• Lydia Chu

I was my daughter's hero once..

When I became a single mom 10 years ago, my daughters were 6 and 7 years old.

Hannah in front of the train station 2009

Even though my ex-husband and I had a joint custody, my daughters stayed with me most of the time except for the weekends. It was a tough time for the girls. They would cry frequently hoping that their dad and I would reconcile. So, I spent a lot of time talking and consoling them. It was a tough time for me as well. I was working long hours and juggling work with being a single mom. They would frequently come over to my shop (I owned a dry cleaning business) after school to hang out and sometimes help out with work. Even though I loved my girls dearly, I often struggled to make time for them outside work. Regardless, we became very close, and they gave me the strength to stay strong and to become a better person.

One day, I was lying down in my bed when my younger daughter, Ally, asked me if she could interview me for one of her class assignments. She said she wanted to interview me because she had chosen me as her "hero". When I heard this, I got so excited that I jumped out of bed with excitement. I never forget that day. I even remember where I was and what I was doing when I heard those words. That was about 8 years ago when she was in second grade.

My older daughter, Hannah, was about 9 years old then. After I became a single mom, I moved to Davis with my girls, and this is when I got into running . I usually got up around five in the morning to go running so I can be back before my girls woke up. The runs were usually around 7 to 8 miles so it was very heartwarming when Hannah volunteered to accompany me while I went for my runs. She would ride her bike while I ran. She did this probably about once a week for about a year. Even in the Winter, she would get up before sunrise, get all bundled up, get on her bike, and accompany me on my runs. The picture of her taken in front of the train station on one of our runs has truly become one of my favorite pictures. Her unconditional love for me shows through in the picture, and even to this day, it brings me to tears thinking about it.

Now, my girls are 16 and 17 years old. Hannah is getting ready to go to college, and Ally will be leaving the following year since they're only a grade apart. A lot has changed since the days when my girls considered me their hero or would go out of their ways to spend time with me. At first, our regular walks disappeared. Their friends became a center of their world. They started losing interest in going places with me. Even though I know this is just a part of them growing up and becoming independant, it's not easy to accept. Even though I have tried to prepare myself for this, I have never imagined how hard it could be. I feel lonely and abandoned, and most of all, I miss them terribly.

Just last week, we sat down to have dinner. I had made my homemade potstickers. I've been making them as long as I can remember. They're a staple item in Korea where it's especially popular around the holidays. I've been making them all my life, and I've gotten a lot of compliments over the years from everyone who has tried them. When my girls were young, they loved my potstickers. Even recently as a year ago, my girls would invite their friends over and proudly serve my potstickers bragging about how good they were. It would make me very happy knowing that my girls were enjoying them.

So, with hopes of pleasing them, I proudly served my signature pan fried potstickers. While we were eating, Hannah mentions that she loves the potstickers that her dad serves at his house. She said they were frozen potstickers that her dad buys at the asian market. Hearing this, my feelings were instantly hurt. Frozen potstickers had won over my homemade potstickers that they had loved so much over the years. Sadness came over me, and I felt helpless to please them. They've been rejecting a lot of things I've been making for them lately but this was too much. How can they reject my potstickers? It was like rejecting me and who I was. No matter how much I tried to not take it personally, it was difficult. I knew that they still loved me but rejecting my potstickers was like saying they didn't like me anymore.

When did this happen? They used to love my cooking, especially my potstickers. We used to go on trips together and always had a lot of fun. Now, they're hardly ever home, and even though they reluctantly sit down to have dinner with us on most days, they seem distant. I tried to reassure myself that this is normal for teenagers, but I can't seem to shed the feeling that I'm losing them. Even though I wasn't a perfect parent, they were my whole life for the last 17 years, but now, I must face the fact that it's time to set them free. I love them so much..



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