Our latest Meet the People interview is with Laura, one of our busy mother of pre-schoolers!
Touchdown: the why, when, where and hows of your being in Japan.
I arrived in Japan in the spring of 2004 when I was 19 for the second year of my university degree. The plan was to just stay the year but I fell in love with living here and I met my husband near the end of my first year in the country. I was based in Tokyo but am in Chiba now. I did spend a year back in Australia after my first year and then another year during 2008/2009 before I got married. My interest in Japan/Japanese started in my last year of high school when I became close friends with a Japanese exchange student who was in my class in Australia. I wanted to come and visit her at some point so when I didn`t get into my top choice for university I had the option of taking different electives in my bachelor of arts degree so I decided to take Japanese.
Laura and her ever expanding family
I met my husband through a Japanese friend I was living with (we were living in university dorms). He had already graduated from university but was a graduate of the university I was at. We hit it off right away and started dating even though, at that point, I had just 6 weeks left in Japan. I don`t think either of us ever thought it would last but it did, despite most of our first year together we were apart. We lived together in Tokyo and also my hometown of Brisbane for 4 years before we married in Australia.
We are expecting baby boy #3 this year and also celebrating our 5th wedding anniversary!
Your feelings about being a parent in Japan.
I have learnt to go with the flow in terms of Japanese ideas about parenting vs my own ideas about parenting. I just nod and smile but then do my own thing.
One of the strangest encounters I had though was a random older woman on the street stopping to look at my 4 month old in his pram while we were walking home from the supermarket. She commented on him and how cute he was (and blah blah blah, most of us have heard those kinds of comments before!) and then proceeded to tell me that it was too cold to not be wearing a scarf and that my boobs would get too cold and that he wouldn`t want to drink my milk……It was April by this point (so warming up!) and she had no idea if I was breastfeeding or not.
Working Life: Do you work? How do you manage your family? Necessity or choice?
I don`t work full-time right now and haven`t since before my oldest was born. My older children start kindergarten this year and I had planned to possibly do more work from April but now that I am expecting another baby, this probably won`t happen. I do some part-time teaching (about 15 hours a month) and some proofreading from home. I also work as a virtual assistant for a friend but that work comes in spurts.
Three random questions
Natto: Hate! The smell gets me every time. Especially if it is heated up. My husband and both kids love it though.
Squat toilets: Hate! In general I hate squat toilets but I am also not a fan of the heated toilet seats/bidet functions. Even the toilets that flush automatically give me a bit of a scare each time.
Karaoke: LOVE! I miss karaoke- I don`t get to go nearly enough now that I have my own kids. A perfect night out though would definitely consist of some karaoke at some point.
Mum to three very loud boys and wife to a patient Japanese man, I'm Australian and moved to the Kansai area in 2012. Aside from navigating all the craziness of being a mum in another country, I work semi-full time and try to keep my sanity! Of course I clean but I don't cook!