Monday, June 13, 2016

Rainy Season, Six Months, Where Have I Been

Bebe in Ginza

In my last update baby was only two months, and he's now six months, so it's been ages. I've eased back into work since March or April, and now my next challenge is to find a daycare for Anri. As difficult as it will be to leave him at a day care a few times a week, I think it will be good for him to socialize and to be in a different environment, and to be immersed in the Japanese cultural ways since he spends most of his time with his French-speaking maman. I'm also looking forward to working more, I feel more motivated than ever and somehow there are so many good opportunities lately. I still feel so lucky I can work such a flexible schedule, I don't think I could handily working full time in an office these days.

It's notoriously difficult to get a spot in a daycare in Tokyo, and pretty much everywhere else in Japan. There are very few government-subsidized spaces and all are very coveted, and priority goes to full-time workers. It works on a complicated system of points, and most of the decision-making happens in April of each year. So I'm very off-season and the hunt is a bit discouraging, and makes me realize why so many Japanese women reluctantly quit their jobs after having a baby- sometimes they just don't have a choice. I'm still hopeful I will sort something out sooner or later.

I've been enjoying spending time with Anri, who is big and healthy at six months. He's such a fun and playful baby, and he just smiles at everyone wherever we go. We literally take him everywhere: he's been shopping in Ginza, in the crowds of Shibuya and Shinjuku, and at some cafes in Harajuku and Aoyama. He's very calm and curious. I can't wait to discover more of his personality.

I'm also back into running, I've been going at least 2-3 times per week, so it's a nice activity to do on my own or as a family, we take turns running while the other walks with Anri in his stroller. I also have lots of time to cook, so I've been trying some basic Japanese recipes, it's a lot of fun and much easier than I thought. I'm also cooking baby food, Anri started eating a bit. He had his first taste of rice mixed with dashi, which is just rice cooked in a fish and kelp stock. He loved it! In Japan, baby's first foods are usually okayu (rice porridge), pureed vegetables (pumpkin, sweet potato) and tofu in the first few weeks. I'm now following the Japanese guidelines since I have a recipe book, but I'll add some Western-style foods so he gets a taste of everything.

So that's life, lately! It's kind of quiet but I needed that. It's actually never really quiet with a young baby around, but I'm enjoying this time as I know it's fleeting, and Anri is growing up so fast. Working keeps me sane as I like getting out of the house from time to time, and I like being challenged by different things. It's a good balance for the time being, and becoming a mother pushes me to be more organized in life in general…. which isn't a bad thing.

On to rainy season now, then scorching hot summer. I'm still trying to figure out holiday plans, as I don't think we'll go to Canada this summer since my mom visited in April, but I'd like to go somewhere in Asia. To be continued!



Alexandra said...

Hello! This will sound strange, but I first stumbled onto your blog back when you were in Korea. I was living in the US in my home city (NYC) but working as the only American in a company of Koreans who were in the US for two years. I would go whole days hearing only Korean, and whenever I struggled to understand a phrase or a cultural point or a social faux pas, I would do the only thing I could - google. Eventually I stumbled onto some discussion forums for expats living and working in Korea, and that's where I came upon your comments, over the years that I worked for that company. After some time, my co-workers went back to Korea and I moved on to other work, and I stopped commenting or reading at the discussion forums. But every few months or every few years I would remember, "Hey, that cool woman with the insightful comments, I wonder if she's still over there," and I would check your blog. Remembering that you were out there and remembering to check your blog was a bit like finding money in pockets you packed away last winter - it was like "oh yeah! awesome!" I checked in maybe every 18 months or two years or so, and each development made me so happy for you. It always comforted me to know that somewhere out there you were still living your life as fully and awesomely as you do. Sometimes I would feel almost apprehensive to come back and read your blog, scared, perhaps, that it would have no updates; but eventually I realized that what I was scared of was finding that you had stopped living your dreams, and I knew that that would not happen. I knew that even if you were no longer in Japan, or any amazing far-flung destination, you would still be living your dreams.

This is the first time in a couple years that I thought to come back to your blog, and my heart swelled with happiness to see that you have a beautiful baby now. It also struck me that through all of these years of my life that I have felt, in whatever small way, that while my life and career and family were growing, yours was in some strange way a parallel version of it - moving to new places, quitting jobs you disliked, settling down, and (two years ago for me) having a child - you had no idea I even existed, much less was reading. That felt weird, so today I wanted to comment and say that in some weird small way, even though I have never met you or even lived in the same country as you, I have viewed you as a kindred spirit. I have viewed your life as the life I might have lived had I moved to Korea to continue working with my company, and then maybe spring-boarded to another country from there, perhaps settled there and made a family there. I have NOT like stalked you or anything - please don't think that - just, it has made me so happy over the past years to see the introspection and adventure and beauty and joy that you share with the world via your blog. I have a wonderful life and I wouldn't trade it, but it makes me so happy to read about your wonderful life and to know that there are so many ways to be happy in this world. I hope that makes sense and doesn't sound crazy!

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