“I used to identify as an Asian-American female. But since having kids, I truly identify mostly as a working mom. There is so much that goes along with that identity: pride, guilt, self-imposed stress, motivation and more guilt. I also identify as a woman in her 30s and less and less as an Asian American female. I find that motherhood has crossed ethnic lines and now I find myself divided more by socio-economic borders. Do you have a nanny, do you have family that helps with childcare, do you work, do you travel, do you own your home, do you have passive income. Those types of identifiers.”
I’m incredibly inspired by my own mother and by my mother-in-law. I see them with different eyes after having kids, and I now know what they have sacrificed in their own lives to bring their children (us) into the world. Their dedication to others and selflessness is incredible. My mom sees me tired from my kids and she wants to take care of them and me, but she’s in her 70s and can’t do it all. Seeing her learn how to pace herself is something that motivates me to stay healthy — that way I can appear strong for my kids and keep her at ease that I’m taking care of myself.
She is incredibly smart (former pharmacist turned neuroscientist with a PhD in neuroscience) and raised both me and my sister after my dad left. She also took care of her parents who were declining in health, despite having four brother and sisters in the area. She is truly the epitome of the sandwich generation and also a first generation immigrant. Her story is absolutely fascinating.
Stress in my life is no longer a particular moment. It is the culmination of thousands of little moments. Balance is prioritizing what I allow myself to be stressed about and what things I let go of. My career used to be first and foremost in my life. But now getting home by 5:30 is what matters. I had to accept that I would not be the person putting in 70 hours a week into my job, but that I would be the person who takes a backseat to someone who has prioritized her or his career. Life has to be about balance. If someone appears to be doing it all, you can rest assured that there is an element in that person’s life that is taking a hit. You just may not see it.
When you’re young, you have all the time in the world and no money. And then as you get older, you have all the money in the world and just no time. And so, finding a balance of what is valuable to you and how you want to spend your time, your time currency, becomes the most important.
I am extremely fortunate to have a support system in my mother and my sister, who’s just a warrior and probably my favorite human being. She’s just fantastic. But also in my husband. He’s just a rock. I think if anybody needs self-care, it’s him. He allows me to have self-care. He allows me to take care of myself. I hear other women in my life and their partners and the struggles they go through. And yes, we have similar struggles. There’s still socio-economical imbalances between genders. And he’s aware of them. And even though we struggle everyday to acknowledge them, he does more than his share of helping with the kids. And so that enables me to think about myself. Whether that’s an extra hour of sleep even, as basic as that. If I wanted to, he would allow me some time to sit in my office, not do anything, and write, which if I didn’t do anything else in my life, I would just write. Self care to me is having people in your life who understand how important it is to take care of yourself mentally, physically, emotionally and who you feel good about supporting and vice versa. Having a symbiotic cohort of people. I think it’s really hard, no matter how many resources you have, no matter who you are, if you don’t have people in your life that you care about who care about you, it’s hard to even talk about self-care. Even though it’s called self care, it’s more external than internal sometimes.
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