I’m an Easter/Resurrection baby born 32 years ago today. This means that A. I’m a believer and B. oh boy, I’m older. Agaaaain.
I’m not a big fan of parties, and so prefer to celebrate it with just a few people. Not just that, I try to find some time—a few hours usually—to just sit down by myself without any distractions.
And then I reflect a bit on the path I’ve been on and the path that’s in front of me.
Thankful for How I Got Here
I’m 32, an age that’s not even on the calendar anymore. I don’t want to go through the whole history, and so here’s a poster that basically summarizes my life from Pre-Mom to now Mom-of-Two:
The story of the Parks started in 2008, the year the Olympics was held in Beijing. There I met my husband-to-be, where we were both enjoying our freedom in a foreign country. He was taking a break from work; I was discovering what I was capable of. We happened to be classmates in a Chinese academy taught by a teacher who explicitly said that she didn’t want any of her students dating.
I was told that getting a visa during the Olympics was hard, so I decided to head home. That was when my husband-to-be and I started dating—to the shock of everyone who were very familiar with my tomboyish side—and a year-and-a-half later we were married.
We exchanged I Do’s in a beautiful white Church in Manila and then moved to his country. There his father’s friend immediately hired me as an English teacher. A while later my husband’s new company decided to expatriate him to Beijing. He went ahead. A few months later I quit my teaching job and followed him.
I was able to procure a teaching job a few months later and was assigned to a team that made working in China a truly memorable experience for me.
A year later, my husband’s company underwent a reshuffling and it was decided that we would be sent back home to Korea. It just so happened that my contract was almost up. We had also discovered that we were pregnant. The timing was perfect for us. And so there in Korea we spent the next almost three years, where my husband had to go through some challenges at work while I became a first-time mom and also started this blog, documenting my life and discoveries in his country as a foreign mom (of two by the third year!).
My husband’s diligence and dedication at work paid off, and we achieved an old dream: we were going back to Beijing.
He was excited; I was freaked out. Pollution. New place again. Education (it’s subsidized in Korea). No social media. What about my blog?
Believe it or not, my blog was my medium to fight postpartum depression months after having L1. I can’t remember anymore the reason for the depression, except that I needed an outlet. The blog was my outlet. The blog made not having a career bearable. (Motherhood probably saved me from being a workaholic.)
And so coming back to China was a big deal for me. As a mom, factors such as the pollution, not having my in-laws as back-up and needing to make new friends again worried me. As a blogger, I had to deal with blocked social media platforms and starting over in a new environment in a foreign language.
If I could talk to Jackie from a year ago, I would tell her to not worry. Everything will be fine. Because honestly, everything is fine. The trick is to just have faith and take it one day at a time.
Thankful for Perspective
And so… to summarize.
That’s the nicer picture anyway.
This is the less nicer picture (just a simple, basic idea of some of the challenges I faced):
But after reading my story earlier, you’d know I’m grateful. Feeling blessed. Really happy.
And you’re right, I really am.
And when I’m not, I try to recall the Japanese mothers who couldn’t cry.
I saw them by chance on the television, in an evacuation center because of the different disasters that took place in Japan in 2011.
First, there was a tsunami. Then, there was an earthquake. These two simultaneous natural disasters caused the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster—the most significant nuclear disaster since the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986.
Thousands died you see, including children. And so I remember watching TV and mothers tending to their surviving children.
And here’s the funny part: they weren’t crying.
They took care of their surviving children in the evacuation centers as if nothing had happened. Instead of complaining or crying, they calmly followed the government’s instructions on where to go, what to do, and when to do it.
When these mothers were interviewed on how they felt, their emotions were the same as how I would have felt had it happened to me. They didn’t want to just cry, they wanted to break down. Some probably even felt like they had partly died. But they couldn’t.
They wept in the bathrooms when their surviving children weren’t looking, then came back to tend to them. They put up their bravest, probably most stoic front, and took care of their surviving children.
Compared to that, every problem I’ve ever had seems so tiny. Still seems so endurable.
And if that has taught me anything, it’s to be grateful.
Grateful that this is my situation today, because elsewhere it is worse. Grateful that my life has brought me this far, because not everyone is as blessed. Grateful that my husband and I can give our children this life that they have right now, because not every parent can.
Grateful for being a Christian because when the going gets tough, I can give Him all my problems.
Grateful for my Faith
I’ve been a Christian for as long as I can remember. And naturally, whenever the going got tough, I turned to my faith.
I close my eyes and talk to God. I tell him my problems, I tell him my sorrows. I tell him what I’m going through.
And once that’s all out—once I’ve unleashed the mammoth of emotions that had spiraled out of control inside of me, I wait. I wait to be pulled out of this mess I feel I’m in.
But the waiting can take a while. And so I get up and go. Go do what I need to do.
Faith isn’t about throwing everything to God and waiting for Him to drop the solution in your lap. No. Faith in God for me means knowing that there’s someone up there with a plan for me, but I’m supposed to be down here doing something for myself as well.
There was one time when it wasn’t just one problem, but an entire situation that was messed up.
That lasted months.
I didn’t have the luxury of sulking or overthinking the situation, and glad I didn’t. The situation is the situation. We just had to get up and go. And, as my mom sometimes told me, if you’re gonna go then best to go with a smile.
And when I’m feeling impatient, feeling like I need an answer ten minutes ago, I remind myself of the Japanese mothers who controlled themselves in spite of what they had just gone through. Nothing I’m going through is comparable to theirs, and even so I need to just have faith.
Thankful for Where I Am
I’m very thankful for where I am. But now the question is where I ought to be headed.
As a mom of two young children, one of the things I want to expose them to is to social responsibility.
As a family formerly based in Korea, I need to expose my children to the wonderful recycling practices of their home country.
As a Christian mom, I need to figure out how I’m going to raise my children as Christians in a non-Christian country.
Thank you for reading my birthday piece, and ’til my next one!
Before you go, I’d like to leave you with a song I used to sing whenever I was sad or really feeling down. It’s about giving all your problems to God and having faith that He’s in charge:
P.S. Pasaway is a Tagalog word which loosely translates to disobedient, unruly and naughty. But it’s a word we also sometimes use in jest. 🙂