Moving on

by Kathy Kim


It’s time to leave home. I know it sounds like a silly thing for a 37-year old woman to say. Shouldn’t you have left home years ago? Well yes I did, but it’s only now since having my own children that I feel like it really is time to leave.

The truth be told, it feels like I’ve been trying to leave home for a decade. I could be just a sentimental fool, but the thought of leaving my family, my childhood, the city I grew up in makes me feel like a part of me has died. I am pulled to stay in the past and yet life pushes me forward to the future.

This is the cycle of life I tell myself. My grandfather past away, and then two weeks later my daughter was born. It’s what happens in life. My husband and I have moved up the totem pole. We’re the parents now. We really do have to grow up. No matter how hard we fight to keep things how it used to be, no matter how much society tells us that just because we have children our lives do not have to change, it’s not the case, we have a family of our own now and life has changed for good.

It’s okay. It’s sad to say good-bye to Mum and Dad. It’s sad to say good-bye to the family I once knew. I no longer come home and chat to Mum in the kitchen while she’s preparing dinner. I no longer go for walks around our old neighbourhood and see the same old houses that were once so familiar. I no longer share a house with my siblings and my folks, and enjoy the banter and the hum of the household. Actually, I haven’t done this for a long time, but for some reason the pangs resonate inside of me now.

I have my own family. It just sought of snuck up on me. One day I left home, to explore the world, got married, and now I have kids. When did all that happen? And when did my Mum and Dad’s hair go grey? Don’t get me wrong, in their sixties they’re still energetic people, full of life and living it to the fullest, but they’re not the same people they used to be; when we were kids. I find myself worrying about their health now. Are they pushing themselves too much?

I do the sums in my head about how old my parents will be when my kids are of marrying age. I wonder will they get to see their great grandchildren. Will I get to see my grandchildren? Maybe we should have had kids earlier? Suddenly family becomes even more important than it used to be.

Life isn’t about just me anymore. Like any parent, I want the best for my kids. I used to think that if it was good enough for me then it’s good enough for my kids. But life is different now. It’s not the eighties anymore. My kids will grow up in a world that is completely different to the one I grew up in. I find myself having to leave behind the old ways and raise my kids for the new world.

It has been a difficult, even painful process to go out and do what I think is right. Why does it feel disloyal to live your own life and have your own beliefs, especially if it has been a certain way for generations? I guess it’s all part of the act of separation. But it’s my life now, and it’s my family, and I need to make my own decisions. It’s time to grow up and fly the coop.

I’m sitting at my desk, in our bedroom, writing. I lost my office when my first born came along. We definitely need a house now, our family keeps on growing, and I’m growing tired of working on a tiny desk in the corner of our bedroom. I watched Father of the Bride this morning. My kids were at their halmoni and halaboji’s (grandmother and grandfather in Korean) house while I recuperate from the flu. The dishes were piled up, and the laundry basket overflowing and for a split second I thought of cleaning up while the kids were out. Instead, my sad sick body turned on its heel and pulled out an easy to watch, no need to think, DVD. I bawled my eyes out.

It all goes so quickly doesn’t it? It only seemed like yesterday I was the kid, but now I’m the parent looking at my future on TV. One day my little ones will grow up and my husband and I will be the ones looking back on times with our family, and we’ll be the grandparents. Right now, that seems like a long way away. Reality right now is getting up before I’m ready to get up, hugs in the morning, sitting on the bathroom floor while my daughter is on the toilet and yelling a big hooray when we hear the times, frustrating times, precious times.

It’s time to move on. A new family is born. There’s an American federal style house we’ve been driving past for the last year up for sale. It’s way above our means of course. But we can dream.


© Kathy Kim

“A gender-equal society would be one where the word ‘gender’ does not exist: where everyone can be themselves.”*

I’ve always been aware of gender conditioning and actively tried to combat any lingering prejudices or stereotypes in my own parenting, even down to encouraging dolls with my boys when they were little. It’s great to read people writing about gender issues they’re experiencing with their kids. For too long these subjects have been discouraged or silenced. I’d love to publish some more creative writing on this topic, especially if you are struggling with a child who actively tries to move away from gender normative preferences. A society where everyone can be themselves thanks Gloria for those aspirational words.

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* Gloria Steinem