The First of My Priorities

The shifting of this woman’s priority as she’d become, a mother, translated…

As the sleepy bugs attacked, Mimi who’s not yet two became very clingy and easily agitated. After I’d carried her to bed, we’d experienced rolling around on the sheets, a game of chasing, making friends with the big Teddy bear, went off bed to get some milk, playing with toys, reading books, until after a whole hour, she’d finally, fallen to sleep. And, in order to get this face that’s, so sound asleep, I’d needed to have the twice a day, three minutes, to two hours’ drama of putting her to bed.

Hanging up the laundry will only take me ten minutes, sweeping, mopping the floors, no more than fifteen, but, don’t know if the next time my daughter flipped over if she will have those shiny bright eyes, looking at me? And, in order to have a set schedule for her, I can only, keep my patience, and stay by her side, to soothe her, and tried not to think about how much time has already passed, and, I’d accompanied her into dreams, then, awaken in a panic in the late nights, then, started, sorting through the messes in the house, and my work.

Recalling how as I started teaching first grade, in order to get the kids to understand the trials that their mothers had weathered, carrying them inside, I’d prepared the big balloons, to get those six-year-olds to stuff into their shirts, to try walking with a protruding belly. I’d heard the kids who were sweating like crazy, smiling and telling me, “It’s so hot!”, “I keep on bumping into my belly!”, back then, I wasn’t a mother yet, and couldn’t tell them exactly, why it was that motherhood is so difficult? And, as I’d heard my coworkers told, that only in the depth of the nights, did they get the chance to catch a reflection of themselves in the mirrors, to put on the makeup, then, they’d recalled, that there are other roles that they’d taken, other than a mother. Back then being single, I didn’t get it, does being a mother meaning losing the self? Or, does being a mother mean, that we are, our last priorities?

And snow, I’d become, a mother like that. At 7:30 in the morning, I’d, run into class, and, get my baby back at five from the nanny, and engaged in that race between being a mother and working as a school teacher. And the identity of me being “Ms. Lee” became, miniscule, because I’d needed, to fight for the freedoms to catch a matinee or to go for a thirty-minute jog. And, the freedoms those revolutionaries fought so hard for, I’d, easily, turned in my own life of independence, for a child.

The twelve-year-olds are already, very opinionated, looking at the girls, complaining on how their mothers don’t know them one bit, and that they’d often gave their mothers the silent treatments. I’d recalled how when Mimi was nine-months old, and had a very high fever, how I’d waited with her in the E.R., waiting for the urine test results and the blood test results.

I want to tell my Mimi, I know, that in your world, there will be many more beautiful things that are going to be ahead of us, your parents, we understand it, and we will, let go so you can pursue whatever makes you happy, but, the moment you’d become our baby, you’d become, and will always be, our top most priority.

And so, this, is how the mindset changes from when you were single, to when you’d become a mother, because, as we became mothers, time is no longer ours, it’d belonged to our children’s, and a lot of women lose their identities, taking up the multiple roles that we take up in our lives, and this woman apparently, found the balance of being a mother and being a school teacher, and her top priority is her daughter’s wellbeing, and that makes her a good mother!


Happy Graduation

Seeing her child come of age, the thoughts of a mother, translated…

It’s, as if in a daze, the roads turned bumpy, I’d focused my eyes, and, those originally familiar looking streets, became, so unfamiliar, and I’d raised up my left hand to ring the bell, with my right arm, slung my backpack on my shoulders, rushed off the bus, the bus sped off behind me, I’d focused, and, hollered aloud, “Ahhhhhhhhh, my temperature bag………”, leaving this defeated “hen” standing all alone, on the busy streets of Taipei.

I’d still had this sort of dreams every now and then.

That was the summer, many, many, many years ago, as I’d just become a mother. This feeling was like being late for a major exam I’d had when I was younger, and after I woke in cold sweat, I’d realized, that I was, already, out of school.

My son, in his infancy, as he heard my version of “Little Kitty Cat” for mealtime, “Mimi, darling/Mimi, my baby/come drink the milk, come drink the milk/here’s, that yummy milk for you………”, he’d wiggled his body with excitement, and get himself closer to my breasts, and worked hard to suckle. Being taken in with his motions, I was, enjoying being a mother then, without realizing, that more trials were coming my way.

這天,我憶起過往,細數這段上課「食光」,許多美好的回憶取代曾經的跌跌撞撞,耳畔迴...the trials this woman faced, raising her son up…illustrations from the papers online…

At first, my son didn’t quite understand how to suckle, and used his gums, and bit down hard, and, my loud “OUCH!” thrilled him, it’d made me start crying. The nurses’ care and concerns got turned into the barking dogs in the late of night, and I can, only run scatter into the dark streets. As my baby couldn’t get enough sustenance, and cried like hell, it’d, forced me to choose my mother-in-law’s breastmilk production recipes of: peanuts stewed with pork’s feet, the sea bass soups, the assortments of Chinese herbal remedies, along with the milking teas out there………

And as the neighbors discussed, “Is her son having enough to drink?” “Breastmilk only works for the first few weeks of life! Breastfeeding this long will only tax your energies!”, my mother said, “Before bedtime, he needs the formulas! He will get hungry fast, and you’d have to stay awake through the night, to feed him!” And, even though there’s care and concern hidden there, behind her words, it’d felt hurtful to me.

Many years ago, the breastfeeding places in public and in the offices aren’t that prevalent, I’d had to work in the daytime, and I’d needed to go and breastfeed my son in the smelly restrooms; as I’d gone on business trips, I’d had to send my bagged up breast milk home by service. I’d had a childrearing volume in my left, the tools in my right hand, worked hard at it, and finally, I’d become, good at it. But, how much of these earliest memories of feeding would my child ever actually recall? I really can’t tell, and still, this would be a special memory that’s shared by me and him alone.

On this day, I’d recalled the past, and, counted out the memories, and, the nursery rhyme “Kitty Cat” came accompanying the fast-beat graduation tunes.

So, this is, tracking the milestones of your child’s growth, as you’d become a mother, you’d gone through some hardships in life, and yet, now, your son is an adult now, and, it made you realize, that all the hardships in your life previously had been, more than worth it.

The Shared Struggles of Our Similar Pasts

On the growth of a woman here, translated…

I’d received a postcard from a good friend, she’d mentioned how well I’d played the role of mother, it’d made me recalled the struggles I’d had, along with the mindset I’d carried, in these struggles. There’s no way I can compare to see, if I’d played the role well or not, but, for the struggles, the conflicts I’d felt, being a mom, it’d become, ordinary.

There’s no turning back being a mom.

It’s like a huge wave, urging me on, and all we can do, is to swim forward on, looking toward that distant island, and imagine how we’re finally able to breathe after we’d, reached it. If we’d turned our heads back, then, in an instant, we’d be swallowed whole by enormous regrets, that sense of helplessness. And the only option we have, is to, trudge onward.

Like how the caterpillar broke out of the cocoon, and start flying around as a butterfly, that, is very similar to a woman’s coming of age. After going through the morning sickness, discomfort, being immobilized, to bleeding, going through the water being broke, labor, after all of these trying moments, we’d finally, changed from girls into women after we’d welcomed a new life, and started on this life, of never turning back again.

女性成長那些我們都掙扎過的曾經 圖/Swawafrom the papers…

All of which I’d used to enjoy, exercising, traveling, even just heading outdoors for a short walk, became luxuries that I can’t get as a mom. And, we can only get our alone time on those short jogs out, or alone time on our own, stealing what time we can, for ourselves. And, we’d felt, unimaginably satisfied, if we can, squeeze in that exercise time we’d done regularly from before.

Couldn’t manage both childrearing and our work, whether it be going to and from work, overtime, for the sake of that promotion, or at home, looking after our own young, we always experience the struggles. If we want to spend more time with the children, then, we’d have to give up on promoting our own abilities, enjoying the life with our newborn children, giving up the luxuries of making more money. Even as our husbands make a lot of money, nobody likes to ask for money, money, time, freedom, accompanying the young, are always constantly rearranging the orders of our lives.

Surely, we’d all, done our best! There’s no perfection, no absolute right or wrong. Then, we’d, lifted our heads to see, our children growing up by the day, and, tell ourselves, that it’d been, more than worth it.

Nobody ever told us, that what being a mom is all about, from the wedding when everybody smiled and wished us to have children soon, there’s NO traces to follow, and afterwards, we’d felt that sweetened burdens.

not my photo…

This is, a journey of giving up on things, and restarting up again. In the tiredness, we’d become, numb, in the reordering, we’d found that new hope. Slowly, we rid ourselves of the past, then, in the new life, slowly, recalling how we once were as children. Yes, it’s, like rebirths for us.

After we were reborn, there’s, that need, to move onward, that need, to be stronger. Here’s a toast, for all the mothers out there, we are, good enough, really!

So, this, is the ups and downs of becoming a mother, there are so many things you’re unsure of, worrying about your children’s wellbeing, and, you are always uptight, because you worried, that if you relaxed, something awful will happen to your children, but, you just need to, relax, and life run its course, because fate has everything worked out, and you just hadn’t figured that out yet!

My Older Sister Fed-Ex’d Her Care and Concerns

The closeness of siblings, translated…

A few days right after I got home from the hospital for having my child, I’d gotten a call from an online shopping site, said that I’d ordered two packages, that can I open the gates downstairs, the delivery person is going to bring the items to me. I was somewhat doubtful, as I couldn’t recall when I’d ordered something from online, but, I’d still allowed the delivery person to bring it upstairs for me.

As I was signing for the items, I saw that the sender was my older sister. I’d gone into my bedroom, and opened up the packets, found that there was a heating pad, for my breast tenderness problems, I felt very moved, and tears just came to my eyes, and fell down like rain. Because I’m a first time mom, these couple of days, taking care of my child had caused me to get really stressed out, I’d become so sleep deprived, there was no time for me to take a rest for myself. When I’d realized, that my breasts felt so tender that I’m about to explode, I’d quickly called up my second eldest sister for an S.O.S, asked her if there are ways to help me alleviate the pains.

My sister used her experiences, told me to use a heating pad to improve my circulation, then, to squeeze out all the milk, and she’d given me a boost emotionally too.

Without knowing, that the next day after we’d talked, my older sister had sent this care and concern, in the form of this small present, to me. Actually, the first few days after I’d given birth, I was emotionally distressed, on the one hand, I’m really glad to have a child of my own, but on the other, I was stressed out about having to take care of a newborn child; plus there was so many miniature physical ailments that’s caused me to be at an emotional low. So, when I’d gotten the cares and concerns of my older sister, I was deeply touched, that, was why I’d started to cry.

I knew, that there would be a TON of trials that come later on, but, so long as I got the supports, care and concerns from my family, I know I’ll have the strength, and the courage too, to face up to the numerous challenges of being a first-time mom.

And so, this woman had the cares and concerns of her older sister, and, that just shows how close the siblings are, and the older sister had the empathy toward the woman, because she was there too, and so, that added to her showing care and concern…