Lessons From My Daughter

I noticed the yellow leaf pointing the way on our hike in Japan. But my daughter would have just as easily picked up one of the dried, brown leaves or even a wood chip with as much fascination as I had for this shiny, yellow one 😉

Greetings dear readers,

I know I’ve been absent for much of this year.  My life has certainly changed since my daughter was born. But it’s a wonderful new adventure. I wanted to share some of my experience with you. My daughter has opened my eyes to see the world in new and exciting ways. I’ve learned to let go of a lot of things I can’t control. Spit-up on my new outfit? No problem! Dried noodles stuck to the wall? No big deal. Waking up in the middle of the night to soothe a crying baby? Well, not so great, but you get used to it 😉 And extra snuggle time with my daughter is a bonus!

Now that she’s 15-months-old, it is really fun to engage with her as we play. She mimics a lot of what I do, like putting her stuffed animals to bed and feeding them from her cup. But what I enjoy the most are the lessons she teaches ME.

  • She appreciates the small things: stones, wood chips, leaves; and she notices little details like a tiny string on the floor or  exactly where she left a single block a few hours or even days ago! When we’re at the zoo, it’s not just the animals she pays attention to, but the wooden fence and posts fascinate her just as much. As I hurry through life, thinking about what I need to get done or where I need to go next, I often miss the little moments, which are really opportunities to experience wonder and joy at this truly phenomenal world we live in.
  • As I mentioned above, my daughter LOVES leaves. As soon as we go outside, she starts looking for them, often picking up one for each hand. Fall is by far her favorite season, which I guess makes sense, since she’s a fall baby. Her middle name even means, “fall child.” Because of her love for leaves, I notice them more when I’m out walking or running, so much that I end up trying to find her the most unique and beautiful kinds–brilliant red, pointed with serrated edges, giant and spade-shaped. But what’s interesting is that when left to her own searching, she usually grabs the oldest, most crumpled, brown leaf she can find. And she holds it tightly, loving it as much as the others, maybe even more. This has taught me how I judge beauty and the aging process.
  • Another thing my daughter loves is grapes. She’s truly a grape monster, especially when it comes to the “moon-drop” variety. She’ll literally try to leap onto the table to get to them. And when she’s eating grapes, she gobble them up faster than she can chew. But what’s really amazing to me is that as much as she loves them, she’s still willing to share her favorite treat with others. When my husband and I are sitting next to her, she’ll offer us one, bringing it right up to our mouths to feed it to us. And not just one, but several. When I’m eating my favorite snack, I tend to hoard it, delighting in the deliciousness, without thinking of sharing. Now, I strive to be more like her–sharing what I like best with those I love.

As we head into the peak of the holiday season, I hope you’ll stop and notice the little things–a beautifully lit Christmas tree or a snowflake on the tip of your finger. When you drink a warm mug of cocoa or a special coffee, maybe you’ll think of sharing it with a friend. And when you search for that perfect holiday outfit, maybe you’ll remember your favorite sweater in the back of the closet, worn out but still oh so snuggly!

Happy holidays 🙂

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We Become Stars

Two of my poems appear in Westland Writes 2018 literary journal.

Happy June everyone!

I’m excited to announce that two of my poems have been published in the literary journal, Westland Writes. They’re both about parenthood. One is called “We Become Stars” and highlights the experience of letting your child go out into the world. Ironically, I wrote this before having a child, thinking from the view of a daughter. Now, I see the poem from a mother’s perspective, which creates a very different feeling. The other poem is titled “When I Realized You Were Magic” and shares what it’s like to find out you’re a parent, full of worries and excitement. My daughter is Japanese American, and my greatest hope for her is that she will live in a world that is safe and welcoming to everyone.

The best part of having my work included in this journal is that Westland Library held a poetry and short story readying to celebrate our work. We could choose one poem to read, so I picked “We Become Stars.” But what made this reading truly unique is that they decided to bring in a musical trio to interpret each of our poems after we read them. I’ve never experienced anything like this before. It was so gratifying to hear my own words performed in an original song. Afterwards, the singer noted that she liked my other poem too, which was icing on the cake! Of course, I wondered if maybe I should have chosen to read that one, instead 😉

I wasn’t sure if I was even going to be able to attend the event, since my husband was out-of-town and I had my 8-month-old daughter with me. Luckily, my friend was visiting and helped make it happen. We strolled up to the front when it was my turn, and I began by dedicating the poem to my daughter. My friend was actually able to videotape my reading, and I’m so glad she did! After I read, the singer sang directly to my little girl, which was so sweet and memorable. My daughter was quiet and listened the entire time. What a special memory we captured 🙂

For one night, we became stars. And I will never forget that moment. I encourage you to find ways of sharing your own light with the world! It will surely make for a brighter, more peaceful planet.

Printed copies of this literary journal are available for purchase. You can also read the poems and stories online. And to my delight, I’ve just discovered that the book can be borrowed from the library. As a librarian, how cool it is to find that my name appears in the catalog!

 

The Gift of Being Present

Mom and Baby Polar Bear Playing at the Columbus Zoo

Hi Readers,

These days I don’t have as much time to blog, as I’m a full-time mama plus writer/illustrator.  But I haven’t forgotten you or your loyalty to this blog. So today I have a special treat. A special gift for you. It’s the gift of being present.

And it’s really all I have to give right now, even to myself. And especially to my daughter. Every day is different, with unexpected challenges and rewards. I’m constantly on my toes. Every moment has become precious. I’ve learned to do things in bite-size increments. In some ways, I feel like I’m living fast and furious. As in, how much can I get done while she’s napping? Do I clean bottles or fit in 30 minutes of writing or go take a nap? I’m sure many of you out there can relate, whether you have kids or not, but especially if you do. And certainly if you’re a first-timer, like me.

But how do we get through it?  And do we even want to? Or should we slow down and savor each moment? After all, everything changes so fast, especially when it comes to small children. So you learn to live by moments. The first time they sit up by themselves. Their joy at eating blueberries for the first time. When they finally call you “mama,” even if they don’t quite understand what it means yet, especially to you.

Schedules go out the window and plans change, sometimes by the hour. Just as you were about to go out for a walk, a dirty diaper sidetracks you. And then laundry. And then bottle washing. And then a nap. Maybe for the both of you 😉 But what a welcome thing a nap can be. And maybe just the thing you really needed. You both wake up refreshed and happy to see each other again.

This is what being present is all about. Open to whatever comes your way. Noticing the small things, that seem so insignificant. The tiny miracles that sometimes go unseen in day-to-day life.

Another upside is you don’t have as much time to focus on the past or future, which alleviates some anxiety. Past mistakes become learning opportunities and you move on. Fewer plans are made, but they’re quickly replaced by the joy of spontaneity. Small adventures. The first flower of spring. A vegan blueberry scone. Your daughter delighting in a bluejay soaring through the air. And maybe the mountain of dishes will get done. Maybe they won’t. And that’s okay. Cuddling trumps all!

I’ve definitely learned to be more efficient, but is that always better? Sometimes you have to embrace being before doing. And because some things just can’t wait, you prioritize what really matters. Like playing pat-a-cake just to see that smile that lights up the whole world.

And at night, rocking my baby to sleep becomes just as relaxing for me as I watch her eyes flutter shut and send her to dreamland. Watching her sleep is what being present in the moment is all about. After all, she won’t stay this tiny forever. I carry her everywhere now, but soon she’ll carry herself through the world. I’m not ready to think about that 😉

Baby Giraffe Standing On Its Own at the Columbus Zoo

I’d like to leave you all with a mantra I learned in my baby yoga class.

“Be present, not perfect.”

Enjoy the gift of moments! And if you have any special ones, please share 🙂