In the captivating K-drama series “Be Melodramatic,” I found myself immersed in the challenges faced by single mother Hanju. Her episode struck a chord within me, resonating deeply and evoking memories of my own mother’s journey.
During this poignant episode, I was moved to tears as I witnessed Hanju’s relentless dedication to raising her young son as a single parent. The series unflinchingly depicted the hurdles she faced—enduring a culture of workplace misogyny, battling societal prejudices, and navigating the expectations placed upon her as a single mother. I connected with Hanju’s story on a deeply personal level, drawing parallels to my mother’s experiences.
Compelled by this emotional portrayal, I felt the need to reach out to my mother and engage in a heartfelt conversation. I yearned to understand her perspective and gain insight into the sacrifices she made while raising me as a single parent. As I listened to her narrative, a profound and powerful tale unfolded before me.
My mother’s journey began when my father passed away. From that moment, she took on multiple roles in my life—not only as a mother of a 4-year-old son, but also as the CEO of her own business, a provider for her parents and siblings, and a pillar of strength for our family.
As she worked tirelessly day and night, I grappled with feelings of frustration, yearning for a more “traditional” mother figure in my life. I was constantly exposed to societal norms and found myself comparing our family to those with both parents present. It was challenging for me to comprehend the complexities of our situation.
Instead of fulfilling societal expectations of a mother’s role, such as preparing meals or attending school events, my mother focused on providing for our family. She was forced to start her own business after being unfairly dismissed from her previous job due to her pregnancy. In a conservative Korean society, building a career or running a business as a woman presented countless hurdles. My mother encountered discrimination and was often treated differently in professional settings, referred to as “Lady Lee” instead of “President Lee.”
Moreover, she had to confront the stigma surrounding single-mother families. Society, quick to make assumptions, blamed women like her for their circumstances, regardless of the reasons behind their single parenthood. Hurtful comments, such as attributing my father’s premature death to my mother’s supposed “bad feng shui,” were all too common.
Certain occasions, like Children’s Day, served as poignant reminders of our family’s differences. While other families enjoyed outings to amusement parks, my mother and I felt excluded due to the absence of a father figure. We faced whispers of judgment and the discomfort of not fitting into society’s expectations. To spare herself from the additional burden of being a widowed CEO and a single mother, my mother chose not to disclose her marital status in professional settings.
Reflecting on my mother’s journey as a single parent, I struggled to fully comprehend the weight of her responsibilities and the challenges she faced. However, as someone who witnessed her struggles and triumphs, I offered sincere support and validation for her incredible efforts. In a heartfelt phone call, I expressed my admiration and assured her that she deserved all the happiness in the world. Her humble response touched me deeply: “Hardships happen to everyone, but raising you brought me immeasurable joy, and it made it all worthwhile.”
True to the power of exceptional storytelling, “Be Melodramatic” fostered a profound conversation between the narrative and myself. It inspired me to engage with my mother on a deeper level, cultivating a newfound understanding of her journey. I believe that this transformative experience has the potential to touch the lives of others, opening doors to magical moments of connection and empathy.