First off, I would like to thank “Voices of Hmong”, for allowing me to share my story/ poem. Before proceeding, I’d like give an introduction. Please don’t judge my poem base on the length of my introduction until you have read it. Thank you.
My name is Zoua Moua, currently 22 years old, and I come from a Hmong traditional family of 8 children – 11 total, counting the deceased (1 older brother and 2 older sisters). As of today, I have 7 brothers, in which, that would make me the only daughter.
I get the same comments and reactions every time anyone learns that I am the only daughter, with 7 brothers, “You must be spoiled!” or “I wish I was the only daughter,” or “Your brothers must be so protective of you!” and so on … Yes, my mom do spoil me at times while growing up, but any Mom would if she had only 1 daughter, right? Yes, all my brothers were protective of me — especially when I hit the ‘dating’ age. However, if I had the choice to choose my siblings, I would not choose to be the only daughter. Why?
Growing up with 7 brothers, 4 older and 3 younger – I am the 5th child, and the middle child – it was not easy. I was a tomboy until I hit reached middle school. Back in the days when my siblings and I were little, I always tagged along with them. Whatever they played, I learned how to play. Of course, I had dolls and barbies, but I didn’t have anyone to play with so I leaned more towards the boys’ games: marbles, boxing, jumped fences, cops and robbers, tag, etc. Everyday after school, my brothers would come home and play marbles. I usually would finish my homework first, then go outside and play with them – as I remembered, I was pretty good too!
My older brother Nou, the 4th sibling, is 2 years older than me – but somehow, I was usually almost his height while growing up. My older brothers would always play boxing, so that’s how I learned how to play tough. I always box with Nou and as I remembered, he was older and had more strength, but I took the pain instead of cry.
Our old house was close by the elementary school I went to. During the evenings, my dad and his friends, relatives (the men) would go out to the field and play soccer. My brothers would go, just to play tag at the playground, or try to get into the school campus even though it was fenced. I was the only girl with a bunch of boys, so when they all jumped to the other side of the fence, I either had to jump also, or be by myself. Of course, I didn’t take “being alone” for an answer. I learned to jump high fences!
Also, when our cousins came over, we would always play cops and robbers and tag and would run all over our blocks with my brothers. Boy, those were some good old days! Up until I reached middle school, when puberty hit, I started to change and got more girly. I started using little makeup, wanting to do my hair, and my body changed, so I wasn’t able to do the things I used to do anymore.
Then, I hit high school. Boys, friends, and fashion were the trend. However, I started to notice that I was always left out at some point. When I hung out with my cousins or friends, they had a sister(s) or someone close. I didn’t have anyone to share my secrets with, no one to just enjoy a day with me at the mall, no one to teach me how to wear intimates correctly, etc. I was missing out, I was LEFT out. Because my brothers were not my sisters, I wasn’t able to share with them my struggles nor dare to question them because I was sure they’d probably think I’m crazy for asking them. I kept things to myself and soon, all my thoughts and feelings were kept to myself. I was isolated.
As I was always being exposed to other girls have sisters – I felt “different”. Seeing a group of sisters going shopping together made me sad. Seeing my cousins and their sisters helping each other cook, clean, and do chores made me wondered how my life would have been much simpler if I had someone to help me. I got really sad. For years, not knowing who to turn to when I have issues, I became very introverted. I learned to think within myself – or, should I say, think quietly. I wasn’t good at neither asking for help nor seeking attention when I needed it.
However, here goes my poem:
A Sister’s Love
Sister(s) – a defender, a listener, a counselor, a best friend…
She, who stands up for me during the tough times when someone picks on me,
She, who cries with when I’m sad, laughs with me when I’m happy,
She, who is my role model, my guardian angel who leads me towards the right direction, She, who I can tell all my secrets to.
Her courage for fighting my fights because I couldn’t stand up for myself,
The sound of her crying with me when she learned my heart got broken and laughter when I tell her something funny,
Her wise words of encouragement and motivation for me to make good decisions for my future,
My secrets that will always be kept safe…
She was all who I longed for…
A sister’s love. (End of poem)
It’s true; I learned to fight my own fights because I didn’t have anyone to defend me. As I remembered clearly, during a time I was being bullied at school, a cousin was with me. BUT, she didn’t help me fight. I fought on my own. I stood up for myself because I wouldn’t tolerate being bullied. I sometimes wondered how the situation would have been different if I had someone to help me.
I probably didn’t fall in “love” until I met my last ex. It was a long distant relationship, but during that time, I was blinded. Even though he had hurt me several times, I loved him unconditionally, to the point where I cried my eyes out, didn’t eat for days, had sleepless nights, started drinking and I would start skipping classes. Those times, I felt so lonely and sad, with no knowledge of how to turn to anyone, I kept everything to myself. While at home, when I cried, I would lock my bedroom door and cry to myself until I feel better. Or, I would cry myself to sleep. When my family was alone, I manned up and wouldn’t shed a single tear. I learned to stay strong and keep living my life, although I didn’t necessarily have to keep everything to myself. However, at that time I wished for a sister so bad because I knew she would have been the one to understand. –Now that I am married, I vent and I cry and I speak of everything I have in my mind to my husband.
Growing up in a Hmong traditional family, I didn’t really have a role model. All my parents knew were to tell us to go to school and do well. There were no other sources provided. My parents were always supportive of me going to school and figuring out what I wanted to do with my life. My older brothers always supported and helped me get to and from school and for that, I can’t thank my family enough. As of today, I am still in college – working on my Undergraduate majoring in Business Administration concentrating in General Management. I am hoping to finish soon. From this life experience, I learned that anything is possible, with the help of determination. Although, it would have been nice to have someone guide me through the dark tunnel, I am also happy to know that even though I went through this journey by myself, I didn’t give up and will reach the end of the tunnel someday.
Now, who wouldn’t want a sister to share memories of laughter, hatred, sadness and everything else with? To those of you who have sisters, cherish your moments, and to those who don’t, remember that you’re not alone.
By: Zoua Moua
More on facebook.com/voicesofhmong
If you have stories you would like to share and have voices be heard please submit to firstname.lastname@example.org