Present over perfect

by Grace Ko

Baby is napping (quite a feat in and of itself considering he has been fighting sleep the past few days) and as I sat down to quickly shovel my lunch in my mouth and grabbed my current read Present over Perfect by Shauna Niequist, I thought it was about time I come back on this blog. 

It has been over two months since my last post and my world has been rocked, flipped upside down. It's as if I have a fresh pair of glasses that has changed my perspective, my view. I see things in a new light. It's a strange thing, motherhood. One moment you're merrily on your way, living life and the next, you birth a child and instantly a mother you become. 

Baby is already 12 weeks old and time is odd, in a slow and fast kind of way. I'm beating myself up over not having documented these past 12 weeks better but cheers to starting!

There are so many things I could write and process about: labor & delivery, postpartum recovery, breastfeeding, mom guilt, monthly updates... the list goes on. But this book, Present over Perfect has got me thinking, reflecting, re-evaluating, recalibrating. And I'm about to get real for a second on FOMO. Yes, you read that right. FOMO. Fear of missing out. 

Being a new mama, I know a thing or two about FOMO. There have been times when I was breastfeeding in the other room, missing out on almost the entirety of people's visits- visits to see me and baby. There have been moments I've browsed through my Facebook or scrolled through my Instagram inundated with photos of overseas travels, foodie adventures or elaborate social gatherings only to be reminded that I hadn't left the house in a week. I've looked through pictures of my pregnancy or life before baby and secretly thought, "Oh those were good times..." or "Man, was I skinny... Will I ever get my body back?" I've even looked at my bed at 2 AM, feeding baby and thought, "Will I ever sleep again?" The struggle is real.

But the joy is real too. 

Now I understand why parents take a million photos of their child. Now I understand why all my friends said one smile from your baby will make you forget you're utterly exhausted and severely sleep-deprived. Now I understand why people say, "The days are long but the years are short." 

I still can't believe baby is almost three months. And I'm yet again reminded of the importance of embracing my season, of being present. I'll be the first to profess that this is no easy task. I've always been a lover of lists, planners, organization, structure - whatever you'd like to call it. But it's been getting the best of me not having much structure to this life with a newborn. It has felt like a part of me was withering away, my days blurring into one another. I haven't touched my beloved planner in weeks;I have no plans/dates/to-do's to write in my planner mainly because I do the same things over and over again, everyday: feed baby, play with baby, change baby, putting baby down to sleep (or at least attempting to), repeat.

In hopes of having more structure to my day, I frantically tried to get him "on a schedule" because I thought it would give me some sanity. My Pinterest became flooded with pins of "How to sleep train", "How to get your baby to sleep through the night". I found myself awake at the wee hours of the morning clicking on these pins out of sheer curiosity only to fall into a rabbit hole of comparison, anxiety and frustration. It began robbing me of joy and taking me away from being present. I decided I would let go and just "go with the flow", following baby's lead. I confess, I still don't have much structure to my days. And I'm lucky if I get out of the house for a walk with baby (thank you, Seoul air quality. You stink.) But I have more joy in my heart and I am learning to be more present. 

cherry blossoms.jpg

It's a fight to stay present. It's a fight not to long for the bygone days or to eagerly await upcoming seasons. But it's a fight worth fighting.

To be present means reveling in the small victories and relishing in the now luxuries, like a shower, a few minutes to read, sitting with a cup of tea. To be present means being okay with holding and rocking baby to sleep because he will only be this little for so long. To be present means cherishing every one of baby's smiles. 


by Grace Ko

A swelling of expectation
fighting fear with anticipation
A limbo zone, "no man's land" between the present and the future, 
With ideas and ideals of motherhood still embryonic
I await for my blind date
a room awaits him
festooned with hopes and prayers

Change is never easy
to accept with aplomb
A real grieving, letting go, surrendering
A longing to slow down the hands of time
A impulse to press the fast-forward

The contrasts that live in my heart
My mind a jumble
My body hungry for sleep
But pregnant with a palatial elation for the meet cute

of heart, mind, body and soul
of what life has meant, 
of what life will be, 
of dreams and visions
through new eyes
that will capture my heart

of ideas and ideal of love
A father's heart

Things you should NEVER say to a pregnant woman (that have been said to me)

by Grace Ko

As I approach the tail end of my pregnancy, I've come to realize that this pregnancy thing has taught me many things. One I am still learning and working on is brushing off comments from people, those that are close to me and strangers alike. 

So for pure amusement sake, here are some things I've had said to me that no one should ever say to a pregnant woman:

  • "Is she fat or is she pregnant?"
  • "You must be having a boy. Girl bellies are much prettier."
  • "You've gotten chubbier!"
  • "You look reallllyyy pregnant!" 
  • "Your face is swollen!" 
  • "You look tired."

I'm sure most of these comments were said with the best of intentions. But in all seriousness, when I was in graduate school for counseling, one thing my mentor/professor said in lecture that stuck with me was the importance of both intent and impact. When someone receives a comment defensively, we often excuse ourselves by saying, "Oh, but I didn't mean it that way..." (intent). Yes, we may not have intended for it to be received with hurt or offense, but I have learned both in counseling and in life, that we can't stop at intent. We also need to think about the impact of our words.

"I didn't mean it that way..." 


"I didn't mean it that way, but I'm sorry if you received it that way. I am sorry my words hurt you." 

On the flip side, whether these people meant to be offensive or not, or reflect on the impact of their words, I am learning to brush comments off and let them roll off my back and move on with my day. (I'm guessing this is good practice for when people start giving me their two cents on parenting, left and right.) 

And while I'm on the topic of things you shouldn't say to a pregnant woman, things you should say? 

  • "How are you doing?" 
  • "How are you feeling?" 
  • "You look great!" 

And while I'm at it, 

  • Tell her she's doing great 
  • Offer up your seat 
  • And... ask before touching her belly! 

37 weeks

by Grace Ko

Baby is the length of a bunch of Swiss chard and this mama's been finding it hard to sleep. I have been nomadic, migrating back-and-forth between the bed and the sofa at two-hour intervals, awoken by my bladder. I have been trying desperately to find a comfortable position that allows me to both lie on my side and prop up my feet but so far to no avail. 

Week 37 was significant, wrapping up 2016 but also wrapping up work (both part-time gigs) and other responsibilities. I guess I have entered my own little "maternity leave" until baby decides to arrive! 

I fit in some good quality time with the husband - a brunch date, a movie date and a hair treatment - a small group dinner to celebrate our last meeting, an Italian dinner out with Y's cousin's family, quiet time with the closest, and even a museum date to the National Folk Museum familiarizing baby to Korean culture. 

We ushered in the new year during Week 37. We celebrated with a small gathering at our house with lots of snacks, both the salty and sweet kinds. And after we sent "the kiddos" off, Y and I rang in the new year quietly at home watching "Roman Holiday", like an old married couple. My kind of night - an amalgamation of outlets for the extroverted and the introverted. 

Over the past few weeks, I have relished some intentional "me time" with journal and pen in hand, flipping back through my 2016 planner to jot down and record reflections on the past year and expectations for the new one. And what a year it has been! And what a year 2017 will be! 

Happy New Year, y'all! 

Dear Baby,

by Grace Ko

Dear Baby, 

I've been wanting to tell you about your dad. You see, ever since finding out we're pregnant with you, this wonderful, magical thing has happened (aside from the obvious of your growing in my belly, which has been nothing short of miraculous). I have gotten to see and know your dad in a new way and have been growing to love him more and more each day. 

I know you're going to meet him very soon but I wanted to be the very first to tell you about him. 

Your dad... he's a lover of life. He takes in the sound of walking through crunchy leaves in the fall. He thoroughly enjoys a good meal and will enthusiastically express it throughout the entirety of it. He likes to curl up on the couch with a cozy blanket and a good book but he also exuberantly joins in on the excitement of a rambunctious sporting event. 

Daddy and I have now known each other for 9 years - we met straight out of college and became friends, dated for 2 years, engaged for over a year and now we've been married for over 5 and 1/2 years. But I still remember, one of the first things that attracted me to him was his passion. He's an architect by training but what that means is that he's creative, an "out-of-the-box" thinker, flexible yet planned. He is a "go-getter", never settling for what is but always striving for more while striking the balance of simultaneously maintaining a thankful heart. He is a life learner, a lover of books. (I hope you know that your daddy and I read to you every night while you were growing in mommy's belly.) 

He loves people. With a knack for networking and connecting, you will often find him greeting newcomers at church or striking up a conversation with a perfect stranger on the street - young or old, he loves to hear their stories. He values every life and greets people on the elevator, even in stuffy, often cold Seoul city life. He says his "please" and "thank you's" because he genuinely cares. When mommy and daddy have people over, which we love to do often, daddy is the "king of hospitality". He preemptively thinks about other people's needs and is constantly "on-the-go" fixing up something in the kitchen or grabbing something to make someone feel more at home. 

Daddy also loves mommy and loves mommy well. His friends used to tease him when we were dating that he had set the standard too high for everyone. But you see, he's the type of person that is unapologetic for doing what he thinks is right. Daddy has always treated mommy well but he has gone far beyond expectations during this pregnancy. I want you to know that the main reason mommy has been so thankful and happy and content throughout this pregnancy has been because of who she has had beside her the whole time, your daddy. 

In love in Daegu. Dec 2017 PC:  Mariyah G

In love in Daegu. Dec 2017 PC: Mariyah G

He cares deeply for justice. One of mommy and daddy's favorite people is Dr. MLK Jr. and he once said: "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." And this is not just a quote for daddy. He cares about injustice anywhere. 2016 was a meaningful and special year finding out we were having you. Bringing life into this world gets you thinking about what kind of world you're bringing life into. Truth be told, sometimes it's a scary and unfair, unjust world out there but daddy and I hold fast to a just and loving Father that knows far better than we will ever. With this in mind, your daddy took an ultrasound picture of you giving us a thumbs-up and rode across this motherland of ours, Korea. He rode his bike from Busan to Seoul, that's a whopping ~550 km (over 340 miles!) riding against trafficking, praying for justice and falling deeper in love with this country. He did this with you in mind, baby, praying for a better world for you and praying you would have this heart for justice, too. 

Daddy has prayed for your health, your strength, your happiness but he's prayed most that you would have a heart of justice. He prays that you would become a man that stands up for the weak and isn't afraid to fight for what's right. He prays that you would have a heart for counseling others, like your grandpa. 

There's so much more to be said but I want to leave room for you to get to know him on your own, in your time. 

We love you, baby. And can't wait to meet you.