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  • Shame and guilt

    Jeanette: [00:00:00] I find myself going back these days, like often when I feel this cloud or burden of guilt or shame. I go back to why do I feel this? It’s often because I feel like I should be doing something that I don’t think I’m doing. Why do I want it? Do I need to do that thing? Or do I want to do that thing?And if I don’t need or want to do that thing, why do I feel like I should do it? it’s almost like trying to rework your system. Right? Because growing up, nobody asked me what I wanted or needed. It was all about “should’s”. Like you’re expected to do this and so those expectations still, they play such a huge role in my life. And I’m just trying to dismantle a lot of them because I feel like they’re very burdensome and oftentimes I don’t find them helping me

     Welcome to model minority moms, where we talk about the meaning of success in career, family, and life. We are Janette Park,

    Kate: Kate Wong

    Susan: And Susan Lu,

    Harvard, classmates, and Asian-American working moms. Who get [00:01:00] real about the pressures of fitting in while standing out.

    Susan: In today’s episode, we are talking about the role of guilt and shame in our lives. Um, how much of it is because we’re Asian-American how much is it because we’re daughters, and how do we reconcile that with really being aware of what we actually need and want, because our lives have been driven by “should” for so long.

    Susan: So, I wanted to kick off this conversation with just asking each of you, like what’s the last time you felt guilt this week?

    Jeanette: Yeah. I can go first. I have two things that come to mind and maybe they’re not equally relevant to, I think, where we want this conversation to go today. But I sent my kids off to school this morning, and then I spent much of the morning doing Christmas stuff for my kids’ teachers and for my kids, Christmas presents and et cetera, right. And I think, like, I wanted to feel in the Christmas spirit and like happy that I’m putting together gifts and doing nice gift wrapping and all of that. But instead I just felt stressed out. And [00:02:00] I have noticed that when I feel stressed out about things like that, it’s usually because [I’m not] I’m doing something other than my “work-work” during my work time, which is when my kids are at school. And I think a part of that is because I have this guilt that when my kids are at school, I should be doing my “work-work”, not any other kind of work like family work. So that’s my first, very recent example of feeling guilt.

    Jeanette: And then my other incidents of guilt feeling which is probably, maybe more deserved is that, my kids were home. So I was taking care of them all day, every day for a week straight and they were pretty sick with a bad cold. And my son, I wanted to take his temperature and he would not let me hold the thermometer in his armpit. He wanted to like hold it himself, but he’s three. So he’s not always aware of where the thermometer is and it’s kind of like slipping out and it’s he’s like waving it. This was probably day [00:03:00] five or six of them being home. And I was just really burnt out and I just kind of flipped my lid. I was kind of like, ‘Isaiah, you need to let me hold the thermometer!’ And I kind of yelled at him and I think we’re pretty good about it. Jake never raises his voice and I think I feel relatively good about not doing it very often at all with him, but I definitely did it that time. And I could see in his eyes that he felt startled that I kind of lost it for a second there and then I felt guilty. So yeah, those are my two. Two recent events, um, where I felt guilty recently,

    Susan: Just even how you transitioned to the next example when you’re like, and this one is more deserving of guilt, and I am just like, [laughs] why aren’t we? We’re allowed to feel this way. We feel this way.

    Susan: Um, that sounds hard.

    Jeanette: Oh yeah. So in the first example I felt guilt, maybe I feel guilty about feeling guilty. Anyways, okay.

    Susan: But it’s real.

    Kate: Yeah.

    Jeanette: And then it’s just like, ‘Argh, I have free time right now.’ Like the small [00:04:00] window of time now that they are in care, what am I going to do with it? And it’s just feel so heavy.

    Jeanette: How about you, Kate?

    Kate: Well, I was thinking about, you know, our recording episode, listening to our holiday episode dropped and you know, where we talk about what do you do for Christmas, all this stuff.

    Kate: So then normally, like, I wasn’t planning on doing much for the Christmas, but then I was listening to it and then I was listening to some other friends, talk about their Christmas plans and I’m like, ‘Fuck me I don’t even have a gift for my daughter.’ So I ordered something for like Melissa and Doug ice cream, like set that apparently all the kids have. And you know…

    Susan: It’s really great.

    Kate: I know. So, so then dumb me. It arrives in the mail, last week and obviously, I should’ve just gift wrapped it and put it under the tree as a gift, but then it was like, ‘oh, it’s so fun.’ Like, I ordered it for her because I know she enjoys it. I’m going, you know, give it to her. And then afterwards I was like, well, now I have to think of something else? And then I was like,

    Susan: Does she even know what days of the week it is?

    Kate: But you see what I mean? Like, my mother-in-law bought her like a shit ton of stuff off of this wishlist that I created artificially because they need to get stuff. And so they’re like giant Amazon boxes now parked under the tree. And my mom ordered [00:05:00] like all this bunch of random shit perks, then I was like, ‘well, maybe [I’d] shouldn’t care because like the grandmas are spoiling her.’ I don’t know. I mean, I don’t know if it’s like guilt per se, but just sort of this nagging, like, am I making a bad decision? Am I just like super Grinch? And then I’ll make my daughter a Grinch if I don’t really celebrate, it’s like more of like an incidence. I don’t feel super guilty, but I’m just like ‘Should I?’ and then it’s like unresolved, it’s really annoying. And then today I was meeting up with a new mom friend.

    Kate: She’s like, ‘oh, Christmas is huge for me. We do everything. We do this, snowflake lane in Bellevue and then we do the cookies and all of a sudden I was like [laughing] a big gingerbread cookies last week and I let my daughter lick the batter. Does that count as a tradition?

    Susan: We just thought that trader Joe’s gingerbread house kit.

    I tried to make like a gingerbread house using a kit, but it just looked, did I send you the photo? It was like a massive fail after an hour and the gingerbread was gross. So I was like, ‘I’m going to bake my own gingerbread.

    Susan: Yeah. Well, you’re not supposed to eat it.

    Kate: Oh really?

    Susan: Oh my God.

    Jeanette: Well, it was more, it’s more [00:06:00] decorative.

    Kate: Oh, well then why don’t they just make it in a plastic or something? What does it have to be like pseudo edible?

    Jeanette: I don’t know if it’s some nod to some German tradition.

    Kate: Okay, well, I was really annoyed because I kept wanting to eat it and I was like, this is disgusting, I cannot have you eat this garbage. So I just based my own gingerbread, but it was not because I wanted to set a tradition with her. It was more like, I was really annoyed that the gingerbread was so crappy and I needed to make a better version.

    Susan: So you’re motivated by your own annoyance.

    Kate: Yes and I do feel, not guilty. Again, it’s like a little guilt, right? I’m just like, ‘oh, I should be more self sacrificing, like, you know, my mom or something, but. This is annoys me. I’m going to fix it. You know what I mean? So I don’t know that there’s that too. I’ve been thinking about that.

    Susan: This gingerbread house is for me.

    Kate: Well, I don’t know, like what’s the balance, right? [How much of it] Do you think about it for yourself?

    Susan: Yeah, who is it really for, right?

    Kate: And then versus how much should you really be thinking of, you know, self-sacrificing for your child, right. I just feel like with our parents’ generation and our generation, I think about a lot of the things that my parents’ [00:07:00] friends did for their kids. My parents were like, okay, they’re not like that insane about it, but that’s something parents were like, really,you know, they, gave up a lot and I was like, ‘ugh’. I don’t know. I feel like I can’t even do Christmas tradition. You know what I mean? Anyway, so…

    Susan: Yeah, I was just hanging out with my mother-in-law and she was telling me about, when Marvin was five, he put out the Oreo cookies and the milk and like ran downstairs early in the morning and saw that the cookies were gone because his mom ate them the night before. And he ran back upstairs and he was like five years old and be like ‘mama, the cookies are eaten.’ She’s like smug and like in bed, just laughing because like she spent all the night like wrapping all the gifts and putting it. Like her telling me this story last night, I could see the joy on her face. And then I was like, ‘I’m not even going to tell you I have Santa policy.’ I was like, ‘oh, thank you, Grandma for these great gifts that you gave to Art and she goes, ‘they’re from Santa.’ And she was like so [00:08:00] serious with me in front of Art. And I was like, oh my God, like here I am thinking I’m going to have some Santa policy. And then she’s just like, “mmm-mmm” the policy has been written. I’m like, right, of course, I threw it all out the window. I threw out my anti-consumerism values out the window right when I saw I was going to take away her joy. But, uh, my recent example of guilt and shame is actually just like an everyday example super everyday. We’re having dinner, Grandma, Art, me and grandma really is making meals for Art. It’s not really about me. And he, Art, only wanted to eat these I don’t know, meat patties that were like dipped in egg. It’s like some kind of Korean thing.

    Susan: Yeah.

    Susan: And Art really liked them. And there was only like six left for the adults. And that’s all art wants to eat. So then, like I keep giving him one after another, from our main supply here. And finally, there’s two left and everything, all the other dishes we have are mostly just vegetables for the adults, you know? I’m essentially eating everything else, but that, and I’m just waiting to see if he [00:09:00] wants another one.

    Susan: Right? because you want to maximize your child’s happiness or if that’s the only thing he wants to eat for today, so I’m like, me and her, unspoken don’t even say it. We just don’t eat that thing anymore and just keep allowing him to do it and I’m just like, ‘oh my God, Susan.’ I don’t know if this is like I’m channeling, my grandma or anything about just like really observing what everyone is eating? What did they like? Like making sure they get more of the thing that they like, it’s not even about what I like. I don’t even put it in the equation of what my preference is. and I just don’t know if that’s like being an Asian daughter, you know?

    Jeanette: So where is the guilt? Where is the guilt in this?

     I don’t know. Like I justfeel like my actions aren’t dictated by me, it’s not based on anything that I want. It’s like what is going to be optimal for everybody else? And then I feel angry at myself because I’m like, ‘ I fucking want the little meat, patty thing.’ It’s not optimal. Like I’m eating too much vegetable and rice. I need just a little saltiness of that meat thing, you know? And I feel guilty And then grandma’s [00:10:00] like, ‘ there’s some more, do you want me to just cook some more.’ But then what is that going to do? That’s going to interrupt her dinner, eating, and then she’s going to have to make another dish again, I was just like, I felt guilty that she offered. And then I said, no, but I really wanted more. But then I wanted to give the rest to Art. I don’t know. It was, it was so weird. Like I had my ability to have opinions and say what I wanted, like went out the window, completely went out the window and it happens every time we eat.

    Jeanette: Well, I mean there’s also the want of like, I think you want Art to eat what he wants to eat.

    Susan: Yeah, but I wanted some more of the salty meat patty myself.

    Jeanette: Yeah. But you also want those, I think they’re called ttong-guh-rang-ttengin korean.

    Susan: Sure.

    Jeanette: Yeah.

    Jeanette: You wanted those. So you have like conflicting wants.

    Susan: Yeah, but I don’t know. Guess what I’m trying to say is I can be like girl power, like women’s empowerment. Like you can Rosie the Riveter, but like right when we sit down to eat, there’s just, there’s just roles. Does that happen to you, guys?

    Jeanette: Oh yeah, totally. [00:11:00] And in Korean culture, there’s this saying. I think it came out of like the Korean war or something, but it’s like in war time, the children die of being overfed and the adults die of starvation. So, I mean and maybe this is, I think there’s a big element of it that’s universal across cultures, but I think Korean people maybe are a little bit more like preoccupied with this but, you know, they’re just always like looking at their kids and they’re just so anxious that if their kids aren’t eating, that they just like keep on forcing their kids to eat and then they just don’t eat anything themselves. And so, Yeah, there’s always this kind of like what you said, reading the group and kind of what do other people need and how do I make myself smaller so that other people get what they need. And I think that that’s so much more true for women than it is for men.

    Susan: Because in each of our examples, we’re just worrying about everyone else’s needs.

    Jeanette: Yeah.

    Susan: Even if we’re going kind of cuckoo.

    Jeanette: Yeah. I’ve also had instances where, you know, Jake will just absentmindedly like in this example, he’ll like eat one of the

    Jeanette: The last bite?

    Jeanette: Little [00:12:00] meatball things, right. And I’ll just be like so mad at him because I’m like, ‘look, don’t you see everyone else is not eating those little meatball things so the kids can have it.’ Right? And he just was not aware, right. And for him it was just like, ‘oh, there, I want those meatball things.’ There’s two of them left. I will just pop one in my mouth.

    Kate: [This is a serious] It’s not addressed because Jake is white okay, like Nirav does this too.

    Susan: Marvin does it too.

    Kate: It was like a huge problem for us because you always want to ask, even before kids, right? Like, ‘oh, is it okay if I take this last?’ Like you don’t assume, right. And then you would literally just finish up snack packs, whatever. And I’d be like, excuse me. Or like, I would get something that I really liked. And then it would like disappear. And in his mind he was like, but it’s sharing. I’m like, no, it’s taking it’s stealing you know what I mean? I’ve been like, you have the fear of God. And he was like, now I’m afraid to take food. So like, [everything] is it okay for me to take this? But kind of like annoyed, like pseudo annoyed way, because he feels like he should have the right [00:13:00] to just take stuff. I don’t know. Anyway, so it’s not [inaudible].

    Susan: Marvin is aware of the last bite policy. He is very aware of it. Now, he has to check it with me and I’m like, even if I don’t like it, I don’t care. You just need to fucking ask, you know? or [I just] it really drives me crazy when he’ll just like, yeah, without a care, just eat something and was just like, oh yeah, I was just finishing and it was in the cupboard. I was like, ‘Are, are you fucking dumb?’ It’s like my favorite. I bought that for me. And he’s like, ‘Oh’ and I’m like, ‘Uggh’ It’s like rage, ‘Why?’

    Kate: Yeah. This reminds me of like something Janette said, I think like maybe in season one or two. Where Jeanette, remember you were mentioning something about like what’s very Korean and is that, you’re supposed to like anticipate somebody’s needs, but not like verbally confirming it. And it’s like a sign like it’s just how you show love or affection. And then, it remember how I was like really obsessed my favorite Chinese novel, [inaudible] [00:14:00] same idea where nothing’s said, but it’s like, you know, in traditional east Asian culture, you just are supposed to understand the person and anticipate their needs. And that’s how you show you care, right. And I feel like this definitely fits into this sort of like what we’re talking about today about shame and so forth or like in guilt, because I think like a lot of the arguments between me and Nirav I get really annoyed with him, although he feels no guilt about it is when this doesn’t happen, you know, where, like I expect him to have like anticipated all these things, even if I didn’t say it, but then he doesn’t. I don’t know.

    Susan: Yeah. And I know it’s like, [we shouldn’t like] I mean, I don’t want to set up invisible expectations and my husband is always doomed to fail. Okay. I also don’t want to do that either. And I realized the shortcomings and I’ve been very explicitly clear about needs. And somehow I feel myself repeating and reminding, and then I said some ultimatums for 2022. I was like, if this doesn’t get resolved, then this will happen. I was like, you wanna go on another [00:15:00] relation trip? He’s like, no. I was like, ‘you want to go do another couple’s workshop where we hold each other and write each other letters about like if it was the last day we were going to live and read them to each other.’ And he was like, no. And I was like, then you need to listen. And remember the things I’ve said. Do you want me to write this down? And he’s like, no. And I’m like, why do I have to turn into this insane, like monster-witch, where I’m just like, ‘why don’t they remember? Like I remember, why don’t they remember?’

    Susan: I don’t want this to be a women [are] from Mars, Venus kind of thing. But like, it makes me angry. Because I think I take on a lot of the energy of feeling the shame, the guilt of doing everything all the time and blah, blah, blah. Like can you just remember my three point plan on how to make Susan happy? That’s all. [you just] It’s just three points, you know? And he’s just like, ‘Okay.’ And I’m like, ‘NOO.’ Okay, that was a lot of rage.

    Kate: Do you think women, you know, a second generation immigrants. Women, sorry. the gender does matter in this case. Cause think about it, I guess there’s Jake’s like a little like, because he’s not, you know, “immigrant” so maybe we [00:16:00] throw him out of this three dataset equation, three point dataset.

    Kate: Marvin’s, you know, like Korean-Canadian, whatever. Nirav is also, his parents are from India but he grew up here. I feel like both Marvin and Nirav like I dunno, they don’t feel this guilt, whether it’s a gender- based or Asian, you know, traditional Asian culture, it’s like guilt or shame.

    Kate: I don’t think Nirav feels that as much and it seems like Marvin doesn’t. So I wonder if, because I’ve noticed it in a lot of families where either, if both partners are of immigrant descent or even if only one it’s like the mom who is usually in charge of perpetuating the cultural, like in linguistic traditions, right. When we talked about this in the past and I’ve definitely observed it with a lot of the bilingual Chinese English families here in the Seattle area. So I also wonder, I don’t know, maybe there is a gender thing here, right? Gender plus culture.

    Susan: I mean, Jeanette, should we bring up feudalism? Should we bring up feudalism? I mean isn’t this about old school, you wanted [00:17:00] boys because boys carry the lineage, they’re the ones that can own property. They were so valued and women were like a liability to the family cause you’d have to pay out a dowry. And so in the mindset of old school, Asian people, it’s like, they really valued boys and they pamper them and love them in a way that they don’t for girls.

    Susan: I really think this is what this is because I, I don’t think my husband was trained to be that considerate. Is that terrible? I think this is about feudalism.

    Uh, yes. I don’t think you’re incorrect. I actually think that was a theory that I had for a long time. just in terms of first-generation immigrants, right. And if they have kids, and how they treat their kids of different genders. And I definitely do feel like that is a thing. There are exceptions for sure.

    Kate: But I feel like there’s just definitely, always a bias towards the sons, in terms of like what they’re expected to do versus not, right? Like even my dad, I think when I was in middle school or high school, like cracked a couple of jokes talking about [how] if I were a [00:18:00] boy? You know, I would or would do these things, or wouldn’t do these things, et cetera. So for sure, you know, if you consider our parents’ generation, how they were raised, of course they bring those expectations to bear on their own kids right?

    Susan: What do you think, Jeanette?

    Yeah, I mean, I think that there’s definitely a part of it that’s just, I think you said meet a Feudalism, like Confucianism, the Patriarchy, right? It’s the idea that men are in power and women are there to serve. and, uh, yeah, and I think a part of that is kind of looking around you and trying to make sure everybody else is happy, even if it’s at your own expense. And I think that there’s a lot about that, that I think even for us, even having mostly grown up in the U.S we still carry, I still feel like I carry that.

    even if, you know, I think the expectations from my husband or the people around me are a lot less if they don’t push me in that direction. But I think somehow its just like bred into me right. It kind of becomes like this internal, mental [00:19:00] cage. and, uh, I was also thinking, Susan, just about, you know, this, like the sense of anger when you feel like that’s not reciprocated to the degree that you needed to be.

     I mean, I think it’s because at least for me, right. I think that there’s a lot ofrepressed anger that comes from having feeling like you’re being asked to play that role, right? Like there’s a lot of repressed anger from like, why do I have to be the one to make myself small, to like repress my needs for the sake of other people, right. And so then from your spouse, you know, the personwho’s supposed to love you and know you and respect you the most feels like [they] they’re not doing even like a fraction of “that”. I mean, “that” really can be very triggering, right? So..

    Susan: Like is that the worst betrayal then? Because like, they’re very aware of what you need and [inaudible].

    Jeanette: They should be, right? Or they’re not even aware. The fact that they might not even be aware in itself is so enraging. Because it, it kind of revealing maybe what the power dynamics might be.. Honestly, right? Like, I am [00:20:00] very aware of like what the people around me want from me, need and, uh, when, my partner is not aware of what I need, can I put it this way? I mean, it sounds crude and cruel, but like maybe it doesn’t matter as much. And then that’s kind of like the revealed fact in his not knowing and it fucking makes me angry. Right?

    Susan: But wait, what about that? You just said this phrase around, likewhen we make ourselves small, our needs smalls for the greater good, like I can imagine someone just saying, well, then just don’t do that. Like no one’s asking you to do that. Why do you do it then? Maybe you’re actually not helping the group because then you’re resentful. Like can we unprogrammed ourselves from feeling like we need to do that.

    Jeanette: Yeah, that’s something that I have worked on for a while and I think I’ve been really thinking about it since college, I would say. I remember this one instance where, Jake and I just decided to , throw a little party. I just made a lot of food and had people over.

    Jeanette: But then by the time we got to actually having people there, like I was so grumpy, I was so angry because I did so much [00:21:00] work, like I basically cooked all day. And I was just grumpy by the time like people were coming over. And then I just had this moment of self-awareness. Well, I decided to do this and I did this work because I wanted to do this thing with my friends. So like, why am I so grumpy? This just seems so self-defeating and I think since that it’s kind of been this gradual, like evolution towards trying to find a better approach. And some of that has involved just scaling back, you know, so scaling back, like what do I essentially want out of this interaction? And what’s the minimum amount of work that I need to do to get there. So that I can minimize my resentment. But then also, even before I start, it’s kind of understanding, ‘Could I do this so that I am not resentful by the end. And if I cannot do it in that way, then maybe I should not do it at all.’

    Susan: This is like social calculus, man. You’re like created a derivative around like optimizing your happiness and theirs while [00:22:00] minimizing your own suffering. Like it’s so intense.

    Jeanette: Okay. So that’s like one part of it, right? Which is like…

    Susan: Oh my God, there is more.

    Jeanette: Yeah. So there’s one part of it, which I feel like some of it’s actually on me, right? Because I am creating the situation where I am like doing work that nobody really asked me to do, but then feeling resentful about it. So that’s more on me. But I do feel like there is this part of it that’s more, I don’t know, almost like a societal issue where some people like making a sacrifice or a group of people, each making a small sacrifice could lead to like a greater good. And I think these are broad generalizations, right? But I think women typically feel more motivated to make those things happen to benefit the greater community. because I think otherwise we’d all just be like racing to, you know, we we’d all just like go to a party and eat like Doritos, drink beer. And maybe that’s fine. But like, I don’t know, maybe that’s not fine. Maybe we need like some social events to hold the social fabric together to make those connections right, to nourish people, to form [00:23:00] connections between our kids.

    You know, like we need those things. So I, I think that there’s like an element of it where society can’t just be like, ‘well, it’s on you because you shouldn’t be grumpy about doing this thing and then not feeling appreciated because nobody asked you to do it.’ I think there like an element of it where I feel as like a community and as a society, we just need to be more appreciative of people who do those things, because they actually bring something that’s important. And we can’t just say like, nobody asks you to do it so don’t be grumpy about it. Don’t expect any appreciation. So I feel like you know, my thinking around it is, as you can tell is like still somewhat in morphous, but I feel like there’s kind of two sides of it, right? Like I need to take more responsibility for what the work that I create for myself. But then I also feel like actually, us as a community we need to have a deeper appreciation for the people who do those things because they do have value. Does that make sense at all?

    Susan: It does, but it’s just like the problem here is that the social contract you’re talking about is awesome. People should be kind, then everyone would love each other and like, [00:24:00] life will be awesome. But the thing is, is like, is it written down somewhere? Did anyone look at it and agree to it? You know, it’s like, I know in my heart, I know what you talking about, Jeanette. I appreciate it when you put effort into brunches, I do. And one time this girl, she came from a party, she brought fucking Tostito’s. Okay. And I’m like, we are in our late twenties now. I told her if you bring chips just bring Juanita’s, whatever you do. Because they’re just such a superior chip. And like, she just brought the Tostitos. I love her, okay. She’s a good friend, but the point is like, so much effort has been put into everything else.

    Susan: I thought like it was a slap in my face. You know, like I felt like I have been laboring all day for this party and you bring me a 2.99 bag of chips that aren’t even that good. Like they’re empty carbs. I didn’t eat them. You know? Cause I was just like, if I’m going to eat carbs, I mean good carbs, like really good carbs. And I just felt like that consideration [00:25:00] piece was missing. But the thing is, is I think based on her upbringing, she’s white she didn’t read the rules that we read. So actually we’re playing two different games and she was actually doomed for failure, right? When she came in with those bag of Tostito’s you get what I’m saying? Because like in her mind she thought she was in quite considerate. And in my mind I was like, ‘Oh hell no, I do not eat those scoops. I do not eat those scopes.’

    Susan: So there’s something around how can we be frustrated with other people when they actually have different expectations slash you’re always gonna have people who are assholes. And you’re always going to have people who are like really kind and like trying to make an effort and be earnest, right? We’re not even talking about assholes, like they’re in a separate category, they’re not a part of this conversation. The kind of people I’m talking about is, what about everyone being raised under a different set of rules? And I don’t know what it is, I think it is Confucianism. I think you’re right about the confusion as abuse, because I know all three of us know what the rules are. I don’t even know what they are. Like, I can’t even write them down, but I know somehow all of us are operating with this oneness. That is fricking awesome. And I [00:26:00] do not know if our kids are also going to be one with one.

    Jeanette: Well, do you want them to be one with the one though, right? Because I actually struggle with that question.

    Susan: What?

    Jeanette: Like, especially for my daughter, because…

     You don’t want her to be small and be subservient and

    Jeanette: Yeah, I don’t want her to have this tradition like, do I want her to feel free to bring the 2.99 bag of Tostitos to a party and basically have no qualms or stress about it, right. Just like, oh yeah, I brought something it’s fine. You know, nobody’s going to starve. I want her to have that kind of attitude and functioning in the world that we live in or do I want her to be more like me and feel like, oh my gosh, I need to like set aside an hour and a half so that I could make this dip, you know, that I like read on, Ina Garden’s website because, you know, I want to just bring something, that’s going to add something to this party and like, you know, make sure that’s isn’t feels like appreciated and you know, all of that.

    Susan: when your dip runs out first or your dish sold out first, do you feel good? Like, you’re like, the people enjoyed [00:27:00] it, yeah.

    Jeanette: We should do an Instagram post about like, trying to write these rules down, like the unspoken rules of Confucianism. Anyways.

    Kate: I mean, I think I struggle a little bit with the same thing, Jeanette, when I think about, my daughter, because on one hand, I want to criticize people like your Tostito’s bringing friends, Susan, and feel superior. But on the other hand, I’m sure she had no feelings of like guilt. She probably enjoyed her time. I was like, Hey, I’m going to go pick up something. You know, it’s just like, her subjective experience was positives. Whereas if it were us [inaudible] gardening for an hour and a half, like, you know.

    Susan: Additional context here, it was called an avocado party. You open the door, I’m on a giant avocado suit. Okay. I gave avocado pesto fettuccine I made clearly guacamole. another friend brought avocado chocolate truffles, like it was a thing. I mean, by the end of it, I was sick of avocados, but it didn’t matter. And I just told her, I was like, make sure you bring Juanita’s okay. She’s like, okay. they both [00:28:00] exist right next to each other at Safeway there was not a surprise problem. But anyways, my point is, is like I went all in to make this party unforgettable.

    Kate: And true, but you had all these negative feelings, whereas she probably didn’t.

    Susan: She didn’t?

    Kate: She didn’t. And so I think there’s a balance there, right? On one hand, you don’t want to raise your kids to be that socially unadept, thoughtless person who’s just like, ‘oh, I don’t care. I’m just going to bring this.’ Because I do think there is a component of being a polite, thoughtful person, right? That’s irrespective of Confucian cultural traditions and gender roles. Like there is a certain level of thoughtfulness that I think I would like my children to grow up with, right?

    Susan: Can I tell you the number of times, me and Marvin have gone to a party and I’m like, okay, what are we going to bring? He’s like,

    Kate: No, I think it’s the same way. I was going to ask you, Susan, if your female friend who brought the Tostito’s had been a dude, would you have felt the same annoyance with him?

    Susan: A single dude or a married dude.

    Jeanette: Why does it matter?

    Kate: Why does it matter? Was your friend a a single lady or a married lady?

    Susan: It is a 21 year old pimply [00:29:00] dude still in college. Fine. Okay.

    Kate: But if he was like Marvin, but not your husband, Marvin. Like a married 30 something year old No, I think I’m harder on the women.

    Kate: Exactly. So that Wednesday’s, so there’s.

    Susan: That’s fucked up, right?

    Kate: No, it’s not something that is even your fault. I think we do the same thing. So here’s the problem theoretically, yes, you want people, regardless of like, if you’re a boy or a girl, you want to be thoughtful and like, you know, in that perfect universe, she would bring the Juanitas because she was like, ‘oh, Susan specifically said.’ Or he, if it were he, right. But the thing is like, what happens is that the way that we’re raised or at least our generation, um, especially for immigrant or not even, it doesn’t even have to be immigrant. You can be from the Midwest and white and sitting, same thing happens. The guys like get the pass, you know, and the weird thing is that we also consciously or unconsciously give them a pass too.

    Kate: You know what I mean? And then I think we only realize it sucks when we’re married to someone and then we have to deal with that every fucking day. You know what I mean?

    Jeanette: But yeah. I mean, I think that’s just because women also, we also perpetuate the patriarchy, right? Yeah. That’s true. Exactly. I would say Jeanette is totally right.

    Susan: So we [00:30:00] fight with each other more as women like bring each other down more.

    Kate: I think that’s the insidiousness, right. Like we are also victims, but we also perpetuate it’s that’s the sad part, right? Really.

    Susan: Oh guys. I just don’t know when to speak up about things to like, well, if there’s some kind of norm in my mind of what I expect when to speak up. Today, I’m at H Mart. Okay, we’re sitting there Art is having a meltdown. So we bought some like random, hot food that they had. He’s eating it at a table. And then all of a sudden, like someone like totally hits his high chair.

    Kate: Oh my gosh.

    Susan: Totally pushes his high chair and I turn around and it’s a pimply teenager. Who’s like 14, 15. He’s white with his white parents. And he brought in five guys from across the street and there’s a big sign that says no outside food. So deep down in my heart, I’m like, you already broke a rule, bro. You brought in outside food. The second thing is, he like totally hit Art and Art is eating and like Art is a little baby, you know? And then, you know what I did, I turned around, I [00:31:00] said, excuse us.

    Susan:  And then the parents were like, ‘Oh, did he hit you?’ And I’m like, ‘yes.’ And then they didn’t say anything. And then I was like sitting there eating my beef teriyaki, whatever, and spicy fish cake, going like, ‘ Why did I say, excuse us?’ I don’t know, like I was just like,the fantasy Susan, if I could replay it again, Susan would have gotten up, turned all the way around and looked at them and stared at them while he’s eating his fucking French fries and being like, are you going to apologize to my son? You know? But I was like, no preserve harmony, Susan, like, don’t add more drama, kill the ego, you know, but really I’m just like, no, really what they’re thinking is, ‘ oh, Asian people, it doesn’t matter if he bothered them. Like, they’re never going to fight back.’ You know what I mean? Like there was like multiple voices in my head and I was just like, which one is it, be the bigger person and like, allow things to like pass or like be like, ‘yo bitch, what the fuck, man, little kid.’ And also like parents, parent your teenagers.

    Jeanette: Yeah.

    Susan: So I, I don’t know what to do in those situations because [00:32:00] I’m fully capable of doing fantasy Susan, but I didn’t, because I thought that, that would add more angsty or drama [or] I think this is a confusion problem.

    Jeanette: Well, I think,

    Susan: Disrupt harmony, I thought I was going to disrupt harmony, but then I was like, again, you can mess around with Asian people.

    Jeanette: Well, I think the other reading of that is, maybe the parents are not paying attention to what their son is doing. They may have genuinely not realize that he, I’m not excusing them. They should be looking at their kids and they know other kids are doing, but they may generally not have been aware and they didn’t even really know what was happening, right. And so I’m not saying that that’s like a, a good thing, but you know, it may not have been like, you know, their Asia and I could just push them around, do whatever I want. It might’ve sincerely been like, What just happened, right. Which is…

    Susan: I said excuse us. That was so dumb.

    I have done things like that before, too. And I get frustrated with myself. My other wondering about this is just, do you think, you know, like our great, great, great [00:33:00] grandmothers and our ancestors basically like many generations before us, like our female ancestors. Do you think they felt as much anger as we do now? Or they didn’t somehow and they just kind of brainwash themselves into thinking that this is just the way the things were.

    Susan:  Oh, they had no hope, they had no hope to even bring up anything. So counterculture.

    Jeanette: So do you think like all of our anger is just like all of their anger bottled up in us and just like erupting. I mean, sometimes I just wonder where? Because I feel that anger and I just sometimes wonder where it all comes from.

    Susan: Oh, so you think this is like, it was a moment of intergenerational trauma, you know, and I, that was my moment of it.

    Susan: Oh, not just, well,But I mean I got to tell you the fact that they were white though, I think I changed my behavior because of it. But I also think if they were Asian, [I don’t] I want to say that they wouldn’t have done that or they would have been like, oh, sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry. But like not all Asian people are [00:34:00] like that. Actually right after that, the guy who was a manager of the eating area with says something super rude to us while we’re leaving, because we forgot to stack the baby high chair. And he apparently did it in very impolite Korean, which I was unaware of.

    Susan: Mrs. Kim told me that later. But right, not all Asian people are nice. Not all white people are mean, but I think that there was something there that held me back from doing it because they are white. And I think that also has to do with patriarchy white supremacists thinking. Okay. I think you were going to say something,

    Kate: Well I’m just thinking of anger, right? Jeanette’s point about anger. Like the thing is like, I think my dad also had this like banging of anger, but it was directed in a different way. Like he would not, you know, he wouldn’t get upset with service people like in the U.S I mean, but I think that was definitely partly due to language and the cultural barrier, because when we were in China he had no problem, like giving shit to Chinese waitstaff. Right? Cause there he’s Chinese, language, et cetera.

    Susan: It’s a clear hierarchy too, for sure and [00:35:00] then language is…

    Kate: Exactly language is part of it, but definitely there’s like a [inaudible] you know, like you don’t want to rock the boat here and be bad Asian person. And so, I realized, I have some similarities with my dad. If I get frustrated with the level of service, um, the thing is I do it consistently in China and in the U.S right? Yeah, I know. I mean,

    Susan: Good for you, there’s consistency.

    Kate: This is actually a huge problem me and Nirav. He probably almost broke up with me about it because he heard me being super rude to some…

    Susan: oh, he was embarrassed.

     …incompetent, like the customer service people, like I’m much better now, but like when I first met him and also the other problems that when you’re living in China, I don’t want to stereotype, but like people are rude to each other. Like it’s perfectly fine to be rude to service people. I’m not saying it’s a good thing. It’s not. But when you’re in that culture it’s sadly, you know, cause a lot of them are not very educated, whatever.

    Kate: My whole point is that like it absorbs into your… like you become like that. Nirav was like, you’re really mean, why can’t you speak more nicely to, you know, whatever. So there I’m thinking and I was like, why am I really mean? So unlike Susan, I’m equal opportunity [00:36:00] bitchy, now at this age, I don’t want to say in my twenties. But to like people of all color, well, actually that’s not so sure. Sorry. I’m reverse. Like if you’re white, I probably extra bitchy to you, but if you’re not white, I’m probably nicer to you. Does that make sense? So I have like the opposite problem.

    Susan: Reverse Racism?

    Kate: Yeah. Well, exactly because no, no, no. It’s the empathy thing. So like for example, I, I used to always tip more when I went to, um, Chinese restaurants, because my mom was a waitress when we first came to the U S even though she was super well-educated, but she couldn’t find a job, right? So I always remembered my mom and I would always be extra nice to like Chinese waitresses. It’s Chinese restaurants here in the us, but then if I go to like some, I don’t know, whatever cafe and like, I get bad service, I have no problem. Like just snapping at the white waitress, you know, it’s just so unfair. I’m not saying it’s good, but I definitely had like a, I didn’t have that complex, but I had a different kind of complex.

    Susan: I mean, now that we’re talking about tip a guy, I just have to say something. I’m a terrible tipper. Like I grew up seeing my parents give like one, two, $3 at a restaurant. But then in high school and college, I [00:37:00] worked in the hotel restaurant industry catering. Like I served you food, you know, and I got that treatment sometimes from people and I continued smiling and I tried to be nice and I tried to be considerate and I tried really hard as food and beverage worker.

    Susan: So when I go somewhere, that’s kind of like mid-tier kind of like a little pricier and I’m getting shit service, or I can feel that they’re just like, I know that they could be better. I’m going to tip 10%, maybe even a little less. I don’t know, depends. And Marvin is a great tipper, he’s a great tipper. You want to hand him the check, but I’m just kind of sitting there going like.

    Kate: I used to be like that, Susan.

    Susan: I know you could do this better, you can be better, I want you to be better, but they wouldn’t get that big? They’re going to be like fucking Asian people were so cheap. Well, I just want them to be better.

    Kate: No, but I used to be like Susan and Nirav is exactly like Marvin. When I met him, he would always order drinks, always order dessert and I’ve been taught by my parents don’t do that shit. Because that’s where they’re getting their highest margins. [00:38:00] My parents were always like, whatever, the minimum tip, like acceptable tip percentage, they’d give, it took them many years. So now like obviously their financial position is better. So my dad is like regularly tips 20% or whatever. But like before, I would always do the minimum. I don’t know.

    Susan: But lately though, like, have you seen the machines, some of the minimum start at like,

    Kate: I know

    Susan: 20%? [inaudible]

    Kate: I mean that’s the ultimate guilt trip. I hate that because you know what I do? I whip out my phone.

    Susan: Oh my God.

    Kate: And I’m like pre -beverage.

    Susan: Oh, no.

    Kate: Number times the percent I want to give and then I manually enter that fucking number in. I do not get, well at like 9%.

    Susan: So you’re a pre-tax person. You’re not a base tax person.

    Kate: Yeah, because that’s how you’re supposed to do it, bitch. Well, so, okay, I’m also, sorry, it depends on context. Again, what kind of place I’m in, how generous I’m feeling and much more generous these days than I used to, but like, I kind of hate that. I actually prefer the places that are like, ‘Hey, we pay our staff a living wage, it’s included in your whatever, you know, because then I’m just like, cool, no [00:39:00] hidden, like whatever. But the worst are the places that just like. Anyway, sorry. I think we’ve veered a little bit off topic, but I guess it’s like, I don’t know. I mean, this whole shame, like guilt.

    Susan: No, but there is guilt with tipping, because you’re just kind of like, ‘ look, I know you’re probably not making a lot of money.’ I hate that the price isn’t already incorporated into the price and how I set with some kind of moral exercise before I leave this place.

    Susan: And you’re standing there watching me and waiting and I’m kind of like, but you weren’t that good? So, I feel guilty about it, but I’m also going to be honest with you and give you feedback, which I give people feedback all the time. VRBO Google, Yelp. Marvin’s, he’s like, you know, they actually don’t want the feedback. And I was like, how are they going to be better? Okay.

    Jeanette: Yeah, I think we kind of, I tried to like, think where, where did we leave? Where did they…

    Susan: But there is guilt there.

    Kate: There’s definitely guilt.

    Susan: Okay. Well, I’m curious. how do you use the word “should”, like, what is that word? And actually, how is it kind of defined in use? Um, so in Vietnamese the word is “phải” and it’s [00:40:00] like, “you have to.” It’s not a suggestion, it’s you just have to. And in life, there was just a lot of “you have to’s” , which was basically like, you have to listen to what your elders say, period, and stop. There’s no opinion. There’s no ideating. There’s no asking what you want or what’s your passion. Like, there’s just like a, “you have to”, and growing up to “you have to” was to get straight A’s, right. So the verb “to want something” is “muốn”, it’s to want. And it’s kind of laced with, it’s indulgent. It’s kind of like, ‘Oh, what do you want? Oh, gosh, you want this?’ Like, it’s not exactly cute to have wants and it’s not a nuisance, but it’s not celebrated. to have one.

    Susan: So yeah.

    Susan: I’m curious about, is there in your language, how, what is, what is wrapped around the word should, and in what context would you hear the word.

    Kate: That’s actually a really good question because it got me thinking, Susan, as you were mentioning that like, you know, how we all listened to the respectful parenting, podcasts, whatever, all this stuff. Right. And you’re supposed to speak to your child in a certain way. [00:41:00]

    Kate: And you know, as you know, I’m exclusively taking Mandarin to my daughter at home, but I’m finding myself frequently struggling for the composition of words to reflect the English meaning.

    Kate: Right. Because I grew up being like, everything was like very command or, or order oriented. For example, it should is you can guy in Chinese, which is often used, but here’s the interesting thing. So the word for like want, as in like, I want to do something and,

    Kate: um, uh,

    Kate: you should maybe do another way of saying you should do it this way is actually the same word is just depends on the inflection and context.

    Kate: I’ll be yào Right. So if you say, uh, well, yeah, Chevette, it means I want to. Eat right. But then, um, you can also say to someone, uh, yell down, so meaning you should do it this way. So it’s like, you know, and then, so, it’s kind of

    Kate: interesting

    Jeanette: is it like, almost saying like, you should want

    Jeanette: to do it. this way

    Kate: Yes, exactly,

    Kate: exactly.

    Kate: And [00:42:00] so I find myself often, like saying to my daughter, like, you know, if I’m like helping her out with something, I should say, oh,

    Jeanette: you

    Kate: Nǐ yīnggāi zhèyàng zuò means that you should do it this way. Right. Or like, uh, anyway. And so I actually struggle to find the respectful non top down. I’m sure it definitely exists.

    Kate: Right. Obviously in Chinese and Vietnamese and Korean, it’s just that I didn’t grow up with those sentence constructions. And where am I going to get it? Like, I guess I could like, look at Chinese, like Montessori respectful parenting. I don’t, I mean, they’re not there. I

    Kate: don’t,

    Susan: maybe you’re going to create it

    Kate: or I should just create one.

    Kate: So it is actually a real

    Kate: problem, right.

    Susan: Because it’s just so embedded in the language itself of like, [yeah] hierarchy..

    Susan: I sometimes

    Kate: think like, okay, I think this sounds respectful. Like the tone is respectful. Maybe like I’m saying it gently, but then what if the word constructions are actually not like very benign, right. But how am I supposed to know? That’s the crazy thing in [00:43:00] my head certain ways of speaking have been totally normalized, right. So I’m like, oh, that’s, how I should say things. But what if it doesn’t really mean that, you know what I mean?

    Susan: Yeah, no. I mean that’s why I’m like of kind of going back to English with Art is just like the nuance in expressing certain things is just really hard. Because it’s like that culture, Vietnamese, is like Confusionism. We’re just going to go right back to it. And the patriarchy, like the language created order because there was war, there was famine, there was so much hardship that order needed to happen for survival, but it’s crystallized in the language. And I know Vietnamese has changed a lot since my parents knew it in the seventies before they came over, so my understanding of Vietnamese is actually old school Vietnamese. Like the language has evolved since then it continues to grow and I’m not growing with it. butI’m not sure if the Vietnamese that I’m looking for actually exist yet. What about you Jeanette?

    Jeanette: Oh yeah. When we were prepping for this conversation, I [00:44:00] was thinking about the words that I heard from my parents and other people, other adults in my life. And the word for you should is like “haeyaji”” you should do this. Like you should go to school, you should eat dinner now, you should go to this practice now. So that word, I feel like I heard a lot, the words for want so it’s like, if you ask somebody, what do you want? Like, would we want it? I just feel like those needs and want words were like, I feel like I almost never heard them, right. Even let’s say if we were to go get ice cream and my parents were to ask me,what flavor do you want? They would ask me, “mueos meog-eulkka” like, what will you eat? Right? There was very few instances where like the idea of explicitly asking, what do you want? What do you desire? Or even [like] what do you need? was asked of me. It was very much. This will happen or like what will happen? There’s just such a baked in assumption of like this is what will [00:45:00] happen. Yeah, it is very much baked into the language of [my] growing up and I find myself, you know, going back to this idea of like ‘guilt and shame’ and ‘shoulds and want’ versus ‘wants and needs’.

    Jeanette: Like,I find myself going back these days, like often when I feel like this cloud or like burden of guilt or shame. Like on my mind, I kind of go back to why do I feel this? It’s often because I feel like I should be doing something that I don’t think I’m doing. Why do I want it? Do I need to do that thing? Or do I want to do that thing?And if I don’t need or want to do that thing, why do I feel like I should do it? But yeah, I mean, but it’s almost like trying to rework your system. Right? Because growing up, nobody asked me what I wanted or needed. It was all about “should’s”. Like you’re expected to do this and so those expectations still, they play such a huge role in my life. And I’m just trying to kind of dismantle a lot of them because I feel like they’re very burdensome and oftentimes I don’t find them helping me.

     I think the origin of a lot of this is just individualism versus [00:46:00] collectivism, right? It’s Confusionism. I feel like the title should be like, “Keg, Confucius! I’ve Got Beef With You.” But, in American culture, it is all about you – becoming a millionaire and you being the CEO of you and like you can do the thing with your bootstraps, there is so much “I”.

    Susan: Actually, in Vietnamese language, it’s offensive to use the word “I”, the pronoun I’m always going to be using with both of you is you’re going to be either older sister or younger sister based on our birthdays. Or I’m going to be little child or what to an elder. There is no “I” and if I use the word “I”, which is tao or tôi is because I’m pissed. It’s because I’m a hell of pissed. And that’s like one of the few scenarios when you use it. So, I mean like that’s how individualism is not in Vietnamese language and culture. Right? So I think everything that we’re talking about today is like push and pull about who do we choose? Because in America that “I” exist and here it’s like all of us, we got master’s degree [00:47:00] Because we want to further our careers. Why? Because yes, we have our family to care for boils who have our own ambitions.

    Susan: And I always wonder that if my parents didn’t leave Vietnam, what would my everyday job be? And what could I have even dreamed of? Earlier you were talking about our great, great, great, great grandmothers. And like, what do they do with their anger and did they actually openly talk about it or like we inherit all of that because they could not. There was no sense of ability to have that individual opinion and desire for something better because they knew it was so impossible. And what’s really trendy right now is this phrase like “I am my ancestor’s wildest dreams.” Because we kind of are. Because we’re talking about our own needs right now and feeling burned out and feeling what do we dismantle and like reprogramming our brains. It’s like they did not have that opportunity.

    Kate: I also just want to point out is we’ve been talking about this, that in a way we, a second generation immigrant women occupy a much harder [00:48:00] space to balance all of these things than let’s say my cousin who I grew up with in and she stayed in China. I don’t know about, well, I think definitely can speak for Vietnam and probably Korea too, because I think the countries have changed so much. But China, for sure, like the rapid economic change, social change since my parents and I left in 1990, 1991, has also changed people’s social attitudes. I remember like years ago when I was dating guy, we were living together but I was like lying to my parents about it and then I told my mom’s friend.

    Kate: Who hasn’t done that?

    Kate: Well, but I was talking to my mom’s friend who has never left China and she was like, what’s the big deal? My daughter lives with her boyfriend. And then I was like, ‘Dude, I can’t say that to my mom.’ And you know what happened? She was like, your mom left with the values and morality and the tradition of China in the 1980s, which was still like post cultural revolution, very conservative. And she went to the U.S where they ossified. Like with the Expat communities or, sorry, sorry with the Diaspora communities,

    Susan: Wait, what does that mean to ossify? Did you mean like fossils?

    Kate: Yeah, basically they remain [00:49:00] frozen in time. Kind of like what you were saying, like your Vietnamese is formal, right. And even for me, when I speak my native dialects to Chinese, nobody can tell I’m not from [inaudible], but some cab drivers have been like, ‘oh, you speak such classics to Chinese.’ I’m like, what does that mean? And then I realized, because I don’t know any of the, like the slang, the model. And I think it’s the same thing can be applied to like morals and these traditions. I mean, I’m sure in many ways China is still very, very traditional, but in many ways it has changed and especially since I worked in Beijing as an adult, I can see that.

    Kate: And so you know, for my cousins and my friends who grew up in to never left, you know, they definitely had to deal with a lot of change, but there was less like, you know, cognitive dissonance in a way of trying to balance two things that are so different, right. Um, whereas for us, our parents left at a time when things were much more conservative in those Asian societies, things have changed a lot now in those societies, but they still treat us, they treated us and they probably still do with more, that same attitude, but we grew up in the U.S which is like so different. And then of course, now we’re all like subject to all these like work, the perspective of parenting, like Montessori, whatever. You know? And then it’s [00:50:00] just like, what the fuck? It’s like a total fucking mind. Fuck. You know what I mean? Like, no wonder all this stuff is so confusing. Whereas like my Chinese-Chinese friends, like my cousin who immigrated here when she was like 21 and like my other Chinese friends at Amazon, like, they don’t have the sense of guilt. They just, whatever they do is just kind of like, oh yeah, whatever. Like there’s just that much less second guessing, you know?

    Yeah, I, I feel like it would be interesting to do actually an episode just about that dynamic, that you guys are talking about because I definitely see it in my own family and I see it in other Korean-American families that I’ve met, which is they just bring that snapshot of Korean culture and language of when they left. And it doesn’t really change.

    Jeanette: And coming back to this whole, you know, the, the guilt and shame discussion and what you guys are talking about is like, I think also the other double bind, I don’t know if I should call it a double bind, but just an extra challenge that we face is that,this idea of like playing, being programmed to play one game while being in a society, that’s playing a different game, right? [00:51:00] Because I think if we grew up in our countries of origin, like everybody around us would have been going through the same or similar experiences. And we would’ve all been kind of changing together. And so like kind of, you know, what the rules of the game are, and everybody’s kind of brought up in a similar way.

    Jeanette: Whereas I think some of my struggles. I think being a Korean-American woman living in America is I am programmed to play one game, which is, think about everybody else, make yourself so smaller if you need to, sacrifice for the people around you, you know? And that’s by being a woman by being Korean, by having the childhood experiences that I did. I’m programmed to play that game, but then I’m living in a society that does not really reward playing that game. Everybody else is playing a different game. So I think in like, in some ways, maybe one way she could look at it as like, I’m doing my best, like playing my own game, but like, I still feel like I’m losing and that creates a lot of stress, I don’t know. Maybe I have to kind of like, think about whether how true that is, but, just in our conversation, I [00:52:00] wonder if that’s a part of it, right. It’s like, I, I’m kind of programmed to do this one thing. I’m doing my best at it, but then like, I feel like I’m losing in this other game that everybody else is playing.

    Kate: Sorry, I’m just trailing off here because I’m just kind of thinking about how true that is.

    Susan: Okay. I’m really obsessed with the HBO show ‘Succession’ and that main dad, whose model after Rupert Murdoch, who is like the billionaire and the show and all his kids want like to be crowned the CEO when he dies or get, be given the power when he starts to lose and he doesn’t lose often, he just changes the rules of the game. And that’s what he did in the season three finale. And I was just kind of watching him going like, ‘oh my God’he doesn’t want to play chess anymore. He just changes the fucking game.

    Susan: And I think Jeanette, what you’re talking about is we’re like participating in this game that we think that the rules are laid out. We know what the pieces are and how often can we get to that place of awareness, where we realize that it is a game and that we can change it at any time and that we can determine if we win or lose at any [00:53:00] time? Anyways, I’m so in the game I realized the other day I was having a meltdown becauseI was just basically getting triggered because of money. And I was like, Ugh, this year was such a down year. I suck. I’m a piece of shit. I hate my life. Like, I’m a failure. I am so bad for this family. Like I just went down this like intense spiral and I was like on the couch, just like hating my life. I really was. I was just like self pity to the max, but I wasn’t clear that it was because, ‘Oh, Susan, you’re playing a game called your financial worth equals your self-worth.’ That’s the game you’re playing and it was a game I learned from my dad and then Marvin had to talk me off the ledge and he was like, ‘It’s an investment year. You’re writing your book, you got a book deal. That’s really great. And you’re walking the path that you’ve been working towards and it’s like really awesome. Did you forget all of that? And I was like, but look opened my QuickBooks open my QuickBooks and he’s like, I’m not going to open your QuickBooks.

     And it was funny because like, in college I was like social studies. I was like, neo-Marxist I was all about down with the man, like capitalism, what is. You [00:54:00] know, like that’s so dumb and I’ve chosen to be an artist with my MBA degree, which is like, I’ve subverted the game a long time ago, but for some reason I keep playing with the old rules subconsciously and it’ll send me into a massive, massive spiral.

    Susan: So I guess my point in all of this is, and I’m really glad we can actually talk about it. Cause it makes me more aware of it is like having that ability to have the 30,000 foot view and like, look at yourself while you’re doing the thing that you’re triggered by to be like, what am I doing? Is that serving me? How can I change the rules so that I can feel whatever I need to feel. Right. Because this is really about self-worth and whatever are like 1970s, 1980s, era of the rules that our parents came with. We always lose in that game.

    Jeanette: Yeah. But I think it’s kind of, I got the image of, not that we’re rats and sorry, maybe that’s degrading. But like, I kind of got the image of like a lab rat.

    Jeanette: Right. And you have it run, you have it play one game, like amazed and you shock it every time [00:55:00] it makes a mistake in that game. Right. And then you put the rat, you, you condition it to do something. And then you take that rat and you put it in a different game where you have to like, press buttons and you get rewards for that. Like that rat is still going to have these inbred fears about doing the things that it was not allowed to do in the previous game. So it’s like, I think at least for me, right, some of these things around making people around me happy, like my parents would just become emotionally out of control and sometimes physically out of control when they were not happy, when they were stressed, when they were stretched, which is why, you know, I thinklike almost like my lizard brain, I’ve become programmed to feel anxious when the people around me seem stressed. And so therefore I do everything I can to take things off their plate, even if it makes me stress, because it makes me feel better for me to be stressed than the people around me to be stressed. It is empowering, I think, you know, to use your rational brain to realize that and to be [00:56:00] able to say, realize that you’re playing a different game now.

    Jeanette: But for those of us who’ve gone through some kind of trauma, right? And that’s many of second generation immigrant kids. It’s not like a switch, right? That’s my It’s kind of goes beyond just even having, like the rational realization that you have these behavior patterns, like that’s the first step, but it actually takes a lot more work than that to kind of unlearn these things. You know, and I guess that’s why I feel I’ve kind of started having this passion around, like just trying to give my kids like the safest, like emotional space that I can, because I think one thing, that I hope will help them is that they won’t have these triggers or this ingrained emotional like baggage so that when they realize they’re in a different game, they could just change their behavior, right? Without having all these other things you have to work through first.

    Susan: In my fantasy game, I would just like, know how to relax. It’s hard for me. I see you with your kids, Jeanette. You’re like really like, so considering kind.

    Jeanette: My kids?

    Susan: [00:57:00] Yeah.

    Jeanette: Oh yeah.

    Susan: I see you trying.

    yeah, I think my kids feel safe and

     I don’t think that they feel, like they can’t express their emotions. Actually, after that thing that happened where I snapped out my son because he wouldn’t let me hold thermometer in his armpit. You know, I was telling Jake, I was not like Isaiah when I was three, if my parents told me they had to like stick a thermometer in my armpit and they want to fold it there, like I would just stand there, quiet, obedient. You know, on one hand I feel I want to allow him to express all his opinions and all his emotions and feel like that’s okay. But on the other hand sometimes I’m afraid he’s not learning how to be obedient and feel like he doesn’t care about how other people feel or what other people need.

    And you know, he was just saying to me, like, he’s three years old. He doesn’t like you explaining this to him, like doesn’t make sense to him its not registering. And also the most obedient kids that’s not necessarily like a sign that they’re in a place that’s good for them. So we had that conversation but then like, yeah, I also just felt guilt for snapping at him.

    Jeanette: And I [00:58:00] just felt when things like that happen, I just feel like sometimes, like I’m not enough for them, you know, like I’m not enough of a mom to them. Like I don’t have what it takes to be a good mom to them. And that’s very hard. That can feel very hard.

    Susan: That’s such a

    Susan: nuance between obedience and respect.

     Yeah. So I think I’m still going through that in my mind, right? I mean, I think a part of me decided that my model for how my kids will develop is that, right now, like my son who’s almost four, he’s just starting to understand how other people feel. And so a lot of obedience right now, like if he has like absolute obedience, that’s probably going to be more out of fear than out of like an understanding that I’m asking him to do something for his safety orbecause I’m asking for him to respect what I’m asking him to do, right. It’s a kind of a level of cognitive understanding that’s a little beyond him still right now. But I think before I became a parent, [I] that’s not really what I was thinking, I kind of thought that, you know, kids should listen to their parents at any

    Jeanette: age.

    Kate: I think that’s a good, it’s a really tough [00:59:00] consideration. I think I was like, definitely a pretty obedient child up until I don’t know. I went off to college probably, and I feel like it totally backfired on my parents because as soon as I wasn’t under their thumb anymore of discipline, I basically was like really mean to them, you know, it’s funny cause like, okay, not funny.

    Kate: But freshman year, my dorm mates used to think I was always fighting with my parents, which was true maybe like, I don’t know, three-fourths of the time also. Because like we’re all very loud in the family. And so I think about that a lot, because my parents friends would always, I would be that kid in the corner at, you know, parties like reading and kind of keeping to myself and these people would always tell my parents like, ‘Oh, look at Kate, she’s so great.’ Maybe like, ‘look at it’, tell their kids like, ‘Look at Kate, she’s like reading, look how good she is.’ And I kind of like toed the linebut I think if you want to warning case Jeanette, it doesn’t mean that I learned to regulate my own feelings or that I learned to be a nice person.

    Kate: [01:00:00] Obedience is not equivalent to any of those things. It’s just something that kids display and they know to display because they don’t want their parents to be mad at them or to incur like any kind of negative reaction from adults. it can be in the worst possible case, which I think for me as a result more of fear as opposed to ‘of respect’. Right? Or like healthy understanding of relationships. Yeah, so I definitely see where it can go, like it can backfire, you know, on you and my daughter is sort of like, gosh, she sounds like the opposite of Isaiah actually, where she’s just like, really, I mean, she’s still young, right? She’s not even two but she has lots of very big feelings and like very demanding and very like, you know, she doesn’t like to share, we’re still teaching her again, she’s still very young, but I think about that sometimes I’m like, you know, I kind of don’t want to force her just obedient, but at the same time, you know, what is a positive way to teach her to respect other people?

    Kate: And also how can I let her [01:01:00] feel safe to have all her big feelings, but then help her channel them well, right. Because I feel like myself and my dad are like that, what you don’t want to do, which is a, you don’t learn how to healthily process, those feelings, you know, and then it, you get like really upset at things or you get really triggered.

     So I don’t know. I don’t really have an answer for that, but it’s tough. Because you don’t want to yo-yo the exact opposite way, right? That you were raised, it’s sort of like having, what is it like you have a bad relationship and then you kind of like rebound, right? Yeah. I don’t really have any good answers, but I think about these things a lot.

    Susan: I mean, as a 36 year old, I’m still like in this game where like my self worth is tied to my father’s approval of me, even though he wants me to be someone I’m never going to be, you know? And so I like kind of spin around in circles all the time of feeling not enough because I’m like very aware [of] if I’m in the red or the black of my dad, and I don’t think that’s exactly a very healthy relationship, but I think it goes back to, what should I do? What’s [01:02:00] expected me? Did I do it? Yes or no? It’s such an opaque area of like trying to figure out, like, how do we raise these like thoughtful, conscientious kids that also let us take their armpit thermometer, like, I’m trying to help you here kid, but also like, you need to be a good citizen, but like be an independent thinker, but like not challenge me all the time and make this so hard.

    Jeanette: Yeah. I can’t really call them conclusions because I don’t know yet if I’m, I don’t have high confidence that I’m right. But you know, one of my thoughts is, this path of parenting is harder because it’s like, I’m not going to demand obedience for my kids right now. So I’m not going to force them to do things, I rely on more things like taking a step back, coming back and trying again, or like, uh, making it fun, right? Which like, my parents never did that. if I didn’t want to do something, they never tried to make it fun. They were just like, you’re going to do it.

    Susan: Some people just spank them.

     Yeah, or hit me? but this path of parenting just takes more energy and more effort, [01:03:00] right? And hopefully it produces good results, but I don’t know. Yeah, but for sure it takes more energy.

    Kate: That’s one of the scary thing. [Yeah]

    Susan: Go for it.

    Susan: Because then

    Kate: you don’t know where it will end, you know, if, how it will be successful? And then how do you deal with setbacks? But Susan, I was going to give an example that sort of like illustrates the supposed joint journey, but Susan, you go first.

    Susan: Oh, my quick comment is just like, when are we going to know? Is it like at 25? You know, like what age will we know?

    Susan: No, [inaudible]

    Jeanette: because there’s like, there’s no control group. So it’s not an experiment. the other sibling is kind of a control group sort of.

     No, I mean, I’m not going to let, just do one thing for my one kid and then not for the other. I mean, and then they also have like very different

    Jeanette: personalities, [

    Jeanette: Right.

    Kate: Right.] so definitely like, [you can’t,

    Jeanette: yeah.]

    Kate: even if

    Jeanette: they turn out the way I would like ideally like them to, I don’t know if it’s because of what I did. And even if they don’t turn out how, you know, it’s just impossible

    Jeanette: to know.

    Susan: Kate what’s your example?

    Kate: I thought it might be nice [01:04:00] to kinda draw a conclusion with this. This is so embarrassing, but I feel also I’m going to just put myself out there because it’s so illustrative of what we’ve been talking about of just sort of like the pathway, decision pathways, and thenso I was on vacation in Miami, like last week, you know, with, my family. And when I’m in a good mood, like, it’s very easy for me to be patient and take a step back and all the stuff that, you know, Jeanette was mentioning, right. But like, I’m pregnant was like really hot in Miami. Well, in hot weather, so, so we went to this cute little Cuban coffee shop and they had ‘paletas’ like fresh popsicles.

    Kate: So I thought, oh, how fun, like, they had never had a Popsicle let’s get one for her, right. It was my idea. Watermelon Popsicle then somehow like popped into my head. Oh, I should use this as an opportunity for us to discuss the concept of sharing. Cause we’ve been trying to do that. So I told her, I was like, mommy and Raya are going to share this Popsicle, right. So, I take it and then I take a lick and then I was like, mommy’s going to give you this Popsicle, we are going to share. So she [01:05:00] takes it and then of course she wants the whole thing, right. I mean, she’s like 22 months, but like, anyway, so she starts like, pawing it.

     And I was like, okay, well, can you let mommy hold the Popsicle? You can eat it, but we’re sharing and then just let me hold it. Because otherwise it was just like melting all over her hands and the stuff and then she refused. And then she’s had like started having this epic meltdown in the coffee shop.

    Kate: And I was like, okay, I’m going to stay calm. I’m not going to be that parent that yells at their kid in the coffee shop. So I told Nirav I was like, let’s leave since she’s having this meltdown. And so I took the Popsicle and I was like, I don’t know why I picked, Nirav later on was like, why did you pick this one thing as a thing to die on? You know? Like why didn’t you just give her the fucking Popsicle? I just let her do whatever she wanted with it. But I was like, in the moment, I was like, I have to take a stand as a parent. Usually I’m much more indulgent, but like, you know, in that moment I was, it must’ve been something about like, you know, my lizard brain being influenced by my grandparents. You have to make a stand. Otherwise she will keep violating all these boundaries. Anyway, I took a stand. Didn’t give her the Popsicle because she kept on like wanting to touch it and take it and not give it back to me. Oh [01:06:00] my gosh. The meltdown continued the point where, uh, she was just like snot. It was like fuck. And then I was like eating Popsicles, I was like, ‘look, mommy’s eating the Popsicle [inaudible] after you let me hold it because we’re sharing’ didn’t work. I mean, so basically it’s how it ended.

    Susan: So it was like Kate being like, you should want to share with me.

    Kate: Just so the sharing thing was like very like, ‘oh, respectful parent teacher, kids had it. You know? But then the like taking the stand, like mommy is the right one and she’s going to use this example is definitely a very much like how my parents would have done it, you know, like stick to your principles, and so basically here’s how it ended. Uh, not, well, there was some a little bit left.

    Kate: She was still like just meltdown, public meltdown and so Nirav’s like, just give it to her. I was like, okay, fine. So there’s like this much Popsicle left and then she eats and she’s very happy, but then it’s like totally ruined the mood. I’m tired, I’m hot. I’m like annoyed. And then she’s still not very happy cause she’s just ‘moo’ and she gets clingy-er when she gets upset to me. So anyway, Nirav was like, okay, let’s just abandon this endeavor. I’m going to get the car. But I was so upset with her. And then she kept making all this. I don’t know. So basically I [01:07:00] lost my shit at her. Okay. I won’t go into details, but Jeanette, you shouldn’t feel bad about yelling at your son for like the thermometer.

    Kate: Because I really like totally lost my shit at her and I didn’t even want to talk to her because I was like, this is too triggering. Anyways. I looked back on that, I’m like, oh man, like I intended it to be that moment where, you know, maybe we’d have like a koombaya let’s share, like whatever [inaudible]. And then it ended with me being super triggered, very upset, being like angry and the way that, you know, I would see my parents being upset at each other or with me when I was kid, I was like, oh my God, I’m like perpetuating. Here’s how that was like a huge step back and Nirav and I talked about it, and he’s like, man, you really lost your shit.

    Kate: I was like, I know. But he understood. So we kind of talked about how it was cause like he’s like, what do you think caused it? And so, I don’t know, I guess all this to say, like, you can still have the best of intentions and try. But this whole like once, maybe a couple steps forward, maybe like a giant ass step back, which is how it felt like. It’s tough, you know? And then you feel guilty and the guilt just eats at you. I was like, oh my God, what if I damaged her forever? Like now she’s like emotionally [01:08:00] unstable because I yelled at her in public, in Miami. And then, because I didn’t give her a Popsicle. I mean, I’m, you know what I mean? So I don’t know.

    Kate: I’m just saying being a mom is really hard, even when you have really good intentions, and then you just get still schizo-triggered, by your past, anyway.

    Jeanette: Yeah, totally.

     Yeah, there was more to the thermometer story. I yelled at Isaiah. And then after, during playtime, I was very passive with him. Like kind of like what you were talking about. Like, usually I’m very like into playtime. Yeah. Imaginary voices, but I was kind of like, okay, you know, like if you don’t want to do this and I am also going to be super passive. And I just felt really shitty about it afterwards, and then the morning after I told him, I was like, I’m sorry that I was grumpy, mommy was like very tired. That’s not a reason for mommy to be grumpy, but that didn’t help and of course, you know, mom always wants to play with you. And then he was just like, you know, now he’s older. So he kind of like understands and he has Jake’s personality.

    Jeanette: I will just give him credit for that because my daughter’s much more of [01:09:00] fiery spirit. And my son is very sweet and his face just like crumbled for a second and then he looked like he was going to cry a little bit and then he just like wanted to give me a hug and a kiss.

     So I was glad for that, but also feeling sad, yeah. Okay, I can’t undo that, right. I could apologize, but like you just do the next day and just try to do, you know, try to not let that happen again. You know? And I think fortunately like for all of us, like even our parents, not to excuse them. Right. But like they were operating in a lot more stress than I think we are, and that definitely didn’t help them. And I think for us, like even if that happens, like most of the time we have a little bit more room to be more deliberate about how we interact with our kids.

    Kate: Yeah. I think you’re right, Jeanette and the apology is important. I did apologize to Raya, like later. I don’t know because she’s still young. I don’t know if she could like connect it because kids,they forget quickly and things are fine. But, I think we maybe beat ourselves up more because we feel like in ourselves, we’re this sort of like the fruit [01:10:00] of what our parents did over and over and over again.

    Kate: And so even if it only happens a couple of times, we can’t help but feel like, oh no, have I ruined it all? You know, there’s also that pressure, even though, obviously if you take a step back and you know, okay, okay. If it happens a few times, like, you know, it’s fun, like give yourself grace, but it’s really hard to give your self grace when you know what, how things can turn out.

    Kate: I [don’t] wouldn’t want my daughter to go through the same amount of sort of like where your insides are always like trying to figure things out. And you’re just like,

    Susan: Wait, what’s the word? That sounds amazing.

    Kate: It’s kind of like [Chinese], like your internal, like twisting and it’s painful, you know? I mean, we’ve all progressed. And so I think we should be all proud of where we are now, but I don’t know that I’d want my daughter to go through that same process. I don’t know, so I of think all of that, when one thing like this happens.

    Susan: Okay. I haven’t had this experience yet that you two are speaking about because Art’s down the line in terms of age, butcan we just accept that no one’s going to be unscathed by the time they’re 18. Like there’s no parent out there, the parent child relationship, like there was no argument or [01:11:00] any forgiveness. Like no one’s perfect. Right? So I want to put that in the rule, in our little rule book of unwritten rules, is that no, one’s perfect. Okay, can we accept that? That no one else is actually doing it perfectly. And that isn’t the learning here, like you did a repair with your kid and that they live in a loving home. I think it was one of my PEPs groups for early parenting group, because all of us new parents were so scared to make a mistake and they were just like, just be loving.

    Susan: That’s all they care about. Like you will mess up, but this is how you can not really mess up. I mean, the fact that we’re even having this conversation to be thoughtful about our kids, like isn’t the head enough? Like, isn’t that all we can do?

    Susan: But this hasn’t happened to me yet where I made a big mommy mistake yet.

    Jeanette: I think you’re also more, I dunno, you’re at least more children bases, this is what I think.

    Susan: Oh my God.I did not tell you earlier, my life fantasy goal is to learn how to relax.

    Jeanette: Yeah. But like, I think your anxiety manifests itself, like in a different way.

    You’re more go with the flow in these situations, [01:12:00] whereas I’m more like, things have to be like this, but it’s not just with work right. With work you’re very like focused, intense, driven, et cetera. But like, I think in your social everyday life, I think you’re just more like, because you’re, more open, exploratory curious.

    Kate: You’re like, oh yeah, that could try this out. Like, it seems interesting. Whereas I’m more like [banging sounds] In case you can’t hear that, you know what I mean? [inaudible] I don’t know if that’s what you mean, Jeanette, but like. Yeah. I think you’re more go with the flow like interpersonally. And so I, I could imagine you’re that carries over into your relationship with Art.

    Susan: Okay but remember my prior example of just eating three people eating and then like all of a sudden I get all anxious about the eating rules. I hope I’m all those things that you affirm me to be, but we’re programmed.

    Jeanette: Yes. I’m not saying you’re not anxious. I see your anxiety, but I

    Susan: Thank you for seeing me.

    Jeanette: Yes but I’m just

    Jeanette: saying it manifests itself in different ways I think you try to address it in, in different ways.

    Susan: [01:13:00] Yeah. Well,I have not lost my shit in front of Art yet. That’s all I’m saying. So I’m on the other side going, like, it’s all good people, but maybe next week I’ll be like, have I got a story? Right. But I mean, at the end of the day, our kid knows, like we’re loving, right? I’m not even gonna call these mistakes. Parenting is so complicated. Okay. It’s time for inside thoughts, our lightning round, where you hear our inside thoughts, what annoys the shit out of you that really isn’t that big of a deal? For me. It’s when people don’t use their blinkers, I lose my mind when I’m driving and I make a point to tell Marvin, can you? I like get really riled up while I’m driving. And it makes me more tense because someone didn’t use a blinker.

    Jeanette: For me, it’s when certain someones, which I won’t say who don’t put the towel back after they take a shower. Like, you know what I mean? You do your towel and then you carry it to your room. Right? Sometimes.

    Susan: And so like it’s on the bed.

    Jeanette: [01:14:00] Yeah. It’s on the bed or on the chair or on the floor, but then the next person goes to take a shower and there’s nothing there and it’s very annoying.

    Susan: Wait, you share a towel?

    Jeanette: Yes. Is that okay? Gross?

    Jeanette: Okay. No,

    Susan: I mean, I think there’s a clear solution.

    Kate: There’s so much judgment

    Jeanette: that like,

    Susan: No. I mean, clearly you should be clean, but I’m saying like, you could just also get another towel.

    Jeanette: Yeah. But not when you’re like naked and dripping, you don’t want to like go and get another towel.

    Susan: Just say in general you could just have two towels.

    Jeanette: Okay. But then what the certain someone would do is take his or her towel, take it to their room. But then like next time they take a shower or wash or do something, they take the next towel and then that also, it’s not a matter of how many towels there are.


    Kate: I also have a towel related thing.

    Kate: What?

    Um, and so he just uses one towel. Wipes his face on it. He wipes his mouth on it. He wipes his butt on it. He wipes his [inaudible], its disgusting. I can’t handle it. [01:15:00] Oh my God. Sorry. It’s obviously giving me like heart palpitations.

    Susan: I remember one of the first times my family went to like a hotel. I think it was like circus circus. And we were going to go gamble and like Reno or something. And I remember in the hotel room, there was like so many towels.

    Susan: I was like, they gave us extra towels. Like, I didn’t know what to do with all these towels. And even now when I go anywhere, I’m like for some reason, I think I’m saving them towels if I don’t use the other ones, even though they’re probably gonna just wash them all because like someone might’ve touched them. But I’m like, Kate, I want to be you, man. Like I want to actually like honor my hair and like, not break it. Like, I didn’t even know there’s a hair towel.

     I’m pretty sure that we have a face towel that’s like mixed in with our dish towels because [ewww]

    Jeanette: Okay. So,

    Kate: so I actually do launder our kitchen towels and her bath towels together, oftentimes. My mom.

    Susan: My gosh. Really?

    Kate: Yes. I [01:16:00] know, I knew she would raise a giant stink about it. And then she said, I’m going to bring my own towels to your house. Beacause she’s like, I can’t stand the idea of my bath house being washed with the kitchen towels.

    Susan: I mean, I kind of get it. But at the same time,

    Kate: It’s hot. It’s like, you know, the germs go away. It’s not like I’m wiping my butt using the kitchen towel, you know what I mean?

    Susan: I know, but the kitchen is like moldy and like kind of gross and it’s so wet.

    Susan: Anyway, so

    Kate: great, now I feel judged. I feel like I have to water them separately.

    Jeanette: No, I was being sarcastic.

    Susan: I don’t even use a hot function. Like everything is warm, right?

    Susan: I use everything

    Jeanette: on cold because it’s more environmentally friendly. Yeah. That is more, it’s better for the earth.

    Susan: Yes. Super everybody. Yeah.

    Jeanette: Okay. Bye guys.

    Kate: Bye.