A few weeks ago Wall Street Journal featured an article about how Chinese moms are superior to the Western moms, written by the now most-hated Amy Chua. When I read it, I was furious and convinced that it had just took the Asian-kids-and-moms stereotype to another level. Mr. Su couldn’t stop talking about her mainly because he is a product of such parenting (high-achieving and over-scheduled). It was also the most discussed topic among friends and family. Despite my annoyance, I read the book anyway when a friend lent it to me. I could not put it down and finished reading in three days.Oh my lord right? Well, here is my take, I could totally relate to her but I don’t necessarily agree with her parenting method.
I am somewhat a product of a tiger mom. Coincidentally, my mother was also born in the year of tiger, exactly 12 years Amy’s senior. She only has a grade school degree and vowed that her children must do better than her. She worked so hard and has been thrifty her whole life just so she could put her kids through college. Even better, she sent one of them to the United States. Like Amy, my mom always expects that I achieve above and beyond. When I ranked number 2 in my whole class, instead of patting me in the back and praising my achievement, she scoffed at me saying that I could have been number 1 if I tried harder. Then, when I was finally number 1 in the class, she complained that it is not as good as being number 1 in the entire school. Unlike Amy, my mom did not drive me to excel in extra curricular activities. I never had any music lesson let alone be a student of the violin celebrity. She thought that such activities were a waste of time and I should devote my time entirely to achieve good grades.
As a result, I become very competitive and always go above and beyond. I got into one of the most prestigious engineering schools in the nation and graduated with honor. However, as I entered the real world and worked as an engineer, I quickly realized that I hated my job. I dreaded waking up every morning and was constantly thinking about how to get out. In that sense, I understand what Amy means by not passionate about law (she is a law professor at Yale, go figure). I was lucky to be given a second chance to change my career. I went to b-school at the same school and landed a good career. I love what I am doing and plan to stay and climb up the corporate ladder. Still, I would not call it my true passion, which brings us to knitting and sewing (you’ve been waiting for this part, haven’t you?)
I discovered sewing and knitting a few months after graduating from grad school. After two weeks knitting hole-filled scarf, I proclaimed to the entire world that I have found my true passion. I was enamored by the creative as well as the analytical aspects of crafting (here I am using knitting, sewing and crafting interchangeably). I think about it every single moment and make it a goal to learn new techniques every project. I breath crafting day in and day out that I sometimes think about pursuing it full-time. Of course, it is not going to be practically possible. A lot of crafters may have claimed fame but only a few can support themselves financially with such career. I just want to be realistic, plus face it, I am not as talented as Gertie or will be as creative as Sarai. I am just grateful to be doing what I am passionate about and delighted that my hobby is not pointless.
At the end, Amy drives her youngest daughter, Louisa, to the wall with crazy violin schedules and ambitions. Louisa calls it quit and put all her time and energy to tennis, which she loves tremendously. She begs her mom not to interfere and let her strive through her real passion.
I am entirely grateful for my mom’s sacrifice and truly believe that she had taught me the value of hard work and never take anything for granted. But I would not apply similar parenting method when I become a mom myself, I am sure it is easier said than done. Let’s just say I want to be a mom that provides her children with an environment that tolerates risk-taking and passion-finding, even when it means straying away from the tried-and-trued careers a.k.a doctors, lawyers, engineers etc.