My Morbidly Obese Mom

Dec 07

My Morbidly Obese Mom

In October I visited Michigan and saw my mom for the first time in a couple years. She kept threatening to visit Seattle but one thing after another came up and postponed her trip, so it was up to me to fly over to the mitten and see how my lil’ Korean mom was doing. One of my mom’s friends very graciously allowed me and Jason to use a spare condo she owned in Rochester Hills so we’d be about equal distance to my brother’s place and my mom’ s place instead of having to stay at one person’s house and make a huge trek to the other’s. We left Chicago at around 1 pm, taking a rickety-ass plane that Jason was too tall for. One hour and one time change later, we arrived to gloriously awful Detroit weather.

While taking a shuttle ride to the Enterprise lot, my phone rang.

Me: “Hello?”

Mom: “Where are you.” (It was more of a statement than a question.)

Me: “I’m on a shuttle bus heading to pick up our rental car.”

Mom: “Oh, okay. Weather really bad! You be careful.”

Me: “I will.”

Mom: “You know how to get to apaht-ment?”

Me: “Yeah, I can just use my phone.”

Mom: “Is really easy.” She started rattling off about 28 steps’ worth of directions. My mom does this all the time–she’ll give me step-by-step directions for something, whether it’s to a destination or for a recipe, without warning as I’m sitting there with no pen or paper, wondering if she just expects me to commit it all to memory.

She repeats the lengthy directions again for good measure. I thanked her to be polite and said we’d see her in a little bit.

Fifteen minutes later, as I was driving on the freeway slowly making my way to Rochester, my phone rang again.

Me: “Hello?”

Mom: “Where are you.”

Me: “I’m still on the freeway, it’s only been like 15 minutes.”

Mom: “Okay…call when you get off freeway and I’ll get the mandu started. I don’t want to cook too soon!”

This cycle repeated a couple more times: Mom would wait roughly five minutes before calling me and asking where I was, then reminding me to call when I got off the freeway so she could start frying mandu. When I finally did make it off the freeway, I called her and she very sternly ordered me to take a bunch of back roads to the condo instead of Rochester Road due to construction, then proceeded to once again rattle off 20 turn-by-turn directions while I frantically tried to remember each one.

We finally pulled into the condo complex, and I could see a short, dark-haired Asian woman peering suspicously through the building’s entryway window. I recognized the tiny, paranoid figure and waved. Jason and I lugged our suitcases up the steps and greeted Mom in the lobby.

Mom: “Hi honeyyyyyyyyy! How are youuuuuu?” She hugged me.

Me: “I’m doing great, good to see you!”

Mom: “Condo right here.” She led me to the first door on the right and took off her shoes, setting them neatly beside the door.

Me: “Uh…”

Mom: “I take shoes off out here.”

Me: “…..”

Mom: “Is okay! Nobody take!” That I believed–who would steal a tiny-footed Asian woman’s shoes? Still, I opted to keep mine on as I entered the condo.

We put our things away and Mom shooed us to the kitchen table to eat since we clearly must have been starving from the grueling hour-long flight we had to endure. It was an impressive spread of bulgogi, kimchi, rice, mandu, bean sprouts, spinach, and a slew of other Korean food.

As Jason and I stuffed our faces, Mom stared at us with a curious look on her face. I caught her glance and got worried. Jason and I had been eating better and trying to lose weight for some upcoming races. By the time I had gotten to Michigan, I was over 15 lbs lighter than when my mom had last seen me. I hoped she’d recognize that I was smaller, but then again, it’s my mom we’re talking about here, so she could still think I’m chunky or she could think I’m too thin, or she could just not say anything at all.

Me, silently awaiting the moment of truth: “Pleasedon’tcallmefatpleasedon’tcallmefat…”

Mom: “……..”

Me: “OhgodIcan’takethescrutiny…”

Mom: “…wow, you guys lose lot of weight!”


This day will live in infamy.

I had never been so relieved in my life.

Me: “Thanks!”

Mom: “How you lose? Eckshersize?”

Me: “Yeah, we work out a lot and we’ve been eating better. We’re trying to watch what we eat.”

Mom: “Mm hmm. You gotta eat healthy.” She then piled more helpings of food onto our plates. Thanks.

We continued to eat in order to appease my mom. She looked pleased, then her face darkened and she frowned.

Mom: “Mommy gain weight! See?” She jutted her face out.

Me: “Uh, no.”

Mom: “You don’t notice?”

Me: “Mom, you’re tiny.”

Me: “Nooooo! My face fatter! Look!”

Me: “I don’t notice anything.”

Mom, insistent: “No, I gain. Fat.”

Me, laughing: “So what are you, like 100 lbs now.”

Mom, defiant: “No, bigger!”

Me: “105 lbs?”

Mom: “…..yeah.”

Time to call The Biggest Loser casting people!


  1. Caroline W /

    Does your mom appreciate you humiliating her or is the done her back? If this is how you treat your mother I would hate to know how you treat others? I had a korean mom (North Korean). Have you ever asked you mom about her childhood? Do you know what life events formed her into the woman she is today? Would you want a daughter publicly making fun of your broken English in a not so endearing way. This blog is so self-centered at the expense of your very own oem ma.

    • Rebecca /

      I don’t see how I’m humiliating her. I think you’re being over-sensitive. This blog is a fun way for me to share some of the funny things my mom says and does, and I’ve gotten overwhelmingly positive feedback from friends and strangers alike (including a number of people who’ve written me to say their mom is exactly the same). Some advice for you–don’t take things, especially things you see on the Internet, so seriously; you’ll live a much more fulfilling life in the long-run. 🙂

  2. Gayoung /

    My grandma and mom live in Oly, WA, and I moved down to Hawaii for school. When I was visiting, I had only been away for like, 2 months, so I come back and they started telling me how much weight I gained, and how the tan wasn’t good for me, and how much weight they’d lost because of worrying about me down here. They’re just crazy, lol.

    • Rebecca /

      Haha, I live in Seattle so I’m not too far from your mom and grandma. Now that I’ve lost weight my mom cautions that I should avoid losing too much–it’s a no-win situation with her.

  3. Sujee-Ah (Suzy) /

    Oh my Gaaaah! My mom is the same. I get so anxious before I visit her and am on the edge of my seat waiting for her to point out my looks! “Ohh, you skin look baaad. Mommy wish you take better care of you self” (one PMS blemish) “Ohhh, you gain too much weight.. Mommy worried you get di-uh-beet-ease” (um. thanks.) Gotta love that hard Korean Mommy-love.

  4. teei B /

    LOL! I have a mum and am a mum, so I see both sides.
    Your Blog is FUNNY!..nothing else,not humiliating at all.
    Lighten up Caroline W…

  5. I have had a hard time with this all my life. Unfortunately since my parents separated, I took it very personal when I went to go see my mom. I really, honest to God, thought she thought I was too fat or too skinny. Even now, that I am older, I still have these weird feelings when I see her. I know I am going to be seeing her in 6 weeks and I am already thinking of ways to slim my body. Yet, I know now that it is not personal, just Korean culture. The mix of American life and Korean culture can be confusing. Even harder, she usually is right!

    In response to the comment above, I do not think that this is rude or mean at all, especially if your mother knows about the blog. It is a true representation of our mothers, and it is a relief to find other korean daughters experience the same thing!

  6. People who didn’t have a Korean mother and an American father can’t relate to the life we had growing up… But this is so funny. I love my mom but she is very similar to yours!! I love this site. Thanks for sharing and your writing is very enjoyable.

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