No mother is perfect. The fierce love and care a mother gives, especially an Asian mother in the midst of American culture, can be cause for conflicts with her American-raised children. “Are you my mother?” the prologue that starts the My Asian Mom, a series of “tug of wars” between “Asian mothers” and their children, reveals the love and resentment between them.
This is the second year that I’ve attended the show “My Asian Mom.” Despite certain anticipation of the “typical” conflicts between Asian mothers and their children, which I can testify with my own experience, these episodes present issues that are familiar yet with a personal touch and refreshing look. Via laughter, one can resonate, to different levels according to their connection or understanding of the Asian culture.
I laughed when a Chinese “son” can no longer stand the plastic covers on sofas, tables, and even a lamp shade that his mother places. He finally rips them off during a visit home from college, creating havoc. Perhaps, it’s because of the heavy dust in the air that so many Chinese families cover their furniture with plastics in China; or perhaps it’s out of frugality so the furniture can be preserved forever, in a brand new shape when the cover is lifted; or perhaps out of convenience for cleaning. Whatever the reason, despite the discomfort (the sofa and chair slippery) and unappealing sight (the fine furniture appear cheap), the customs get carried over to the U.S. I have seen them in more than one Chinese home over the years. But the son in the play eventually comes to appreciate his mother’s intention.
Other episodes show different aspects of confrontations between Asian mother and her son/daughter, including an arranged marriage that aims to build family alliance, a look into why we mistreat “our Korean mothers,” and in many cases, reconciliations in the end between mothers and their Americanized children. The entire show is consisted of eight unrelated stories from different Asian backgrounds. Quite entertaining and refreshing.
The performance, with Cary Shoda as curator and lead director, and Hope Kim and Joe Yao as producers, will open for one more weekend, from Friday, May 30 through Sunday, June 1 at the Chicago Dramatists theatre. Check it out. You won’t regret. Visit a-stw.org for more information.
By Jian Ping, author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China, which has been developed into an award-winning documentary film by Susan Morgan Cooper and is narrated by Jacqueline Bisset. The film is on PBS nationwide in May 2014. Visit www.mulberrychildmovie.com.