Her whole life, Putsata Reang (Put, for short) was accustomed to exceeding her parents expectations. She excelled in her career, paid for her parents to go on trips together and maintained a tight connection to her siblings and community.
Yet a fundamental part of Put – her identity as bisexual – was enough to crack the foundations of their relationship. When Put’s mother did not attend her wedding to the woman of her dreams, she feared she would never close the distance between them.
Today, Put shares an update on her relationship with her Ma — and reveals what’s given her the strength to hold on all these years. Putsata tells a longer version of this story in her memoir, “Ma and Me.”
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
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in love, and I love you more than the from the new york times. I'm Anna Martin. This is modern love in this week's essay. An immigrant daughter exceeds almost all expectations, but in this one big way, she's a disappointment to the person she most wants to impress her mom. The essay is written and read by puts out a rank. This past december, my mother called me in seattle from her rural oregon home
We haven't talked to me in months. Our talk was sprinkled with the cry word gone, it means darling. She had stopped using that word with me once before. At the end of our call, she summoned me home and not tightened. In my gut come alone. She ed, I'm gay or a version of it. I came out mother and my twenties as gay, because there is no word in our common language. Bisexual, and if there is, I don't know it, back. Then I was living and working in the bay area she flew in for the weekend sure she knew what gay men. So I drove her to the castro sheep, the chubby cheek to the window of my honda civic and pointed at two men.
In leather chaps holding hands their bare behind. hanging out that a gay she asked yes mam, stop pointing guess. That's the gay on the way back to my our men, she told me she loved me. I thought it meant She understood this essential thing about me that one. I may walk down the street holding hands with the women minus the nudity and it would be totally normal I misunderstood the moment completely twenty years later, I left a career in international media to move to seattle to be with my partner, a woman one.
Other found out she let loose verbal squall, you're, crazy, you're, being disrespectful dishonourable, disloyal you're, not normal. What kind of mother are you I hissed and we each retreated into our own hurts, but when she called last december and asked me to visit, I agree to make the forever drive a week later. My parents were in the kitchen eating rice and salted fish. When I arrived, my mother wedged two scoops of steaming jasmine rice into a bowl and nudged it toward me. Then she started talking bits and pieces of news as an hour stretched into two. We moved into the family room
where my mother eased into her rocking chair, clapping her arms around my waist. What do you want for christmas? She asked money, clothes. I want you to be happy for me. I said I was the happiest I had ever been. I was finally with apart or who loved me for who I was who laughed with me until we were stumbling around the house drunk on I joy my mother started sobbing her head pressed into my belly. I am not happy she blurted out. Mom. Wants you to get married, be normal like your brother and sisters, and find a good man to marry before my empire die. I froze and flipped the switch in my heart to closed. I had always been so proud of.
mother, using adjectives like courageous and resilient whenever I spoke of her she raised my siblings and me to be solid citizens ground in morals and mission she taught us how to grow. Gardens stack, would pickle plums patch. Anything with her rules and be proud of who we were refugees who had come to america with almost nothing forty years ago as genocide gripped cambodia, my family, lead on a navy vessel. It was built for crew of thirty, but there were some three hundred people crammed on board for three weeks: the ship plied the orders of the gulf of thailand turned away by countries unwilling to grant asylum halfway into the journey, a baby with the swollen head in shrivelled legs
whence sallow inside my mother stood on the baby, hadn't cried or moved in days. The captain of the ship eventually came to talk to her. Your baby is dead. He said throw it in the water we're buddhist. My mother pleaded please Let me bury my baby in the earth. The captain reelin ted, allowing my mother to cradle her listless baby for another week or so that baby was me. I had heard this story dozens of times before it occurred to me to ask her. Did you think I was dead
hope she said just a little hope that you were still alive. I had survived on my mother's hope on the dreams she breathed into me and on the drops of water she put on my unmoving lips. I had spent my life with this story, as my albatross try, my best to repay her by being a good daughter and not disrupting the bond between us over the years, my mother bragged, to her friends about how I had bought my own home said her and my father on vacations and travel The globe as a journalist since
visiting my mother last december. I stumbled into a newer understanding of her while watching a documentary film set in Cambodia in one seen a young. My bride gets her face drawn up with mascara before her wedding, the camera pans to the brides beaming mother, who announces how happy she is that her daughter is for killing her duty duty, as I consider that word. finally understood the depths of my mother's disappointment for her? It was tied up in an ancient pain when her father, try to force her into an arranged marriage. She, and away when she returned he beat her with a sigh. Rod for shaming the family My mother, my being gay, was worse
then running away. It meant not fulfilling my ultimate duty as a daughter. To marry a man. It also robbed her of her birthright and blessing me on my wedding day in symbolically clipping a lock of my hair and tie I read string around my wrist for an auspicious new feature were left waged inside to hide a space. My in me if I am to be a good cambodian daughter. I must sacrifice an essential part of who I am if I am true to myself, I caused much to lose a fundamental part of who she is as a cambodian mother I see no middle ground. No safe harbour for us to come ashore together, but I know who I am
and how I am like her. I know that impulse of hope in mind is alive and me beating beneath my ribs, something she brings then to my soul on away where ships long ago? It's a hope that she will one day come to a better understanding of me I hope that we will survive this journey to there's always hope Even if it's just a little in the six years since puts out, I wrote this s, aim per relationship with her mom has changed. She tells us how, after the break, this episode is supported by sacks dot com. A quick, ten second browser sacks dot com. Is your guide to
the best fall fashion, you'll find curated shops that make it easy to find effortlessly stylish pieces for work and for happy hour after sacks outcome also has custom ops, with personalized recommendations and top turning picks up dated daily sacks digital stew lists are even able to give you free, styling advice. They can help you put together. Signature, look that actually feels like you, plus free shipping free returns every day at sacks dot com. It came across his article in the new york times about grandma's road tripping all over china. I just wanted to know more. I wondered still stand more about infrastructure vaccine rollout out obscure topic like a dead magicians, collectibles ignites? In me, this feeling where I can go
read more the times always zooms in and connects me to people around the world find out how the new york times can fit into your life at n Y times, dot com, slash life. puts out a ring, pillow hyaena, so my pretty You're tells me that you have a nickname. Yes, I go by put by put, I feel, like I've only ever heard. My name put sata when my mom is super mad at me, and I've done something to catch her iron slip up. So you actually didn't like when I said hello puts out. You know it's. Ok. I recognise and accept that my full name put sounds very very nice. Me put you will This essay in twenty
sixteen- and I am sure a lot has happened since our union partner stole together. Yes, we got married July fifteen, twenty seven team wow and what's your partners name she's April in your essay It's so clear that marriage is such a big deal to your mom. Did you by your mom. To your end, April's wedding. We did. We send them an invitation, as we did A hundred and fifty other guests and for a long time. We waited and watched the mail, and I was especially nervous for weeks when we weren't seeing their return invite and in after a while, you start to give up hope and the day of the wedding. It was truly bitter sweet because I guess I continue to hold onto a little bit of hope up until the moment
my wife and I were standing before our guests and glanced off to the side and saw an empty space where my parents should have been and worked so that was that was that was pretty tough yeah. tell me a little bit more about what was going through your head at that moment, what going through my mind, was. absolute joy and happiness, because if I looked back, all of the things I have done in my life? My proudest moment was fine. love and getting married. And, of course you have this. When in your life, these absolutely pivotal moments? You want your parents to see that with such are break that mine chose not to be there to see that what role did April's parent
play in this day because your own parents, weren't there April's father, walked her down. The aisle, what's important to know about that moment is that he had been diagnosed with a bone marrow disease prior to us getting married, and all of us didn't think that he was actually going to be there for the wedding and he was a well and I think about that- and I just think of the purity of love- and I understood that the first time I met my father in law- why April loved Father so much and I loved him too,. After the wedding. Did you talk to your parents Did you talk to your mom? No, I didn't. My walls were up sick and high. I was so her
I actually in that moment I was prepared to never see my parents again, because I was so hurt. curious. If there was a moment where you felt those walls breaking down well, the next opening between us was in the fall of twenty nineteen. My father laws bone marrow disease devolved in two leukemia. We knew the coming end. We could see it, and so it was in january that he wanted to have a party he said to April. What's the point, if I'm dead, I don't get to hear all these great things. People have to say about me. I mean this. Guy is just funny and we came up with an invite list.
Did you invite your parents? So that was the thing? Is they said? What do you want them they're? So here's something that I told April and only her in private. I said you know April. I can forgive my mother for not coming to our wedding, but if your father, eyes before my parents ever get to meet him. I will not forgive that I can't so she emailed my mom, told my mom about this party, and I was convinced that they weren't going to what because the restaurant was feeling fast. At one point, there was a commotion and a four of the restaurant. What's going on And suddenly I saw my father a b line to the door, restaurant and followed by his wife, my mother, in law. And the next thing I knew I saw me
mother how giving my father o. Gosh. I I slipped back behind the bar, the restaurant and just stopped. There must have been so beautiful and so surprising for you. How did that make you feel. I can't tell you like the emotions. A lot of different emotions, clay around my art, but what I can tell you is one of those emotions was relief like, oh, my god, you know it's like a cheese leave it. my mom to just slip in under the wire, not knowing that I was about to not forgive her she's just slipped in right, under the wire here. They all embraced my mother in law and father in law.
mother and my father and everybody who was in that room was just in tears. Everybody understood the bigness at that moment, My father in law died a month later and was the one that I contacted its text at her three words. He is gone. She replied with three words in kind, not sorry cold, and that's when I knew we were gonna, be ok, my mom, and I tell me what that sorry represents to you oh gosh, and that sorry was everything. Sorry is an open door for me. It meant we can begin a new relationship. The old. one between my mother and an eye is gone. So clear,
your mom, has undergone their shift. Where do you like your mom has shifted to. Where is she now so I truly believe she has shifted to a place of openness. I don't No if she will ever fully embrace having a gay daughter but I'll take acceptance. I dont need to be embraced for being gay asano for acceptance and goodwill. Thank you so much for talking to me today, o day you. Well, I don't think I've tried to mention any and look well, I'm grateful. Thank you so much for your time. Thank you The
coming up next week I love love Precision with Amy pitman Aimee had a miscarriage then she had another child. We had a beautiful baby boy, but he doesn't replace the baby. That's laws, so I'm a mom to babies, one I got to hold and one I never got to that's next week and modern love the Modern love is produced by julia bioterrorism, Christina Josiah, illicit dudley and HANS buteux, its edited by Sarah saracens. This episode was mixed by day.
power. The modern love tee music is by Dan Powell original music. In this episode by Dan Powell. Digital production by my future blarney nl, globally, an especial thanks to anna annie and now globally, an especial thanks to Anna diamond at atom. The modern love column is edited by Daniel merely is the editor of modern love projects anna Martin thanks for listening.
Transcript generated on 2022-10-28.