Today marks the 30th year that Martin Luther King Jr. Day has been observed. Last Friday Ume learned about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr at her school and attended an assembly commemorating the life of Dr. King. It helped us begin the discussion of racial discrimination and discrimination in general that is still present in the world. Brian and I focused our conversation on inclusion and how everyone matters. It is a heavy topic to talk to a five year old about, but it is important to begin these discussions now and plant seeds of information on our beliefs and values.
I found this in Ume’s school folder and asked her what she wrote. She replied, “I feel sad because those people had to stand and they couldn’t sit down with the people in the front of the bus”. I was proud that she is able to communicate her feelings and already knew that scenario was not just. We are a progressive society but even after thirty years of observing a federal holiday for the life of Dr. King Jr and his work on the Civil Rights Movement, we are still faced with hate crimes and extreme violence due to racism.
How do you explain to your children about the negativity that is in the world and not have them live in constant distress? Ume already has fears and anxiety on her own, I don’t want to give her anything else to worry about. I also don’t want her to be naive and ignorant to what is going on in the world. I guess it just means I must have those tough conversations and keep an open dialog about how to respect people’s similarities and differences. I also need to check my own prejudices and be cognizant about the language I use when I talk about other people.
It is difficult to be honest with myself and admit my own acts of prejudice. Being a minority with immigrant parents, I have had many experiences with discrimination. Discrimination against us and discrimination toward others. However, in my adult life I have learned the beauty in differences and want to pass this outlook on to my children. I value traveling to other countries and learning about different cultures to gain perspective on other people’s lives.
This is the start of uneasy conversations to have with my children but I know it is important to do. Ume talks to everyone, no matter what they look like. Children are naturally unprejudiced. I hope she continues to have this inclusive spirit and I hope that I continue to foster this nature in her.
I have seen many articles floating around online about the debate and rivalry between being a “Stay at home mom” vs “Working mom” as written here and here. It has ignited a lot of self reflection for myself. When I had Ume five years ago I was able to take five months of maternity leave and Brian took about a month. Although I tinkered with the idea of not returning back to work, it was not something I pursued because I knew returning to work full time was the best for our family at that time in our lives. Where I work, full time status consists of three – twelve hour shifts a week. The shift I work is from 7 pm to 7:30 am. It was a tough adjustment in the beginning but we all adapted to the new routine and made it work with a lot of help from my mother. Also I had support from my co-workers to cover my patients when I did work, so I could pump and store my breast milk twice a shift.
When I found out I was pregnant with Violet I had already cut my hours and worked per diem due to going back to school. I stayed per diem knowing I was pregnant and will be on maternity leave soon. Changing my work status to per diem, consists of losing health benefits and cashing in on any vacation hours accrued. I received a 15% pay increase and I am able to set my own schedule while committing to three shifts in a month, although I can always work more. We all got on Brian’s health insurance offered by his company. I went on maternity leave at 8 1/2 months and did not return back to work until Violet was five months old.
I knew this time around with having two kids that it would be best for myself and the family to stay per diem. I wanted to have more time to stay at home while Ume was still young and starting Kindergarten and also Violet proved to be a more challenging baby. Plus my mother is getting older and I did not want her to have the increased responsibility of watching another baby three times a week. For us, daycare or a nanny was not an option we wanted to explore at this time. I also did not want to quit my career all together because it is something I value and have a passion for. The best option for us is to remain per diem so I could have the flexibility to work more if able.
Taking Violet to the park before picking up Ume at school in the middle of the week.
The theme of this post is that this is the best option for US and my family. All these articles that pin “Stay at home moms” against “Working moms” is so ridiculous. There are pros and cons to both situations but each individual mom will need to make the best decision for themselves. They should be able to do this without feeling criticism from the other side. Nobody can discern accurately what is best for someone else’s family. Motherhood and parenting is not just one linear way. There are so many different cultural, societal, and individual views that are involved. Believe me as a mom in my situation I have mixed feelings all the time of being a 75% “Stay at home mom” and 25% “Working mom”. There are days that are really tough and days that are glorious. I am always finding myself needing to balance being a mom and maintaining self identity. I can be self deprecating so I don’t need an outside party throwing stones as well.
There is that scene in the movie “Titanic” where our beloved Jack Dawson is dining in the first class quarters and after being questioned as to how he can live life as a wanderer he eloquently explains his philosophy in life, and they all raise their glasses and toast life to “making it count”. Out of all the juicy and amazing scenes of this movie, yes I am still a big fan, this scene stands out to me. It gives the audience that hopeful perspective that whatever hand you are dealt in life you should make the most of the situation.
Leo at his finest!
This is the type of mindset I want to have moving forth in the new year. 2015 had many ups and downs as do all years. That is life. Stating any resolutions will only lead me to fail. Sure I would love to be the next Chriselle Lim or Aimee Song but these ladies have worked hard and did not get to their status in a year. Sure I would love to have bigger breasts and a tummy tuck to get my “mommy tummy” (Diastasis Recti) back in shape but this will be at the hands of a costly plastic surgeon and a recovery period that will take most of the year. I have many dreams for the future but it is more realistic to separate dreams from goals. Having real attainable goals will lead me to success. They need to be specific and measurable with a concrete time frame. Here are some short term goals that I have in mind.
- Buy a house by February 28th 2016
- Become a certified neuroscience nurse by March 31st 2016
- Get desert body ready by Coachella 2016
These three concise goals are what I am shooting for in the next few months and then I can develop another list of three attainable goals afterward. I also want to continue supporting Brian on achieving his goals this year. He recently wrote down what he wanted to achieve in 2016 and he came up with 16 projects. 16 Projects! That is why he is an entrepreneur I guess. I also want to continue fostering the growth of my two girls. Uemera has grown leaps while being in Kindergarten. She is overcoming her anxieties with coping strategies and support from us and her amazing teacher. Violet is speaking about 5 words now so we are hopeful that she will find her verbal skills soon and blow us away. The pediatrician told us to not worry, that she will start talking more when she is 2 years old especially since she hears two languages at home.
There it is…my challenges for the next few months to slay.
What are your goals for the year?