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A Letter to My Child

Updated: Dec 26, 2022

May 24, 2021

Los Angeles, California

Dear Vivian,

I am truly happy and grateful that today you have reached your educational goals! Ten years ago, this would not be happening in my wildest dreams, but today, it’s a reality. Indeed, miracles do happen every day. I used to worry sick for you and your future, but now I know that your future is shining bright because of all your hard work. You have come a long way, my child! God dealt you with a tough card, yet with your resilient personality, you have turned every obstacle into stepping stones to your success. I can’t wait to see you using your knowledge to help many families in the future. I’m grateful for you who taught me patience, understanding, and love. I wish you a lifetime of happiness and success. Congratulations, Vivian!

I still remember vividly the first day you went to kindergarten. I brought a recorder with me to seize the special moment. When you came into the classroom, you and your classmates surrounded your teacher. Every other kid was cheerful and paid close attention to the teacher, but somehow you seemed like you were from another planet. You didn’t look at her or show any interest. I didn’t know what it was. I just felt it was a little peculiar.

You struggled in school from first grade to high school. Being a young immigrant mother in America, I didn’t know how to better prepare you for school or ask for help. I had heard that children born in this country would not have a hard time learning English when they start school, so I only taught you in Vietnamese. I wanted you to speak Vietnamese fluently in your mother’s tongue first, so that you can grow up bilingual. Little did I know, this concept did not apply to you. In the beginning, you were talkative and fluent in Vietnamese. But once you started school at age four, you had such a hard time making the transition to English. If I knew then what I know today, I would have started you off by speaking to you in both languages. I only applied what I knew when I was in Vietnam. No one had taught me how to read or write at home. I learned it from school, so I thought you would pick up the education the same way. However, you struggled so much. You had challenges in learning and a lack of concentration which made school difficult for you. I wish I had asked for help sooner, so our lives would not be as stressful as it was. Every now and then, your father and I had to threaten you that if you refused to study in school, we would have to take you to a military school. It didn’t work; instead, it only made you more frightened for the unknown future.

There were times I worried about you not being able to pass the High School Exit Exam. Somehow, you surprised me. It was the happiest moment thus far in my life. You finished high school before your 18th birthday and attended three proms, more than the average high schooler.

Your father and I did not have much, but we always managed to provide you shelter, food, and security. However, these were not enough. We did not spend enough time with you or shower you with love. We were too busy working to make ends meet. As for me, I was very stressed from work and taking care of you and your younger brother. In addition, I was lost. I did not find peace within myself. I was still sick but did not know how to seek help. I could not give all my love to you because I did not have it myself. I was experiencing pain, emotional pain, and the psychological turmoil of the past: witnessing a war-torn country, the loss of a loved one, the escape, the hunger, etc. For that reason, I was not there for you emotionally. I am truly sorry for you growing up very much in confusion and loss. I didn’t know how to find you. What I knew best was writing my thoughts down on paper when I was stressed out and asking for prayers when the situations were tough. I asked God to help you, your brother, and me to find peace and harmony within ourselves. Many nights I shed many drops of tears while writing and praying. This outlet had somewhat healed my broken heart and confusing mind. It had helped me to forgive, forget, understand, and most of all, it had allowed me to open up my heart to love again. I also prayed to the Lord to guide you to the right path.

Then my prayers were answered when he blessed you with a beautiful child named Jayden. I could clearly see the changes in you at 180 degrees. You once said your baby Jayden is your biggest inspiration to achieve your education goals. I believe he is an angel in disguise who made us all happier ever since he came into our lives. With such motivation, you continued junior college until the last month of your pregnancy. Being an educated and open-minded person, I never once told you what career path you should choose; instead, I encouraged you to do what you were good at and to follow your heart, then happiness and success will follow.

One day, when you were in your second year of junior college, you told me that you were interested in Social Work. I asked why you wanted to pursue this path. You replied that you had a hard time growing up with immigrant parents. Sometimes you blamed us and became angry at us for not understanding you, but as you got older, you understood that we also had a hard time adjusting to this new culture. Therefore, you wanted to become a counselor/ therapist for the youth, especially for the poor and underprivileged children whose parents are immigrants. Your decision touched my heart deeply! I cried tears of joy and appreciation for your thoughtfulness and compassion for others.

After you gave birth to Jayden, you returned to school to get your Bachelor's Degree in Social Work from California State University Fullerton. You then asked me to support you for your master's degree from the University of Southern California because you found your calling as a counselor/ therapist.

In many ways, these last four years has been very hard for us! Finally, we all made it! The ceremony took place at the Coliseum on May 19th. While driving there, you told me that you received an email that you will start your new job as a therapist on June 2, 2021. That was the best gift you could give to yourself and your son. Your life now will only improve financially and emotionally. Your hard work, lack of sleep from studying late at night, and lack of money will all be rewarded with abundance. I truly am happy for you and your little family.

My dear Vivian, not long from now, you will leave this nest and start your new life. I have mixed feelings about this. Part of me wants you, your son, and your brother to live with me as long as possible. The other part of me wants each of you to grow up and stand on your two feet. I can’t help but treat all of you like little children when we live together, but this is not a good factor for fostering independence. You overcame so much in life and achieved the impossible. Your priority now is to raise your son to reach his highest potential, just as I did for you. I know you will be the best mom anyone could wish to have. As for your new career, I believe that you will be the best therapist any patient wishes to have. You have a good heart and possess deep compassion for others. Because you have come from a difficult background, I believe you have empathy for them and would do your best to help them overcome difficulties, just as much as you wished someone had helped us when we were facing many challenges. My parents taught me early on to help others in need. I have passed down this trait to you, and now your job is to do the same for your offspring.

My Dear Vivian, go out there and share your love and kindness with those who are less fortunate than you. Teach the children how to discern right from wrong. Show them a better path to take and be the light to eradicate darkness. I believe you have the power to change one life at a time. Remember, happiness does not measure by the size of your assets, but it is measured by the joy of your heart. A happy heart is a heart that holds love without limit. As for me, I am now fully retired from the corporate world and mommy duty. I am off to traveling around the globe and sharing beautiful stories. I also hope to touch one life at a time. I am grateful to God for blessing us with everything we have today. I am thankful for having you, your baby Jayden, and your brother Charlie in my life. I love you all always.

Yours truly,

Crystal H. Vo

P.S. Remember, I am just a phone call or a text message away. Keep in touch no matter how far we are away from each other in the future. Much love - Mom.

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