whose happiness?

Sitting side by side in the back of the taxi, we are heading back from Sam Son. I know I don’t have enough money in my purse and already it’s taken several phone calls, undercooked chicken and a sunburn to get us this far. The are exhausted but not asleep. I stare out the window so they won’t have to see my face as I mentally bludgeon myself for putting us, putting them in this position. Here we are in a far-off, foreign country, unable to even manage getting a taxi on certain days. I can’t speak the language. We’re constantly being gawked at. Most of the time we’re stuck on or near the campus where I teach. It’s boring for the kids and I have to wonder if my happiness is worth it.

Back home, my father’s heart is giving him problems. My grandfather is dying. My daughter is losing weight off her already thin frame. She misses friends and cousins. My son wants to see his own friends again. I seem to be the only one who wants to stay and I feel like a terribly selfish mother.

Something has to change. I know we have to go to back to States, but I don’t want to.

I know it’s what I’m supposed to do and in that moment, as the taxi passes deep green fields of rice and transitory bia tuoi shop, my life changes.

The happiness that has filled my body for the first time in my life over these past few months suddenly withdraws and the tears start. I won’t be able to stop them for months.

But I know that being a good mother, and making my children happy, is more important than being a happy woman. We had to go home, to a place that no longer felt like home to me.

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