Straddling Two Worlds

I grew up as an only child, and I was an easy child. I listened to my parents, especially following my mother’s instructions lest I wanted to suffer her wrath. I studied earnestly. From an early age, I scrubbed the floors, completed the family’s laundry, and assisted with dinner preparation. On the occasions that I forgot to turn off the television and reminded my father that he sometimes forgot, too, I was scolded at for talking back. My mother tended to yell when she was working on a project and I hadn’t run out to help her. Often, they threatened to hit me (in their defense, many Asian parents spoke those words). As much as I understood the popularity of them, I felt, among other things, embarrassed by them. “American” parents did not speak such words to their children. Sometime during my middle school years, I suggested to my father the idea of grounding as punishment, a phenomenon (to me) the kids at school were comparing and trying to one-up. It was a short question and answer session, though, when my father asked if I really preferred that method of punishment. Afraid to say otherwise, I answered that I did not.

I wanted to be treated like my Western schoolmates in other ways. Wearing braces. Receiving a heart-charm necklace from my mother on Valentine’s Day. Believing in Santa Clause. Celebrating the arrival of womanhood. But the line between the Eastern and Western cultures remained bolded, and straddling the world from which I came and the one in which I was living was inevitable.

Danith and I are expecting. We are expecting! Our baby girl, whose first pair of shoes is pink, is due to arrive at the end of March.

Last week, I painted over the one blue accent wall in the nursery a shade of white called Clear Moon. Now, I am running the brush in a circle to paint polka dots in Almond Latte, a beige that matches the other three walls. And the song continues to play.

Oh thinkin’ about all our younger years. There was only you and me. We were young and wild and free.

Baby, you’re all that I want. When you’re lying’ here in my arms. I’m findin’ it hard to believe. We’re in heaven.

I am proud of the beige polka dots that are both simple and striking. I made the right decision with the design. I think redecorating the nursery will be good for this baby who we hope to bring home and to raise and to love on. I think redecorating the nursery will be good for me, too, to remember that this baby deserves a chance to be her and only her. I know how fortunate I am to be able to stand back and admire the polka dots on the wall. I know how fortunate I am to be painting them in anticipation of our baby. For Christmas, our dear friend gifted us an antique wooden toddler chair with two teddy bears. “Something for each of them,” she said. The bears and the chair will go in the nursery. I hope our baby who will come in March knows that we love her already and will understand how much we love her, and why. I can’t let go. I don’t know how to let go or want to let go. I am straddling the world in which our expected baby girl will live and the one in which two of our children have passed. And I hope one day Baby Girl can understand why.

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