We are so excited to announce that we have found some amazing new contributors. We will introduce one a week, starting with Robin of Tansy Dolls. Her introduction post is after the page break!
Love, your ever-faithful Kimchi Mamas
I'm so excited for this opportunity to write for Kimchi Mamas. As a full time doctoral student I rarely have time to write anything that isn't academic, but more importantly Kimchi Mamas represents two very important identities to me. I was asked to answer two questions for my first post: 1) How am I Kimchi and 2) how am I Mama. My answer is that my understanding of how I am both is always evolving and changing.
I am the daughter of a good old boy from Michigan and a strong, opinionated woman born and raised in Korea. They met when my father was stationed in Korea during the Vietnam War. When he returned to the states my father brought along not only a new wife but a new baby, my older sister. Four years later, I came along. My parents could not be more opposite; I sometimes wonder what they ever saw in each other. Its hard to imagine them ever being in love, perhaps they never were, but I doubt I'll ever know the truth. When I was four, they divorced and my mother made the decision to leave my sister and me with our father. Over the years, I have wondered how my mother could so easily walk away from her daughters. It wasn't until I became a mother myself, that I came to understand that her decision was likely anything but easy. Its not one I can imagine ever making, but I am also not the young immigrant woman that she once was, struggling to learn a new language and a new way of living.
Raised by my White family, I have often questioned my right to claim my Korean heritage. But I have never felt that I could claim to be fully White either. And so, I am plagued by questions. Can I call myself Korean even though I wasn't raised culturally Korean? Can I be comfortable identifying as White when all it takes are a pair of perceptive eyes to betray me? Do I want to identify as White or Korean? What does it even mean to identify as Mixed?
And while it has taken me many years, I have learned to live with the questions. I have learned that sometimes we can't find the answers because...well frankly sometimes there are no answers and sometimes the answers we are seeking can only be found within ourselves. I am Kimchi because I have come to realize that I have every right to claim it. To deny it is to deny a piece of my identity; it is is in my heart and in my veins and in my soul.
When I became a mother, it seemed as if in many ways those questions both faded and intensified. I have worried endlessly about whether Aria would relate to her Korean heritage and had to, like a reed in the wind, learn again to bend with the uncertainty not against it. But in many ways, I came to find refuge in the identity of motherhood. I am a lot of things, but I don't think there is one single identity that means more to me than being a mother. I have a life outside of motherhood and I enjoy it but nothing brings me more joy and a sense of purpose than my inquisitive, brilliant, and creative daughter.
The moment I held her I saw in her chubby little face hopes and dreams yet realized. I knew then that it was my job to give her the tools to go after those hopes and dreams. Its a big job and one I don't take lightly. To me motherhood is about a series of moments, sometimes those moments are exhilarating and sometimes they are more mundane, but they are all important. Each ones brings an opportunity to teach as well as to learn a lesson. Sometimes that lesson is that momma is only human and often makes mistakes and sometimes that lesson is about more lofty values. I truly believe that my role in this journey is not to tell my daughter what to do but to instead teach her how to figure out what her choices are and that every choice she makes has a consequence. Then I have to sit back and let her fly. Sometimes this means I wring my hands a lot, fret, and worry but often I find myself basking in pride and joy as my daughter proves again and again that she is a capable, compassionate, and creative human being.
As I already said, I am very excited to write for Kimchi Mamas. If you can't tell, blogging has become a way for me to do a bit of soul searching and I hope that as I continue my journey here at Kimchi Mamas that every once in a while I am able to make a connection with you in some way. Perhaps it will be because something I write speaks to you, but whatever that connection is and however it comes to be, I am thankful for the opportunity.