The Life Update Post You’ve Been Waiting For

It is May 2022. We are lucky to be alive in the pandemic. But, where to begin this life update?

Life update

First of all, if you had met me in late 2019, you would have that known I was looking for a way out of Japan because my son got bullied at a Japanese public elementary school. (Yes, my bosses at work are/were aware of my desire to leave Japan – not the company. I do like several aspects of my current job. Remind me to blog about that one day.) The memories of those dark days still evoke a visceral reaction in me. I don’t know if we have fully healed from that experience. It still causes me pain when I have to recall and talk about what happened. Then 2020 rolled around along with the pandemic and everything changed. My efforts and plans to leave Japan were put on hold and Jeremy ‘got stuck’ in Kenya under the care of my parents. Before you know it – 2 years of masks, travel bans, quarantine mandates, school closings and openings – have rolled on by.

In 2020, I decided to get pregnant with my second baby and would you believe it? He’s already one year old. One year and one month old. What about his dad, you ask? He’s very much present in the periphery of our lives. It was my decision not to get married. Not very conventional, I suppose. But for a very long time, I have known that I was never going to live the conventional life. Marriage does not particularly appeal to me. So here I am. 34 years old. Single parent. Mother to two lovely boys from two different fathers. Some may call me reckless. Brave. Stupid. Strong. “How do you do it?”. “Why did you do it?”. The answers don’t matter. What matters is my dedication to raising my boys. They’re at the center of every decision I make, big or small.

This is one of my favourite photos of the boys, taken in September 2021. J was 8 and Kai was 5 months old at the time.

I took one year of maternity leave – actually 14 months in total. I spent 8 of those months in Kenya with my family, trying to regroup and plan for life ahead. I was almost 100% sure I wasn’t coming back to Japan. I have already spent 7 years here; this is my 8th year. I have taken from and given enough to Japan. I feel like it’s time I sailed to new shores.

If you had met me last year when I gave away my beds, my television, my home appliances, my clothes (to recycling); you would have thought hm, Savvy is definitely saying sayonara to Japan. But fate seems to have other plans. When 2022 came about and none of my plans was falling into place, I found myself booking a flight back to Tokyo in early February.

Kai and I endured almost two weeks on the road – 5 days in transit purgatory with Ethiopian Airlines and 6 days of hotel quarantine once we landed – to get back to Tokyo. J’s residency had expired and he couldn’t come with us, even though he had packed his suitcase and said he wasn’t getting left behind. The first thing I did after the quarantine period was to apply for his certificate of eligibility so he could join us. Was it a wise idea to bring him back to Japan? I don’t know but what I do know is that it’s better for our little family unit to stay together. Wherever we go, we go together.

Of course, J can never go back to a Japanese public elementary school. Besides, he has forgotten all his Japanese. The teachers there are overworked – many routinely do over 80 hours of overtime per month – and therefore not very motivated to deal with any kind of bullying, among other reasons. Luckily, I found a small Christian international school for him called Calvary Chapel International Christian School. It is a very affordable school in Fuchu that I found out about it from a Facebook group of “mothers in West Tokyo”. This is not a sponsored link or an endorsement of the school. Anyway, it worked out quite well because I was able to get a new apartment cycling distance to the school, although he will be taking the bus for now.

The new apartment that I moved into in April is also 2 minutes away from Kai’s daycare, which is just the best thing about it. I fought hard to get into this apartment. The owner was reluctant to rent to a foreigner, even though my excellent credentials spoke for me. And by excellent credentials, I mean the fact that I work for Hitachi, one of Japan’s top class companies, according to everyone. He needed assurances by way of a Japanese co-guarantor even though I was already paying a guarantor company a percentage of the rent to do the guaranteeing. I wanted to give up on it – but it is near both J and K’s schools; it is walking/cycling distance to the station; it is on the ground floor; it has free internet, Gyoumu Super, 7-11 and a drug store are 5 minutes away; the apartment had just been “reformed” and is brand new inside and out, etc. In the end, I realized I needed the apartment more than the owner needed a renter and asked Kai’s dad to lend us his Japanese hanko. He comes by often to see us.

(Here, I pause to check on the sleeping kids after Kai just cried out. I’ve nursed him back to sleep. Is there any sight sweeter than that of sleeping children?)

I really have had a very busy couple of months since landing in Japan. I was busy looking for an apartment, then doing the actual moving from my friend’s apartment where we were staying for a while – the upstairs neighbour complained to the real estate agents about a crying child (WTF! Another story for another day), doing all the moving procedures – gas, water, electricity, internet contracts, change of address procedures, preparing for Kai’s daycare – which he joined in April, preparing for J’s school and his flight back to Japan, etc. I’m exhausted just listing it all out. I am so glad I was able to extend my maternity leave by a month. I was supposed to go back to work in April but I pushed it to May. I may even be able to get some pay for April because there weren’t any available spaces in the daycares before he turned one, which he did on March 25th. All these, while not sleeping enough. Kai still wakes up several times at night to breastfeed and mostly goes right back to sleep. For once I would love to have 5-6hrs of uninterrupted sleep. Just once. I’m living for the day he starts sleeping through the night.

Moving Day

In the past couple of months, we’ve celebrated Kai’s birthday, J’s birthday and my birthday. I was even coerced into hosting a birthday party – this is a story for another day. I really am too nice, don’t let my online persona fool you.

What is make-up?

Let’s not forget I managed to meet the LEGEND, the GOAT himself, the world’s greatest marathoner, Eliud Kipchoge, when he came to run the Tokyo Marathon for the first time. Presenting the evidence.

Hey, I even managed to go for a couple of runs before life caught up with me. I’ll be back as soon as I find a schedule that works for me. I start work again on 6th May – of course, I forgot all my passwords – and my hands will be even fuller.

I think that we are all caught up now. I don’t know what the rest of the year holds in store for me but I am looking forward to it.

This entry was posted in Blog, Life in Japan, Motherhood and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to The Life Update Post You’ve Been Waiting For

  1. CleverBunny says:

    My goodness you have been BUSY! All this while looking after a one-year-old and not getting enough sleep! Good things are due to come to you in abundance after this crazy time. Thank you so much for the update! I’ve been wondering how things were going, so appreciate the time you’ve put into writing this.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. ashul says:

    So many questions I wanted to ask have been answered. I’ve known you all these years only from twitter. You’re amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The Greatrnk says:

    Great writing as usual, and lovely update as well. When are we also getting something on YouTube?


  4. Labour day and Eid meant that we had a nice long weekend to start the month of May….and then you go and put up a new post!

    This was a much welcomed post and like farmers who’ve been waiting for the rain we dropped everything to go and receive this new post.

    It says many things but my take away today was simple: no matter what is going on around you family is number one. Never let others determine your plans. Do what you have to do. Everything will be just fine.

    Stay well.


  5. Wanjoro says:

    Great update! You have been busy but I am happy to read that you are all together now and got a good school for your son. All the best and thank you for sharing part of your life with us.


  6. Pingback: 14 Months of Maternity Leave (and Childcare Leave) | Savvy Kenya in Japan

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