Motherhood

Halmoni

April 28, 2017

It was just one of the thousand times we had hung out together, but this day was different. We had lunch in Japantown, and while browsing in a nearby bookstore, she asked the store assistant if they had any books on gardening.

My Korean grandmother speaks perfect Japanese.

I’ve heard her speak Japanese before, but it was only a handful of times in the 30+ years I’ve known this woman. That day, it just struck me a little differently. My halmoni survived not one, but two wars in her lifetime. I’ve known bits and pieces, but wanted to dig deeper – we spent Sunday evening talking about her experience during WWII.

My grandmother was born in the year 1931 (Japanese colonization lasted from 1910-1945)

What was life like overall? We had very little. The Japanese soldiers came into our homes and took everything. All of our brass. All of our treasured belongings. We had little to eat, but where I lived in Yeosu, we were more fortunate than other parts of the country. Many people died from famine and I would hear of people being so hungry that they peeled the barks off trees to survive. We had some rice fields in our area, but the soldiers took all of our rice and barley. I remember my father hiding rice underground in the fields so that we could have some. We ate soybean scraps because once the Japanese squeezed the oil from them, they would give us the leftovers to eat.

What was school like during the war? I was given a Japanese name Raiko Emoto. For as long as I can remember, we were taught Japanese in school. We were not allowed to speak or write in Korean, and if we did, we would be physically punished or our grades would be penalized.

What was your worst memory of the war? My friends that were taken away to the comfort stations that I never saw again. I was too young to be taken because I was in elementary school, but I had many friends that were old enough that never returned to their families. I only had 1 friend come back, and hearing her recount what happened to her was unbelievable. She saw women kicked to death when they became pregnant. These women were literally stomped on until they died, because pregnant women were useless. They killed both the mother and child.

I stopped the questions there, because I could see the heaviness that last question brought to my grandmother and wanted to talk to her more about the Korean War at another time.

It’s a lot to process, but I wanted to document her stories because the more I find out about “comfort women” and how their brutal experiences are being white-washed in history books, the more livid I become. No, the majority were not “volunteers” or “prostitutes” – let’s be clear. The term “comfort women” alone is maddening enough because let’s call it what it is, sexual slavery. These were women not just from Korea, but Japan, Taiwan, China, Philipines, and Indonesia to name a few. The first woman to come forward wasn’t even until 1991, and though it is 2017 the apologies are still controversial.

When stories of WWII are recollected, the least we can do to honor these women is to tell these stories straight. Let’s not nuance or make light of the suffering they endured.

Additional info here.

5 Things I Learned As A New Mom

April 17, 2017

Becoming a new mom often feels like you’re climbing Mount Everest in flip flops during a blizzard. You have no idea how you’re going to make it through, but at one point you look back and realize that you’ve already climbed 10K steps and somehow you find the energy to keep powering through.

Nothing could have prepared me for being a mom. Everyone says it, but I honestly felt like I might have had a teeny tiny advantage. Helping to a raise a brother who is 10 years younger (I mean, I definitely felt like his 2nd mom) and spending every summer from middle school to college leading children’s camps and babysitting…I thought the transition couldn’t be THAT rough? HA. I will just leave it at that. Anyway, here are some things that I learned about myself as a new mom.

I’m more judgemental than I thought. No one wants to admit to this, but I was definitely the gal who thought that my kid was NEVER going to be the screaming toddler throwing a tantrum on the floor of Target. Ry isn’t capable of doing this yet, but it didn’t take long for me to realize never say never. Until you are in the same situation, I learned to show grace rather than to pass judgement. I understand now that the majority of moms are just trying to do the best damn job they can. I see you and I tip my hat to you. I’m with you.

I’m ok with my career taking a backseat. I envisioned myself being the mom who was able to juggle it all and have an amazing career to boot. Uh uh honay. The reality is most nights we don’t eat dinner unless my mom drops some off and there is never less than 4 loads of laundry waiting to be folded in the guestroom…so ummm yea that ain’t gonna happen. There is no way you can be 100% dedicated to both family and a career (which is ok!); however you hustle and you make the best of the situation. I didn’t think I would ever be ok with not moving up the corporate ladder by a certain timeline, but having Ry changed everything. Work is work. It will be there tomorrow and the day after that. I can’t win back lost time with Ry, so if my career path looks different today than it did pre-baby, I’m at peace with that.

I have too much stuff. It might be a combination of getting older and wiser (lol who am I kidding?), but having Ry be the source of my joy has changed my perspective on what I “need” and what we “need” as a family. I accumulated so much crap as a new parent, but once I was getting more than 3 hours of sleep, I looked around and realized “stuff” no longer makes me happy. Having a happy, healthy baby is what matters most and our “stuff” was not going to achieve this. I’m trying to adopt the 1 toy in = 1 toy out mentality (hubby is slowly warming up to this) and teach Ry what really matters in life. That’s why he will never have another birthday party again and the word Santa will never be said outloud in our home. Ok ok, I’m not completely heartless, but you get the picture.

I can’t party like I used to. I used to schedule 10 events in one day (hubby will still claim that I do this, but NO, my Google calendar is much emptier!). Physically I am just too tired and realistically with the demands of a toddler, it’s just not feasible. I thought I would be able to still hangout late and be a functioning person in the morning, but caring for a little person (well chubby in my case) requires 150% focus. This means getting a good nights rest and making good choices. ZzzZ…BORING. I still don’t mind the occasional mommas night out, because it is very much necessary. However, I cannot be as ratchet as I used to be or want to be.

I’m stronger than I realized. Between the pregnancy, labor, postpartum recovery, breastfeeding, and sleep deprivation (and this just scratches the surface…), it seems like just when you’re about to round the corner, something else pops up. It’s never ending. That said, I never knew that I was capable of strength like this, because I didn’t know I was capable of love like this. Things that I used to worry about pre-baby are so trivial now and my mentality has shifted dramatically in terms of what I know I can accomplish…because HELLO, I pushed a baby out of my vag.

I’d like to think that motherhood changed me for the better, and I’m in constant awe of what mothers do on a daily basis. You all inspire me so much, and I still can’t get over the fact that there billions of you out there. Incredible.

It’s Monday friends, let’s git it.

LA Adventures + 15 months

April 14, 2017

After year end was over and a skincare brand was launched into Sephora, we decided it was time to just be blobs and enjoy some family time together. We flew down to LA to do just that.

First stop. Republique! I knew Robin would order their basic breakfast which ironically ain’t “basic” at all. He loved it which was a win win. It’s always hard to find a spot we both love equally.

This is one of the things I will miss most when Ry is too big. He probably is already too big for the ergo, but carrying him while he sleeps is my favorite thing ever. He’s moving around so much these days that I cherish these moments so much.

This kid. If you’ve ever had the chocolate chip cookie at go get em tiger, there is a big ass solid piece of chocolate in the middle. I gave Ry a little bit of the edges (basically just flour and butter) – then comes Uncle Abe who hands him the middle part which he swallows in a nanosecond. LOL.

Love the coffee shops in LA. Though many may serve the same beans according to Uncle Larry, the ambiance + the food they serve are so good. I actually drank more coffee that week than I typically do in a month – but just had to.

My favorite meal was at Aghassi Gopchang. We always wait to get our KBBQ fix in LA and been dying to try this place for awhile. Their specialty is in the meats (duh Gopchang! aka intestines). Not a variety of sides dishes offered but their kimchee is really good and their cold noodle soups and jiggaes are super tasty. Their gopchang actually comes out fairly cooked so your cooking time is cut down dramatically. TAKE ME BACK!

Yumm. Somi Somi. My ice cream is the one on the left, the hubby’s is the one on the right. Of course. The batter was both chewy and crispy just how I like it.

One of the highlights was definitely seeing Ry play with his besties. I say besties, because he has no choice but to grow up together in this lifetime, while their mommas embarrass them. It’s in their best interest to stick together.

Char has no idea what is coming next. She is about to get her first kiss and she no likey AT ALL. I could watch that video everyday. In fact I do.

Dear Ry,

You turned 15 months today and the last two months have been my absolute favorite with you. Papa agrees too. You love playing with trains, giving kisses, and you dropped the bottle! You’ll do anything for a snack, and we probably give you one too many. Screwing on bottle caps and putting keys in keyholes are really your thing these days. You are fearless and love people (especially the ones your size). You walked out of a coffee shop while Uncle Abe followed you closely and you never turned around to look for me so we’ll have to work on that. Or lock you up. Lock you up for sure.

Love,

Mom

Everyday Moments

April 1, 2017

I started blogging back in 2011, and I was on a good run until I got knocked up and had to launch a skincare line. I know… excuses excuses.

Well, my dear OG Merry Robin readers, it’s April Fools and I’m back! I set today as a deadline to relaunch this bad boy, so let’s do this. Time to makeup for some lost time. Ry is a huge reason why I wanted to start this up again because how is my baby 15 months already? I need to document these moments because time is a damn thief.

Ry you are so silly these days and I can’t get enough of you. Your belly is the bees knees.

You light up when you see Grandpa and you give him the biggest smile when you see him. You even run towards him which is something you rarely do with anyone.

Swiffering the floors is your latest obsession. You like to copy everything we do these days.

Your chubby baby feet kill me.

I’m hardly with you in any photos because I’m the one always snapping them. I’m going to force papa to be more of the Instagram husband he needs to be so we can have more of these gems.

Love,

Mom

 

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