Every Wednesday we enjoy an article written by one of our mom bloggers in Asia/Australasia Region. Today we decided to run a series featuring the mom bloggers from that region and learn a little bit about their blogs and why they loved World Moms Blog.
Some of us are native Asian and some of us are from other places in the world and living in Asia right now.
Tina Santiago from Philippines
Tina Rodriguez lives in The Philippines and blogs at Truly Rich and Blessed.
She is a lifestyle/inspirational/family blogger. She describes her blog as – “Truly Rich and Blessed is your little space on the Web where you will find inspiration and encouragement for discovering — and growing — the “riches” we already have: our faith, self, relationships, resources, discoveries and experiences.”
Tina is a Catholic wife and home educating mom by vocation, and a writer and editor by profession — imperfect and broken but blessed to be loved by a perfect God!
5 Words that can help you have a Better Week Ahead is one of the first publications after re-branding her blog.
This is what Tina has to say about World Moms Blog;
“It is such a blessing to be part of a global community of moms, dedicated to serving other moms in our own simple way, even if it’s just virtually!”
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Maureen Hitipeuw from Indonesia
Maureen Hitipeuw lives in Jakarta, Indonesia and blogs at Scoops of Joy. “Finding joy, one scoop at a time”
She is a lifestyle blogger and writes about what she’s passionate about; inspiring single moms, self-love, finding and living a joyful life and travel.
Maureen is a woman who desires to reach her full potential, to live with abundance and joy, and is passionate about inspiring others and sharing this journey with those she loves. Her favorite post from her own blog is Why Self Love Matters.
Maureen thinks of World Moms Blog as –
“It is uber cool! Not only because I get to know these amazing inspiring ladies from all over the world and become friends – soul sisters even – but I feel like the bond is just incredible. My life is indeed richer because of WMB. Knowing that you are not alone when it comes to motherhood, knowing how women can change the world and supporting causes that are near and dear to our hearts. Precious!”
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Martine Cosio de Luna from Phillipines
Martine Cosio de Luna lives in the Phillipines and blogs at Make it Blissful, an intentional lifestyle blog with a focus on blogging inspiration. Make it Blissful explores the reality that life isn’t perfect or ideal, but that we can make things work, “make it blissful” and find meaning in our homes, work, hobbies, and blogs.
Martine describes herself as an sociable introvert, chatty and friendly online and a little shy around strangers.
Her favorite post from her blog is For those who still believe in blogging — a look into how blogging has evolved into something more meaningful for me.
When asked why she loves World Moms Blog, she said,
“I love the reality that we are a global community of different moms with different views on life, but are all supportive and encouraging of one another, even if we are technically perfect strangers!!!
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Melanie Oda lives in Japan and is a lover of chocolate and books. She blogs at Hamakkomommy about parenting, travel and salty humor; “American mom attempts to navigate life in Japan; hilarity ensues.”
Blogging is one of the things that really helped Melanie work through the grief of losing her dad.
This is what she has to say about World Moms Blog;
“I love seeing how women, no matter where we live or how we live, have so very much in common. Both the good stuff and the struggles. It’s uncanny.”
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Next week, on the blog meet our Asian bloggers, Ruth from Singapore, Patricia from Philippines, Susan from Singapore, Piya from India.
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Is there any #WorldMom you would specifically like to know more about on the blog? Tell us in the comments and we would feature her soon! Meanwhile, say Hello to today’s featured #WorldMoms from Asia!
I read an article recently about “emotional labor.” You know what that is even if you don’t know what that is: the constant conversation going on in your head when someone asks, “What’s for dinner?”
You peek into your mental refrigerator, pit Johnny’s constipation against the fact that Sally will come home starved from basketball practice, your husband has high blood pressure and needs to reduce his salt intake, your mother-in-law has a birthday party at three and after all that cake no one will be hungry, and you only have $50 left in your checking account.
All that, not to mention keeping track of who needs picking up when and who needs what medicine and who has which project and oh- there’s a doll shoe, someone will be looking for that later, all of that thatness, is emotional labor.
I bet most women know exactly what I’m talking about, and are started to get exhausted from this post reminding you of the gazillion little things you need to be doing. (Our bath tile needs a good scrub.)
We are all doing way too much of it, with no remuneration (wouldn’t that be nice?) or so much as a thank you.
It may be more obvious, here, in Japan, where the gender divide is still a chasm and fathers spend all of their waking hours at work. The imbalance between the sexes is so off that you don’t need a scale (which I alone know the location of.)
For anyone who is reading this and thinking, what’s the big deal? I can say with some confidence that you are not pulling your weight in this area, or you would certainly know exactly what the deal is, and that is is enormous.
It’s easy enough to see how this happens: when you are a couple, keeping track of the minutiae of life for two is doable. If you’re like me and have a husband who doesn’t quite grasp which food items go in the fridge, and that the aloe gel is a) not a food item and b) not fridge space worthy, then you take these things on by default. (Yes, the aloe incident actually happened.)
But when you become a three person family, or more, with multiple schools and activities and interests and needs, then this becomes a massive task. And Mom is still doing it all.
What’s the solution? I wish I had a clue. Even when this kind of micromanagement is a career, it’s still female dominated and therefore underpaid if not outright disparaged. I’m thinking of all my secretaries, assistants, and teachers out there, but please feel free to add to this list.
I read this online, and I thought, “There is a term for this. There is a reason I am so constantly exhausted emotionally. I’m not alone. And other people realize that this work has value.” It’s too bad none of those people currently live in my house, but baby steps are better than nothing.
So, to all the other moms out there holding up the sky: what you are feeling is real. It isn’t fair, no, but you aren’t imagining it. I don’t have any answers, but sometimes acknowledging there is a problem is the biggest step.
How do you divide emotional or mental take in your family? And more importantly, how can I get the other three people I live with to start doing more of this for themselves?
This is an original post by World Mom, Melanie Oda in Japan.
Photo credit to cpo57 . This photo has a creative commons attribution license.
I see you on your black skirt suit, with the waist that doesn’t quite fit the same anymore and the blouse that doesn’t quite work when one is out with a toddler. It’s been awhile since you wore it. Your heels are just slightly dusty, and you are unconsciously rubbing your feet together in a way that betrays you are no longer used to wearing them.
I have been where you are, at the preschool interview (most preschools in Japan seem to require this,) with an uncooperative two-year-old. No one else’s kid seems to have a permanent cow-lick or is crying like mine is, you think. I can tell, because I have thought that, too.
But now I am on the teaching staff, on the other side of the table, so to speak, and I can tell you that we have seen multiple cowlicks today, and that the kids who don’t cry at the interview are no less likely to cry on the first day of school.
I wish I could give you a hug and tell you to relax. Of course we can’t love your child as much as you do, but we will come close! And since we send the kids home at two o’clock, all of those aggravating things that drive you bonkers will not be such a problem here.
I also want to tell you that it is okay to consider your own needs when choosing a preschool for your child. If you can’t handle making a bento every morning, by all means find a place that serves lunch. If you can’t deal with homework, then go for someplace that is play based. There are years and years of homework ahead of you both!
You don’t have to go where Daddy went, or where grandma thinks is best, or where the clique of neighborhood moms go. Look and listen, see the child that you have. Know who you are, and what your limits are. Then choose a place that best meets the needs of you both.
Of course I can tell you none of this, as you wrestle your feet out of your heels and into your indoor shoes, tugging your son along, the both of you getting increasingly frustrated. I try to give you a sympathetic smile, but you may not notice.
Best of luck to you, dear. Best of luck to you both.
What advice would you give to moms of younger children of you could?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog from our writer in Japan and mother of two, Melanie Oda.
Photo Credit: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images
My daughter was sick last night. All over the futon, all over herself. It was certainly not something that I wanted to deal with in the middle of the night–especially knowing that there was no spare futon, and that I would end up sleeping on the hard floor.
I started off by giving her a shower, washing her hair, changing her pajamas. I’m at expert at this, after all. Due to a bout of RSV when she was three months old, my daughter has asthma. Her airways over react to any stimuli.
Coughing to the point of being sick used to happen daily, but it’s been over a year since the last episode. My daughter had forgotten about it, forgotten the routine. I had not. As I washed her up, she complained about how hard I was scrubbing, how these pajamas were too big, how the pillow was too hard.
When she was smaller, she used to only cry when I washed her.
It struck me how grown up she has become.
Recently, she was named group leader for her four-person group at school. (In Japan, it is very common for teachers to assign groups. They work together to distribute lunch and to clean up, as well as class work.) She takes this responsibility very seriously. Actually, a bit too seriously! She is stressed out about it. I can see how she is maturing and learning about what it means to be in change of others.
There are some things you can control, other things you cannot.
Later, after she was cleaned and changed, we both cuddled onto a futon meant for one. She rested her head in the crook of my arm and went to sleep, snoring softly. Such a big girl. Still such a little girl. So unaware of the joys and the trials that are awaiting her.
I rested my head on hers, encircling her in my longer, stronger, more experienced arms. While I still can, while she’ll still let me.
Please share moments when you feel how much your children have grown.
This is an original post by the author to World Moms Blog.
Photo credit: John Finn under a Flickr Creative Commons license.
I start my morning here in Japan the same way every day: by cleaning out the drain trap.
Not very pretty, I suppose, but I’ve learned the hard way that it needs to be done frequently and well. The drain traps here in Japan are metal mesh to prevent food from going down the drain. They get gross very quickly.
I’m pretty sure I started out my days when I lived in the US with a cup of coffee, which seems quite glamorous by comparison!
In spite of our gains in education or employment opportunities over the last century, much of our time as women gets taken up by mundane household tasks like this. Women all around the world are doing the same kind of things: laundry, food preparation, cleaning, child care, though in very different ways.
It makes me curious. How much of your time gets spent on “daily chores?” What kinds of things do you need to do every day? Do you do them alone, or do you have help?
Perhaps it is a boring topic, but for comparison I thought I would share a little bit of what housework is like here in Japan.
Laundry gets done daily in most families. We have washing machines, but most people don’t have dryers. In a country with cold winters, humid summers, and a rainy season, keeping up with the laundry feels like a daily battle! When the weather is not cooperative, laundry gets hung from curtain rails or any other overhang that can be found indoors. We have to bob and weave our way around the house. Imagine that Catherine Zeta Jones movie, but with laundry instead of lasers.
I do the shopping most days as well. This is quite common here in the greater Tokyo area, where storage space is limited and many people do not have cars to allow buying in bulk. Milk is sold by the liter; laundry detergent in 500ml bottles. The biggest shopping challenge is buying rice, which comes in 5 or 10kg bags.
I need to dust and vacuum every day. This is much more often than we did in the US growing up. I’m not sure why Japan is so dusty. Could it be the tatami floors? The single pane windows? The small living space? And more important than why, how can I make this dust accumulation stop?
Japanese cuisine seems to be gaining in popularity around the world. Many Japanese people eat a full meal in the morning (though this is slowly changing,) as well as at lunch and dinner. Japanese bento are also getting a lot of attention on the Internet for being nutritious as well as visually appealing. Overwhelmingly, the cooking is done by women. (Personally, since my children’s lunch is provided by the school, most days I cook twice.)
Like most families here, we have a gas stove-top, a rice cooker, and a microwave combined with an electric oven for cooking. My mother-in-law has a separate gas burner that can be placed on the table for doing things like sukiyaki or okonomiyaki, foods that are consumed as soon as they are cooked by the family from the same dish. My children are still a bit too small for me to attempt this at home.
I think many of us around the world are doing these same things, but the nitty-gritty of how we get it done and how often we do it are different. I can’t help but wonder what housework says about the values of the culture.
In the US, for example, many families take pride in a well-decorated home. In Japan that is much less important. (Perhaps because many women are spending all that time dusting and dodging laundry….)
What kinds of things are included in your daily duties? How do you feel about doing them?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog from our writer in Japan and mother of two, Melanie Oda.
The image used in this post is attributed to the author.
Gender equality has been in the news quite a bit in Japan recently, sort of, and some things have happened closer to home that have me thinking.
It started when a (female) Tokyo assembly member was heckled in a sexist way. Then Prime Minister Abe introduced some new policies to let women “shine.” (He needs to get them doing something for the economy.) He even appointed several women to cabinet posts, for about five minutes, until they were slapped back down into their places over minor scandals.
In Japan, people are talking more about issues women face but no one seems to be doing much about them.
(Lest I forget: strangely enough, the declining birth rate is treated as a “women’s issue.” I seem to remember my husband being involved, too.)
I never considered myself a feminist growing up. Some members of the evangelical, conservative community I grew up in doubtless felt “feminist” was a new version of the “F-word.”
OK, so I went to a high school with more sports options for boys than girls. And yes, girls were encouraged to take chorus and home economics instead of woodworking or mechanics. So maybe I heard men from my community refer to grown women as “broads” or “gals.” There also were some restrictions at church regarding women’s and men’s roles. But I never felt that possessing certain types of baby-making parts limited my potential.
Then I moved to Japan, where gender roles are more firmly entrenched and my way of thinking slowly changed.
As I get older, and because I am a mother, I find that I am limited in ways that I couldn’t have foreseen as a young girl.
Some people may find life here in Japan freeing. If you aspire to be a homemaker a la Martha Stewart, then your life’s work would be very much respected and appreciated here. My husband wouldn’t bat an eyelid if he came home to a messy house because I’d spent the day at a preschool mothers’ lunch. He knows that is part of the job (on the other hand, it would never occur to him to pick up the mess himself.)
If, as a woman, you have other aspirations, Japanese culture seems designed to work against you. The glass ceiling is very much in tact. On the news here you do hear issues like lack of childcare and “maternity harassment” being addressed. But what gets talked about less often is that to many women, including myself, it feels as if there’s a glass door as well.
It’s my front door.
Before a woman can even think about what is facing her out in the world, she needs to address the forces that are keeping her at home. Some of these are practical, some are logistical, some are cultural and perhaps peculiar to Japan and it’s work culture.
For me, it starts with my husband: He leaves home at 7am every morning, but I have no idea what time he will be back. Sometimes it’s 7pm. Sometimes it’s midnight. He may be in the office that day, or he may suddenly be sent to another prefecture. He’s made international trips on 12 hours notice. I cannot depend on him being home at a designated time, by no fault of his own. The idea of him taking time off with a sick child is preposterous in the extreme.
I have been lucky enough to have two job offers recently, both of which would be more or less during school hours, but neither is nearby. If a child were to get sick and need picking up, or if god-forbid there was a natural disaster (which is always in the back of your mind if you are a mother in Japan,) then my husband would be closer. I mentioned that, and he completely shot me down. Not just the idea of him picking up the kids in case of an emergency, but the idea of a job anywhere outside of cycling distance from the school.
We live in a residential neighborhood. I patch together some part-time work here and there, but it’s not like there are loads of professional opportunities in a two kilometer radius.
I suddenly felt very limited, penned in, in a way I haven’t felt before. The glass door was slamming in my face.
I don’t think I’m alone in this conundrum. Go to almost any supermarket in a residential area during the day, and you will see women in their prime working years manning the register. Many of these women have university degrees. Many have licenses and qualifications to be doing other kinds of work, but they want to stay close to home. They also need salaries to stay under $10,000 year or face a peculiar Japanese tax code and insurance system that penalizes families where both partners have incomes over that amount.
Then there are my kids: Like 2/3 of Japanese women with children under 6, I stayed home when they were small. They now completely depend on me for everything. It seems to have never entered their minds that someone else could give them a bath or help them find their missing socks, mostly because no one else has ever done anything for them. Especially when they are sick, they want only me. It was very hard when my daughter was in the hospital, both children wanting to be with me and emphatic that no one else would do.
But now my youngest is in elementary school, and I would like to just be doing more of something….else, but for me to plunge into the workforce would be a huge adjustment for my children. Is it worth the stress? Can we survive what is sure to be a painful adjustment period?
Maybe if I had more family support, it would feel less impossible but as it is, it seems like everyone is against me.
Which brings me to the final characters in this comedy, my in-laws: They say they’ll watch the kids, then they change their minds. Or something better comes up. From their point of view, this house and these people are completely my responsibility. Anything they do is extra credit.
To be honest, we’re getting to the point where my in-laws need my help more than I need theirs.
They aren’t shy about letting me know my place.
One day not too long ago, my son was playing at the park with his friends. It was getting close to homework time, so I called him and told him to come home. He said he was playing with Jiji (which is an endearing term for grandfather used in our region of Japan,) and could he play for a bit longer? Since he was out with an adult, I said okay.
The next day, I got a verbal whipping from my father-in-law over the phone, accusing me of being irresponsible, a bad mother. It took me a few minutes to understand why he was saying this, but when I got to the bottom of it, I realized my son had lied to me. He was playing with his friends when Jiji walked by and told him to go home. My son told him I wasn’t at home and said he couldn’t come back until I did. (I must have called right at this point.) “How dare you not be home in the afternoon?” said Jiji.
Putting aside that none of this nonsense was true, so what if I wasn’t home in the afternoon? Of course I wouldn’t have left the kids to wander the neighborhood like stray dogs, but why was my not physically being inside my house such an issue to him? His assumption that it was my duty to be always available to everyone took me by surprise.
I could almost hear the glass door slamming again.
There are also other barriers for women in Japan—an over active PTA for one, and a myriad of community responsibilities attended to exclusively by women for another. I imagine most women in the world encounter both the “glass door” and the “glass ceiling” in some form or another, but in Japan only one of these factors is seems to be getting much attention. Building new daycare facilities isn’t enough; the government stating goals to increase women’s participation in the workforce isn’t enough. Until we do something about that glass door, nothing will change for one of the best educated, least utilized group of women in the world.
Do you feel you are fulfilling your potential, both at work and at home? What’s the situation like in your country?
This is an original post for World Moms Blog from our writer and mother of two in Japan, Melanie Oda.