I held my mom's hand as we made a loop around the children's clothing section on the second floor of the grocery store. Just moments before we were eating our last meal together. The next day Sung Hyun and I were to return to Canada. Mom walked. It's what she did every evening after dinner. She was slow and clutched my hand tightly, as if to remind me to let her set the pace. Her steps were small but purposeful.
"I want to buy my friend some clothes. There is a baby..." I stumbled over my Korean. "She has a baby in her stomach," I said while drawing my hands outward looking for her understanding. Mom nodded. I couldn't remember the Korean word for pregnant.
"Don't do that!" she replied.
Mom didn't like to see me spend money. I wondered if this was the reason. So I questioned, "Why not, mom?"
"Because you don't have money"
I smiled and looked at her.
"My friend used to live in Korea. Now she is in Canada. She has a baby in her stomach. It's a girl. I want to buy some pretty clothes." My sentences were short but comprehensible.
Mom forcefully drew my hand toward her side commanding my attention. "Don't do thaaat!" she repeated.
We made our way to the adjacent wall, opposite the restaurant. Mom entered the bathroom and as she walked in I said, "Mom, I'm going to wait over by the clothes"
"DON'T BUY ANYTHIIIIIIING!!!!!!" she yelled from the entrance of the bathroom. Her voiced bounced off the walls in the hallway, her fist waved in the air. She meant business.
A man heading to the bashroom veered the corner in time to see mom throw up her fist. Without a doubt he also heard her yell. He slowed down his pace so that he could process what was happening: White girl! Bathroom. Yelling. Korean lady. Fist!
"I understand, mom" I said emphasizing the word 'mom' so the stranger could make sense of the context. My eyes glanced over to the man and he shot me a smirk. Eye contact and personal acknowledgement from strangers in Korea is rare. I took this acknowledgement as a gesture of kindness. Or maybe sympathy.
Mom hurried out of the bathroom to find me looking at baby clothes. She took my hand in hers and together we walked back to the restaurant.
That night mom got a ride home with sister while Sung Hyun and I shopped for last minute Korean goodies. I bought my friend an outfit for her baby. A dress that will certainly be too big for a newborn.
The next day mom was looking through our stuff as we packed. She pulled the dress out of the plastic bag and asked if I bought it the night before. "Yes," I replied under my breath. "Who is it for?" she continued. She was testing me.
"For me, mom" I smiled back.
She knew not to ask if I was pregnant. We already had that conversation. Twice.
Waving the dress in the air, she replied, "Then.....it's too small for you!"
Want to read more?
Part 1: Because men don't clean.
Part 2: On NEVER wasting food. Ever!
Part 3: It's what's for breakfast!
Part 4: A tap on the bum
Part 5: Meeting Sung Hyun's family for the first time. CHICKEN FEET!!!!!
Part 6: My bra on the wall like a Christmas decoration.
Part 7: You're pregnant?
Part 8: On having babies.
Part 9: Why are your boobs so big?
Part 10: Mom does what she wants.