Sunday, May 8, 2011

About my Mother

If you've been reading along with the class, you know that I was recently in my hometown of Pittsburgh, PA dealing with my estranged father of 20 years. And while this certainly led to a good deal of reflection on my dad's life and our relationship, it also reminded me of the choices my mother made for herself as I was growing up, which were, ultimately and for the most part, good ones.

My parents divorced when I was 5-years old, a growing trend at the time in the US but certainly more unusual for the Thai culture they both had come from. The reasons for this have been a bit fuzzy over the years, but suffice it to say neither of my parents were particularly happy in the situation and my mother made the wise decision to extricate herself from the marriage, taking me with her.

Over the next decade my mother proceeded to simultaneously work several jobs, go to school and raise me, eventually getting her Ph.D. in Child Education and Development and leaving Pittsburgh for greener pastures. In the years that followed she worked as a senior writer and researcher for Sesame Street here in NYC, where she received an Emmy. She then taught as a professor at Albright College in Reading, PA, where she founded their highly successful primary education program and, after 7 years of hard work, was promptly denied tenure for her efforts. After a rather miserable year of trying to teach in Spartansburg, South Carolina, she went on to serve as the headmaster of two prestigious international schools in Chiangmai and Phuket, Thailand, and then followed this up serving as Executive Director of the Fulbright Foundation in Bangkok. She now works for a non-profit foundation dedicated to improving education in Thailand and the region.

Don't get me wrong... my mother drives me CRAZY. For example, when I was 3, she asked me how I wanted my Big Wheel decorated for the neighborhood fair and, after I said I wanted it to be Speed Racer's Mach 5, she promptly ignored me and made it a giant crepe-paper flower. This was the beginning of a long, lifetime run of pushing my buttons. Granted, I clearly still had a good time, but THAT'S NOT THE POINT!

"Evidence of the crime!"

The point is that she's traveled to more places around the world than everyone I know combined, met heads of State and celebrities and made a palpable difference in the lives of countless people. She's lived a tremendously full life, through good times and bad, and even though she makes me face palm in almost every conversation we have, I have the utmost respect and love for her. She's pretty amazing.

So Happy Mother's Day, mom! Love, Shy.

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