“You cannot succumb to the pressure of how somebody will misunderstand what you have to say.”— Amy Tan in conversation with Celeste Ng
I’m terrified if I tell the truth about my mother and I, it will be a wildfire I cannot control. That the people who read it will say, “Oh, a Chinese-American mother and daughter with issues, of course.” That they will only see a Tiger Mother. That my mother will be publicly crucified. That people will see my name and think, “Oh, Esther, that author. She just keeps writing about her mommy issues.”
The truth is a topic I skate around, eliding, smiling, deferring. If we are close, or you’ve known me long enough to read between the lines, you know my mother and I have history.
I hesitate to name it trauma or abuse, because those words have weight, responsibility, and assumptions.Read More »