It’s a mess again. My life. Our life.
It’s been two weeks.
Packing and unpacking and packing again.
We stayed in Korea for eight months. Snow just melted when we arrived there in March. I saw the plum blossoms as if for the first time in my life. White angels encircled us in the garden. The day before we left, first snow of the year.
I reconnected with lovely faces for the past eight months. Six years had passed but those faces stayed the same. They welcomed me with warm smile.
Beautiful and unique memories with my Hope child until Newborn Faith arrived. Hope and I did everything together: enrolling in classes, eating kimbob every other day, walking along the river, splashing in rain, playing in the local public pool, and looking at a sonogram of Faith in my belly.
Giving birth in my motherland turned out to be more satisfying than I ever imagined. The experience brought me to unexpected new relationships, among which came forth new friendships.
Into our suitcases we tried to pack only the essentials but even so, we were not allowed ample space. We had to leave our some of Hope’s favorite toys, all the pots and pans that fed us, and some clothing that we have grown attached to. Most of all, we could not pack the view of the busy street from our window, the morning light hanging on Hope’s playpen, the sound of an elevator arriving to our floor, and our dear Benjamin, our dear old rubber tree in a pot.
Hope was nervous pretty much during the entire time we were packing. Her life was disappearing, torn down, shoveled into boxes. She cried for a stretch of an hour or more. We had to accept that there is no other way to console her besides just allowing ourselves to go through this transition together. We were all sad and stressed.
Two weeks forward, we are again in our home in California. We can hear the sound of bird from the window instead of cars running on the freeway. There is a story time in the library down the street instead of an expensive private class in a huge shopping mall. We don’t have to pass by a group of smokers when we cross the street to get to the subway station. Taste of the air feels greener and cleaner here.
Everything we see, listen, feel, smell, and taste let us know we are in a new place, yet familiar.
We will have four months here before we move to Geneva. We have to unpack and pack simultaneously. I don’t know if it is something healthy to do, but that is what is given to us right now. I have to part with my teenage-through-youngadult-hood memories since we can only take 1000kg with us. Definitely not enough. Perhaps it is a good thing.
When I wake up at 4:30 AM to feed hungry Faith, I think about which boxes I should attack first: boxes of toys, books, clothes, or kitchenware? Even as I am discarding my past passions and dreams, I sense new ideas and thoughts asking for my attention. Too many things to do, not enough time and energy.
Just do what I can do now, and there is no more.
지금 이 순간의 행복
여보시게나 사람 사는 것 별거없네
인생 뭐 있나
살아 있음에 감사하며
탐하지도 저버리지도 않은 삶
꽃 볼 수 있고
아기의 옹얼거림 들을 수 있으면
그것이 우리 삶과 행복의 뿌리라네
Happiness of Now
Suk-san Han (trans. by KimyiBo)
Hey, dear stranger, there is not much to human living.
What is so big deal about life?
Thankful for the breath,
Life that is neither covetous nor indifferent.
If I can look at a flower and
hear a baby cooing,
I am living.
That is the root of our life and happiness.
There is no Thanksgiving Day here in Korea. Even if there was one, I would not have known about it in my confinement. It’s been sixty days and a few more. No outside contact. No more playground. Not even cooking.
Not to mention drawing and writing.
There are days when I just can not bring myself to cheer up enough to engage with Hope. She is pulling my pants, repeating the same question three times, but I still wouldn’t hear it. She retaliates by scratching my face, and I send her to her crib where she stays for two hours at a time.
Being together in a rectangular space with a toddler and a new born for more than 76 hours does this to us.
Without reading it anywhere, I have learned only from experience that one’s identity is only a group of activities that reinforce her understanding of who she believes she is.
Many Women who gave birth to a child for the first time say there are many things no one has told them about labor and breastfeeding. When I see a pregnant woman on the street, I want to stop her and tell her to be prepared for a identity loss. That’s because you will be engaging in a completely different set of activities from the ones you have been doing until now. You must quit it whether you like it more not.
If I could give one advice I would like to give to a mom-to-be, I would like to tell her not to make major life changes right before or after the baby arrives. Adjusting to a newborn takes a toll on one’s mental health. Why add more?
In a week we are getting out of Korea, back to the States. There will be many things I will miss about here—friends, family, food. I will not miss waking up and not looking forward to the day ahead. I will not miss living with a layer of fog over my head for more than 76 hours. I will not miss having to keep going when I don’t know where I am standing.
I have been interested in play-based and nature-inspired early childhood education for a while. Among many other reasons, the main reason I held back from it was because I just could not give up disposable diaper though I feel guilty every time I take out my trash… Well, when we finally settle in a place where we can live for at least two years and have our own washing machine, I may finally try cloth diaper and be more intentional about education at home! There are lots of on-line resources and here is one I have been watching.
Time of plenty
From the afternoon of September 23rd, I have no shortage of these below:
stretchy swaddling blankets
square single layered gauze cloths
white cotton baby gowns
nursing pads, nursing shirts, nursing everything
baby hair smell, sweet milk flavored cheeks, yogurt poops
aroma of cocoa seed butter, shea butter, calendula flower extract
smell from cafe across the street, a forbidden zone
seaweed stew boiled with hours of perspiration,
packs of soy milk
pine nuts and cashew
sesame leaf and spinach
eggplant and fern sprouts
boiled quail eggs and roasted sweet potato
protein protein protein
white rice, fat and shinny
Checking for these sounds:
shooting inside a diaper,
Bodies, once was one now two, engaged in these movements:
Not really sure if sleeping too much or not sleeping at all
counting toes until my next feeding—me or him?
Baby, answer, How did you get here?