As my own child grows, I find myself thinking more and more about my mother – the choices she had, how and why she became who she is, and how she shaped me. I don’t and never will have all the information I desire to truly understand her, but I have to find peace with who she is. To do this, in addition to therapy and reflection, I turn to books.
Mother’s Day, Asian Native American Hawaiian Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Heritage Month, and Mental Health Awareness Month all take place in May. For me, this convergence of observances inspires me to reflect on how my life is shaped by being a mother, an Asian American, and someone with a mental health condition. I am grateful that there are more books than one might expect that explore this specific intersection of themes, no doubt because struggling with love and loss in mother-daughter relationships, struggling with mental health and finding cultural identity are universal human experiences. Reading thoughtful and thoughtful books by AANHPI authors broadens my perspective beyond the confines of my own heritage and the depths of the mental health experiences to which I have been exposed. Books like the ones below help me process, heal, and feel less alone and emotionally closer to my mother in ways I never had access to before.
This month, the country continues to be reeling from the pandemic and its mental health ramifications. We are also still grappling with the reality that there have been nearly 11,000 hate crimes against AAPI people reported by Stop AAPI Hate since March 2020. mother you never had, maybe you snuggle up with these poignant books about mothers and daughters will be cathartic.
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For more food for your poetic soul, check out Jenny’s Qi Poetry Book Coordinator to lose his mother, and time is a mother, poetry by Ocean Vuong, the acclaimed author of the novel On Earth, we are briefly beautiful.
“It’s a lifelong process to untangle those knots,” Grace M. Cho says of mother-daughter relationship difficulties. “We live under a cultural regime that says our family is supposed to love and support us unconditionally, but the reality is that family relationships aren’t easy…so if you’re not close to your mother, be nice with you and with her.”