In six months, I will celebrate my 40th birthday and as I grow older, there are things that I begin to know for certain. At the top of my list is the fact that it’s never too late to further your education. As you, dear reader, peruse this blog post, I will be graduating in the Fall Commencement at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. A journey that I started on four years ago will finally be reaching its destination.
As I have written about in previous blog posts, my life has been a rollercoaster journey of bad decisions. I trudged through my teens and early 20s in a fog of low self-esteem and insecurity. There was always a running monologue in my mind of why I just wasn’t good enough. Despite being a single mother to two children, I bounced from one low paying job to the next and was never sure of exactly where I would end up.
But then, five years ago, something miraculous occurred: my life completely and utterly fell apart and I was forced to rebuild from almost scratch. I can attest that hitting the utter rockiest of bottoms can be a lifesaving event. Somewhere in that process, I began to make valuable changes to how I thought of myself. (more…)
The month of May in Korea is “family month” and includes Children’s Day and Parents’ Day (as well as Teachers’ Day and Buddha’s birthday). It’s a celebratory time here, especially as it coincides with the mild temperatures and blossoms of spring. These last two years the month of May has also included a much quieter celebration – Single Mothers Day.
To be a single mother in Korea is no small thing. Women who find themselves pregnant out of wedlock are often pressured by their friends and family to have an abortion or to give up their child for adoption. 90% of children who are adopted from Korea are born to single mothers and, unlike in the West, the majority of unwed pregnant mothers in Korea are over the age of 25. The women who choose to keep their children and raise them as single parents are very few and the discrimination they face is astonishing to someone like me who is not from here.
The shame associated with unwed motherhood is not just the burden of the woman to bear. Her parents, her siblings, and her child are all subjected to it as well. It is often kept a secret for as long as possible since the repercussions of people knowing can be dire, including loss of job, home, and social status. Many of these women can no longer live with their families, as is the custom, the disgrace and shame is so great.
This is so interesting to me, coming from a country whose president was raised by a single mother. Single parenthood is by no means considered ideal in the West, but no person, politician or otherwise, would dream of speaking ill of mothers who are working hard to raise a family on their own without fear of immense (and well-deserved) backlash, the prevailing sentiment being: Don’t they have it hard enough? (more…)