Monday, January 19, 2015

Japanese wife

When I was a teenager, I was never thinking about having a family and being a wife and a mother.

Of course I thought it'd be nice to fall in love and get married and maybe have a child one day, but I'd never dream of it or think about it for a long time. What I was thinking about though was my calling - I strived to find something I'd love doing and get really good at it. I truly believed that following your passion was the most important thing in life. The problem was, I didn't really know what my passion was. 

There were a few things I liked (like books, theatre, music, or fencing) and a few things I was good at (like foreign languages). Sometimes I could even talk myself into believing that one of them was my true calling, like sometimes I thought I'd become a great actress, or a great musician, or a great writer (the "great" component was obligatory, why bother otherwise). However, deep inside I always knew that wasn't a true thing. I was never good enough at any of those things to become great at them.

This situation made me really sad. I knew one was supposed to find what he loved; then do it, no matter what; and then have a difficult and happy lifetime. I really wanted to become a master at something. I wanted people who I admired to admire me, too, to see that I'm talented, to think that I'm worthy, and most of all, to love me. 

It seemed a hard enough plan, but I couldn't even check off the first task. What was my thing? What was my calling? And how was I supposed to succeed in life if I didn't even know that?

I was young enough to hope that I'd figure it out somehow if I move to a big city and try different things out. Get a career, get a life, that sort of thing. My parents completely agreed with me. We decided that I should go to Moscow, rent a flat, get a job, and then wonderful things might happen to me (like getting rich and famous and finding a good husband). So I graduated from the university and started looking for a job in Moscow.

And then, suddenly, I met a guy.

That is a whole another story, and I'll leave it for another day, but since I met that guy something changed in the picture of the world that I had inside my head. It was the first time in my life when the principles I believed were unshakable started to shaken. That was scary as hell, and I hoped that it was temporary, that it would pass. 

So I did move to Moscow (though I didn't really want it by then). I got an office job (of a personal assistant) and got really good at it, was promoted very fast, but didn't like it at all. I quit and found another job (of a teacher), and it happened again. On this job, though, I found a dear friend, so it wasn't completely in vain. I was also promoted very fast to the highest position possible (the co-owner of the language school), got good money and did interesting things (like writing books and recording audio for them). It wasn't that "calling thing" I was looking for, but it was certainly good enough. But to my horror I didn't feel I wanted it anymore (even the calling thing). I lost my old values, and my new ones scared me.

Then a few things happened - painful things, world shaking things, life changing things through which I survived and changed. I chose another way, though it took me a lot of courage to go the way no one (at least, not my parents or our society in general) approved of. I became a wife, and a mother, and I decided that it was the most important career I could ever find. 

It was so hard at first, because it just wasn't my thing. Running a house, cooking, bringing kids up... I've never dreamt about it, I wasn't prepared for it, I couldn't do it. 

But I could.

And ironically, right when I decided to make this change and take this unknown path which I felt was right, and decided that having a true calling was not as important as I thought at all - right then, I found it. While looking for some sort of craft to do when I was pregnant I stumbled across scrapbooking and got totally lost in the world of design, photography and writing. It is yet a totally different story waiting to be written, but I thought I'd mention it here nonetheless.

Right now my kids are small, and this "calling" is more of a hobby, but I hope to make it my job some day. But not now. Now I work as a stay at home mom. Of course I spend all my free time (when kids are sleeping or walking with dad or grandparents) to design. I take up classes, e-courses, get all education I can find (and sometimes even actually do something). But I have no wish to "combine" motherhood and career and "have the best of two worlds". I think there is a time for everything. A time to be a mother. A time to make a career. This is how I can do my best. Now is the mother time, and I'm going to enjoy it as fully as I can. 

For me, being a good mom doesn't mean just sitting at home with kids. I have to be loving, grateful, calm, brave and joyful. I have to be wise. I have to be strong. I have to soften. I have to look and see, to listen, to pay attention, to be super mindful. I have to learn to conflict and learn to compromise. I have to learn to make it through stressful situations with grace. I have to learn to let go. I have to change my habits. I have to exercise and eat well. I have to be always there. 

It looks like a lot of work to me.

Sometimes I get asked why I think I'm doing the right thing if the only people who think I'm right are my husband and some of my closest friends. It's quite simple:

Before I made that decision, I never ever felt happy or safe. True, there were lots of moments of joy in my life, but I could always feel some tension inside, an anxious knot that just wouldn't go away. I could forget it was there, I always acted as if it wasn't there, but it was.

After I made that decision I became happy. I'm not sure it's as simple as that, but any time now you may ask me if I'm happy and I'll tell you yes. I still feel anger and frustration and sadness and other normal human feelings at times, but there is always this peaceful spot inside me, which I can turn to any time I want. I'm finally being honest with myself. I look into my heart and I see that I'm doing what I think is right, no matter what other people think about it. And it makes me crazy happy.

Recently I've read some interesting information about Japanese women in the old times: a woman in Japan had to cook, run a house and look after her husband and children; and only then, when she could do that perfectly, she was allowed to do arts.

It made me smile. This is a path I've chosen for myself, though (surprise!) I don't live in ancient Japan. If I learn to do all this stuff (kids, husband, house) perfectly, I'll probably make a much better artist. So I'm off to being a good Japanese wife, and I wish you all finding your true happiness.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. what a beautiful post.
    i can relate to everything you have expressed.
    it is not easy to feel that you are on the right path when society often tells you that being a good wife, a Mom, a "homemaker" is "not really a job" but you know it when your heart is at peace.