“어, 여보세요. Hello.
“어머니, 안녕하십나까?” Mother, how are you?
Mother and I spoke in Korean for a few minutes. I told her Good Man was sleeping, I told her I was getting ready for school. I promised I’d tell him she called. Suddenly, Mother said, “Amanda! Obama! Obama won!”
I was shocked by how thrilled she sounded! I replied, “Oh, Mother, I am so excited! Last night we watched TV, and we were so happy!”
“Yes,” she said, “Me, too!”
Last night, while we were eating dinner, I heard Good Man’s phone ring. I ran to get it, and noticed that the area code was 822. I answered the phone in Korean, “여보세요?”
“여보세요? 아만다!” Hello, Amanda!
“네, 어머니, 안녕하십니까?” Yes, Mother, how are you?
“예, 아이, 아만다! Good evening!”
I laughed and said, “앗! 영어 잘 했어요!” Oh! You spoke English so well!”
She laughed a bit, and after a little more chatting, I handed her over to Good Man.
While Good Man was talking to her, I thought. One thing that is difficult about living here is that I don’t get to know my future in-laws more. I really like Good Man’s family. His parents are very nice, and his sister is wonderful. I wish we were able to get to know each other more, in person.
Before we met, I harbored some anger toward Mother. She refused to meet me for a long time because I wasn’t Korean. I didn’t want to like her because I felt unfairly judged.
Then, a few days (or weeks?) before we met, Good man mentioned that his mother was worried that she wouldn’t be able to communicate with me.
My heart completely softened. It wasn’t that she didn’t want to get to know me. It was that she did. (Or maybe she just wanted to be able to order me around like a good Korean daughter-in-law. ㅋㅋ)
In less than a year his mother has agreed to meet me, multiple times. She’s given me gifts from the heart. She’s suggested that we live together (!). And she’s completely behind our engagement. She even practices a few English phrases for me, which is very sweet.
All of my coworkers in Korea warned me to not marry a Korean. They warned me about the mother-in-laws, about how evil they are.
I think I lucked out.
I don’t think Mother expects me to be a Korean daughter-in-law. She’s never told me that she wants me to cook for her. She’s never told me she expects me to do things for the holidays. She knows we won’t live with her. She doesn’t expect me to do everything around the house, and she thinks it’s great that Good Man cleans! She doesn’t expect me to let Good Man do all the talking for us. She does expect us to give them some money when they’re old. Good Man told her that if we did that, it was going to be an equal opportunity thing for my parents (all three of them!) and she thought that was fine.
If I were Korean, I could not have sassed back to her or joked with her like that. But for some reason… she loved it! She said she likes that part of my personality. Huh?
At the same time, I act Korean enough to make her happy. She can talk to me (I understand about 80% of what she’s saying). I post photos on my Cyworld page specifically because I know Sister will show them to her. She likes it. She knows I cook for Good Man, and she loves it when I make Korean food.
Sometimes I read foreigners married to Koreans say that you should never act Korean to your in-laws or they’ll take advantage of you. I don’t think that’s true. I lived in Korea for two years. I did take on some Korean aspects to my behavior or personality. I think that’s a sign of respect! Of growth! I think people who live abroad but refuse to take on some aspects of the culture come across as jerks, frankly.
I think I lucked out with future mother-in-law. I hope my gut is right about this…