The Okaasan Box

Do you ever feel like you’re stuck? Packed into a box that is slightly too short so you can’t stand up straight, slightly too narrow so you can’t broaden your shoulders? I’ve been feeling really crammed in and hunched up lately, like the tiger at Nogeyama Zoo, lacking the space and freedom to unleash my wildness and roar to my heart’s content.

But it’s an Okaasan Box, the confine of mothers in Japan. Encased inside that is the Gaijin Box, making my box a bit smaller than normal. Some days my pen feels more constricting than others.

It’s not like any one thing has happened. It’s a myrid of different things, pinches and tweaks and nips that have left me seeping from my semi-collected exterior. It’s walking through a park hearing some guy with a megaphone shouting that all gaijin should die. Not the hearing that, I know he’s a nut job (though I wonder how many people around me agree with him.) But I was walking with my daughter and I had to explain it to her. Snip.

It’s talking to the after care teacher at school and trying to see if something can’t be arranged so I can drop my kids off at the regular school time during the summer instead of the random “summer care” time that is thirty minutes later and will make me late to my class, only to have her respond that “no one else complains.” Scratch.

It’s the lone father at PTA who stood up in front of everyone and said he would pull this group of women into line. Pinch.

It’s my neighbor somewhat gleefully telling me that all the other moms at school think I forgot to make my son’s lunch for his field trip. (I made it; he forgot it.) Would they jump that conclusion if I was a Japanese mom? Shove.

It’s the husband who says I’m worrying too much when the kids at school call my son gaijin, or treats me like a moron when I ask a question about a homework problem, or wakes me up to complain about a glass that has been put away improperly (never mind his crap everywhere.) Smack. Twist. Scrape. Punch.

So what is a person to do? I could decorate the box, I suppose, as if I had picked it out myself. I could pretend it isn’t there, that it is actually quite roomy, that I don’t notice it much of the time. I could stare at it’s walls, forlorn, and give up any thought of a life outside of the box. I could break the box, smash it beneath my fists and pound on it until it splinters into a million pieces. But others would be hit by the debris. And as women we must always value others.

Others others others others others others others others

Never me. Never we. Never ourselves.

Well, that was cheerful. Have a nice weekend.


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. bri65
    May 08, 2015 @ 17:44:52

    It takes a lot of patience to be a woman in this world. I can only imagine how it is to live in Japan as a gaijin female. You have described vividly, poetically, this box, and you are absolutely right about always others others others etc. That’s how we are trained. But then, sometimes, something hits you (me) and this did it for me: “…wakes me up to complain about a glass that has been (p)ut away improperly…” That is not OK. That is not right. That is really going too far. I just wanted to say, I’m in your corner. I tend to be long-winded.


  2. hamakkomommy
    May 08, 2015 @ 18:17:02

    Thanks for catching the typo. I think that particular incident was a power play, although I don’t know why he would bother since there is so much stacked in his favor just by us living here to start with. Or maybe work stress, I don’t know. HIS issue.


  3. Jane Miller
    May 08, 2015 @ 23:49:06

    Yes, I’m in your corner also…I’m pulling for you, cheering for’re not alone. You are brave and strong..even when you don’t feel it. No one can define who you are but you..shove all those other opinions, remarks etc. down to the basement where they belong. Be YOU, ’cause that’s what the world needs.


  4. illahee
    May 10, 2015 @ 12:49:03

    so, the other night my husband stomped upstairs and interrupted me reading a book to the kids to complain about the food (from breakfast) i didn’t put away. uh, whatever. everyone, EVERYONE, in this house is old/big enough to clear up after themselves after a meal. SMH.


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