Hello, TCKs, ATCKs, expats, wanderlusts… and Happy Thanksgiving to those who celebrate it! Since I’m not in the U.S. anymore, Thanksgiving isn’t super relative to me anymore, however, the spirit of being grateful is still with me. And since we’re on the subject of being grateful, I wanted to share with you guys something that I’m very thankful for – my family.
Being ‘thankful for family’ might sound like cliche and a bit obligatory to some. It’s easy to take family for granted and think that they’ll always be there no matter what. We’re all guilty of this to some extent. This past year, however, was a wake up call for me and I took a step back, which allowed me to achieve a new level of appreciation for my family.
Ever since I was in high school, I couldn’t wait to live apart from my family. Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t hate them or anything. I just wanted to experience independence and freedom. When it was finally time for me to go to college, I literally flew out of my house, excitement bursting like fireworks. After spending a good chunk of my early 20s away from my family, I became very independent and I was enjoying every bit of freedom that was granted to me.
I loved living away from my family. No matter how much my parents worried about me being abroad alone, paying rent, getting medical checkups, doing grocery shopping – you know, the adult things – I did not find any of those difficult at all. If anything, I loved that I was faced with daily adulthood challenges and that I didn’t have my parents breathing down my neck. Consequentially, that only created distance between me and my family. But I thought that was a very natural process of growing up and didn’t think much about it.
When I started living with my family again, I couldn’t help but notice the wide gap that was created between us. That brewed so much frustration and I even felt like suffocating at times. But the more time I spent with them, the more I began to discover details that I never noticed before.
One of the biggest discoveries I made was seeing my mother as another woman, instead of just as my mom. That simple understanding helped build a type of mother-daughter relationship we never had before. I developed a new sense of respect and empathy towards the strong woman who raised me.
I also started to care more proactively about my family. That meant actually paying attention to what they do and say, listen and interact. These days I like to take my mom out for a nice meal, a movie & shopping date, and have a typical mother-daughter bonding time. I love that my mom also treats me as another woman instead of her daughter. One thing I always disliked in the past was being “babied” too much, which my mom still tends to do (because she’s my mom, of course). But when we’re hanging out, she drops the mom-mode and we just act like friends. I appreciate her doing that and I appreciate that we formed such a relationship.
Coming back to Korea wasn’t an easy journey, but it has given me the opportunity to appreciate my family on another level. I’m so grateful for this new-found relationship I have with them. In the end, it boils down to this: the time I spent apart with them helped me realize that family shouldn’t be taken for granted and you should always treat each other with respect. I’m so glad that I got to realize this now, because I can use this opportunity to better my relationship with my amazing family.
What are you thankful for?