Who Am I? – From Xinran

Xinran, founder of The Mothers’ Bridge of Love, and Author of “The Good Women for China” & “Message from an Unknown Chinese Mother”, is sharing with us her journey of self-discovery experience, by answering the self-reflective question of: “Who am I?”, as part of our latest project

Who AM I? 

I will be 55 in 6 months time; I had been living in this question until the last week of 2012.

Who am I? The more important point for me is who I am to my mother…

I had no room in my memories about my mum when I was a little girl. ‘She is busy and hard-working, she will come to see you when you are getting taller and learning more things as a good girl’, my grandma kept telling me that almost every day…Then I thought I wasn’t good enough for my mum comes to see me…

The guilt of not being a good daughter had been with me all my life because my mum was barely there for my needs, from how to get a girl a pink dress to giving warm hugs in those cold dark nights.

When I was 30, the year I become mother of my Son PanPan, I realised that nothing could stop a mother’s thinking and love of her baby – nine months’ pregnancy isn’t just for a baby to grow in her tummy, but also for a ‘mother-minded’ seed to be planted and grow in her soul.

But, why did my mother never show me her cares and love both in words and daily routine?  I wanted to know who I am in her life, a stranger, a relative, a friend, or if I was a daughter to her as I believed.

Then I have spent more than 20 years researching her generation and interviewed over one hundred women of her age during my career as a journalist and radio presenter inChina. The more I learnt, the deeper the pain I could feel for my mother’s generation, their motherhood had been taken away from them by the political party, and their educated minds became black and white – anyone who cares about family and children could be seen as an evil being! As good women, they must devote their time and love to the political party, country and others!

My mum wanted to be a good woman so much that she couldn’t even have time for her baby daughter!

In fact, I wasn’t the only daughter that had the lonely and missing feeling of their own mother, I had more than dozens of letters every day from my female audience when I ran my radio show ‘The Words on the night breeze’ from 1989 to 1997.  The most of them told me how much they wanted to be a good daughter or a good mother but they couldn’t get it from each other, just like me.

After the 1980’s, Chinese life has been changed, bright and colourful, but it didn’t seem the same to many Chinese mothers like mine, they have been held back by their heavy past, or by their deep worry about their children who cannot understand their times and won’t be able to share the pain from their memories…

I have sent every single one of my books to my mother and have been waiting for her to see that I have tried very hard to understand her times, very keen to share the past with her…and I am looking for her…I am looking for my beloved mum in every chapter of my books!

Being 50 is like a turning point of my life, my past starts living in my present, and will accompany with me to my future. So what about my mother? Has she begun walking into her own memories? Is her daughter there? Who am I to my mum now?

The last week of 2012, I called my mum with my New Year greetings, and then I got the best life gift from her: “I am proud of you as my daughter!”, my mum told me on the phone from thousands of miles away in China!

… After a silence, I said to her, “life can be so beautiful!” 

There are over 150,000 Chinese children who have been adopted by western families across the world, and they are all on a long march to find their own identity, to understand their culture, enjoy the love of their adoptive families – and to understand how much they mean to their Chinese mothers!

I wish my research and writing could be part of a bridge between China and the West, between cultural understandings, between mothers, and between a mother and her never forgotten baby!

Thank YOU, Xiexie!

Xinran