Asian nannies and white babies

that 70s mom

Asian nannies and white babies
Nokyoung Xayasane

Whenever I see Asian nannies
pushing prams containing
gurgling white babies,
I think of my mom.

She must’ve wanted to be
with me too
instead of working at
a sweatshop.
They paid her by the piece.
The faster she sewed,
the more money she made.
She must’ve wanted to
stay with me after school
instead of leaving for work at 2:45 pm
and coming home after midnight.
Sometimes if I stayed up
really late, I would catch a glimpse
of her walking by my bedroom door.

I wonder about those Asian nannies.
I bet their children stay with family members
during the day,
or they ask their eldest to babysit
the smaller ones.
They’ll do this from Monday to Friday
so they could push a white woman’s baby
in an immaculate stroller
through the lush greenery of a city park.
The flowers there
bloom in the gardens.
They’ll sing a lullaby to these white babies
while the sun hangs overhead,
and they’ll see their own child’s face
staring up at them.
They’ll rock these white children to sleep,
and they’ll wonder if their child
has had anything to eat.

Many nights,
my mom would come home,
her face ragged,
her hands raw,
her back sore
from bending over,
sewing endlessly,
the sound of machines whirling
in the background.
Her foot worked the pedal
of those sewing machines
in crammed quarters.
The women in the park
push those prams
up lush green hills.

This is the sacrifice of mothers:
despair and survival
and unyielding love.

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