JAPAN: Double Jeopardy

JAPAN: Double Jeopardy

Ever feel like you're walking on cultural egg shells?

Ever feel like you’re walking on cultural egg shells?

Sometimes it can get confusing, trying to navigate waters made murky where cultures collide. Whatever choice you make will seem wrong to someone. Whatever you say will offend someone. No matter how lightly you step, you risk making someone feel walked over.

And that is the situation I find myself in again, as the air turns cooler (finally!) and Japanese schoolchildren begin to practice en masse for their sports festivals.

My brother is getting married, half a world away, at the exact same time my daughter is supposed to perform in her final sports festival at kindergarten.

If you are in North America, or Europe, or very likely anywhere except Japan, your response is probably, “So what?” But if you are a mother of a Japanese child, I’ll give you a moment to remove the hand you’ve placed over your mouth in horror. Breathe in. Breathe out. Let’s continue.

It doesn’t matter much which I choose for us to attend. Half of my children’s relatives will be angry about our choice. How can you miss your sibling’s wedding? How can you deny your aging in-laws their last chance to see a preschool sports festival, where the last-year students are the stars of the show?

“How could you do that to your child? She will miss out.”

Says everyone from every side.

Sometimes being part of a bi-racial, bi-cultural, bilingual family means making the hard calls. What is important in one culture is not in another. What is optional in one culture is imperative in another.

I find myself, again and again and again, struggling to find a balance between traditions and beliefs. I fall off the high-wire more than I care to admit.

But on those occasions when you can do that perfect, tip-toed, pirouette, it is beautiful. It is breathtaking. It is worth it.

This time, though?

I better bring a helmet because I’m bound to fall flat on my face, whatever I choose.

Have you faced difficult decisions because of cultural or religious differences within your family? How do you find a balance between them?

This is an original post by World Moms Blog contributor, Melanie Oda in Japan, of Hamakko Mommy

Photo credit to FeeBeeDee.  This photo has a creative commons attribution license. 

Melanie Oda (Japan)

If you ask Melanie Oda where she is from, she will answer "Georgia." (Unless you ask her in Japanese. Then she will say "America.") It sounds nice, and it's a one-word answer, which is what most people expect. The truth is more complex. She moved around several small towns in the south growing up. Such is life when your father is a Southern Baptist preacher of the hellfire and brimstone variety. She came to Japan in 2000 as an assistant language teacher, and has never managed to leave. She currently resides in Yokohama, on the outskirts of Tokyo (but please don't tell anyone she described it that way! Citizens of Yokohama have a lot of pride). No one is more surprised to find her here, married to a Japanese man and with two bilingual children (aged four and seven), than herself. And possibly her mother. You can read more about her misadventures in Asia on her blog, HamakkoMommy.

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Hubby and I had qualms on how LO was going to take the trip. For one thing, we were going to undertake the 530 km journey by car. To minimise any untoward incidents, we had already decided to make it an overnight trip, so that LO would be asleep for most of the journey.

The last time we made such a trip, he had fallen prey to a vicious cold and it took him almost a month to get over it. And he was just 7 months old at the time. Now that he was a sturdy 14-month old, we thought we would have things easier this time. (more…)

Veena Davis (Singapore)

Veena has experienced living in different climes of Asia - born and brought up in the hot Middle East, and a native of India from the state known as God’s Own Country, she is currently based in the tropical city-state of Singapore. ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ Several years ago, she came across World Moms Network (then World Moms Blog) soon after its launch, and was thrilled to become a contributor. She has a 11-year old son and a quadragenarian husband (although their ages might be inversed to see how they are with each other sometimes). ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ On a professional front, she works in the financial sector - just till she earns enough to commit to her dream job of full-time bibliophile. ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ You can also find Veena at her personal blog, Merry Musing. ⠀

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Eva Fannon (USA)

Eva Fannon is a working mom who lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her hubby and two girls. She was born and raised on the east coast and followed her husband out west when he got a job offer that he couldn't refuse. Eva has always been a planner, so it took her a while to accept that no matter how much you plan and prepare, being a mom means a new and different state of "normal". Despite the craziness on most weekday mornings (getting a family of four out the door in time for work and school is no easy task!), she wouldn't trade being a mother for anything in the world. She and her husband are working on introducing the girls to the things they love - travel, the great outdoors, and enjoying time with family and friends. Eva can be found on Twitter @evafannon.

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Eva Fannon of Washington, USA writes:
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World Moms Blog

World Moms Blog is an award winning website which writes from over 30 countries on the topics of motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. Over 70 international contributors share their stories from around the globe, bonded by the common thread of motherhood and wanting a better world for their children. World Moms Blog was listed by Forbes Woman as one of the "Best 100 Websites for Women 2012 & 2013" and also called a "must read" by the NY Times Motherlode in 2013. Our Senior Editor in India, Purnima Ramakrishnan, was awarded the BlogHer International Activist Award in 2013.

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