- Season 2, Episode 8: Triggered by your family? You’re not alone!
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Jeanette: [00:00:00] the whole boundary thing? It’s like, it’s a very Western concept, right? I feel like in Asian cultures, we’re all in each other’s business and we’re all very tightly bound together in a good way, but also a terrible way.
Jeanette: Like there’s no boundaries except the unspoken boundaries. Right. Which you don’t always know where they are and God help you if you trip over them because there’s going to be like some emotional, like nuclear bomb fallout. at least I feel like that’s kind of the way it is in my family.
Kate: Welcome to model minority moms, where we talk about the complicated meaning of success in career, family and life.
Kate: I’m Kate Wong,
Susan: Jeanette park, and Susan.
Kate: Harvard classmates and Asian-American working moms to Little’s who get real about the pressures of fitting in while standing out.
Susan: Today. We are talking about the expectations we have of our nuclear and extended family, which is really interesting because [00:01:00] we’re all Asian and family has a huge definition and what we expect of them, when we’re growing up versus now.
and the fact that we’re always, we’re always moving for our jobs. so, so what does that mean and how does that relate to our childbearing? So who, who was the one who wanted to talk about this?
Susan: Why, why did you want to do this one? Hmm.
Jeanette: I was talking about living with my mom. Right. So, I mean, I often get questions about, oh, what is it like to live with your mom? Because,my mom moved in with us now 11 years ago and I was 25. So it was a lot earlier than, what most of our, our peer group were , even considering. Now I feel like with people having kids, you know, if that’s an option for you, then everybody’s [00:02:00] talking about , oh, how do I live closer to my parents?
Jeanette: Or how do I get my parents to come live with me for a little bit, at least right. To help with kids. Like nobody was thinking about that. When we were 25. I mean, it was just another, thing that was just weird about me and my mom lived with me. and my husband. So I think that that’s, why, that’s, why that’s why I suggested the topic is because I got a lot of questions about it.
Jeanette: Right. But now it’s, it’s very helpful because, I have two kids and my mom does help us a lot with, my children and, just stuff around the house. But you know, that also brings its own complications. it’s like, it can be a bit of a, like a love, hate thing. right. This whole thing about living, having my mom live with us.
and so that’s why I suggested to topic. And I think we all deal with that dynamic to some extent, right. Even if your parents or your in-laws are not living with you.
Susan: Yeah. I remember when I, when we had reconnected maybe two years ago and I went to go stay with you in Cambridge, at your place. And, and I knew [00:03:00] that your mom was with you.
Susan: And I was like, I was so jealous. I was like, oh my God, you have a kimchi fridge. You must have banchan all the time. Like I was like opening the fridge and looking at everything. It was so jealous because the idea having an elder with you, where they kind of like, they make a lot of the food or they just, they just, they just know what to do.
and there’s something around that, that legacy of, of passing on the knowledge of, of where you come from that lineage. Like I was, and I was like, oh shoot, she must be speaking so much Korean Isaiah, like, wow, that’s so awesome. I was jealous with a capital J and that J was not for Jeanette, that Jay was like, oh, for banchan.
but, but yeah, I mean it’s, but you said it’s complicated.
Jeanette: Yeah. I mean, there are a lot of good things about it. you know, like you said, we probably eat some of the best Korean food in Seattle or Boston before.
Jeanette: Right. I mean, cause my mom has a pretty good cook and [00:04:00] she makes her own kimchi still. And so, you know, from a Korean food perspective, we eat pretty well. You know, and then my mom, she’s also like pretty, she has high standards for housekeeping, so she’ll do random projects around the house, like clean up and stuff like that.
she doesn’t, the language part is not working out so well, because I feel like Isaiah still doesn’t really understand that much Korean, even though my mom does try. but that’s probably a topic for another episode. but then there’s also just like the flip side of it. Right. I mean, as I’ve alluded to in other.
Jeanette: Sees it or other episodes of the podcast, you know? my childhood was challenging in many ways. and so that also, left some scars, I think in my relationship with my mom and living with your mom in that situation, you know, even, maybe, even if he didn’t have a traumatic childhood, it’s like, your mom is one of the primary sources of triggering for a lot of people.
Jeanette: Right. And so seeing them every day, you know, day in day out, can be a little bit stressful. so yeah, it’s, it’s a double-edged [00:05:00] sword.
Susan: Yeah. I mean, with COVID a lot of my friends were like, thinking about, okay, how do we move our parents to us? Or how do we move back to our hometown or the location of where their parents are?
you just happen to go through that thought exercise. A decade earlier.
Jeanette: It, no, it was primarily prompted by my parents getting a divorce in 2010. and it was a really rough divorce. My parents never had a very smooth marriage to begin with. And I think after my brother and I were grown the forces that kind of held them together, just fell apart.
Jeanette: And, my dad ended up remarrying somebody else. My mom basically had emotional meltdown. My brother, who is two years younger than me, was not really in a spot to support her in many ways. And so, Jake and I just decided to move her out to Boston with us. And that’s when she started living with us. And it’s kind of pretty much become a permanent situation.
Jeanette: So that’s the Genesis of [00:06:00] it. Yeah. It wasn’t like, oh, let me get you now, like 10 years ahead of schedule. So, you know, my brother can’t claim you to help take care of his kids when he has kids later.
Jeanette: Kate. Do you want to talk a little bit about any help or not help that you’re receiving from parents? In-laws
Kate: yeah. You know, it’s, I can understand your sentiments. In some way, because my mom has been living with us for a large part of the time this past year. And my mother-in-law has also made extended stints.
and you know, I also understand Susan, so I think bef, I thought I’ve always very, felt very conflicted about living with extended family, because I like my own space. I like my own privacy. and you know, my parents are pretty, hands-off for Chinese parents in this particular regard, they used to always say, oh, we don’t want to come and take care of your kids.
Kate: Like pay somebody to do it. We’ll just have fun with them. and things like that. Right. and [00:07:00] you know, it was really nice to have my mom around for a while. in the beginning, I think the benefits definitely outweighed the non, the non benefits. but you know, I think similar to what Jeanette said about being around someone who, you know, Can trigger things.
you know, my mom and I are very similar in certain ways and some of those things. It come out a lot more strongly in her. And so when she’s around a lot, even my husband was like, he’s like, wow, I know why you are the way you are now. If I, you know, like, cause my mom loves to nag, you know, like it’s like a very, I feel like very Asian mom thing, nag.
Kate: She’s also like, you know, very particular about housekeeping things, right? Jeanette, like you’re, I don’t know if your mom does this, but it’s like everything they do literally maybe like 95% of the time. It’s like, well, you could do it this way. You could do it this way. Like maybe you should do this. And I’m like, I can accept it most of the time, but then like maybe.
Kate: Like 5% of the time, I would just have a complete, like melt. I would just like snap at her and get really mad. And my mom was like, oh, you can’t take any criticism. I’m like, hello, what have I been [00:08:00] taking every day for the last, like, since last time I snapped back at you, I think it is complicated. Right. I, on one hand I feel very grateful, you know, to have her help and it’s been great to have her be with my daughter, but I think on the other hand, it is, you know, just, just interesting dynamic and I think maybe altogether more interesting for our generation because traditionally the daughter-in-law or the daughter, I guess usually it’s the daughter-in-law and the mother-in-law who lived together.
Kate: Right. You don’t snap back at elders like in Asian. In many cultures, traditional cultures, you just kind of take it, you know, and then you inflict the same kind of pain on your own daughter-in-law later on. Right. But since, you know, the dynamics, relational dynamics have changed a lot. I think we feel more empowered to express our displeasure and even to feel dis pleasure right before there was no space to feel.
Kate: No, no man, you weren’t permitted to feel displeasure at your mother or mother-in-law because there’s just no space for it in the culture entirely. You had nowhere to go mentally. and so I think it’s just an interesting place we were in. And also because obviously we, you know, grew up in the us versus our parents growing up in Vietnam and Korea [00:09:00] and China.
Kate: And so there’s just a lot of really interesting, not generational cultural, but even magnified right by this sort of our situations.
Susan: I have so many, I have so many thoughts and everything you just said, you know, I’m just sitting there going, like, we’re all kind of just like bickering and saying our
Susan: thinking, oh my God. In 30 years, our kids are going to say that about us. Like right. They get,
Kate: oh, I’m going to be cool. I’m a cool grandma. Yeah, we’re doing a little shoulder dip right now. I’m going to be cool.
Susan: Cool. Will Smith. He had a song that was like, oh God, maybe it was early nineties, late eighties.
Susan: When he was like, it was a song was like, parents just don’t understand. And it was like, does it get better with every generation? Or is it always the same stuff? And I mean, do we love, love, hate our parents and we’re going to just take them for granted and they’re going to take us for granted.
Susan: And I’m like, I’ve just almost like [00:10:00] starting to melt. At the idea that art’s just like, mom, I don’t know, like get out of my space and it’d be like, oh, but you’ve been in my space. You’ve been inside my space for so long, you know? So that’s the first thought that I have, gosh, oh, the second one is Kate, you said before, there was no space for our feelings to set our boundaries and say what we wanted.
Susan: And I just remember growing up, if I had an emotional, like, I felt a lot of emotion about whatever just happened. You’re right. There was no space for it. And the only space for it was when I would go upstairs to my room and close the door and just kind of feel really bad or cry. And then, and now as adults, it’s like, we might have a scenario.
Susan: It seems like an everyday scenario, but some, some interaction is happening with our family. And then. For me, I don’t react in the moment cause I’m just kind of like, I feel like it I’m a kid again, you know? And then I’m like, oh, and then, and then really I just spend a shit ton of time processing it with my therapist.
Susan: And, [00:11:00] and, and so now I’m trying to think like how, because I’m about to see my family, after a year and a half of not seeing them because of COVID in a few next week, I’m going to California, I’ll see all my siblings and all my aunties. And then two weeks afterwards, I’m going to Texas to see my dad for about five days for his birthday.
Susan: And I’m trying to like mentally prepare because everything always just feels like so much. You know what I mean? Like, it’s just like, I love these people. I will go to their funeral. They will go to my funeral. If, if they ask something of me, I will definitely do it. But even it’s just like everyday things just seems like, it just seems like it’s like an everyday problem.
Susan: Like, Hey, what are we going to have for lunch when you. And everyone’s going to come to my sister’s house and there’s like 20 people coming, like six households are going to descend and we’re going to eat. And then my sister was like, you figure it out. I’m just the venue. And I was like, okay. And then, and then she was like, Susan, like, [00:12:00] why don’t you just like, create a whole giant Korean barbecue meal and like bring all the banchan.
Susan: Cause like the aunts always feed you. So like, it’s your time to pay back? I’m like, okay, Wendy, like, this is the first time I’m flying with art. I’ve never done that before then I’m going to get a rental car and then you want me to drive to the H Mart. Get all this stuff for a Korean barbecue and then drive all the way to your house an hour away.
Susan: And then like, prepare this big thing for 20 people. Like I’m the one flying in, you know, like, and then it’s turned into this thing where one household will call another household, they’ll call back. And it’s just like, it’s been like, probably I’ve consumed maybe three hours of phone calls of what are we gonna eat for lunch?
Susan: And it’s like, and it’s like, well, this person, this cousin really wants to do this thing. I’m like, it doesn’t work with the genre that we’re doing. And then they’re insisting that I go like the pizza toppings. And I’m like, why are we having pizza? Let’s just do Vietnamese. You know? And it’s just like, I got to tell you, like, I’m like hella stressed out to go eat lunch next Sunday.
Susan: And [00:13:00] then, and then I haven’t even planned the menu with my dad. And I’m like, oh my God. Like, it’s just because it’s not just eating food. It’s like, it’s communicating our connection. Or lack thereof. Like we don’t have into emotional intimacy, but we really expect each other to hold space with each other, but we’re not allowed to share our opinion.
Susan: Like I, I’ve just, it’s very confusing to me. And, and, and I, like, I keep wanting to see my family. Maybe one day I’ll move back to the bay area, but then the other part of me is like, no, it is so great to have an airplane ride away from you guys, because then I can actually be myself without like going like all the way back to like the early nineties of being little kid, sister, you know what I mean?
Susan: Like, it’s just, I know the topic was like, what do we expect of our family, including extended family. But like, I guess what I’m trying to say is like, I don’t even know if I could expect them to like, [00:14:00] have. I would, I would love to expect them for us to have healthy communication and like talk about boundaries and like, say, Hey, when you did that, that, like, when you asked me to put on a giant 20 person Korean barbecue meal, like mind you, I’m not Korean, this doesn’t come naturally to me.
Susan: Hey, it really made me feel anxious. You know? Like I don’t, I don’t even have the tools to do that. Like for some reason I can not do it with my own family. And like, I was wondering if you have that same issue of like, I love you, but somehow we can not communicate. So I’m just going to go close the door and cry now.
Jeanette: Yeah, no, totally. It’s just, yeah, the whole boundary thing, right? It’s like, it’s a very Western concept, right? I feel like in Asian cultures,
It’s like, we’re all like it’s, yeah, it’s very complicated, right. Because we’re all like in each other’s business and we’re all very tightly bound together in a good way, but also a [00:15:00] terrible way.
Jeanette: Like there’s no boundaries except the unspoken boundaries. Right. Which you don’t always know where they are and it, God help you if you like trip over them because there’s going to be like some emotional, like nuclear bomb fallout. at least I feel like that’s kind of the way it is in my family.
Susan: So wait, what, what are, what are topics you’re not allowed to talk about?
Jeanette: well, I mean, things I’ve mainly talked to my therapist about, right. I mean, things like, yeah, like traumatic things that happened from my childhood that involved like my mom, you know, or like, I think that’s like a one big one, right. Or,
Jeanette: Like certain things about my dad dynamics with my mom that kind of turn the mother daughter relationship, like on its head.
because I take care of my mom now in many ways. Right. But, she does it’s that’s, I think that’s a hard for her, to talk explicitly about those things are hard.
Jeanette: yeah, with my brother, like, you know, me living with my mom and taking care of her, that’s very hard to talk about with my brother.
Jeanette: Anything that happened in our [00:16:00] childhood
Jeanette: with my brother is hard.
so yeah, there are these things that we can’t talk about, but you’re right. If there was ever a true emergency, right? Like I think we would be there for each other and we would be like one of the handful of people who you could count on,
Jeanette: But yeah, it’s, it’s complicated.
Susan: Yeah. My example is always like, it’s 3:00 AM. You’re in jail who you’re going to make that call to, you know, and most of, I mean, for me, it’s, it’s my husband and my sister, you know,
Kate: this reminds me of, I was just sharing my family history with my therapist the other day. And I was telling about, I was talking about my, my, like my dad’s family is like hyper dysfunctional, like many families, you know, that generation in China.
Kate: And, but what’s really interesting is that even though my dad like fought with his three sisters and my late grandmother, like his entire, my entire life that I could remember to the extent where I would actually actively feel like this [00:17:00] pit, this just sinking in my stomach. Every time I approached my grandma’s house, because I always associated it with such.
Kate: Uncomfortable scenes like literal scenes. but he always supported them financially, like whatever money they needed, because his three, two of his three sisters were laid off, you know, early, because they worked for the Chinese gov, Chinese government enterprises and, and you know, and he still does to this day.
Kate: Right. And so it was just so interesting because I feel like I’m a grossly make some gross generalizations about Caucasian people in America. But I do feel like generally speaking, Caucasian people in America do not financially support their siblings or other relatives whom they like really may not like personally and have re like rabid fights with.
Susan: Does he still fight with them today?
Well, yeah. When my grandmother’s unfortunately passed away and,you know, yes. When he sees them, he still gets tricky, you know, he gets triggered. Right. It’s just like, if I get triggered by my parents, sometimes he gets triggered by his [00:18:00] siblings and he’s still like, I mean, I haven’t seen them for a while cause he can’t go to China, but yeah, like, but he still will give them money.
Kate: In fact, I recently heard a story about my, from my aunt, my dad’s oldest sister. So apparently she got scammed by somebody and then she came to my dad asking him for like a thousand dollars us dollars. That’s a lot of money in Chinese art because like over 6,000 RMB to like fix her teeth. Cause her, you know, a lot of her teeth fell out.
Kate: So he was like, okay, sure. Even though he has the worst relationship with her for various reasons, he gave her the money. And then, and then he mentioned to my cousin, my aunt’s daughter. And then my cousin was like, why’d you give her the money? She came to me asking me for the same money, like saying that it was for teeth.
Kate: So then they figured out it was because my aunt had gotten scammed. And so my dad was like, well, I mean, you know, and he says, he’s like, oh, I’m not going to give her money again. But I bet he’s going to give her money again. Just, you know what I mean? Whereas like, I just don’t see most American Caucasian people doing this kind of thing.
Kate: Okay. Shoot me people, no [00:19:00] overstatement.
Jeanette: I think that, I think it does happen, but it’s just
Jeanette: different. I think.I mean, I’m only able to observe like a handful of white families, like up close one being my husband’s. Right. and so, yeah, I mean, I think, it’s interesting to observe because the whole discussion around money and mutual obligation is different, but it’s not actually as different as I thought it was going to be at least like in these families that I have some work purview into.
Jeanette: yeah, I’m just trying to think like, how am I would characterize it, but, but like for sure the help is still there. It’s, it’s just, maybe it doesn’t take on the same feel.
Kate: I think, I always think of example that, you know, like my, my Chinese relatives in China will always use to talk about when they would mention like, oh, Americans don’t take care of their own.
Kate: Like, you know, all they see is media reports will be like, oh, I can’t believe there’s like so many people who are [00:20:00] like homeless with mental disease and like, who are really poor. Like why don’t their families, you know, take care of them. That kind of thing. Because at least, I mean, in the older generation, I don’t necessarily speak for the current generation younger generation in China.
Kate: But I think the older generation, the general idea practice is that if someone in your family is really is down and out on their luck, you don’t let them go like home. Like you don’t, you just don’t as a family, like people just kind of band together and provide right. I mean, that’s obviously, again, generalization, and many, it has changed in many places and obviously generationally, but I feel like at least with my parents’ generation, there’s definitely that mindset.
Kate: And I’ve seen it with countless, of my parents’ friends, families, and with my peers.
Jeanette: But is that, is that kind of like a trade off? I mean, going back to this whole idea of like boundaries versus no boundaries. I mean, I feel what I feel like, I, again, these are generalizations, right. But what I feel like I see more an Asian families is like, yes, you take care of them, but it comes at a cost, like an [00:21:00] internal family unit costs.
Jeanette: Right? Like how you treat that person or like how that person’s like viewed and esteem like in that family. and how often they’re like, reminded of like what, you know, what this other person in the family did for them. Right. It’s like you would, you’ll provide for them materially. Like, you’ll make sure they’re not homeless or they’re not starving or whatever, but like the it’s not, it takes a
Jeanette: cost and that relationship right. Between whoever’s providing and whoever’s on the receiving end. and then versus like, Again, broad generalization, but like in kind of a more Western approach is like, I have clear boundaries. Like I will pay for X, Y, and Z, but I will not pay for this. If you make this decision, I will not support you.
Jeanette: You know? And if it ends up you being on the street, like, it’s kind of like that, that’s where there’s like clear lines. so which is like better, I don’t know, like, it seemed, feels like they both come with their own steep cost,
Kate: but I feel like why is it either or right. Because the scenario of like, let’s say your child.
Kate: Okay. So I definitely, I don’t, I, I don’t know anybody whose child is [00:22:00] really addicted to drugs, but from what I understand of other people, it’s really difficult. Right? It’s not so easy to say, oh, you can just bring your kid in or your family member and, and help them. Sometimes you really can’t like, they’re so addicted.
Kate: They’re kind of just, it’s, it’s really hard. but I also wonder there’s just a spectrum, right? There’s some people who are just like, okay, you leave, like I’m not responsible for you. See you later. Right. But in, in some instances you, your child could benefit from either financial or otherwise, some kind of support, not saying that you should support them for the rest of your lives.
Kate: Right. What is the middle ground? Right? Why does it have to be this either? Okay. If you want to be saved by your family members, from drug addiction or anything else, then you have to give into this, like, you know, psychological torment versus boundaries, but then if you mess up, like, then you’re responsible for yourself.
Kate: It seems like very, either scenario seems very harsh to be known examples of people who are like in between right. Families that are in between that are not, you know, I mean, we’re obviously we’re exaggerating things for the sake of making a point, but what is the in between? What is the, [00:23:00] in-between the middle road and the better road?
Kate: I would say. Arguably probably.
Susan: Yeah, I think we should definitely delineate the examples. Yeah. Addiction and mental health issues. Like, I, I think that’s a very extreme case and like, we have to put it in its own place. Cause like once folks are addicted, like they will steal from you to keep their up their habit.
Susan: And, and it might not feel safe for your family. Whoever’s in your home to like, have your family member live with you. Like it, like, I just feel like that’s like this, it’s like a really different example. So let’s, if we can just put that example to the side and then look at all the other cases, I’m going to go back to the Korean barbecue example because I w I got this text message from my sister at like 11:00 PM being like you should pay you should, you should respect the aunts and give them great food and put on this entire Korean barbecue after you, you know, Debord your plane.
Susan: And I went, [00:24:00] I was so stressed. I couldn’t sleep for like an hour or two. I was just like, so stressed out about it because I was just again like, oh my God, am I going to buy the pre-marinated meat? Do I buy the marinade with that? The little pair on it? Like what, like, I was just thinking about all the scenarios of how I was going to manage the time with art coming off the plane.
Susan: Like I was like trying to make it work so hard in my head. And I woke up feeling so stressed out and, I talked to my friend about it and she’s like, well, what do you want to have happen? And I didn’t even think about that. I didn’t even think about like, what is my ideal solution? What does Susan really wants to new?
Susan: You know, like I didn’t, I, I feel like, I don’t know if it’s like Confucianism, like the collective and we’re just like one blob, like in Vietnamese language, we don’t have a pronoun. I, me and we only, we do have it, but it’s used in extreme cases when you’re really pissed at someone, or someone’s really pissed.
Jeanette: how do you [00:25:00] say I, like, how do you say, like, I feel happy. I feel sad. Like, how do you say that?
Susan: It’s always relational pronouns. So if you’re older than me, I’d be like your older sister and I’m younger sister. And so I’d be younger. Sister feels pissed, you know, or
Jeanette: to yourself in the third person.
Susan: Yeah, essentially.
Susan: Yeah. Yeah. Or, and then sometimes in like really weird situations, I’ll just call myself by my name, but for the most part it’s relational pronouns, but there is a pronoun called I, which is three. Okay. So, but then I’d be like, bow, like it’s just, it comes off really intensely and you rarely ever use it ever.
Susan: And then sometimes someone could use informal. You would just may you’ll be like my Lord. Yeah. You know, like, it’s just like you motherfucker, you know? And you don’t do that. You little sister, motherfucker, you know, like, and, and, and so anyways, my, my, my white friend, my wonderful [00:26:00] white friend was like, what do you want to have happen?
Susan: Like, how do you want the lunch to go down? Like, what would be the most fun for you? And I got to tell you, it was like, I’ve, I’ve done at business school. I did the interpersonal dynamics course, like I’ve done so many communications modules, like done so much leadership development stuff around communication, but all of a sudden, when it came to my family and the Korean barbecue, I like forgot all my learning.
Susan: It’s it’s like I have this continual nightmare where I show up at a show and I forget all my lines or I didn’t rehearse. And I wake up in a, not in a sweat, but this is a recurring nightmare. Grossly unprepared. Right. But it never happens cause I’m always really prepared for my shows, but for some reason, with my family and this idea of the, the lunch, all of a sudden, I just, I lost everything.
Susan: It was real life. And this is, this is a test of, do you learn everything you learned from your therapist? Like this? [00:27:00] Can you do it Susan? And all of a sudden I was like, I was like, I have options. She was like, yeah, what do you want to have happen? And I was like, okay, I want it to be a potluck. And she’s like, all right.
Susan: And I was like, yeah. And she’s like, all right, well, call your sister and say, Hey, I’d like for it to be a potluck, I was like, I could do that. And it was just kind of like what part of my 36 year old self, like in, when I’m doing my artwork or any other sphere of my life outside of my family. Of course I am.
Susan: I am a great problem-solver. I’m extremely resourceful. But when it comes to my family, all of a sudden, I was just like, oh my God, how am I going to pull off this Korean thing? It’s so fair. I feel stomped on blah. Like I it’s, like I could not actually see possibility. it’s so deep in the subconscious.
Susan: So anyways, I was like, I want it to be a potluck. And she’s like, you do that. And I was like, I’m going to do that. And I had a conversation with my sister and it’s like, I [00:28:00] was like, hi, Korean, barbecue, hard me, want pot luck. And she’s like, okay. And, and, and we went around for like 15 minutes. We ran around in a dancey dancey circle.
Susan: And eventually I think we headed into the world of potluck. And since then I’ve been on the phone. I’ve been texting cousin, auntie, brother, whatever. And I’m trying to like, get this like meal going. And it’s very stressful. And it’s like, I don’t even want to eat the lunch anymore, but that’s family. That’s family.
Susan: Cause we want, we, we, we know we want to hang out and when we hang out it’s gonna be fine, it’s gonna be fine. We’re gonna play some cards. You know, it, the food’s going to be actually quite great, but I just feel like leading up to it. It feels like this David versus Goliath kind of situation where it’s like, there are certain rules that we need to abide by.
Susan: For some reason, I don’t know why. And we have to like go back to [00:29:00] these original roles that we had and I don’t want to, but then when I push against it, it’s like, whoa, what are you doing? And I was like, I just want it. I just want us, I just want us to interact with my chosen friends, my chosen family or whatever, you know?
Susan: And it’s like, oh, okay.
Jeanette: Yeah. I mean, I think that, I would guess there’s a lot of emotional undercurrents, right? Between like your sister’s requests, like your response. It’s almost like you’re going back to whatever 11 year old Susan, and, you know, your is asking you to do something and when you’re 11 years old, you literally have no options,
Susan: no options.
Jeanette: Right. And so it’s like,
Jeanette: you’re just kind of go back into that mode of like, like I feel stressed. I’m just being asked to do this. Like, all you can focus on is how do you meet that demand?
Kate: The other aspect. I think of the family gatherings, it like stresses me out a lot. Is the gender dynamic. I don’t know how it is [00:30:00] with your families, but like, you know, and by the way, it’s not just for Asian families.
Kate: Back when I had a white Midwestern boyfriend from the suburbs of Chicago, it was the same thing in his family. Like the ladies were always in the kitchen doing domestic shit and I’m sure, yeah. Jeanette can identify probably with her, her white in-laws. and then, you know, the dudes were out watching football or whatever in the living room, you know, and then the Asian version of that is pretty similar.
Kate: Like ladies in the kitchen doing the domestic stuff and the dudes like eating pistachio nuts and gabbing about stuff. And it just makes me acutely like uncomfortable. Like, I guess I like kind of do what I’m going to be there. Like the, the shitty daughter-in-law who like, you know, doesn’t go help. I don’t know.
Kate: Makes samosas or something, not that I’ve actually made a samosa, but you know what I mean? but it does make me uncomfortable cause it’s just assumed that. And somehow even like, you know, the other younger women, my generation like kind of just fall into that, just that dynamic
Susan: that just happened this past Saturday.
Susan: Okay. I’m part of a [00:31:00] group called families of color Seattle. And we had a PEPs group and we like met virtually all during the pandemic. And I was like, Hey, let’s get together. And I, I was totally in my gender role. I was like, Hey, let’s have let’s figure out what the best fried chicken is in Seattle. So every, like here’s a Google doc bring different fried chicken, let’s have Southern sides and all this stuff.
Susan: And we come and there’s five families there. And of course all the women filled out the Google. Cause cause all the men are on the thread to all the women filled up the dock with what they’re going to bring. And when we came, all the women were organizing it and all the men just, they all sat on the chairs and talked about sports and all the women didn’t even get a chair.
Susan: They were like sitting on the patio deck. And at one point I was like, I made a point to talk about this. I was like, Hey guys, there’s other chairs there. I could bring it. Or also like, why are all the guys sitting on the chairs? And like, no one said anything. And I was just kind of like, what the fuck, man, like, come on.
Susan: [00:32:00] Like, we have a nice balanced spread. Like the least you could do is give us a chair. Anyways. My point is even, all the other families were black or mixed race with one black partner. And then me and Marvin were the only Asian people, but it was just like, it didn’t matter if we were all Asian. It also happened when the women were also black too.
Susan: Like it just, it just happens. And I don’t know if it’s because women care about the spread more. Or like guys just don’t, you know, do guys just not care or they just assume that it’s going to happen. I’m not sure what it is, but it happened on Saturday. We have three types of,
Jeanette: I think they both care less and they also just assume that it’ll happen unless somebody is like yelling at them.
Jeanette: I’m sorry, again, broad generalizations. Right. But like,
Kate: yes, let’s have they grow up. I mean, if come back to an earlier episode, we were talking about raising sons and how you’re going to raise them. Like, dude, if you’re a guy and you grow up and all the women, like your mom and your sisters, your girl cousins are like the ones taking care of the [00:33:00] food.
Kate: I mean, you don’t even think twice about it, right? I mean, not, it’s not good. I’m just saying it becomes just a natural assumption and that’s sort of the, the danger in that, right. It’s like, remember I was mentioning, I think like a few episodes back, Susan told me I sounded hopeless when I said like, there’s some things that my husband can’t really change and she’s like, well, you gave up already.
Kate: It’s not about giving up. It’s like stuff like that, where you can make an effort, but it’s like the mental, like the wiring, the rewiring that it takes is like, Fucking significant. Somebody would have to go in there. And like, literally I’m just thinking like completely rewire, like 36 years of
Kate: stuff in his brain.
Kate: You know what I mean?
Susan: Kate is using her finger style, screw her brain cap.
Kate: Sorry, my husband’s a neurologist. He would be really embarrassed by my antics, but anyway. Yeah.
Susan: But see, it goes back to the question of level of effort that we’re going to have to exert, you know? And it’s like, okay, for me to tell him all these things to ask him so that he can just go get the [00:34:00] ladle or whatever for the soup or whatever, you know, versus me, just go get the ladle and just accept what it is because it’s just the level of effort required or like the family gathering with the Korean barbecue.
Susan: It’s just kind of like, you know what, actually, if I just, if I just go buy the banchan from H Mart and do the detour, maybe the level of stress I’m going to feel or anxiety is actually way less than me. Trying to turn the entire Titanic ship of how we’ve been operating for the last three decades. And like, even though it might be better, it’s just too much effort.
Susan: And also the labor is placed on us, you know, like which one? Which one?
Jeanette: Trade-offs right. I mean, I think if it’s somebody you’re only going to see a limited number of times, right. Maybe it’s not worth the effort, but if it’s somebody that, I mean, especially like setting patterns for your kids, right.
Jeanette: You might want to go through the trouble of being like, Hey guys, like, can you get up? Can you go get some napkins? You see any cups here? Can you go get the cups, water, people need to drink, [00:35:00] go get going. You know, like, I mean, and yeah, We talk about like the mental labor, but there’s also an emotional labor, right?
Jeanette: Because you see one group of people like sitting. Yeah. And they’re just talking and they w who knows what’s going on in their heads. Or like, if they’re thinking about who’s being fed, if the kids are being fed, if there’s enough napkins, if somebody is making a mess, like, they’re not thinking of that.
Jeanette: Right. But you see that happening. And then to, like you said, like to go and disrupt that that’s, that’s emotional labor. Right. You’re taking on emotional labor to be like, Hey, that’s not okay. Like you go, you guys go and you need to do, like, get off your ass and
Jeanette: go do that.
Jeanette: I think like for me growing up, it was totally like, yeah.
Jeanette: Every gathering, all the women were in the kitchen. Right. Or like near the kitchen, just shuttling food in and out. And then all the men were like by the TV, just chatting and watching TV, I think in my grown-up life, like, it’s a little bit different.
Jeanette: But there’s still similar dynamics. I would say, you know, it may be it’s a little bit more [00:36:00] diluted, but it’s like it it’s still definitely there.
Kate: Well, I was just going to say Jeanette, oh,
Susan: sorry, Susan, go ahead. I just want to say, and then the only day where it’s different is mother’s date, but it only for breakfast for some reason, keep going, Kate.
Kate: Sorry. Jeanette’s totally right. Like I think even today I was just thinking about like a couple of, you know, group dinners that we’ve had in the last month or so with, you know, other couples in which, you know, like dual income, whatever couples, and it’s still a kind of a similar dynamic, right?
Kate: I was just thinking about it the other day. Like what the guys were talking about. They were talking about investments, cause they’re mostly, most of the guys are all like either entrepreneurs or whatever, working in, in successful startups and, you know, The wives have different careers, variously. and meanwhile, the ladies are talking about like, oh, somebody is getting married, let’s talk about her wedding.
Kate: Like the kids, like somebody pregnant, let’s talk pregnancy. And the guys are just like, oh yeah, you know, like doge coin, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Or like, Hey, do you see this company IPO in this blah, blah, blah. And I’m just like, I talk about that with my husband too, but like, why [00:37:00] not at the dinner table where it’s just like, the guys are talking about this and then the girls are talking about, you know, the ladies are talking about this, like all the domestic stuff.
Kate: And even when I had a girls night out, which was like super fun a couple of weeks ago with mostly women, I didn’t even know. And it was like fun. But then I was like, why are we just talking about, okay, maybe you guys talk about, I don’t know what guys do on their guys’ night out, but I was like, we’re all talking about, you know, like, Ooh, like, you know, trashing Netflix shows and like kids and have kids or not like fertility, blah, blah, blah.
Kate: But like, we didn’t talk. Investments, what are we doing with our 401k? Did we not? I don’t know. Maybe you guys don’t talk about that kind of stuff. I’m just imagining in our head, but I was thinking, thinking they’re wishing like, kind of like, this is cool. The girl talks cool. I like it. But like, can we also talk about like, how do we do finances?
Kate: Like, how are we going to, you know, what stocks are you investing in? Like all this other stuff, you know, I don’t know. Sorry, I’m just maybe being somewhat incoherent.
Susan: I mean, look, you could direct the conversation that way. And maybe women, you know, should be actively talking about that more [00:38:00] in terms of like how we can improve pay parity and also gain our own wealth and all that, like sure.
Susan: But I talked to Marvin and he’s just like, Susan. Not everyone needs to talk about something vulnerable. Okay. Not everyone needs to cry at the end of the conversation for it to be fun. Like we can just talk about what we want to talk about. Cause that’s what we want to talk about. And I, and I, and I think either it’s, and then I read through the lines and I’m like, okay, so you men talk about safe topics because you don’t want to be vulnerable or you don’t get any value from it.
Susan: Okay. You know, and, and I w personally, I was very happy with Marvin joined the guys at the chicken cookout and they’re all talking about sports. Marvin doesn’t ever like talking about sports, but guess what? He talked about sports and it was, it was dad time and all the dads got together and they talked, you know, [00:39:00] and, and I’m glad that he had a space for that because hopefully then there’s you build trust and you can have spaces for other types of feelings and thoughts if they ever want it.
Susan: The question is, is do they ever want it?
Kate: But I don’t think guys talk about like, dads talk about what it’s like to be a dad with their guy, friends who are dads. Like I asked Shirley actually asked Nirav that. Like recently I was like, Hey, you know, cause I was brilliant, mad at him about like, not resourcing from his dad, friends about how to deal with certain things.
Kate: Right. Whereas you know, you guys, you ladies know I’ve been texting you guys with like SOS texts and he was like, oh, yeah I do. And I’m like, like how? And he’s like, oh, you know, we talk about how hard it is to balance stuff, you know, with mice and guess who they are, his CFO, his co-founder and his friend who was like an early investor in the company.
Kate: I’m like. And it’s probably all in some kind of like work conversation where they just like inserted, like yeah. You know, balancing family and kids is hard. That does not count as like sharing dad experiences.
Kate: Okay. [00:40:00]
Jeanette: Yeah. Jake, is subscribed to this newsletter called fatherly. Oh yeah.
Susan: Yeah. It’s just the same company.
Susan: I don’t
Jeanette: know. maybe, but it’s, it’s, it’s interesting because I feel like it’s a newsletter that talks about things that maybe like traditionally would be more associated with moms. Right. Like balancing work and family, like, you know, how to support your partner after she has a baby, you know, like, you know, when kids have meltdowns, how should you deal with them?
Jeanette: Right. Like things like that. but they’re, it’s, it’s geared towards dads. so I felt like that sometimes he’ll like mention an article from that and I’m like, oh yeah, I’m glad that you were thinking about that. Or like you actually, you know,
Jeanette: Added some information.
I’m going to go on there right now and subscribe Nirav without telling him hi, honey,
Kate: enjoy when you listen to this episode,
Susan: I just Googled it and was like fatherly newsletter to get articles on parenting fitness gear and more.
Susan: And I’m like [00:41:00] gear fitness,
Susan: gear, daddy, daddy gear. Oh my God. I saw that there was a backpack called dad gear. What’s so special about that. dad, dad backpack. I mean, I also don’t have a diaper bag. I just re re reused a backpack. I had, you know, but I’m just like what, what’s dad gear? I’m like, Ooh, they’re trying to like get in with their identity, but who knows?
Susan: Maybe one day they’ll give us ad money anyways. Okay. So going back to the whole family stuff , can I just confess, like, this is how I want the non Korean barbecue potluck to go. I really wish when we gather and I think the act of gathering, like there’s 20 people. And then also every Christmas, me and my siblings have a five day sleepover called extreme indulgence.
Susan: Like we don’t always get along, but we do make a point to really gather. And, and I do have a lot of white friends who are [00:42:00] like, wow, I could never do that with my family or like, yeah, we barely even do the reunions. And like my family gathers often, even if all the, maybe the relationships are not perfect, but we do actively gather.
Susan: So I thought that was one thing that was very different than white culture like that some white families really do it and like, you know, have matching shirts and stuff like that for their reunions. And some just, they just, it’s just kind of like fades away almost. and so there’s, there’s some intentionality around let’s gather and I love that now here is how I wish it would go down.
Susan: I wish when I arrived and I’m stressing about what outfit I’m gonna wear. Cause I, I, cause because I wish when I show up there. You’re either too fat or you lost weight, right? Like the first thing is the labeling of the body of whatever the observation is. So I’m like trying to figure out like, okay, like what should I wear?
Susan: Yeah. Where we’re going, has a swimming pool. And so I had like stressed out about, cause I, I I’ve had this, like my sister’s gonna laugh. [00:43:00] I’ve had this, swimsuit from target for like 10 years. And it’s like sagging in certain places. And she just calls it like the sagging swimsuit. And it’s like old, it’s very old.
Susan: So I have Marie Kondo in my life during COVID and I was like, I should really let this go so that I didn’t have a swimsuit and there’s going to be swimming pool, which I’m super anxious about because I’m like, Ooh, postpartum body. Like, what am I going to wear? And like, how am I going to just, I really want to feel beautiful, but it’s very hard for me to feel beautiful in bathing suit.
Susan: Okay. So that’s like underlying the entire gathering but I wish it would be like, hi Susan, no mention of body looking at eyes only like, how are you. Like, I wish like that, like is so revolutionary for ask, like, how are you doing? And then just be like, Hey, you know, what was really hard during COVID or like, what’s bringing you joy right now, or like, let’s talk about your book and, and in what’s going [00:44:00] on there, like things that I would expect my friends to ask me things that they do ask me all the time.
Susan: But like, honestly, my family has never asked any of those three questions.
Kate: So then the real question is why do we have that expectation? I was thinking about this, like, I’ve encountered similar scenarios to you, Susan. You know, like when I saw my dad for the first time, after a year and a half, cause I’ve had some health issues, right.
Kate: It says like, basically the first thing out of his mouth, it’s like, oh wow, you don’t look so bad. And then my mom goes, yeah, she goes, oh, it’s because she’s wearing makeup.
Kate: like, like, like I look healthy basically. He’s like, you’re looking pretty like, you know, health, like, you know, good, like healthy, not like wasting away. And then my mom’s like, oh, she’s wearing makeup. But anyway, my point is why, why, why, so, why don’t we have these expectations at all? Right. I was thinking about this, like, yes, there are a lot of unhealthy dynamics in, in family, especially, you know, immigrant families, variously related to [00:45:00] generational and cultural differences, but then why do we expect our parents?
and then even in some cases, our siblings, why do we, why do we have the expectation, right. That we would have maybe of our friends, because with friends, we choose, we, if we meet some money in there, Shitty then you’re just like, no, thank you. Yeah. Kick you to the curb. Right. Or just, I don’t really want to associate with you, but with family, we don’t, it’s not a choice.
Kate: Right. And then some people might argue, well, maybe you should make it a choice. You, they don’t have to be in your life, but it’s not that simple, as we all know, especially with, with Asian families. And so I recently, I’ve just been thinking like, why have the expectation, why have certain expectations?
Kate: Right? I mean, there’s certain scenarios in which you definitely don’t want to get yourself in, or you want to leave ASAP because they’re just frankly like, you know, toxic, but other scenarios, you know, maybe, maybe I need to just, okay, not chill. I hate that word. I hate it. When people tell me to chill,
Kate: I’m just like, fuck you out.
Kate: Don’t you fucking chill and put yourself in a
Kate: fucking freezer anyway, but don’t ever tell me to chill. I will bitch slap your face anyway. Noted. [00:46:00] Yeah. But I was like, maybe, maybe I should just not have the expectation, you know? And, and, and then maybe more focused on, okay. If I do encounter a situation that I find not healthy
Kate: then I just removed myself. So I recently did this for the first time ever. Like, you know, my dad was like, great, we’re having fun. He’s, he’s great when he’s really great. But sometimes he gets kind of like moody and just get upset for like literally no reason. and so yeah, there was like, I was visiting my parents with my daughter and then he just like, got really pissy for no reason one day.
Kate: And I was just like very triggered by it because I felt reminded of just being a child again. You know what I mean? Like you just feel like you’re a child except you yourself have a child. And the whole, the gloom and doom, you know, it’s like hanging over the house because he’s in a bad mood. Right. And he can’t help it.
Kate: He’s just like stuck in that bad mood. And then my mom was like, oh, she was telling my daughter like, oh, Raya go to like grandpa and like cheer him up. And I was like, Well, I didn’t say this, but in my mind, I was like, no, like you told me, you made me do this. When I was a kid, when my dad was like in the dumps, but like, it is not the child smiles and it’s [00:47:00] not the grandchild responsibility to go cheer up.
Kate: Like, you know, a pissy grandpa who, by the way, nobody set him off. He just got annoyed by himself. And so, you know, I didn’t tell my mom, I should have said something, but I was just like, ah, anyway, but then the next day he was still like in a bad mood. So I was like, I can’t deal with this. Like not with my daughter here.
Kate: Like, it’s very triggering to me. So I told my mom, I was like, mom, I’m going to go back like a day or a day and a half early, because like, dad’s in a bad mood. I don’t want it to impact, you know, Raya the end. I didn’t act like I didn’t explain more. And I think she understood, right? So like I removed myself from the situation and my daughter without making like a giant fuss right away.
Susan: And she was cool with that.
Kate: My mom, she couldn’t prevent me from going. I think she knows. Right. I mean, you know, she didn’t, she didn’t try to argue with me. and actually, you know, like whatever, a couple days later, my dad’s back to his you know, jocular self. So it was fine. I mean, he has these phases, right.
Kate: So, so I was telling me therapist, he was like, he was like, I’m very proud of you for doing that. And I was like, yeah, yeah. It’s like the first time I ever did that. And it was like, I was, yeah. And I thought about it as like, you know, I handled it really well. I didn’t [00:48:00] fight. I didn’t like get so upset. Like I retreated into my shell and like became paralyzed, but I just put like, you know what, I’m just going to leave the situation.
Kate: And actually the next time I saw my parents, everything was great. You know? Totally cool.
Jeanette: Yeah. Yeah. I think it’s partly just trying to see your family members for who they are right now. Right. I mean, instead of like how you
Jeanette: felt like they were when you were a kid,
Jeanette: right. It’s kind of like, you know, and I feel like I go through this with my mom, you know, sometimes when I feel triggered by her it’s because like, I expect certain things from her.
Jeanette: And she doesn’t do them, then I feel disappointed and upset. And I think a lot of it goes back to ways that I felt like I w I wasn’t supported, in the way that I felt like I needed as a kid. But now when I’m feeling okay in my body, like, I feel rested and I’m not hungry.
Jeanette: And, you know, there’s not other stresses going on. , I’m able to see that, you know, she’s like a 62 year [00:49:00] old woman with , who’s comfortable doing these things. Right. And this is her mindset. And so, like, this is why she didn’t
Jeanette: do X, Y, or Z. Right. It, and it’s not something that’s necessarily personal to me.
and so I
Jeanette: think just being able to have like a little bit more of an objective view of it helps me. Also not feel so emotionally triggered by the whole situation. Right. And helped me see like, the, like the more realistic range of options. but it’s hard, right? Because like, yeah, that the kid who feels like they need something and didn’t get it.
Jeanette: Like that kid is like, I feel like always around until they feel like they get what they need. Right. And so it’s just, it’s so hard. Like how do you as a 30 something year old, like put that kid to rest, right. Like, sorry, that sounds kind of morbid, but like how do you get them to a place where they’re not so frantic and not like running your 36 year old life?
Susan: [00:50:00] Well, going back to secure attachment, I mean, it’s like, how do we smother our inner child with love? Like regardless of how everyone else is going to treat that child, you know, how did they know that they’re loved?
Kate: Well, part of that, I think for me, let’s say applying that to the back to that specific scenario with my dad was just realizing I am, you know, responsible for the emotional wellbeing of another creature in my life.
Kate: It’s not me, you know? And, and I don’t want her to feel stressed out. I mean, children are very sensitive to emotions, right. They can detect things like, I mean, various studies have shown this, so we’ll go into that. But you know, my dad’s like stress, that’s fine. I mean, you know, that’s him. And it’s like, I know he’s going through a lot of pressure with work and everything.
Kate: So I understand that. But I also, at the same time, you know, I don’t the impetus for me to leave. If I were by myself, I probably wouldn’t have left, frankly speaking. But with my daughter, it’s an extra motivation because I don’t want her to grow up thinking, you know, being exposed to that. I mean, obviously it, when she gets a little older and it’s developmentally appropriate, I kind of explained to her that, oh, you know, grandpa gets into these moods.
Kate: Sometimes he’s not trying [00:51:00] to, you know, be hurtful, but you know, like I don’t, if she doesn’t have to, why should she be around, you know, somebody in a super grumpy mood.
Susan: And why do we need to be around those people? so, so my mentor, I was telling her about my anxiety, about seeing my family. and it’s funny because I just, I feel like that’s like, what I lament the most about COVID is like, nobody’s even met art before in our family.
Susan: Like that’s a travesty, but now that there’s real family that we are actually going to meet now, that’s like a new form of drama that I’ve created. And, so I’m going on a walk with my mentor and I was telling her, I was again, feeling super anxious about it. And she was like, what if you really lowered your expectations?
Susan: What if you’re like, Hey, my expectation is we will meet, like we agreed to and we will eat something. And that’s it. You’re not expecting them to see your soul and ask about your [00:52:00] passions and your highs and lows. You’re not expecting them to affirm you and, and support you and believe in you. You’re not.
Susan: And a plus would be to meet them where they’re at. So if they really liked to play cards, they really like to grill. Just go do that with them. That’s it. That’s it that’s all. That’s it. She was like, you know, one day maybe they’ll surprise you and that’ll be nice. And maybe they won’t surprise you and they’ll still behave the same way.
Susan: But she was like, you’re not going to change them. So you got to change your expectations and that’s, she’s like, you might feel a lot better. She’s like maybe in her fifties, late fifties. And I was like, okay, okay. And, and that’s, that’s random. you know, people were talking about like radical self care, this like a very new buzzy word.
Susan: And that could be a form of radical self care is not [00:53:00] just the bubble baths and your glass of wine, or going out with your girlfriends and getting some Chardonnay, whatever radical self-care could be changing your expectations of others so that you don’t get all bubbly over with the emotional labor part that is inevitable, that’s going to happen.
Susan: So that’s my challenge. I’m going to try it. I am scared, but I’m going to try,
Jeanette: but can I just ask a question related to this and Asian culture? Because I feel like so much about Asian culture is about expectations and fulfilling the unspoken expectations of us. That’s like, at least in Korean culture, like that’s such a, that’s like the predominant love language
Jeanette: is it’s not even like one of the five love languages that people in the west talk about.
Jeanette: There’s like a sixth love language which is food. And [00:54:00] then there’s a seventh one, which is like fulfill unspoken expectations. Right. And I think that that’s actually something I really struggled with when I was dating Jake, because, you know, it would be our dating anniversary and he would bring me a flower that he picked off of a neighbor’s garden on his way walking up to Currier
Jeanette: right. And I would just feel like super upset, like, I’m like, don’t, you know what you’re supposed to do? Like, you know, like chocolate or like buy like a dozen red roses or something. Right. And I would, I remember this one time, sorry, I’m embarrassed to share the story, but I will. I think it was my birthday and he went to, You know, like that pottery store where you like paint your own pottery.
Jeanette: And he made me a vase that was like red on the inside and green on the outside. And that was his present to me. And I was just like, what is this? It looks like a watermelon. Like, why are you giving this to me for my birthday? This is like a giant vase that you painted
Jeanette: yourself. It was not that well-paid, it, it looks, [00:55:00] it really doesn’t look like a watermelon.
but you know, just kind of, you know, I think that I had these unspoken expectations of him and I didn’t feel cared for when he didn’t meet those expectations and he seemed totally oblivious to my expectations. and so, you know, I think a part of like how we’ve dealt with that is he, he has like, learned a little bit more
Jeanette: about what I like.
Jeanette: I’ve also learned to,
Jeanette: Be more explicit about like what I would like, but then also, I don’t want to say lower my expectations because that sounds bad. But I think lowered my expectations with regards to his ability to just read my mind. Right. And so, but it’s something I still, I feel like I struggle with.
Jeanette: Right. Because I grew up in such a culture that where it’s like, oh, you bring a friend home to do homework together. And like, your mom pops out of the kitchen with this beautiful, plate of cut fruit, right. With like nobody asked her to do that. It’s just like, she’s like, she just anticipates, oh, they must be [00:56:00] hungry.
Jeanette: They haven’t eaten for awhile. Like, you know, I will bring them this with some beverages. And so I think I just grew up in such a culture where that was so prevalent that I wonder if there is like a sense of loss from letting that go. But like, you know, so how much of that is healthy versus how much of it is not?
Jeanette: And I know, but do you guys, what do you guys.
Susan: Oh, so many comments. I mean, well, the first one about, husband expectations, I’m gonna go, I’m going to compliment Marvin here. Okay.
Susan: doesn’t happen often, but we have a wedding anniversary, which is also our dating anniversary. And, you know, we haven’t, we haven’t had a night away from art during all of COVID. Right. So now, you know, Canadians borders opening up, and Mrs. Kim is [00:57:00] now available to babysit, which is very exciting. So Marvin and I meet up for lunches at home.
Susan: Like we always do, and we’re just talking about things and he was like, I planned a get away. I was like, for what? He’s like our anniversary. I was like where? And he was like, Whistler. And I was like, oh, cause the first thing I thought I was like, it’s really expensive, you know? And I’m like, I’m already starting to get stressed out.
Susan: I’m already like, starting to like the immigrant in me like, oh my God, did you get it on sale? I was like, well, how much was it? And he was like, I got it on a corporate discount. And I put it on my credit card and you’re not paying for it and it’s my personal money. And so that’s why we’re going to go.
Susan: And then I was like, Aw, I was like, he was like, I knew you were going to fight me on it. And that’s why I put it on my credit card. And so it’s essentially free to, yeah. Like, okay. Look, we have a, we have a joint account. Like we have joint finances and things like that, [00:58:00] but we do have some personal stuff where people can have their own play money and all that stuff, but it was just so great that he did mental jujitsu on me.
Susan: Cause he knew I was going to freak out and have anxiety about the money and then drag my feet. And then maybe by the time we pull the trigger, it’s going to be a little bit more expensive because I’m hemming and hawing.. But then like when the anniversary is a week away, I’m going to be like, we never do anything for anniversary.
Susan: You know? Like that was probably that happens like every year, but he, he, he already knew I was going to react. Cause I’m so I’m so cheap. I’m like super G like when I’m like, can we just, can we somehow, like, I’ll be like, can we find a friend that has a house that they’re not going to be there and see when they’re going to?
Susan: And he’s like, yeah, no, like, no. And I just love that he knew I was going to bitch about it. Yeah, it was very cool, but it’s very complicated for him to succeed. What I’m trying to, how I’m trying to relate this back to you, Jeanette is that we have these unspoken expectations where I’m always [00:59:00] like, did you get on a sale?
Susan: Like, did you compare prices? Like, why did you buy that? You bought at retail, like buying something. Retail is like the worst. It’s the worst for me. It’s so I can’t handle it. And so he’s always like, I used a coupon I’m like you did, because I have a different value system that he grew up with. And now nine years later, I think he started to anticipate it way more so that he can reduce my emotional, like hemming and hawing afterwards.
Susan: But it’s, I, I think we have to, if we have unspoken expectations, it’s also on us when they’re from a different culture or background, to explain that to you. And even though Marvin is Korean, like I think somehow he never got the Korean culture stuff. Like he just didn’t download that module because like, I feel like I’m picking up on it and being like, Marvin, we should pay for your parents or Marvin, like do this and that, or like Martin.
Susan: And he’s just like, why, why, [01:00:00] why? I’m like, why I was like, have you called and asked how your brother is doing? He was like, no. And I’m like, you should call him right now. You know? Like, I’m like, why am I, you know, but, so I think part of this, of how do we live satisfied lives when there’s so many unspoken expectations, how do we.
Susan: Teach it to others. But also if we’ve told them many times and they haven’t remembered, okay, that’s a different thing because I’m like, Marvin, I’ve told you like 10 fucking times X, Y, Z. Right. So there there’s that, but then there’s also like you, we, there’s an expectation that people are in our subconscious.
Susan: And so they need to show that they care. And so they have to perform in a certain way. And that’s, that’s a lot, that’s a lot to take on. And, and I don’t know if art is going to get it. Like, I don’t, I don’t know if he’s going to get the Vietnamese Korean download on like cutting [01:01:00] fruit and stuff. I mean, unless we practice it right, but it’s,
Jeanette: it’s not a boy module.
Jeanette: The cutting fruit is not a boy module.
Susan: I had him scrubbing. It was yesterday’s and I will send you a video and I’m like, boy, you are working in the kitchen.
Susan: He’s, he’s excited to work in the kitchen. He’s like, oh, it’s like different than like playing with these little toys, but, okay. That was my long diatribe, which is, I feel bad that I want him to read my mind, but at the same time, it’s nice when he has now read my mind.
Susan: I’m sorry. You got the vase Jeanette, but the watermelon vase sounds, I wish in
Jeanette: hindsight, in hindsight, it’s like, so it’s so sweet and like this kind of very naive way, right? He’s like, oh, I think Jeanette would love a vase that I hand painted for her. and that looks like a watermelon
Susan: would have been a good gift for you.
Jeanette: I don’t know. Just like some, like every girl would like, like some [01:02:00] chocolates or yeah, some roses or like, I don’t know. I, I don’t know. But yeah, I think I was just so disappointed when he whipped out this giant ass vase that looked like a watermelon that I was like,
Kate: I think we can do a whole episode just on like well-intentioned husband gifts that didn’t work out so well.
Susan: Oh my God. My husband bought me snow shoes once I was like, I thought you were going to propose
Kate: that’s so romantic. Well, my husband’s spent almost $500 on custom silver earrings from Etsy, from an Israeli jeweler shaped in the literally shaped in our dog’s face. Like it looks like our dog. He said, I know, because I think I complained and previous, oh, you’re like gifts or like, you know, like maybe more girly stuff, like whatever.
Kate: So he took it very literally, but then of course he had to go and find like the most ridiculous excuse for a jewelry gift, which, I mean, they’re really tasteful. I have actually worn them and people have been like, wow, those are really nice. Oh my gosh. Are those dogs?
Susan: Your dog? Wait. So you [01:03:00] liked them.
Kate: I mean, they’re cute, but like what?
Kate: I have spent $500.
Jeanette: It’s like combining Kate loves jewelry and Kate loves dog combined them together.
Kate: Well, it’s just the algorithm in his head. Like didn’t quite, I mean, didn’t quite work out. Right. What Kate would have preferred would have been really beautiful, very thin, fine, you know, chain with maybe like a tiny diamond on it.
Kate: You know, one of those minimalist jewelry,
Susan: but classy.
Kate: Yeah. Super classy. You know, instead Kate gets, dog earrings that are really nice. Probably the nicest dog hearings you could I’ve ever seen. In fact, they’re not like the jokey kind I’ll I’ll send you guys a photo. It’s really tasteful.
Susan: All I want are non jokey. dog earrings for Christmas.
Jeanette: Wait. So Susan, like what you’re saying is, okay. We have to tell people what our expectations are, but it’s also a nice one. It is nice when people anticipate our needs and wants.
Susan: Yeah. But I see, okay. Who, the other layer of this, and I got to say, we’re intersectional women here.[01:04:00]
Susan: The other layer of that. Just even voicing your expectations to your elders or to your extended family. It’s like, it can be seen as very offensive, or, or it’s just like not done. And then it it’s like a very uncomfortable thing. Like, like I’m trying to practice it. Like, I’m like really, like, we’re going to have a potluck, you know?
Susan: And it’s like, that was hard for me to say. so I mean, yes, it would be great if we could just share that more. And so people know how to meet us and how to, how we can all be more happy, but the very act of communicating those things is, is, not naturally done.
Kate: That’s true. That’s true. And then also, I wonder sometimes too, if I underestimate, you know, the older generation, like, with my parents, I kind of, you know, cause my dad’s in, in good, you know, with melt well-meaning manner has been like, oh, like when are you guys having another kid?
Kate: Like have another kid. I’m like, dad, it’s not that easy. Like, you know, there’s all this stuff that fertility, whatever. And he was like, oh, I wish you don’t have [01:05:00] to do IVF. And I’m like, dad, it’s I literally have like a hormonal disease. Like this may be the only way to get pregnant, but anyway, and then I just, but then I just decided, I was like, you know what, I’m just going to sit down with my parents.
Kate: Okay. Tell them here’s the situation. Here’s what we have to go through. Just so you understand. And so I did, although I was like uncomfortable being like, oh, I have to talk about like, sorry. My kidneys
Kate: and like all this other stuff,
Susan: please tell me you’re using sock puppets too.
Kate: but I did actually have to go into a Chinese English dictionary.
Kate: Cause I don’t know some of the more technical terms. but in a way, so I told my parents and they were like really supportive. They’re like, oh, okay. Yeah. You know, just relax. And like, you know, don’t worry too much about stuff. Like, you know, we’ll support, you we’ll need, you provide financial assistance if you need.
Kate: Like, so they were actually, you know, I was all like, worried about like telling them stuff and then having them be like, oh, like, it’s fine, you don’t need IVF. But they were really understanding. So I wonder sometimes we have become so triggered in our minds by, you know, past interactions that our families that maybe we don’t give them an [01:06:00] opportunity anymore to, to respond to something that may act, you know, That could be actually a surprising response, positive response,
Susan: Cause it’s kind of like I’m crying now. I really cry. Well, because sorry for your, for your parents to just be like, we’re here for you, you know, that’s beautiful. I’m just thinking like often times what we’ve been talking about this whole episode is like, I’m not eleven anymore. Don’t treat me like I’m eleven anymore, but the inverse is true.
Susan: They’re not in their thirties and forties when they raised you anymore. Yeah. Right. Exactly. They also had two decades of change too. And I know it’s like, you know, people get set in their ways when they get older, but they are also, we cannot freeze them in time if we expect us also not to be frozen in time.
Jeanette: Yeah. [01:07:00] But it’s not easy. Right.
Susan: No, but
Jeanette: I actually feel like sometimes it’s easier
Jeanette: for,the older generation or , you know, your parents or aunts or whoever, who are older to, to be not stuck in those patterns because, you know, when maybe those traumatic or like difficult moments were happening for us, we were, we were children, right.
Jeanette: So it’s much more ingrained in our psyche than for them, because they were already fully grown adults. Right. And so even if that was difficult, , I think sometimes it doesn’t, it didn’t impact them as deeply. I mean, but for me, at least, that has its own difficult dynamic because something that was really important to me that happened or something that was really sad.
Jeanette: Sometimes I’ll find that it’s , it didn’t impact my, my mom or my dad, like. You know, and I’m like, how could you not remember that? Right. That was , so scarring. Right. and that, that in of itself, sometimes it’s painful, but, but yeah, [01:08:00] but you do, I think it’s, it, it can be more freeing to realize, okay, not only have I changed, but they’re changed where, you know, things might have happened and they still impact us, but we’re different people now.
Jeanette: Right. And we have different range of choices.
Susan: Yeah. I F I, I, my big secret is my dad and I texted English. Like I used to text, him in Vietnamese and he’ll text me back in English, but now I’ve started to text him in English about also like, kind of complicated things, about feelings, about things. And I’m very surprised by his responses, like pleasantly surprised.
and so I think there’s something around the language that. That could be unpacked a little bit. Cause hundred percent, you know, like, as I was telling you, I’m motherfucking little sister versus me, you know, like pronouns and the power around it. And in a way, English is this like even ground, it levels it out a little bit.
Susan: Kate did you totally,
Kate: it totally. It [01:09:00] happens with my parents, especially with my mom. Like, you know, she never says the Chinese equivalent of, I love you, which is what I need, which sounds really weird. Actually. It’s like almost exclusively used for like maybe romantic situations, but then even then it’s like very rare.
Kate: Like you just don’t even really hear it that much on TV anyway. but then she always says, I love you, right? She’ll say, I love you instead of, but always in English. And when we’ve had some fights, we’ll like text and like do like emoji things and then it’ll often be in English, you know? And so I do think you’re right, Susan, there’s something that, where there’s not the cultural or.
Kate: Psychological burden of it for them in English, where they feel like it, it doesn’t have that same kind of implication for them. And therefore it makes it easier to say things in a language that’s not their first. And that’s that their that’s their native language.
Jeanette: Yeah. It’s also interesting because like, my mom will say, I’d love you [01:10:00] to, you know, Isaiah or Ruth, like she said it to them all the time by Alito,
Jeanette: like, like in English.
Jeanette: Yeah. In English. But like, I mean, I don’t know about you guys, but like, yeah. My parents, like it’s similar to Korean where there’s like, I get out, but like, you don’t really say that to your kids. you know, the way you show love is like, by feeding them and like, you know, hauling them everywhere and making sure they don’t die.
Jeanette: Right. And so, and it’s so weird. When I hear her say that, because , you know, she didn’t say that to me. but she feels, there’s the fact that she’s dealing with like a different person, her grandkids and in a different language. It’s like, yeah. There’s like more of an opening there
Susan: of crying.
Susan: No, no, no, because I’m imagine I’m like I say it to Mo to art in English and Vietnamese, but I was like, I’ve never heard it said to me. Cause, cause yeah, you say, I love you in a romantic way. You could say it romantically, which my family has not said to me. Thank God. But [01:11:00] like, but the, the non-romantic way has never, I was like, I’m trying to recall it.
Susan: And I’m like, no one’s ever said that to be. And, and I, and I was like, in the past two years, my dad has probably tried texting that to me an English. And like, he’s like really trying and like, and I’m just like, oh my God, like. I don’t know, something, something new is firing in my brain where I was like, he’s really trying.
Susan: And I guess, like we just ha
Susan: I don’t know. I, at the end of the day, people just want to feel safe, you know? Like they want to feel safe and like, it’s safe for your mom Janette to say that to her grandkids, you know? And I just, I wonder if somehow, like, if she says it in front of you, is that her way of also trying to say that to you?
Jeanette: Yeah. Yeah. I think that there, that is a part of it. It’s very hard for her to say that directly to me, but I think there’s a part of it where yeah. It’s like almost her [01:12:00] chances do over email, but like also
Jeanette: with me, because I’m there.
Susan: Oh, texts, English, maybe
Susan: Simon from today’s podcast is text your parents.
Susan: I love you.
Kate: you’ve just listened to a confessional of model minority moms. If you loved this episode, please give us a rating. Follow us on Instagram at model minority moms and tell a friend about us. If you have a suggestion for a future episode or questions, send us an firstname.lastname@example.org