Thursday, May 31, 2012

Bed time Stories

Every night I read a book to my daughter. Bedtime stories routine started since she was a toddler. Since I became a mom I had numerous wishes for my little one, but one particular thing was for her getting close to books. I wanted to install the habit of reading books in her.

copyright to Sun Hee Yoon
My girl at age 1

When I moved to Chicago in 2007, I didn't know anyone and I didn't know where to go. For several month I stayed at home with my little baby and I noticed in me being scared of outer world. The world out of the house didn't seem so safe. Or, I was in a postpartum depression, which converted me into an introvert. All I know now is I was extremely lonely and isolated. 

When the weather got warmer in spring 2008, I started to feel better. I pulled out flower print blouse from the drawer and white pants to match with it. I decided to discover the neighborhood or simply take a walk around the block. I pushed the stroller, my daughter being sit tightly, her favorite toys and snacks on the stroller tray. I went out. Getting out the door was a big step, but once I got out I became more ambitious. I wanted to walk further. So I pushed the stroller about one mile, and I stood in front of the neighborhood library. 

My neighborhood library, Lincoln-Belmont

When I grew up, in a little town in South Korea, there wasn't a section for children's book. In my memory, the library is a place where you could find an ultimate silence and stillness. It was scary and dark, very small windows on top of the dark green painted cement wall and there wasn't any sun lights in the reading room. (The smell..the sound.. I could write those on a next story.)

*     *     *  

In May 2012, I still read books to my 4-year-old daughter at night. It's our intimate time. We lie on the bed, I lean on the piled pillow, she snuggles into my arms, and we read the title and an author and an illustrator's name. Then we flip the first page. 

Last night, we read very interesting book. 

The Journey of Oliver K. Woodman

My daughter enjoyed following Mr. Woodman's journey across the country. In fact, I learned quite a lot from it too. Speaking of bed time stories, I might start the children book's review blog. Hmm.. I'm getting excited for my next project! :)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Sensitivity Training

Sensitivity Training
By Sun Hee Yoon

In this dry land,
Emotions are neglected.

People want to know about what you know
Rather than how you feel.

Feelings are under the surface,
people live under the mask.

No matter how we disguise,
We are same human.
Your heart is thumping right now just like mine.
Your soul is searching for something just like mine.

I am a sensitive person,
Here I keep training my sensitivity.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

My Little Artist

"Mom, look at this!" my little girl called me in a very proud voice. While I was doing dishes, she pinched out PlayDoh little by little and decorated on the human body template. She chose her favorite color, pink. 

My first reaction was 'wow, can we use PlayDoh on the paper?' Apparently, yes.

I started to wonder where this idea come from? How did she figure that out? I was simply amazed by her creative mind.

She is a natural story teller. Sometimes I wish to dictate whatever comes out from her little lips. Her mind is still obsessed in princesses and prince in a fairytale. These days she tends to mix up the idea of princess rivalry and their emotional tension. The clear distinction between "good" and "bad" is very interesting.

I like to ask her questions. Although I don't expect any precise answers, I have my intentions- her way of thinking and her logical development. Often her unlimited imagination and unexpected vocabulary blow my mind. I sit next to her once my chores done. I like watching her little hand choosing different pencil colors, drawing confident lines on the paper. I ask questions like "why this girl's face is bigger than others?" Then, she goes without hesitation, "because she's mad. When people gets angry, their faces get bigger and bigger like a balloon."

I love her unbiased observation. I love her pure imagination. But most of all, I admire her ability to express her own thinking without hesitation. Her innocence and boldness, I want to cherish.

Monday, May 28, 2012


Trying something new is fun.
Learning new stuff stimulates my brain activity.
Thanks to Blogathon,
I try a Wordle for the first time.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

My Big Artist

Art is not what you see, but what you make others see. -- Degas

My husband is an artist. He loves his career and I like he pursues his dream without losing the passion. Technically he is an employee of the biggest entertainment enterprise in U.S. He creates and supervises the game characters in the most brutal fighting game, which is famous for its "brutality". When this game was released last year and scored a huge success, I wrote something intimate as a personal essay.

My husband's creation, Sub-Zero

Compassion, understanding and patience were not my type. I was more like greedy, tricky, impatient person. I never had a desire to be a good person, nor a bad one. Since I married, however, I wanted to be a good wife, a kind of loving and caring wife in a folktale. The realistic problem was I didn't know how to be one. So, I had to learn from the beginning.

Supporting what my husband does for a living has familial complications. It requires a lot of time from him to accomplish his project. He stays late at work sometimes to meet the deadline. When he gets overly stressed, depressed, or demotivated, his emotional strings land on a family. He's not perfect, nor am I. Then we repeat same quarrels and our hurtful words. Anger, resentment, argument and the regret. I needed to learn to be happy together from zero. 

His pencil drawing at Vitruvian Fine Art School

Sometimes I question about the idea of marriage. Why loving each other isn't enough? What's the "right way" to love each other? What's the secret method in the marriage? Marriage is the result of falling in love from one to another, but after few years the initial love form slowly changes. Maintaining healthy marriage is not so easy as it seems, but I still try to make it one. Last year I had an epiphany of my marriage. I realized I had been so stubborn and I almost tried to change my husband to a stereotype married man, ignoring his unique qualities. I was ashamed of myself.

Now I respect a lot more of his art work. We discuss more about his ideas and concepts of drawings. I encourage him to attend illustration and art related conventions. He comes home with full of inspirations and motivations. He is happy then I am happy too. 

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Telescope and Microscope

   My mom used to lecture me the difficult life lessons in a very easy way to understand. I loved how she describe and compare things with simple objects. As I get older, these messages echo in my ears strongly than ever.

   "Sun Hee, in your life, you need to have a telescope and a microscope. If you only have a telescope, you might run after where you want to go or what you want to achieve, but you will miss small but precious things under your feet. And if you only have a microscope, you might focus on things happening right next to you but you won't be able to find where you need to go in a long run. You need to keep these two tools and use them well in the right time."

   I didn't understand fully at that point, but I thought it was very cool idea, imagining myself as an explorer and have two key equipments in my both hands. As a teenager, being ambitious and adventurous, surely needed to take a note from my mom. Since then I started to carry an imaginary telescope and a microscope in my head.

   Surely soon enough, I got to taste the true flavor of reality. High school dramas including non-stop academic exams, the unsatisfying test score, endless effort to keep up in the survival competition against my fellow friends, and being left all alone.

   In my early teenage years, I earned the important life lesson which was "life is lonely journey." No matter how hard you try to find a true friend, the real friend is, in fact, yourself. Being social and outgoing person I was, but I had to learn how to NOT to depend on friends when it comes to a major life decision. Friends are wonderful. Please don't misunderstand me. I'm longing to have friends all the time, because I believe true friendship make our lives richer and joyful. That is certain thing. However, I've found the more I depend on friends, the more I expect from them and in return I got often crushed by disappointment. And there flowed the unspoken resentment and dissatisfaction between friendship, and it never became same as it was at the beginning.

   Wanting to be someone special to someone is very basic human instinct, I believe. We are lonely no matter what we do, no matter where we are. Perhaps that's why we are hungry to get together all the time. We need to be asked how we've been doing, we need to be watched, we need to be touched, and we need to be heard our voices somewhere, somehow.

   With my telescope and microscope, I'm starting to enjoy my solitude. I have learned hard way to switch these two instruments, and I'm getting comfortable with it now. I always knew my mom knows what she's talking about. Her voices and wisdom have become my very core comfort throughout my lonely journey.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Sun, Sun, over My Shoulder

Happiness is not far from us.
It's just hard to find it sometimes.

Happiness is cliché,
The smirk on my face proves it,
It's too trite.

The word "Happiness" is worn out.
Without moderation, it was over used.

But when I feel good, really good, I say I am happy.
I tell the truth; I say it because I feel it.

This morning,
I woke up with my daughter's humming and my husband's tickling my toes. 
Smile, a genuine smile radiates over their faces, I see mine on their eyes.

It's not the phony exaggeration,
Nor pure vanity.
It's a slice of life.
These memories form us who we are. 

Reflections are what we see.
We see what we want to see,
Or we see what we need to see.

The decisions are up to us.
Now what would you want to see?


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Mom's night out

With my friend, Stefanie (on the left) and Monica (in the middle)

Margaritas order up,
Sip by sip, I taste the exotic cocktails with rapture. 
Strong taste of Tequila releases my tension.

Without kids we are free soul.
Bit by bit, I savor the creamy spinach Enchilada.
I let go of my inhibition.

Quiet voices get louder and louder,
That's ok, nobody pays attention anyway,
Feel free, drink some more.

Laughter, loud hearty laughter,
I talk loud and louder without hesitation,
No kid's watching us; I want to be a kid this time.

Having fun, I have forgotten its sensation.
I love talking, laughing, drinking, and sharing stories,
Moms get closer.
Our intimate stories, - everyone has a story to tell,-
Make our night shine. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

If I start my blog all over again...

What would I do if I start my blog all over again..?

Last night, I was searching pictures from my computer libraries. I was hoping some idea would pop out regarding the theme of today: what would you do if you start your blog all over again?

And I found a few pictures from my travel to Australia and New Zealand in 2002.

By the Sydney Opera House
My first encounter with Koala
By Bondai Beach in Sydney
Visit to Maori tribe in Wellington, New Zealand
Shuffling through these pictures from a trip to OZ, I thought if I start my blog all over this would be a new theme. I always wanted to write a story about my experience in English as Second Language. I studied English in Australia and New Zealand for six month from February to July in 2002. 

It's so common to hear a college student travels other country. I was easily considered being a daughter of well-off business man. At that time I thought it was better to be seen a spoiled girl who's got all the opportunity to explore the outer world. The truth is I was in the deepest personal turmoil from a dysfunctional family, financial down turn, and heartbroken.

Life carried me away since I started chatting a man from ICQ. We had been chatting over a year, because I wanted to learn English without the grammar corrections. I wanted to know what's waiting for me out there.
There were immense family pressure over my shoulder, and I was getting fed up. The high expectations from parents and family are quite common in Korean society. It's a cultural stigma in my opinion.

In 2012, now I am sitting comfortably in my living room under a central A/C. I have called this typical Chicago three story flat a home. Physically, emotionally, I've been settled for a while. But my stories from the past always come back. It almost demands me to reveal to the world. I'm still hesitating if this effort is worth it. My mind has not been determined yet.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Evil Bullies

My daughter likes to monologue when she draws pictures. She likes to draw the characters on her notepad, make up stories, and narrate the event. I usually pretend not to listen to her, but last night I had to participate in her play purposefully.

I overheard the scene she was into; one girl punched the other girl's nose bleeding, and this mean girl felt good about hurting her friend. I could sense that my little one was trying to experiment the concept of bully indirect way.

First I had to be sure what are the exact definition of bully. 
  • [NOUN] A bully is someone who uses their strength or power to hurt or frighten other people.
  • [VERB] If someone bullies you, they use their strength or power to hurt or frighten you
 Once I got into a bully conversation, I thought of evil characters in Disney princess stories.  

"Who's the bully in the Cinderella story?" I asked.
"The evil step-mother," my daughter answers, "she is the bully."

"Who's the bully in the Snow White story?" I asked.
"The evil queen," my daughter replied, "she's the bully."
"Why do you think so?" I questioned.
"Because she was jealous of Snow White and she tried to kill her." 

"Who's the bully in the Aladdin story?" I continued.
"Jafar, the evil sorcerer," she frowned as if she disapproved of him, "he's the bad guy." 
"Why do you think so?" Again, I asked.
For a second she seemed to think of the answer, and went on to explain, "because he tried to hypnotize Sultan and tried to kill Aladdin and Jasmine." 

"Who's the bully in the Little Mermaid story?" 
"The evil octopus witch!" she screamed and went on, "she looks disgusting."
"Why do you think she's the bully?" I asked.
"Because she tricked Ariel and tried to use her voice to get married to Prince Eric." 

"Who's the bully in the Tangled?" again I inquired.
"Rapunzel's mom," she was passionate to answer,"but you know, she's not the real mom. She is the wicked sorceress."
"Why do you think she's the bully?" my eyes were fixed on her face. 
"Because she kidnapped Rapunzel and used Rapunzel's hair so that she could stay young." 

The lesson of this conversation was clear. I wanted her to understand there are certain actions being categorized as a bully. She was warned many times about her aggressive behavior, often it was labeled "her strong character" or "leadership" if we put it in a positive way. But I realized there was lacking of clear explanation to persuade her to stop such behavior. Now given these examples I wonder how she will react in the future occurrence. I hope she choose the right thing.

Monday, May 21, 2012

My first Haiku

This image is so beautiful, I had to attach it. Again, I googled it. ;)

I pay the vendor
open the cage of birds,
they fly away in melody.

I enjoy reading poems. The words in poetry has indescribable magic, power, and strength. I have also found that writing poetry is convenient to capture the image and emotion at the same time. Because of its practical reasons, I scribble some here and there.

Although Japan is located right next to South Korea, I haven't heard of Haiku in my school years. From Blogathon 2012, I got to learn Haiku for the first time. I am literally amazed by its beauty. The idea of Haiku inspires me greatly. I have a strong sense that it will come across more often in my future writing.

My past led me here,
often I question why.
The voice in me answers: patience. 

*   *   * 

NATO landed in Chicago,
The angry mob shouts, marches, bleeds.
I ask; what are you really angry about?  

*   *   *  

Time kicks my ass,
Two minutes left to wrap this,
I should not forget my daughter's snack. 

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Inspirational Writers and Their Work

Before submitting my manuscript for the workshop, I shared with some of my friends who was interested in my writing. Especially my friend, Monica showed me a great deal of interest, and introduced me wonderful writers whom I had not been heard before.

Although I majored English Literature in the Chosun University in South Korea, I feel frequently ignorant about the literary background. Whenever my fellow writer relates to a reference work of the published writers, I am like a dummy. I do not understand their language. I feel even worse when most of the group seems to know them all. I didn't want to be left behind having lack of knowledge, so I decided to read sporadically. The first memoir book that I read was Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt. The jaw-dropping, heart-wrenching, hand-sweating scenes are still carved in my brain. 

Memoir is the genre that I invest most of time. As much I enjoy reading a true story from real people, I believe I need to write a true story of mine. Besides the first person narration in one's real life is a powerful format.

Recently, however, I start to realize something never-failing. No matter what kind of writing is, whether non- fiction, fiction, or screen plays, if they speak the true value of life and lessons that all human needs to learn, I am inspired.

 The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan

"Even though I was young, I could see the pain of the flesh and the worth of the pain." Ch. 2

"I discovered that maybe it was fate all along, that faith was just an illusion that somehow you're in control." Chapter 7, pg. 121

"I was no longer scared. I could see what was inside me." Chapter 3, pg. 59

  The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende

“At times I feel as if I had lived all this before and that I have already written these very words, but I know it was not I: it was another woman, who kept her notebooks so that one day I could use them. I write, she wrote, that memory is fragile and the space of a single life is brief, passing so quickly that we never get a chance to see the relationship between events; we cannot gauge the consequences of our acts, and we believe in the fiction of past, present, and future, but it may also be true that everything happens simultaneously. ... That's why my Grandmother Clara wrote in her notebooks, in order to see things in their true dimension and to defy her own poor memory.”
Isabel Allende, The House of the Spirits

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Motivation Deficit

Very tired,
Migraine doesn't help.

Where did enthusiasm go? 
Where did excitement go?

88 Fahrenheit degrees in the Chicago land,
People welcomes this sudden heat with short skirts, sun dresses, and gladiator sandals.
One cool dude listens rock music in his convertible.

Good for them, not for me.
Heavy air presses me down,
Strong sun ray burns my skin.

Can I just escape to the forest, to the nature,
where fresh air would cleanse my polluted lung,
the smell of grass and trees would coat over my skin.
I could sit under the tree, lay back and close my eyes for a second.
Maybe then, I might get back on my track. 

Friday, May 18, 2012

School-Home Project

"What's the outline, mom?" my daughter asked during School-Home project.
"Well," I needed to think fast while answering her, "whenever you do the presentation, you need to make it or draw it in a clear order so that listeners can follow easily."

I try my best to explain in every situation like this, but I always feel there is something missing. Mom doesn't know everything, and that's an universal answer, but I have certain desire that I wish to answer every questions my daughter asks.

"Mom," she excitedly called me, "do you see? I wrote Mudpuppy all by myself!"
I just looked at her and smiled. Few weeks ago I read an article from some Parenting magazine. To teach our children a value of resilience, we shouldn't praise or compliment them too often. When they did a great job, we need to compliment their hard effort on the process rather than the result. I thought it was so true.

"Mom," she called me again within a minute, "why didn't we take picture of Leap Frog?"
"Because it was so hyperactive that it couldn't stay still for the camera." I answered.

 "Mom," she continued her questions, "why cleanwater fish can't live in the dirty water?"
"Well," I hesitated for a moment, "because they are so sensitive that they can't survive in the yucky water." I wished I could give her a better explanation, but this was all I could think of.

"Mom," she asked, "this snake is so scary, but why is it so important?"
"Because," I thought quickly about the description at the museum, "snakes can help the balance of our ecosystem." I was quite proud of answering this question, until there was a follow-up question, "what's ecosystem?"

I had to change the subject. I could have said we will find the definition later today, but I was too exhausted by her questions already. I needed a break. Maybe tomorrow, when I have clear mind, if I can have any, then I will search for it. We'll see. 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

A Trip to Nature Museum

One of my favorite things to do from my daughter's pre-school is the School-Home Project. Whatever topic is I love to assist her, but always SHE is the lead, not I.

During my own elementary school period, I loved the School-Home assignments. Planning, organizing, decorating given projects often made me thrilled. We had different terms for them, which I don't remember, but what I do remember is the excitement that I had for so long during the process.

Few days ago I found the paper slip in the yellow folder in her backpack. It was to notify the last School-Home project of the year. Kids have been learning all about Nature, and my little girl often explained what kind of animals live in the pond, lake, and seashore. I was fascinated by the incredible knowledge she had been acquired.

Between the choice from the Shedd Aquarium and the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, I decided to visit the latter. Besides we were the family member of the museum. My daughter and I had visited Nature Museum quite a lot in the past, but never for the case of school project. Before we headed, I even made sure we were going for our mission, to accomplish her project. This was to give her a precaution before she runs to the Tree house, indoor playground in the museum. We needed to finish first what had to be done before playing. And, she was quite excited to go to the museum and pretended she was sort of an explorer, like Dora the Explorer.

Copyright to Sun Hee Yoon
When we got in, she knew where she needed to go. She looked at the aquarium tanks with turtles, clean-water fish, frogs, toads and snakes. She called excitedly, "mom, look! Those frogs just camouflaged. Can you find them?"

Looking at clean water fish, such as Bluntnose Minnow, Spotfin Shiner, Central Stronroller. 

We've been reading a book, Toad by the Road by Joanne Ryder, illustrated by Maggie Kneen. Now my little girl knows the life cycle of amphibians like toads.

And we wondered if these snakes are poisonous. They were not.

Once our school project was done, she could play at the children's water center.

copyright to Sun Hee Yoon

And, the following post is going to be her making of the project poster. See you then!

copyright to Sun Hee Yoon

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

You are a Bad Mom!

My four-year-old daughter has very strong personality. From the birth she had a serious look, and she never showed us an angelic and innocent infant's smile throughout her first year. She seemed to analyze everything around her, study things how they work, her eyes were busy to follow people around her. My husband and I called her Miss.Serious.

She developed her motor skills quite early as she started to walk by 10 month. Her language was also developed earlier than average in the language development charts. As well as her feisty attitude came along earlier than I would have expected.

One time my close friend nicknamed my daughter, Tazmanian devil from Looney tunes. I had to agree with her. My little girl wore me out just by looking at her.

Time passes in a speed of light, good times and bad times eventually turn around, and here we are now in 2012. My daughter is soon to be five. She's my only child and she's going to be only child for a while. But her extreme social character demanded me to enroll classes after classes. She wanted to play with her age group.
Yesterday she wanted to stay longer with her friends playing soccer in the gymnasium. I explained we need to go home, eat lunch, and get ready for her school in the afternoon. She got sulky and reluctantly followed me in the car. While she was having snack and juice on our way home, she complained why I picked her up early so that she couldn't play with other friends. She made all blame that it was my fault that she couldn't enjoy her time with her gangs. When I parked the car in front of our house, she finally yelled at me with wide open eyes, "you are a bad mom!"

I couldn't believe what I just heard. Did she just scream I am a bad mom? I bit my lips, and stared at her straight, "let's talk in the house. Get in right now!"

There wasn't any argument. My angry voice and snappy narration hollered at the entrance in the house. "I am your mom," I shrieked, "you are only 4 years old. You never talk to your mom like that. Do you wanna know what bad mom is? You go in your room. Stay there until you realize what you have said!"  

I didn't want to hear her fake crying, her belated apology, and exaggerated tantrum. She got in her room, and I poured cold water in the glass. A deep sigh, and again, and again, I tried to change my mind but I couldn't slip this away. Mother's day was only two days ago, and she was all happy to tell me I'm the best mom in the world. I guess I'm not anymore.  

Half an hour later, her room door slowly opened. Her face peeked out from the tiny gap between the door and the wall. I heard her quiet foot step toward the kitchen table, where I sat entire time thinking and listening her movement. I felt a little stroke on my waist. On the corner of my eyes, I saw her "I-am-so-sorry" face. "Mom," she said, "I was wrong. I'm not gonna say such things again. You are my good mama."

During my contemplation, I thought a lot about my reactions toward her. Was there any other way to teach her the lesson? Was I supposed to talk differently? How should I make this issue clear so that she doesn't forget? The big problems usually start with small ones, and I had to make it clear from the beginning. My brain activity accelerated as I narrow down to the bullet point the key issues. As I clear my mind, I started feel calm and knew what to say.

"Listen very carefully." I spoke quietly but firmly, "first of all, you need to respect your parents. I'm here to guide you to make the right choice. You simply complained because you didn't get what you wanted without much consideration. The way you talked to me in the car is unacceptable. You keep forgetting although I gave you enough warning. There's always bad consequences if you don't think properly. You need to learn from your own mistake, you got it? That's life."  

Whether she understood it or not, I needed it verbalized. It was a message to myself as well. To be fair, I should watch myself to be a good example for her. My head and shoulder felt heavy. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Housewife's Reading Dilemma

Reading books are definitely one of my favorite things to do. In the past, whenever I needed some sort of exit or escape, I went to the library and threw myself into reading.Whenever I felt anxious, lonely, even frustrated, reading book was one way that I could calm myself without much destruction.

Since I was a little girl, I was influenced by numerous resources that I needed to read. They didn't mention what kind of reading, but as long as I read it seemed to be fine. My parents bought me the complete collections of Korean ancient literature, western literature which was translated in Korean. Greek mythology, world history, Korean history were my favorite. They were drawn in cartoon characters and colorful images and vivid conversations captured in a cloud over their head. I could stay still and read all day. I didn't want to be bothered whenever I was in this mode.

Now, I'm grown up, and I have quite handful of responsibilities. Whether I like it or not, things have to be done, like dishes, laundry, vacuum, and my family's dinner. I was annoyed by all these at the beginning because getting into reading took me a good time and shortly after I was asked to close the book. Nonstop interruption and distraction made me think if reading a book is worth trying.

I realized, however, that my effort on reading books slowly pays back. My daughter started to bring her own children book sitting next to me. She even argued that she needed to have a book-stand like mine, also a bookmark which was given to me as a gift from my family. Although I have a collection of bookmark, she always need to have the same one that I carry.

I love books. To me reading book is more than a simple hobby. It shows me the path that I haven't considered, it tells me the wisdom that I'm always hungry for, ultimately it makes me write. Reading book encourages me to tell my own story to others, because someone, somewhere would be inspired by my own character. Like I'm deeply inspired by Jeannette Walls in The Glass Castle.

Monday, May 14, 2012

My writing mentor, Annette Gendler

During my writing navigation period in StoryStudio Chicago in 2010, I overheard someone saying, "Annette is teaching Memoir Workshop, and she is really good." As soon as I got home, I registered her next class.
It was the beginning of February, 2011, when Memoir Workshop started. While I sat one of the armchair in the classroom, I still had a doubt if my decision to write a memoir was right.
     What if my English is not good enough to write? What if other writers disapprove of me? What if I can't handle the criticism? Am I really ready for this? So many questions swirled in my head. 

I was on the edge due to lack of confidence and full of uncertainties, when Annette came into the classroom. Her posture was poised and confident. Her voice was calm, yet her words were precise and poignant. At the end of the first class, I knew I made the right choice. Since then I continued taking her classes, and this year I moved to Advanced Memoir Workshop.

Annette once told me, "Sun Hee, I will keep an my eye on you. I hope you keep writing your stories." She might have said it without any intention, but these sentences echoed in my ears and penetrated into my feeble determination. I needed a one, just one person who tells me that I need to write. And the confirmation came from my instructor. She gave me a motivation to write.

Today, I asked her if she could write a little note to mom writers like me. And I am pleased to share this story with others, who struggles with family life and pursuing her dream.

A Little Note to Mom Writers 

Thank you, Sun Hee, for asking me to share my insights on managing to writing and kids. First of all, a note of caution: Motherhood does not get any easier as the kids get older. It might get physically less demanding, but the emotional demands weigh heavier. More experienced mothers used to tell me that, but it made no sense to me when I was getting up every two hours to soothe a toddler with an ear infection. Now I know they were right.

The issue of finding the time, or rather, making the commitment to write, in the midst of a busy family life, remains a challenge, no matter where you’re at in raising your family. My main piece of advice is: Don’t fret, and make the time.

I got my MFA while working a demanding corporate job, serving as board president of my kids’ school, and teaching a creative writing class for the first time. My kids were six, nine and ten at the time. I managed to meet my manuscript submission deadlines by getting up at five. On most mornings, that gave me 1.5 hours to write before the kids woke up. I also have a supportive husband who fixes breakfast and packs lunches, but he was often abroad for weeks. During those single mom stints I went into “survival mode.” I made sure the essentials were met: Nobody went hungry, everybody had clean clothes, did the homework, brushed his/her teeth and was in bed on time. Aside from that, all bets were off. Their clothes might not have matched, a permission slip might not have been signed, and a mitten might have gotten lost. We did go to McDonald’s or out for pizza, and the kids did watch way too many movies (not TV!) while I was writing.

The odd thing is that my kids remember those times of high stress for me as fun times for them. Lounging in front of a screen all day is not how they should spend their childhoods, but in a pinch, it makes for a great Sunday. If we went out for junk food, we were all in a good mood because it was a treat, and let’s face it, once in a while it does taste good, and since I didn’t have to clean up, I had some time to actually talk to them.

If you want to write, you have to make the time, and that doesn’t only mean getting up early or writing into the wee hours. It means being willing to let other things slide. It means saying, “I can’t go to the park now because I have to finish writing.” It means instant soup instead of roast chicken.

However, it also means recognizing that it is not a bad thing for kids to see Mom juggle more than one job and working towards a dream. It gives them, I think, a lesson in what might be possible if you work towards a goal, even if it’s only in baby steps and with a lot of baggage on your back. Interestingly enough, my kids referred to me as “a writer” way before I did, because that’s what they saw me doing.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Photo Memories on Mother's Day

Copyright Sun Hee Yoon
She was born in Montreal, Canada
I became a mom on a hot summer day in July, 2007. Since then my identity has shifted from "me-myself" world to "me-the last". I was an alien who just landed in a new planet, and I needed to learn to be a mom from level zero.

Raised in South Korea, my mentality still lies on Confucian doctrine, even motherhood and parenting. Its emphasis is on full sacrifice for her own children without asking in return. I've seen my both grandmothers and my mom and hundreds and thousands of moms who sacrificed their youth, health, and her being. It seemed to me once you become a mom, you need to transfer into a new person, like a rebirth.

Copyright Sun Hee Yoon
Her being 1-year-old at Lake Michigan
It's only my 5th Mother's day. Although I faced quite a big bump during my motherhood, whenever I see my daughter's happy faces, this journey is definitely worth taking. To quote my daughter, "are you happy, Mom? I like when you smile. I will make you happy." Indeed, I'm the happiest mom in the world. 

Copyright Sun Hee Yoon

Copyright Sun Hee Yoon