Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The Boyfriend Conundrum

My mom scrutinized my first ever boyfriend from head to toe before I was allowed to officially be his girlfriend.  Like a good obedient Chinese daughter, I let her, and waited patiently as she went about calling him before school (yes, she got the number from me) and setting up a time to meet with him afterwards.  The entire day of waiting and attempting to calm potential said boyfriend's nerves was an eternity of impending doom.

They met in a Chinese tea house, the ones who serve those delicious Boba milk tea (Boba are glutinous balls of joy that squish around in your mouth before becoming excessive calories reminiscent of my entire tween and teenage youth).  There, she would buy him a cup of boba milk tea, and sit down to drink and chat with him.  He was 17, I was 16, we were high school babies.  She evaluated the way he drove because she had him pick her up, and throughout the drive, she carefully determined if he could shuttle me around safely.  Then, she inquired about the details of our friendship, the courtship, and asked what he liked about me.  She found out about his college plans, his future ambitions, and gave him a long speech about how I was a diamond in the rough.  To say it was a mortifying experience for him and me is an understatement.

I would have two more serious boyfriends after that, one of which became my forever boyfriend.  I'd date a lot in my 20s, but I'd always be especially careful of those I considered "boyfriends," a title I knew would invite my mom into the picture and give her ample opportunities to get a little too involved.

As an adult looking back now, I am quite sure the apple does not fall far from the tree, and I will have no hesitation to do the same exact thing to my daughter and sons.  I just hope they allow me to do the same, because most of my other friends started dating at 12 or 13, behind their parents' backs, and never let their parents know who they were in a relationship with.  For some peculiar reason, I shared with my mom.  I didn't share every single detail of our relationship, but I felt it was important that she knew I had a boyfriend, and after waiting so long to have a boyfriend, I didn't want to hide it.

I try to think of what my mom did that made me so open with her.  Here is what I came up with.

1) She constantly told me about how dumb she was when she smoked as a teenager, and how mad my grandma popo was when she found out.  It made me feel I wasn't alone and assured me that my mom had been through the same stuff.  When I became  faced with those same life changing decisions of whether or not to take a sip of alcohol before I was 21, or whether or not to take a puff of a cigarette when everyone was saying how cool it was and you secretly wanted to hold on just because, I thought of my mom and who wants to think of their mom during those situations?!  I did... and I'd think twice and try to learn from her mistakes that she reminded me of SO OFTEN.

2) She drove us everywhere, she volunteered to be chauffeur whenever possible, and eavesdropped on every little thing we said.  We said a lot of stupid things in the car.  She knew very well who were the nice girls and who were the ones to be a little more wary of.  She knew who was dating who, and was just as invested in the teen gossip as I was.  But she never asked questions while driving or acted like she was listening.  She feigned indifference in front of my friends, and once they were gone, she was invested and interested and I didn't ever feel threatened and for some reason, wanted to share with her things about my friends.

3) Despite always yelling at me for doing things that might be du lian or loose face (loosely translated in English), known as inappropriate things a good Chinese girl does not do (like run through your sophomore dance class routine with your friends in front of the school while waiting to be picked up... seriously?) that are for some strange reason embarrassing to conservative traditional Chinese folk, and belittling my better judgment when detailing why receiving a "C" in PE is a disgrace (because it's confusing when your parents don't value exercise or sports or playing outside but suddenly a C in PE is all my fault) or giving me some serious body issues with her blunt "you look fat" comments, yes, despite ALL of that, my mom wavers between the horrendous critical difficult mom and the loving supportive, will always be on your side and continue to encourage you in a Chinese way.  That Chinese way might not always be nurturing or loving in a big embrace you kind of way, but it's more of a silent cheerleader on the side saying, "Duh, you can do this so you better!"  When self esteem was lacking and teenage insecurities inspired doubt, my mom would always tell me to do my best, and that I could do it.  When I failed the CPA for the sixth or seventh time and wanted to give up, she told me I would eventually get it and reminded me that not everyone passed right away.  She was full of motivational reminders that I might not be the smartest, but I also wasn't the dumbest.  That realistic approach helped me face a lot of disappointments in life and find the ability to keep on trucking on.

Friday, November 24, 2017

The Mall Incident

After morning drop off with my oldest on Friday morning, I thought I'd take the littles out for a bit and return something I got (on a whim) at Nordstrom from the week before.  We don't normally do morning drop off, but our carpool buddies are out of town, so it was all four of the kids loaded into the car before 9 AM.  We were also a bit late because we had a dentist appointment in the morning, so by the time I came home to relieve Grandma of babysitting duties, and made it over to the school, it was about 9:30 AM.

When we arrived at the mall, it was quite empty (though two ladies in work out clothes circling the mall while power walking made me chuckle, that'll be me in a few years).  We made our way towards the area heavy with coin operated machines, the kinds that used to stand in front of supermarkets and you'd beg your parents for just one ride please.  My mom texted me right around then with an image of a shirt she wanted to mail to me.  I responded "sure!" and then sent her a photo of my view, which was Bubba running towards the coin operated machinery area, and me pushing the littles in the stroller.  For a brief second while the photo sat in my text area ready to be sent, I hesitated to send it because she'd probably be upset about how far Bubba was and out of my reach.  I was careless though, and went ahead and sent it.  What was I thinking?  I would soon regret it and never think twice about my own initial hesitations.  I do know my mom the most and can predict a lot of her responses. ....

Mom: "Is that Barba standing far away?" (Side note: I'm not sure why, but she can't seem to figure out that it's Bubba.  She always calls him Barba in text.)

My response: Yup, going to the coin operated playground.

Mom: You be careful.  When some one catch him you don't have time and energy to protect your kids.

Me: Send another photos showing cute kids on the playground, thinking well Bubba is right by me now, waiting hopefully for a positive affirmation response. 

Mom: Just be careful, be careful & be careful please. Some people in the mall try to catch the kids in your group.  Once you lost your kid in the mall, you never expect to see them again.

Me: What kind of people?  Some people also might break into my house

Mom: That chance is less than in the mall. You need to keep your kids in a safety circumstance being a mother.  Once that happen, your husband and in laws will never forget you forever. Forgive you.

Ugh.  Why did I send her that photo?!  One small decision has spiraled into a whirlwind of infuriating text responses, all well intentioned but so difficult to stomach all the while.  I decided I better hang up the phone before things got dicey, so I politely said I had to go, and hoped the text chain would end.  Of course, text is the best way for a sometimes overbearing mother's tirade of judgment. 

Mom's Text: Being a mother, you need to sacrifice something.  You are not single girl any more.  Shopping is not essential in your life.You can go shopping with your husband, in law or Jane.  Not by yourself with 3 kids please my deal daughter.  You should appreciate your current happy life.  DO NOT GIVE YOURSELF any risky chance.  Especially your kids are too much cute.  Please protect them carefully.  Shopping mall is different from church, library.  There are so many weird people in the mall.

I'm a pretty paranoid person already.  I couldn't drink blue Gatarode for weeks after seeing a story on Dateline about some girl getting poisoned by her husband with anti-freeze disguised as Gatorade, especially not if offered by my husband.

I've never wondered why I'm paranoid.  Why I walked all throughout my college campus clutching onto my rape whistle and pepper spray like it was my oxygen.  Why a simple Dateline story would drive me to question my own husband.  Why I question when random coincidences occur with strangers around me in unfamiliar places, yes I observe it and notice it all too much.  Why I've already had conversations with my kids about identity theft and role playing what to do if approached by a stranger.  Well, now I know why.    

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Why I Wanted Five Kids

For as long as I can remember, I've always fixated my future family as five kids.  Five seemed like the perfect number, so five was what I settled on early.  In my 20s, while dating in the LA scene (not recommended), a guy I wasn't interested in initially but would eventually date for a bit was with me at a diner waiting for our other friends to arrive.  We saw some cute kids running around and he asked me how many kids I wanted, without hesitation, I blurted out, "five" to which he responded, "me too!"  I was shocked and that may have been part of why I eventually went out with him.  Most people think five kids is a lot, especially those who do not come from Mormon or Catholic families.  But five kids just felt like a good number to me.  

When I think back to my upbringing, I can put my finger on exactly how this came to be.  For three years, my cousins three and six years my senior, came to live with us.  They had lived with their mom in the US for three years prior, but their mom eventually went back to be with my uncle in Taiwan while the kids were sent to live with us.  This might sound odd, but it's actually all quite normal with immigrant families.  I remember when my brother was born, we also had a unique situation.  My parents both worked at the time, and we certainly could not afford a nanny or for my mom to stay home with us. So the solution my parents came to have was shuttling my brother off to my aunt's (my mom's sister) in-laws every Sunday night where he stayed intel we picked him up every Friday night. It wasn't an arrangement that lasted very long, maybe a few months, but as a mom now, I can't imagine having to part with my newborn for so long during the week, but there was no other way they could have done it, so that was what we did.  

Growing up I was an only child for six years of my life.  Late into my sixth year of life, my parents would bring home a baby.  It would be a weird encounter, one I wasn't prepared for (maybe they told me beforehand, but I didn't notice my mom's growing stomach and was completely oblivious to the fact), and one I rejected entirely in the beginning.  Sure I had begged them for a sibling, but after years of rejection, I had come to terms with my only child status, and had begun to become quite fond of it.  I liked being the center of attention, I liked coming up with imaginative games of my own, and I even began talking to myself and having a ball.  Loneliness became the norm and eventually morphed into creative exploration with a party of one.  When my brother joined the family, it was so big of an age gap that I couldn't handle it.  Two years with a little brother, and having not quite adjusted, our cousins came to live with us, and all of a sudden, we were a big family with four kids, and it was SO. MUCH. FUN. 

My mom had quit her job to be a stay at home mom a year earlier after learning I was being bullied by the other kids at the after school Chinese program, a sacrifice I have always been so grateful for. With my cousins coming to live with us, it was became more evident that having a stay at home mom was necessary.  I remember my mom making elaborate snacks for us when we came home everyday.  I remember her exploring American foods like copy cat Subway sandwiches, hamburgers, even baked seafood chowder pasta.  I remember homemade Chinese soups from scratch and cantaloupe tapioca and shaved ice during the summers.  I remember going along with my mom to pick up my oldest cousin from high school, my second oldest cousin from junior high, and then us being shuttled around for tutoring, dance classes, and home for piano lessons.  I remember walking to the library with my cousins because they were old and mature.  I remember waiting for it to be 10 AM on the weekends before I was allowed to go wake up my cousins (seriously, why did they sleep so much? or why did I sleep so little?).  I remember listening to my cousin tell me about boys and kissing her poster of Doogie Howser and learning about New Kids on the Block.  I remember helping my cousin rip his jeans because that's what all the cool kids were doing, yes even with brand new jeans! I remember push down socks, big bangs, and neon colored biker shorts, all fashion ensembles that my way cooler and hip older girl cousin taught me.  I remember listening to 102.7 KIIS FM with them, something that was completely foreign to me before they came.  I remember watching Chinese sitcoms with them on the weekends, along with TGIF, and staying up late to watch Sisters with my cousin every Friday night.  I remember how much fun it was to have a house full of people.  And that's why I've always wanted a lot of kids.  

But I think we'll stick with four.  Even numbers are good.  

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Mashed Potatoes

I've been staring at a 10 pound bag of potatoes I bought in anticipation of making mashed potatoes for a church feast for the youth.  I volunteered because I wanted to help, without giving much thought to my lack of experience.  I'm well versed with boxed mashed potatoes, after a few mess-ups in my 20s and a tablespoon of salt instead of a teaspoon, but having just received a potato masher from my in-laws last Christmas (I think they were trying to imply something...), it seemed like now was the time. 

I'm still intimidated, and feel almost a little silly admitting that my entire life's experience with mashed potatoes has consisted of box or microwaveable pouches or the drive-thru at KFC (true story, our family had a traditional "American" Thanksgiving one year completed by our lovely friend, the Colonel (and his minions).

The box and pouches aren't bad, nothing some fresh garlic, salt, and pepper, and tons of butter can't remedy.  But the idea of dipping my toes into the American traditions of homemade mashed potatoes also excite me a bit.  True, I still am determined to cook Chinese sticky sausage rice despite the expensive price of sticky rice and sausage in the local Salt Lake Chinese supermarkets, but that is the Thanksgiving I'm accustomed to.  That was our "stuffing" that paired so nicely with the turkey, the only American dish our dinner extravaganza would include, so it's been a welcome tradition that I've cooked, if only for myself.

Thanksgiving is one of those holidays that remind me of the disconnect my Chinese immigrant child experience had, probably the only more patriotic holiday would be Fourth of July itself.  I remember coming home with my meticulously glued tissue paper stuffed paper turkey, only to have my mom reject it.  I remember learning about the pilgrims and the Indians, but thinking it was just a fairytale, because nobody had cranberry sauce with their turkey... right?  Corn?  Pumpkin pie?  Those were only things I had seen on television, and not representative of the celebration we had at home.  We had sticky sausage rice instead of stuffing, Chinese sponge cake with fruit and heavy whipping cream instead of pumpkin pie or any sort of cake with frosting, we had stir fried greens instead of corn or mashed potatoes, and mushrooms and abalone instead of sweet potatoes.  I remember how in awe I was that my best friend made pumpkin pie from scratch every year, especially since she was Korean American.  Her mom also was known for the best lasagna ever, something we only knew existed in the frozen section of Costco, and a dish my mom requested a recipe for, only to make it with normal noodles that she thought would eventually flatten out (we now know that you buy the flat sheets that make lasagna layers... ).

I find it exciting to shop for Thanksgiving decor.  I find joy in cornucopias and turkeys, symbols of a holiday I only knew through commercials and American sitcoms.  I can't wait to devour myself with an assortment of pies, potatoes, that disgusting dish of random bread crumbs (stuffing), and enjoy Thanksgiving with my family.  I will say the best part about never taking Thanksgiving seriously within our Chinese family growing up was the celebrations I got to partake of in my 20s.  I spent Thanksgiving with so many friends who were unable to return home for the special holiday, experienced numerous box mashed potatoes, turduckens, and sad attempts to recreate those traditional dishes my friends all missed by not going home.  Little did they know that their shortcomings were my gains, and first time experiences having an "American" Thanksgiving.

Well, I guess I better start on those mashed potatoes.  Practice for the real deal?

Monday, November 13, 2017

Nothing Comes For Free

My mom is really generous, she has given us a van and a lexus, and for that we are eternally grateful for.  But let me be the first to tell you, nothing in life comes for free.

"Don't forget, I gave you two cars,"  is something I hear often.  I haven't forgotten, because you won't let me!

Today's conversation went like this.
Me: I have to take the car to the dealership.  Your Lexus is broken.

In retrospect, I should not have said "your Lexus" because it is now ours.  I just fed the monster.

Mom: What do you mean broken?  It was in perfect condition when I gave it to you.  That Andy, he can't handle anything nice.  What is he doing to the car?  Why is it broken? He doesn't know how to take care of nice things.

I will admit, I lost it at this point.  I may have raised my voice and said, "how are we supposed to take care of a car other than servicing it and driving it?! We're not crazy drivers, what are you TALKING ABOUT?" and then she said, "I don't have time to talk about this" and hung up on me.

Seriously?  Cuz cars don't break?  Cuz cars don't depreciate?  Cuz there's not wear and tear on a car you gave us after driving it for five years?!  And this is the crap I have to deal with every day... and my only outlet is here and a text to my husband, because this is my mother and I have to just persevere and move forward with faith and a smile on my face.

Nothing comes for free.  \Even stuff from your parents... because how many times have I yelled at my kids for not taking care of something that I gave to them?  But a car?  Come on... that's got to be different.  Mothers are hard.  I hope I can remember this lesson so that I don't respond the same way when I give my kids something that eventually breaks or has a problem.

I will admit, I thought something similar when my brother told me the macbook I gave him (after using it for four years) broke, well just the camera to be specific.  I guess I'm not that much different than my own mother, but I'm going to try to be... because change is possible, and recognizing those little quirks you have that might resemble your moms is the first place to start.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Don't Smile So Big

For as long as I can remember, I've had a love hate relationship with smiling.  I was a thumb sucker until the sixth grade, a few months into having braces, so for most of my life, there was an obvious overbite in my smile.  My mom reminded me of this fact often when she told me to smile with my mouth closed.  Smile less.  Keep those gums hidden.

When we were kids, the dessert slices of oranges at Chinese restaurants were used to stick into our mouth to make alternative "orange slice smiles."  It was hilarious because the slices fit perfectly, wedged into our mouth, the orange peel took the place of our teeth and gums!  My cousins and I would always shove orange slices into our entire mouth as our parents yelled as us to stop, mainly because our mouth might permanently become large.  To this day, my mom will remind me that had I been a more obedient Chinese daughter and avoided stuffing oranges into my mouth, I'd likely have a smaller and more delightful smile.

In the second grade... I kept my mouth closed for the school photos, resulting in a weird asian Wednesday Adams death stare.  The pigtails and the collar didn't help either.  Where were my big bangs and big bows?  I hate that photo so much.  I'm the awkward asian girl not smiling because her mom told her not to.  When I came home with this photo, she clarified that she meant I should just smile with my mouth closed, not close my mouth and not smile.  It's confusing... I know. 

The relationship with smiling became more complicated once I got braces.  Braces involve miniature metal boxes glued onto your teeth then connected through a wire.  Besides the constant sores and food stuck between your teeth, there was also the added space that now made it harder for your mouth to sit comfortably over the metal bulge.  My pre-existing overbite combined with the brace face made for a big mouth.  I was reminded of this constantly from my mom, who told me to laugh a little lighter, smile a little smaller, and basically, hide that huge brace face from the rest of the world for fear of scaring them off.

As a an impressionable 11 year old, it was hard to be laughing one moment and then hear my mom yelling to tone it down and close that big mouth of braces.  I felt like she was embarrassed for me. She seemed to cringe when I opened my mouth too large.  My gums were too big.  My smile was too gross.  My laugh too much.   

I felt isolated.  Not only was the pain of each monthly tightening so physically tormenting, but the random reminders that beauty was pain flew in through periodic canker sores created by the wire ends that were not properly cut off by the orthodontist.  No scars were ever left, in fact I don't think there are any remnants of braces leftover in my mouth today, but the painful memories of bloody canker sores that resided in the insides of my cheeks made my mouth a temporarily permanent living hell.  The head gear, though only required at night, was even worse.  The metal device confined me to a painful existence of expediting that overbite by pulling my teeth in towards me, as hard and as tight as possible.  It was so incredible painful, that most nights I'd go to sleep with it on only to then slip it off in the middle of the night.  At monthly appointments, I'd perfect the art of lying when my orthodontist asked if I was using it correctly.  I'd respond with an innocent and obedient nod and a harmless assertion that I indeed was, sometimes I'd even ask questions about if I was doing it correctly to over emphasize that I was indeed using it.  Often, I'd hear affirmations such as, "looks like that head gear is working!" - accolades I'd snicker but gracefully collect, month after month, until one day, the orthodontist said I could stop wearing my head gear.  What a sucker. I remember thinking about my orthodontist, the man I'd grow to hate for everything he represented on a monthly basis (seriously, does anyone like their orthodontist or dentist?...)  

On top of the pain... there was the recommendation to stop smiling.  Combined, it was overbearingly awful. 

I was fairly confident that my moms reminders to stop smiling meant I was ugly.  What else could it mean?  Well technically I was beautiful, just not when I smiled so big or so much.  

In middle school, still brace faced, and still insecure about my smile, I came home with a school picture of myself with a dark brown lipstick (that was cool then) and..... *gasp... a smile.  My hair was down and to the side, and I thought it was a great photo.  I showed the picture to my mom proudly, and she told me, as a matter of factly, "You should have smiled less." 

I looked at the photo over and over.  I analyzed my smile.  I thought about her words.  Slowly, I began to agree with her.  What was wrong with my goofy clown smile?!  Why did I smile so big? 

I started to obsess in front of a mirror.  I'd smile, look at my smile with content approval, and then, I'd smile, take the mirror away, go back in front of the mirror, and see if the smile stayed.  Once I was advanced at this, I'd try smiling without a mirror first, then get a mirror in front of me and see what the smile looked like.  I practiced over and over, trying to memorize the muscles used to smile when it looked okay, and when it looked too big.  I had to make sure I had a good smile.  I found that the less I smiled, but just sort of opened my mouth, the better it seemed to look.  

When retakes were offered, I immediately signed up.  This time, I would utilize the practice I had painfully subjected myself to for hours.  

The result was a weird open mouth non-smile picture.  

Defeated, I hid all the photos ordered and didn't pass any of them out.  When the yearbook came out at the end of the year, they had used the original wide mouth smile and embarrassed, I ripped out the picture of me out.  I was mortified by my own bad photo and sorely disappointed that my smiling practice hadn't worked.

When my mom asked to see my yearbook, and saw a photo ripped out, she flipped.  She did not teach me to be insecure and hate myself (or did she?)  In a fit of rage, she ripped my entire yearbook, screaming that if I couldn't handle one bad photo of myself, what would the rest of my life be like?  And if I decided I could rip out my own photo, then I didn't deserve a yearbook at all.  I sometimes wonder if she enjoyed shredding my yearbook with her bare hands.  It sure seemed like it at the time.  I was stunned... and felt like I had brought this torment upon myself.  

I did not get spanked.  I did not get grounded.  I just did not have a yearbook commemorating the year.  

When seventh grade finished, I was sure of one thing... not to smile too big.  

And then drill team try outs for captain began.  I absolutely LOVED the drill team.  I was a drilling machine, and to this day, I can still do the try-out routine perfectly, as well as my captain tryout routine.  My friends who had been in local drill team competitions in neighboring cities, helped me with my tryout routine, and since they had been local champions two years in a row, the drills they helped me perfect were quite spectacular, unlike anything our own team had seen before.  

But when tryouts came around, I did not smile.  I launched the static smile I had been working on to fulfill my mother's requests of not smiling too big.  My braces did not want to shine, they wanted to be peeked at slightly, so I made sure my smile was small but present.  Throughout the tryouts, the former captains kept shooting back at me these weird and almost uncomfortable, but surprisingly large smiles, as if to convey I should mirror them back.  I refused.  I knew a large smile would be too much, my mother had made this minor detail quite clear to me over the past few years. And frankly, I wasn't brave enough to defy my mother again... I'd seen the consequences of self hating my own photo, this was the only way to redeem myself.   

Despite having one of the best tryout routines, I did not make captain.  I was one of six line leaders, and I was frankly, a bit surprised.  Everyone knew that the best routines made captain, and I was one of the best drill team members with the best routine.  While everyone else did repeated iterations of the existing parade routine, I had amazing new moves (copied from my champion drill friends, but nobody knew that...) and I hadn't made a single error.  I had even seen some of the routines the other girls had prepared, and none of them were anywhere close to the technical difficulty of my drill routine.  

Something clicked inside me that day.  I was mad, sad... and then I was rejuvenated with a newfound understanding and power in the form of knowing.  I suddenly understood that my mom was not always right, and that she had in fact, unintentionally sabotaged my try outs.  All of a sudden, the awkward smiles the leaders watching my try out kept shooting at me, made perfect sense.  Of course they would want someone confident with both drill team moves AND a smile!  What was I thinking?!  From that day forth, I have smiled as big and loud and as proud as ever.  And I have never stopped.  

I smiled my way to multiple dance teams, ones that I may not have technically be qualified for, but heck if I wasn't going to try.  If I didn't make a team, it wasn't going to be because I didn't smile, it was going to be because I messed up a turn or a leap or didn't have a great routine. And I kept on smiling, even when my mom whispered it may have been a little too much.  No Mom!  You do NOT get to dictate my smiles anymore!!!

Sadly, I did not learn this lesson in time for my eighth grade photos.  Everytime I saw my yearbook photo, I was reminded of the stoic face I had throughout my entire tryout routine.  Ugh.

On the day of my wedding, if you listened closely to the sounds of frantic excitement and happiness, you could hear my mom reminding me not to smile too big.  "Zuǐbā bu yào zhāng nàme dà! (don't make your mouth so big!) When she saw some of the professional photos from the wedding afterward, she made some comments about this photo my mouth was too big, and that photo - oh, what a big mouth you have.

Ignore and smile, bigger if possible, sometimes to irritate her even more.

Sure, it took me 13 years, but that epiphany of mother not always being right, has never left me. Knowing that has helped me smile larger and prouder than ever before, from every moment after that, regardless of what my mom might say.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Mom's Response

NOTE: this post began two years ago.....

Two Years Ago:  
Ugh, I hate that I'm 33 and I still care what my mom thinks.  I'm ticked off because I got my bangs cut and I knew my mom wouldn't approve, but I just needed a change.  As predicted, my dad first told me, "your mom's not going to be happy about that haircut."  I knew it.  I still was hopeful.  I finally talked to her and this was her response.

"Is that hair real?"

"Why would you go and cut your beautiful hair to look like that?  Well, don't worry, it'll grow out soon enough."

And that is why I have all these weird insecurity issues.

I got my bangs cut again a year later because I really liked they way they looked and it covered my aging forehead.  "Don't FaceTime me with that hair, I can't stand it." she tells me.

November 2017: 
And now, as we inch towards the end of Fall, I want to cut my bangs again, and I am 35 now, and I am still nervous about what she will say... about how I should limit the amount of FaceTime during the time I sport these bangs.  Why?  Why is it that a grown, educated, experienced, and smart Asian woman like myself cannot bring herself to go get her bangs cut because of the impending doom and judgment my mom would exhibit towards me?  Why?!

the bangs my mom disapproves of.  "looks like China girl"