Friday, September 18, 2015

Bad Mom

From time to time, I got questions like, “Why do you send your baby to day care when you’re staying at home all day long?” or “Why don’t you cook everyday? Don’t you have plenty of time at home?”
I just shrugged and said, “because I am a bad mom.” 
You see, my little one started to go to day care when he was 3 months old. When my previous employer refused to provide breastfeeding accommodation, I quit my full time reporting job. I became a work-from-home working mom when my little one turned 6 months old…but he continued going to school.

This is what my current typical day looks like: Get up, walk my now 2-year-old to his school, come home and then write, write, write. I have to produce at least 2,000 words on a daily basis. If I finish my writing before 4 PM, I cook, and then pick up the little one by 6 PM. We come home, and the whole family sits down together for dinner.

If I don’t finish my writing by 4 PM, I still have to pick him up by 6 PM. Then the whole family goes out for dinner. Whether we dine at home or dine out, we spend a solid hour playing together after eating. At the end of the day I give him a bath, give him his bedtime nursing session, brush his teeth, read him a story, and kiss him goodnight. Then I spend the rest of the night catching up on my chores.
This is on an easy day. Hard days happen when I have a business trip, out-of-town interviews to conduct, research to do, or, the worse, when the little one is sick.

These are my days.
But some people might think that working from home equals not working…and they consider sending a child under 3 years old to school while the mother is “sitting at home all day long” unforgivable. 
I know some supermoms who do everything themselves. They give birth at home; they cook every meal from scratch; they homeschool their children. I admire these moms while they turn up their nose on moms like me.

I know some super grandmas who love to tell stories about what great mothers they made when they were at my age and how well they handled their dozens of very active kids and bunch of very annoying in-laws.

These are the people who love to ask me a question like, “I bet you just drop the poor kid to that terrible place, and then go shopping and out to lunch, don’t you?”

Before my little one turned 1 year old, I would sincerely go through my typical day with them, detailing what I really do when my little one goes to school. I would earnestly share my experience of choosing a good day care with them and telling them why I really like my little one’s teacher. I would seriously quote George Bernard Shaw’s “Man and Superman,” explaining my decision of keeping my career.
But I soon realized that my sincerity would only bring on more questions. Now I just shrug,and say, “Because I am a bad mom.” For some reason, my questioners really like this answer. 
Just earlier this month, my mother-in-law once again told me, “I can’t bare seeing you send my grandson to day care at such a young age. That’s just horrible.”

I said, “yes, that’s horrible. I am a bad mom. I can’t be as good as you are.”

She said, “I know, right?”

And that was the end of the discussion.

This has been an exclusive post for World Moms by To-wen Tseng. Photo credit to the author.

Monday, September 7, 2015

The woman breastfed on a refugee boat

I have a story about being a mother and a refugee.

It was 1949, in the middle of Chinese civil war. A mother trying to escape from the war-torn China got on a refugee boat in Guangzhou with her 3-year-old and 1-year-old.

The boat was sailing to Kaohsiung. Soon after they left the port, the two children started to cry. People on the boat were afraid that the kids crying would attract the communist navy searching for refugees, and were going to throw the kids into the sea.

The mother fought against those people with all her strength, promising that she would stop the children crying. She took off her blouse, put the two kids under her arms, one on each side, and then put her nipples into the kids' mouths. Comforted by their mother's breasts, the children calmed down. The mother kept nursing her children until they arrived Kaohsiung safely two days later.

The mother in the story is my grandmother. Those two children are my father and my uncle. This is a photo taken in Shanghai before the family gambling their lives on the treacherous voyage across the Taiwan Strait.

I heard the story from my grandmother when I was a little girl. It's been such a long time that I almost forgot about it, or I never really paid attention to it. I was too young to understand what being a mom, or being a refugee is really like.

Then the #HumanityWashedAshore image of a 3-year-old Syrian boy lay dead on the beach shocked the world. It is reported the boy, Aylan, drowned with his mother and 5-year-old brother on a short run from Turkey to the Greek Island of Kos.

The image shocked me, too. I thought of my 2-year-old, more than that I thought of my grandma. For the first time, I tried to imagine what it really was like for a 20-year-old young mother to get on an over-loaded refugee boat with two toddlers and to continue to breastfeed them for two days in the middle of the sea to flee from violence, oppression and poverty. How hard, or how dangerous it could be? My grandma said, “we could have died.” Now I knew she was serious.

Aylan was not one person. Three more children died last night trying to cross that TWO MILES to safety.
Aylan could be my dad, or my uncle, or any of us. War was never very far away from us. It’s often just one generation or two miles away.
Aylan’s father told The Telegraph, “let this be the last.” I hope so but highly doubt it. History repeats itself. When will we ever learn?

Read more: Things we can do to help. Now.

How Aylan's story should have ended. Photo courtesy Europe Says OXI.
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by To-wen Tseng.