What do you and your mom like to do together?
My mom and I bond over shopping and Mexican food. I don’t know why it’s a thing exactly, but it’s definitely a thing. I get the shopping more, but since we’re Armenian, I’m not sure where the Mexican food comes in. Maybe it’s the cheese? We really love cheese—the more cheese, the better! Weekends when I go home, it’s like, you sleep in, wake up, and it’s just food. So much food!
There is something about mothers & food…
When I told mom that I wanted to be a pescatarian, it was very personal. Meat is such a huge part of the food culture, and then I had to go and make the announcement on the Fourth of July. We had this Armenian/American BBQ for the day—lots of meat, you know; lots—and I was like “I’m a pescatarian now.” My mom just looked at me. I’m not sure what I was expecting, or if I’d actually thought that far ahead. But then she said, “Ok, just not today. You can start tomorrow.” And that was it. I started being a pescatarian the next day, and she was cool with it.
Tell us about your mom.
Growing up, it was a noisy house with family. And we’re always fighting really big, but then loving really big. My mom was definitely different than other moms. All my friends, they’d be like, “I’m having a sleepover at so-and-so’s house!” And that would be it for them. But my mom? Oh no. You’re like, “Mom, I’m having a sleepover!” And she would be ok with that, but she would drive you there, she would park and get out, and then she would go and have to meet and visit with your friend’s parents. Only then would she decide if you were *actually* having a sleepover. It was the same with going to the mall. My friends’ parents would drop them off—my mom? She’d be at the frickin mall with us. “I can go shopping, too!”
My mom always stood out. She was always dressed up, always put together. She is beautiful. And I was proud of her accent, too, because it was a representation of our Armenian culture, and that was important to me.
You lived in one place, but because your mom is Armenian, you also grew up multicultural. Can you tell us about that experience?
Being Catholic was a huge part of my upbringing, but it was a break in tradition. Armenians aren’t usually Catholics. But when I was a little kid, I was going to Armenian church and it was a dialect that’s different than the one we speak. I would just cry because I couldn’t understand anything. So we stopped going there. I feel like I missed out on Armenian. I understand why we stopped going to that church, since, you know, crying all the time. But I lost out on actually growing up with Armenian friends my age, outside of my family.
So you and your mom speak Armenian together?
I spoke Armenian all the time as a kid, though. It wasn’t really until I went to school that I started to learn and speak English, and then that quickly outpaced my Armenian. And actually, it’s not exactly pure Armenian that I speak, either. It’s definitely “Armenglish,” and then also Farsi, because my mom and her family grew up ethnically Armenian but in Iran. They can all speak Farsi together, but I didn’t learn that. This guy I was friends with, though, he would hear some of what I was saying in Armenian and he’d tell me, “You know that’s actually Farsi,” right? And I just thought it was an Armenian word.
How are you and your mom different from one another?
I’m very similar to her. We are very much alike. But we are very different, too. I’m all ADD and she isn’t at all, and then she’s more of a germophobe and I’m not. I’m also very strong and independent. I wouldn’t allow her to say no to things—I learned a lot about persuasion that way. My mom really enforced and fostered my independence. I’m really proud of my mom—she’s one of my best friends— and I identify strongly with being an Armenian American.
Guest Writer: Heather Hill
Heather Hill is the Assistant Manager of donor acquisition & digital fundraising at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. She is a graduate of Houghton College, and Vermont College of Fine Arts. She is the Human Rights Co-Chair of the United Nations Association of the National Capitol Area, and you can find her performance reviews on MD Theatre Guide.