Watching my children grow is a source of daily happiness. My daughters exude joy! Their excitement about the smallest things – finding pebbles with interesting shapes or simply the thrill of running fast – reminds me how wonderful it is to delight in simple things.
I’m constantly impressed by how much my daughters absorb every day. Observing them learn to communicate as sisters is very special – on their own, they’re discovering how to share toys and navigating when to play together or independently.
Our nightly ritual has always been to read books together, and their favorite book is “Kiki & Jax.” I wrote the book with them in mind, so I’m elated when they tell me, “I love your book – read it again!”
When I was little, I imagined being a good mother to my children one day – just as my own mother was to me. I had a very strong bond with my paternal grandmother, Oba-chan, and feel lucky to have had many good role models for how to take care of children. But the time and labor involved in raising a family is more than I ever imagined – especially in their infant years, when I had virtually no time for myself. The experience has made me more thankful toward my own parents.
Just after my older daughter was born, I felt unable to forgive myself for not being able to manage my life as I had before. But, with time, I eased up on myself; then, after I gave birth to my second daughter, I let go of my need for perfection altogether – even when it came to tidying! Instead of pressuring myself to clean up after them right away, I involve my kids in the process – or clean up in one shot at the end of the day when they’re asleep.
Before becoming a mom, I would feel defeated when I made mistakes – I could be quite hard on myself. Now I imagine one of my daughters feeling deflated after trying something challenging, and I tell myself the same things I would tell her. Motherhood has helped me be kinder and gentler with myself – and that is a gift in and of itself.
In Japan, our practice on Mother’s Day is to give our mothers a single carnation. Every year, I send my mother some carnations and a small gift. In our house, my husband helps my daughters create handmade cards for me – the first one I ever received, with their handprints on the inside, is one of my most cherished possessions.