The last one to go to bed

I guess I will be the last one goes to bed. Forever.

Sometimes I do think it feels unfair. Why do I always have to be the one who is making sure everything and everyone is ok before turning in or just resting herself?

But on the other hand, it’s my own choice, too.

I choose to do all these things. I don’t do it perfectly but somehow I feel I have the responsibility to do it.

Is it a sexist thing to do? I mean, am I conditioned to do that and behave like the responsible adult in the newly established family which consists of two adult at the same age and a little baby?

I was not like this at all. What changed?

I was the person who’s taking care of her own shit but now I leave everything to my husband. What changed?

Well, I have him now.

I leave the things in my life that he does better. I take care of the things which he overlooks.

I guess that’s just teamwork.

I guess not everything has to be a sexist thing.

I guess I’m certainly conditioned in many ways. But it doesn’t always have to be that way.

A baby’s compassion

“Does it worth it?” A good friend of mine asked me when I said that I was very tired from taking care of my baby.

It’s not easy to answer this question.

Of course the answer is “yes”. But the question needs an elaborated answer.

How do I know it’s worth it? Just because she’s my baby? Because she’s cute?

When do I know it’s all worth it?

“It’s so exhausting. My head hurts from lacking of sleep. My back and arms are hurting from carrying the baby. I have no time to socialise with others, no time to do sports, no time to do whatever I want to do for myself, and my own career. I’m pushing myself physically and mentally to the extreme…

“She’s going through a big growth leap now. She eats more often but doesn’t sleep well. Every time she cries for comfort, and I’m not quick enough there for her, she sounds so desperate that I feel that I was killing her… I try to be a good mother. But when I’m sleep deprived, I’m just not a good mother.

“I’m up every two to three hours now at night to breastfeed her. Sometimes even every hour. One morning it was already getting bright outside.

“My husband just got up. I heard him making his first cup of coffee in the morning. It had been another long night.

“The baby was drinking her fourth feed that night. When she’s hungry, or tired, it feels like she was taken over by a small animal. All the crying and screaming is so… primal. And when she drinks on my breasts, she’s also like a little animal.

“But then this morning she was drinking, and slowly she was full. And waking up.

“And then, she unintentionally looked up to me. Suddenly, her eyes brightened up. It’s like she was saying ‘hey! It’s you!’

“She was looking at me and smiling. That look I will never forget.

“That was a look filled with compassion. Like she knows me, and understands me.

“Like she understands all that I’ve been doing for I love her,

“she understands I’ve been trying my best even if sometimes I think I could do better.

“Like she feels me. She’s not a little animal anymore. She’s my daughter and she’s there for me. And she makes me feel loved, and safe.

“At that moment, I felt relieved, and somehow also forgiven. By myself.

“That’s the moment I know it. Why it’s all worth it.”

I don’t want to miss out

When I was busy typing on my computer today, feeling a bit stressed by my daily duties to learn and create, I saw my baby daughter lying next to me, trying to pull out the pacifier from her mouth and stick her thumb in there instead.

I don’t want to miss a second of her life.

I want to soak in every moment with her, every image of her. I want to imprint them in my head so I will never forget, and so that I can always take them with me wherever I go.

I wonder what she is thinking when she’s tasting her own thumbs, when she’s staring at her own hand, when she carefully studies her father’s face…

I wonder if my mother had the same thoughts when I was a baby.

I want to record everything about this time period in her life. So that one day, if my daughter asks, I can tell her exactly how she was when she was a baby.

Working on myself and moving forward on my own path don’t have to be in conflict with spending time with her. The trick lies in one thing: be present.

Being the present is the way not to miss out on anything important.

I will be your home

Today I learnt that newborn babies can have “womb-sick” (homesick for womb) for a period of time after they were born.

And I do have homesick. The real one.

Thanks to the pandemic, I can’t fly home. Being away from my family for two years hasn’t been easy.

Home is never just a place. It’s a combination of everything in an experience.

It’s your closest family. It’s the smell of your newly washed clothes. It’s the taste of your breakfast and dinner.

For me, that home is not where I’m living right now. It’s on the other side of this world, literally.

It’s where I grew up, where I learnt what is love, where my dream started.

It’s where I always go back. It’s where my roots are.

It’s where my mother was. It was, and still is, my mother.

Then I realised, I will be home for my daughter.

She will grow up with me, learn what is love, build up her dream.

I want to be her home so she can always come back, where she can sleep well, regain her energy when she’s tired.

I love my home. But I will be hers. I’m building the space, and being the essence of that home, for her.

Because I’m strong enough to be hers, even if I’m not at mine.

A mother’s jealousy

My mother was a jealous one.

She was jealous of my father, of my grandfather. Because when I was little, I loved spending time with them, having my arms around their necks, sitting on their laps all day.

So when my mother expressed her jealousy to me, I was feeling annoyed. “She’s like this because she cares about you, and she loves you very much.” My aunt told me.

“This is so pointless,” I used to think, “why is she so insecure? I won’t be like that when I grow up.”

Before my baby was born, my friends who had babies before me told me something surprising to me. They said that after birth, they were very protective and possessive of their babies, “on some very animalistic level”.

I didn’t feel possessive of my baby girl. I love it when my husband takes care of her.

But it hurts me a little bit when she smiles at my husband more than at me. To my luck, she’s too little to be away from me. I’m her food, her home — on an animalistic level.

I love being loved by her, even though she had no choice but love me.

We are the closest in this world right now. The most intimate. The most connected.

Or to say, not to exaggerate: we are one.

I can imagine, if one day she expresses more affection to others than to me, I will feel jealous. And that jealousy is more than justified.

But to use its power for “good”, we can see it as a form of the eternal bond. It’s not just “out of love”. It has ancient code hidden in our genes.

Being there, invisible

Being there. The thing that mothers do.

Last night, my baby daughter was crying, because she didn’t want to go to sleep while being extremely tired.

I was there, standing while holding her. I let her look at the kitchen lights the way she likes.

Watching lights always calms her down.

I rocked my body gently left and right, up and down.

I stood there for I don’t know how long.

Then I thought about my own mother.

She must just have been there for me when I needed her. Just like I’m here for my baby, when she needs me.

Through thick and thin. Awake and asleep. All the time. Non-stop.

Maybe that’s why, motherhood can seem to be unspectacular at times.

Because it is essential, sometimes it’s so invisible.

The belated understanding

We are destined NOT to understand each other. At least not at the right time.

We can try to do that. And we should.

But the only way to fully understand another person is to stand exactly where they are, wearing the same shoes as they are, having the same experience that informs today’s emotion and decision…

Or to put it simply: being them.

So that’s hopeless. Because it’s impossible.

Now I’m a mother myself. Suddenly I can understand my own mother to an extent that I didn’t think was possible.

I used to think my mother might have hated me when I was growing up. Because she forbade me to do so many things that were allowed by my friends’ parents.

“It’s for your own sake,” She used to say, “you will understand me in the future when you become a mother yourself.”

I didn’t believe her. And I didn’t even consider it could be true.

I thought, adults just say the most random things to get me to do whatever they want me to do.

Today I do understand my mother from 20 years ago. She was worried. She had fear. She had fear because of the unknown.

Unknown for her was the scariest thing. She didn’t want something for me that was unknown to her.


Yet understanding my mother doesn’t mean that I would do the same to my own child.

I would try to understand my own fear, and not let my fear dictate the freedom of experience for my own child. I might not do a better job. But I will try.

It was hard for a child to believe the rejections of requests she got from her own mother was out of love.

The truth of that love is what I can fully understand today, standing at where my mother was standing, living as a mother myself.


There is a gap between each of us with others in this world. A gap that makes complete understanding impossible.

Even if we go around mountains, following another person’s footsteps, and eventually getting to stand where they are, they might have left a while ago.

You can still see what they have seen, feel they have felt. Then you can really understand them.

But what to do with that view, those feelings and emotions becomes your own decision.

That’s what understanding each other really means — not to close the gap, because it’s impossible; but to see from where they’ve made their decisions, so that you can better make yours.

Babies and adults

Babies can cry as if it’s the end of the world, and one minute later laugh like the horror from before never happened.

I love how present they are.

Babies can react to the things around them with minimum filtering. They keep learning social codes; but they also instinctively keep their feelings transparent.

I love how frank they are.

Babies laugh when they want to, cry when they need to, they show their needs and make a mess.

I love how free they are.

Babies don’t miss yesterday and don’t worry about tomorrow. They don’t hold a grudge if you fed them 5 minutes later than they expected.

Because they can’t remember much of the details, and they don’t know how to expect for things in the future. (They are doing a little of these things and they are learning…)

There are so much to learn from the babies. I’ve been learning plenty in the last few weeks.

But there are something I also love which they don’t have yet.

They don’t know it yet, that the sweets taste the sweetest after bitterness, and the bitterness can also be charming and memorable.

They don’t know it yet, that the relaxation after a stressful situation is much more pleasant compared to doing nothing all the time.

They don’t know it yet, that the important and good memories staying in their brains will surface and stir up warm and fuzzy feelings again, whenever they need a pickup on a rainy day.

They don’t know it yet, that the joy they will have from looking forward to something that will take place — what the Germans call “Vorfreude” — is something people cannot live without.

So much to learn from my baby. But being an adult is not that bad either.

Cooking, a job, and the default role of a woman

My mother used to say: “Don’t learn how to cook. You’d be serving others your whole life.”

She was the best cook I knew.

I’m not pressured to cook like my mother was. She had to cook for my father and me, and for the big family, because she’s better than everybody else at doing it. And it was what her mother told her, that it was the responsibility of the wife to cook good meals everyday, every meal.

In recent years I realised that I actually enjoy cooking. But there’s somehow an inexplainable inner need for me to put a good meal on the table, which feels almost like a “job” and “natural responsibility“. As if I have to cook because I should cook. If I don’t cook once, I feel almost guilty; when my husband cooks a nice meal, I feel thankful and even a bit spoiled.

I’m doing these things, even after my mother told me not to, even when I actively tried to avoid doing them.

I tried to be conscious about the default role of me, the woman, in our family. I let my husband do some things that were “my mother’s jobs”, while feeling guilty in secret for not doing them myself, and judging him for not doing them well enough.

My mother didn’t teach me cooking. She said if I don’t know how to cook, I won’t serve others, but be served by others. But what she didn’t know is that since she passed away, all I wanted to do was to taste the food she cooked again — those tastes of various dishes, smells in the kitchen, and the consistency of those handmade noodles are some of the strongest association I have with her, and her love for me.

I know she felt it was unfair that she had to cook while others were waiting around, chatting and watching TV. I know that at the beginning, she had to do it because that’s her “job” as a woman; but later she couldn’t stop cooking for everyone because she’s the best at cooking. And nobody else was good enough to be up for the task.

When she couldn’t get out of it, cooking for everyone, every time, became a burden.

But I believe she also enjoyed cooking for us.

I believe besides “labouring”, she was also loving us through cooking amazing meals.

I didn’t inherit the “burdened” role of the woman in the family from my own mother. What I’ve learnt is also how she showed us love.

She was not a hugger, nor a very expressive one of her feelings.

But I know her loved me very much.

I guess I will just need to find my own way of expressing my love.

And expressing my love is a responsibility I’m gladly to take on.

Selfish vs. Selfless

My mother used to tell me that she wished for me to be selfish. “As a woman, you can be happier if you are a bit selfish. Getting what you want and caring for your needs should be given priority.”

But she’s also the most selfless person I know.

She always let others eat first. She herself would still be busy in the kitchen when everybody else already finished eating. She put other people’s need before hers. She spent more money for my father and me, while she wouldn’t buy anything nice for herself.

And she’s not the only woman who wishes herself to be more “selfish” but does the opposite in reality.

Why is that?

What my mother meant with “being selfish” actually means giving your own needs priority. In our generation, it’s not “selfish“; it’s called “self-care“.

It’s based on the scenario that everybody’s feeling is acknowledged. In this case, only if one takes care of her own needs, is she able to take care of others’ needs. It means that “I will make myself healthy and happy first so I can take care of others who I love and who love me. If I ignore my own health and happiness they will not be happy. And that’s the opposite of what I want for them.”

Therefore, isn’t the “selfless” behaviour, the one where the other people’s feelings were not taken into account, the de facto “selfish” one?

Why are there still so many women — wives and mothers — putting their own needs and feelings in the last and thinking “that’s the way it’s supposed to be”? It’s in the end the selfish “selflessness” that defined the role of women in a household, a family.