the wall should have come crumbling down for.
Sometimes I just wish you would despise me more for what I took away from you. But for some inexplicable reason, you seem to have an unending reservoir of love for me. You candidly told me that even though I am your child, there are times when you can't stand me, but then you also feel sorry and want to give me everything you couldn't have. Isn't that the true heart of a parent?—that desire to give only the best for your child despite the pain that s/he may put you through.
I can't give you the 20 years you've sacrificed for me, but I want to make it clear that you have done and exceeded the responsibilities you've had as a parent. I can't imagine what it'd be like to give up your whole for the one who has also brought you the most pain.
What most people do over the course of 50 years, you did in 20. You've done more than enough to prepare me for life (because isn't that what parents are supposed to do?), and now, I hope you are able to find your own happiness. It's become clear to me that I cannot be the source of your happiness. No matter how hard we both try, one of us will end up hurting the other, and you don't deserve to hurt anymore. In spite of the degradation and pain, you lived to support me, and there's no reason for you to go through that anymore. Live for yourself because you owe yourself at least that much.
I hope I can reserve the roles and try to give you as much as you have given me. I could live my whole life trying to make up what you did for me, and it would not be enough because I do not have the capacity to be as selfless as you are. I think about what I would have done had I been in your position, and I never would have been able to achieve as much as you have.
I've always struggled to choose a role model in my life when the best one has been beside me all along. I hope, one day, I'll have a heart as big as yours and have the ability to love as fiercely as you do, all the while, never losing my spirit or self-worth.
I commend you, mom and I am sorry I can't be a better daughter. I know I don't say it enough, but I love you and thank you so much. The words I say cannot take away the past, but I hope my future actions will better convey my love for you.