This morning I sat with Noah in the rocker, a place we go to several times a day. It has become a quiet, soothing place that I love. We sat and listened to the morning's sweet melodies: the birds singing their songs, a mower spinning away at the grass (oh, how I love the scent of freshly cut grass!), the wind whirring through the tree branches below. As I held him, he looked around curiously (as he usually does) with his big brown eyes. He paused at a print that hangs on his wall over a reindeer hide we bought in Finland, it says "BE BRAVE."
I am young. I am free. This last year was not without tears, nor lacking in sorrow. At times it was lonely. But mostly, looking back, what I see is wonder. Wonder at how it's possible that so much joy and happiness can fill one person's tiny life and heart.
No year passes without valleys. Of that, this thirtyoneyearer is sure. Sometimes my bones crack or lines emerge where skin used to be supple and full of youth. And in those moments, I can begin to feel old. Birthing and mothering a babe does that to a woman, I guess. (Heck...LIFE does that to us, doesn't it!?!)
But, when I look at the lives of my grandparents, when I ponder their legacies and immensely filled lives...I instantly feel young again. I am reminded of how much potential life has to offer. I am reminded of how much I have to give back in the little life of mine - to my children, to the love of my life, to our families and to friends who have become family, to neighbors and to strangers.
I am so blessed. I can't say or think about this enough. Our hearts too often gravitate toward the self, and I believe that's when we forget. And forgetting leaves us critical and complaining, and always pining for more. But gratitude, well that's full of happiness, joy and a peaceful contentment that I so long to hold onto each morning as I say hello to the sun.
I hope and pray that our children will lead lives that are wild and free in the ways that our Maker intended. I dream that they'll, too, be dreamers; that they'll be passionate and driven like their great grandmother and mama; that they'll be gentle, full of laughter and compassionate as their grandmothers, faithful, patient and risk takers when it counts as their grandfather; sensitive to others, filled with joy and pure-hearted as their papa. And I pray that I will one day look back on the days ahead without regret and filled only with love and wonder and heart brimming with gratitude.
In celebration of Mother's Day. A little late, but who says we can only celebrate those who mother one day a year :)
It's crazy to me that it's been14 years since my mother died. Sometimes it feels like days have passed, but mostly it just feels like it's been waaaaay too long since I've seen her, hugged her, smelled her, listened to her laugh.
I was a fresh 17 year old when she was taken from us. Tottering between childhood and adulthood. Confused and about a lot of things, sure of a few. My mother was one thing I had always been sure of. Her presence, her love, her faith, her gentleness, her sincerity, her laughter, the way she embraced both people and life, and of course her food. ;)
So when she died, that certainty that I had held onto for so long was sort of pulled out from under me. I survived such a magnitude of loss by grasping onto my faith, leaning on friends and watching my father's undying faith. And by taking one step at a time, day by day.
And, this probably sounds strange, but in some ways I feel that my experience since entering motherhood has been similar. I can't speak for most mothers, but I can share my experience.
Having a baby has been one of my life's greatest blessings. I really feel that it was a privilege to hold a tiny life inside of me, nurturing and growing it for ten months. And what an adventure it has been since giving birth! The last year has been filled with so many emotions, changes and transitions. And, for me, there are two aspects that have made it particularly challenging: living in a foreign country (far from family and many close friends), and my own mama not being able to be physically and emotionally present with me through it all.
I know other new mamas also experience feelings of loneliness and loss, crazy ups and downs, and often impossibly challenged. I've had to remind myself that all of this is normal. But what's hard for me to convey is the deep longing and feeling that something is missing, no matter how happy I feel (or perhaps it surfaces most when I'm happiest?). I felt similar emotions when I got married.
The other day it hit me that my son will never know my mama. She will never be here to hold him, feed him, play with him, giggle with him. I believe that she is in heaven. Once I prayed that if my mama is aware of our lives on this earth that God would show me a shooting star, and a few seconds later as I glanced up to the sky a shooting star streamed across the sky. So I believe she sees our lives in some way. And I hope in the deepest part of my heart that we can all be together again one day. But it's just not the same as having her physically here. The older I get and the more I move, fewer and fewer people I know even knew her. Rarely am I asked about her...which doesn't leave for many opportunities to talk about her, to remember her, to honor her. Fourteen years later and I'm still trying to figure out how to "cope" in some ways.
Since I've become a mama one thing I've observed is how much more connected to my own mother I feel, but at the same time feeling as though there is still a hole in my heart, and wishing so badly that I could share all of these things with her. Growing up I was naturally closer to my dad, I think because we are a lot alike. I always assumed I'd be closer to my mama when I was a little older. And then she was gone. It's the biggest regret of my life, and I've worked hard to not dwell on the things that weren't. So now that I'm a mother myself, I feel like it's opened my eyes to understanding my own mother as a person (as a mother) more. I can empathize with her even more. I respect her even more, for the way she lived her life, for the way she loved us, for the many ways she sacrificed.
Last week I woke up and, out of nowhere, felt like I had pulled a back muscle. It's been almost a week now and it still hurts. The craziest thing is that, as a mama of a 4.5 month old, I haven't been able to slow down or take it easy. Mamas don't get days off, they tend to their children's needs even if it means (and it often does) tossing theirs to the wayside for a while. I don't believe anyone should ignore their own needs, but as a mama I see how much sacrifice and self-denial are an interwoven piece of parenthood.
Mamahood is backbreaking work, literally and figuratively. It's also intensely rewarding, if you allow it to be.
One of the biggest lessons I've learned since getting married and having a baby in Korea is to not dwell on what's missing and what's not. There are so many things/people I have wished I could have in my life these last few years, but when I look at all that I've gained...I instantly see how full my life is. I see how blessed I am. My life isn't perfect, by any means. My back aches. My body feels different. My emotions go a little cray cray. I'm usually sleep deprived. I get lonely and insecure about being a mama, about feeling like a woman again. I get overwhelmed. The list goes on. And I am tempted to wallow in self-pity when I think about it all.
But at the end of the day, I just want to feel free. I want to live and love freely and fully. That picture up there is of my mama and I when I was maybe a year old at the duck pond close to our house. It's one of my favorite photos I have of my mother and I. That laughter and simple joy beaming from my face. Nothing else mattered to me, I'm sure, than being with the people I loved. This is something I hope I can hold onto and teach my son. And when those we love feel far away, perhaps that's when we need to look back into our hearts so we can be close to them again.
To all who mother and father and nurture; to all who hope to one day; to all who have a little hole in their hearts because someone took a piece of it with them...may this be a happy day!
My dear little one,
Sometimes I sit and just stare at my your tiny little hands. I try and observe every little crack and line, the way they curve and crinkle, if they seem bigger than the last time I looked closely. I want to remember them this way; the way you grasp at my finger tinfind comfort, or run them gently along my chest when you nurse.
They are soft and squishy. And they're already getting stronger. I can tell because sometimes you grab my hair or my shirt or whatever happens to be in front of you, and won't let go till I pry it out of those teeny fingers.
I know one day your hands will be those of a strong man, no longer those that fit in mine.. And sometimes I just feel so sad about that...I wonder if I will always miss these tiny little hands?
I can remember my mama's hands so vividly.ahe would have loved holding you in them. They were the most loving, comforting hands. Sometimes I can see parts of her hands in mine. And that makes my heart sing, because in some small way it helps me to feel closer to her. I hope, when you think of my hands, they being you the comfort and love my mama's still bring me.
I love you to the Milky Way and back, a thousand times over...
It's been a loooong time since I've written. I used to almost daily. I found solace in blank pages and black ink. It was like thinking for me. Everything felt jumbled up when it was inside, like candy in a piñata. When that pen hit the paper, though, boy did things get clearer. My hand moving up and down, up and down. Ink spreading its wings, crossing page after page. It was as if I could suddenly see each tiny morsel so vividly, bursting with color and insight.
H E L L O A U T U M N .
The leaves are changing their clothes (this is what my husband calls it ;). Crispness is in the air. Chilly mornings awaken the sun.
This time of year is my favorite. Favoritest.
happy (belated) 4th everyone! we hope all of our american friends are enjoying independence weekend, wherever in the world you are :)
our 4th was a work day over here in korea (boo), but we did end off the night with a couple of wonderful friends and a (practically private) fireworks show at the air force base. in our rush to not miss the show, we managed to find a little secluded field just on the other side where they were going off. it was us and two other cars there watching those sparkles of joy burst open.
well, we're officially (almost) homeowners. and by home i mean an adorable new flat. in a cute little "villa" community (aka a set of three 4-story apartment buildings) called the The Story (how cute is that!), up a curvy, windy hill. with lots of trees. fresh air that makes your lungs smile. dirt to make mud on the tires. wildflowers. birds singing the loveliest songs. you get the idea :)
it's lovely, really. we adore the whole naturesque atmosphere and are totally psyched that's actually ours. we seriously can't wait to move in!
here are a few pics of what it looked when we signed the contract. we're having them redo the wallpaper (yes, wallpaper is such a thing here! more on the later).
▲▲▲ kitchen + living room: we love the wooden floors and open concept! during the daytime, it gets such lovely sunlight coming through the big glass doors :) ▲▲▲
▲▲▲ les toilettes: at first i thought, "oh no! colored tiles!" but the bright happy colors have actually grown on me. plus the rest of the house will be white, so that'll be a fun splash of color. and i really love yellow + green :) ▲▲▲
▲▲▲ master + baby room (yes, a baby! :): the wallpaper is going and everything will be white. the mb is actually quite spacious, and we'll be adding in the most amazing built-in closet of every woman's dreams :) ▲▲▲
▲▲▲ study/guest room: if you visit us, this is likely where you'll be staying :) it's got a little veranda off of it (which doesn't look so nice in this pic), which we're hoping to make a super cosy reading + relaxing nook. ▲▲▲
▲▲▲ le café + mini gym: this is a nice little plus, especially since getting to anything else is a bit of a hike down our windy hill :) we can't wait to cool off by the pool and sip refreshing ice coffees during hot summer months! ▲▲▲
▲▲▲ aaaaand the pool! this year the owner built just a temporary pool so that tenants could swim this summer, but next year he has plans to install a more permanent one. gotta love his happy rainbow signage :) ▲▲▲
well, that's it for now, folks! we'll be sharing more interesting cultural differences here in korea about homes and certain related traditions (and baby kim!) soon, so stay tuned. :)
ps. a few fun summer links...
this makes my mouth water every time i see it!
i've always thought horseback riding on the beach was so romantic :)
i just love these sandals + this swimsuit
the perfect hat for shading summer sun (and the company does amazing things!)
definitely have added this to my list of summer eats to try. looks sooo delish and refreshing!
this quaint little beach town that Joanna Goddard recently posted about looks like so much fun!
so it's been raining a lot around here lately. and it hasn't felt much like summer. actually, it's felt more like early autumn (crazy, i know). it's usually pretty steamy come this time in korea. cool breezes and not sweating like a pig? hey, i'm not complainin.
actually, i've really been enjoying the weather this year. last summer i was so depressed because (unbeknownst to me) i guess it usually rains for about a month during the summer in korea. and last summer it rained, and rained, and rained.
but not the cool kind of rain. the sticky, hot, steamy kind. where you pretty much look like this. all. the. time.