MOM CRUSH: CHIE
Japanese TWIN MOM talks about double joy, THE TRANSITION OF FULL TIME WORK TO STAY AT HOME MOTHERING AND THE IMPORTANCE OF NOURISHING YOUNG MINDS
INTERVIEW BY KARIN HESSELVIK
PHOTOS BY CARA DENISON
What’s the first thing you remember creating?
When I was about 4, my teacher saw my paper cutting work and said 'wow!' I realized it was very creative work even at that age.
What’s the most recent thing you created?
Momo's and Rei's 2 year old 'hungry caterpillar' birthday party! It was so fun and I was so exhausted after.
Are you a kid or a grown up?
Unfortunately I'm grown up but I'm still a BIG kid at heart.
What are you most proud of?
My twins. Also, If I didn't leave Japan in 1997, I wouldn't have worked in Europe, met my husband or become a mother here.
When are you your most creative self?
When I sit in front of a work desk. Sounds boring but its true.
What does freedom mean to you?
When no one tells you what to do!
Your favorite place to hang out in your house and why?
On my bed because I can rest, I can see my favorite bunny collection by my side and warm up with my dog.
Three words that describe your take on motherhood
Patience. Adventure. Kindness.
What have you learned about yourself since becoming a mother?
I've learned that my fashion and collecting stuff aren't important anymore.
What role does creativity play in how you parent?
It's very important, being creative to help nourish young minds to grow.
What are some creative/life hacks that you’ve learned as a mom?
Someone is always asking me to do stuff, read a book, play with a toy etc, so I've learned how fast I can cook dinner. Preparation is key.
Best thing about having twins?
Double smiles, happiness and seeing different personalities grow within each person, especially between a boy and a girl.
I have to deal with 2 people at the same time and all the time! Patience can wear thin sometimes.
How WAS THE transition FROM WORKING full time in fashion/graphic design to being a stay at home mom to twins?
It was hard. I was so lonely, I was used to being surrounded by creative people and inspiration. I took time to understand that I have everything what I want...kids, a french bulldog, house etc.. I also realized being a mom is creative in a different way.
What’s the biggest thing you miss about working life?
Creating something that I love. Independence.
Do you plan to work again and if so what would you like to do?
I'd love to. Honestly its daunting, the idea of integrating back into a creative environment, but having done that for so many years it also excites me. I've always tried to have a fun energetic approach to my designs and the idea of children's wear really interests me now. I'd love to work for Hanna Anderson if anyone has contact :-)
What is it like to be a Japanese mom in Portland?
I speak Japanese to the twins everywhere and I notice some people are cautious and put up a barrier. It's ok, people are different. Surprisingly there are many Japanese moms in Portland. We have a strong community and we help each other.
how do you ensure that they are still connected to Japanese culture?
I speak Japanese to them and I try bring Japanese culture into our life. It's a bit tricky. For example; there are so many Japanese traditions connected to the four seasons. 'OHANAMI' when we celebrate the coming of spring under the cherry blossoms, it's chilly and raining in Portland. There are some Japanese mom meet up groups though, so I go every week and try to keep the traditions going.
How does the Japanese approach to motherhood compare to the American way?
I think Japanese care about others too much, especially in 'challenging' situations with children in public. For example; if your kid crying or talking loudly in the train, Japanese business men often get annoyed and sometimes shout at the mother and her child. The mother has to say 'sorry.' It's much more relaxed here.
What is something your mother taught you while growing up in Japan that you would like to in turn teach to your children?
Being precious, strong, confident and pure.
How do you nurture yourself?
Thinking of how I'm living now and being in the present, not the past or the future. Trying to be healthy.
What’s a good day?
When the twins are happy.
What’s a bad day?
When the twins are crying, crying, crying.
How do you define success?
Success for me is when you try your hardest. Not being afraid of failure. Believing in yourself.
How do you stay inspired?
Just by getting out and seeing what's happening, even if it's only a walk to the park. It can be too easy to get stuck indoors with twins.
What’s your biggest struggle right now?
I'm an only child living thousands of miles from home. I'd like to take care of my parents more as they get older. It's difficult as we live far away each others, at least we have FaceTime so they can see the kids grow.
What would you do with more time?
Make art, screen print, sew, create kids clothes and find a job.
One lesson from 2016?
Don't shout at the twins, haha (I felt I did nothing, except looking after the twins).
One dream for 2017?
Don't shout at the twins, haha. I'm hoping to do more creative things for myself.