The Jubilee Project released a video called "Lunch Box Moment" that is centered around Asian Americans telling stories of how their fellow classmates would react to their lunch boxes. Watching it made me feel reminiscent about the times in elementary school where I wouldn’t eat my boxed lunches just so kids wouldn’t make fun of me. Looking back, it hurts to think about how much I must have hurt my mom by rejecting the food that she made with love. I remember one time where I cried and yelled at my mom for not giving me lunch like the other kids at my school. My mom sat with me and the next day gave me money that we didn’t really have to go buy a hot lunch from my school cafeteria. I realize now that I wasn’t only ashamed of my lunches but I was also slightly ashamed of my heritage. I wasn’t like the other kids, I wasn’t their skin tone, I didn’t have blonde hair or green eyes, and the food I ate was smelly and looked weird. Granted it’s not like their teasing came from a place of hate or racism—more like ignorance and misguidedness—but it hurt all the same.
Mother’s Day just shared this video and watching it made me realize just how much I miss having my mom cook for me and take care of me. My mom is one of the strongest people I know and one of the bravest for coming to a totally different country and picking up a new life for her kids. She works twice as hard as anyone and has willpower like none other. She is one my heroes and my example for when I have kids someday. She never hesitated to give something up for us and does her best to give us everything in the world. I also miss her deeply and I miss her cooking.
For many Asian parents, food and material things are the way that they showed love to their children. When I rejected her lunch boxes it was like I was not only rejecting her food, but also her love. Granted I was a child and didn’t understand. Looking at it now, I wish I could have proudly taken and eaten my strange, smelly food at school.
I wish I could have put up with the ignorance and understood that my mom just wanted to be like the moms that she had seen in her childhood. It was so close and yet so far. I’ve learned a lot from her in the past 20 years of my life and one of my favorite lessons is cooking. Korean food is the best cuisine, in my opinion, and I love to cook and eat our creations.
The last question that the Lunch Box Moment video asked was, “If your mom were here right now what would you say to her?” I would say thank you and "saranghae," which means "I love you" in Korean and hug her tightly and then ask her to make me some food. My mom means the world to me and I am super proud of my Korean food and pack my own lunches and eat them with a pride that my mom would be proud of. I love you mommy and Happy Late Mother’s Day!