Took a Break to Remember


“Sometimes I wish you would stop with all your blogging, and writing, and videos, so you could focus on your kids.  You’d be less stressed that way.”

My mother said those words to me a couple months back…

and I’m pretty sure I prickled and spat like a small animal in a net.

“Why would you say that to me?  Why would I stop doing the only thing that keeps me sane?  Why would I give up the only thing that’s just mine?  I’m a good mother!  I focus on my kids as much as can be expected.  None of my writing happens until they are in bed.  I’ve sacrificed so much already.  Why on earth would you tell me to give up one of the only things I have left that makes me happy?”

Looking back I know where her words came from.  She spoke from a place of heavy worry – worry for her daughter whose long term stress started to land her in the ER with panic attacks.  She spoke from a place of a mother wanting ease for her daughter.

After settling into our new home here in San Francisco (our seventh residence in five years), I started to play her words again in my head… and because she has this annoying habit of being right a lot of the time, I took them seriously.

So that’s where I’ve been the past couple weeks.  I’ve been doing nothing except being a mom.

It’s been awesome.

It’s also been temporary…

I simply needed a break – an exercise to remember what it feels like to not be rushed…

to not be distracted…

to be present with my children.

You see, my brain was never one to allow me to “be present” simply because I should be.  I had found myself in a place where I was constantly rushing to get my kids to bed so I could write.  I would give them snacks and television so I could answer business emails without interruption… and I would nod and distractedly say “ok”, without knowing at all what my son had just asked me.

Even when I took the time to play and read bedtime stories, I was often thinking about the other stuff I had to get done.  The only way I could think to be present was to make sure I had nothing else to do!  So, that’s what I did for he past two weeks.  I took my time through the bedtime routine,  I built train tracks, and sometimes I just stared at my kids while they stacked things and knocked them down.  I studied the waves of their hair, the way their lips curve like mine when they smile, and how one boy moves his fingers like a pianist while the other like a gorilla.

I needed some time to re-teach my body, my muscles, my cells about what it feels like to be saturated in the small moments with them…

so that I can get myself there when I need to…

because it’s time to get back to work.

I needed to remind myself that being a mother is the very core of who I am now…

that what’s mine, really mine are my children.  They are mine like nothing else can be – like my own sinewy tissue.  Their breath lives between the beats of my heart…

and that it’s okay to revel in that, and have it still not be enough.

I have more to offer…

more than my womb,

my milk,

and yes, more than my ever-open arms and boo boo fixing kisses.

The space that I have created for myself online really does keep me sane.  It also helps feed my family.  It is also worthwhile.

There are so few jobs out there that mirror, feed, and celebrate all parts of humanity.

Mine does.

I’m not giving it up…

but I can’t guarantee I won’t take another break in the future if  I need to.



mother and child sunset



jenni chiu sig


19 responses to “Took a Break to Remember”

  1. Tottums says:

    I love this – and probably needed to hear it. I haven’t been very present on my BLOG recently, and I’ve been feeling extremely guilty about it. But building train tracks and reading multiple bedtime stories and trips to the park are important too. And this time is so, so precious.

    Great, great post. <3

  2. Nique says:

    Welcome back, lady! Glad you got the break you needed 🙂

  3. Jess says:

    Seriously this could not have come at a better time for me to read. Having just recently dove head first into all of the things, I had a breakdown this weekend about how I’m neglecting the two people who support me most in chasing this dream, to chase this dream. Although the freedom and flexibility is ours for the taking, it’s so important that we carve out the time to be completely detached from it. Thank you for sharing. And more importantly, thank you for taking your break. 😉

    • Jenni Chiu says:

      Yes, you totally do all of the things on the Internet! I’m sorry for your breakdown – I’ve had my share. We put so much pressure on ourselves… We need some cocktailing and chatting at Mom 2.0!

  4. Michelle says:

    I’m glad you took a break and enjoyed your kids a little more. Speaking as a mom, all moms have the best intention for their children, and some times it hurts if it wasn’t something you want to hear. Life isn’t easy by itself, it’s even harder when you are a mom. There’s no end to a mom’s worry even when the kids are fifty year old. In the end, it’s still is a privilege to be a mom.

  5. Jessica says:

    I love that you took a break when you needed to and then came back when you were ready. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing or a polarizing choice to take breaks or to spend time on social media.

  6. I love this post. I’m excited to have my blog and excited to start this journey of motherhood, but I want to be careful to make sure my child and their experience is my number one priority. I can only imagine it’s hard to balance the two. I think it’s a great thing to take breaks now and again. XOXO

  7. Breaks are cathartic too. Good for you for doing what you needed to do for yourself. Mommies are right sometimes. Also welcome back! xoxo

  8. Love this so much. xo

  9. Alison says:

    I just love everything about this, Jenni. xo

  10. It’s so hard to be everything to everyone and it’s even harder to be everything you expect to be to yourself. I don’t know if that came off as brilliant – we should quote this chick – or why is this girl commenting drunk. I understand what you’re saying and my hardest struggle is to meet all of my own expectations. Sometimes giving yourself a break from those can be the most rewarding. It’s hard to find what we need and then to make it work, I’m glad you were able to do both.

    • Jenni Chiu says:

      Perhaps you are drunk… AND BRILLIANT! The two can often coexist. 😉 You’re right – it is the expectations that I put on myself that are the hardest.

  11. Brittany says:

    Perfectly said. I took a break from the blogging side for all of January and most of February because I really needed some time and space. I totally realized that I need this online space, but also that I need to let it go more than I was before. I need a bedtime. I need to be present for my kids and in my marriage. I’m glad you are back but when you need a break, go ahead and take it. It is one of the things that is great about what we do. The internet will still be here when you get back.

    • Jenni Chiu says:

      That is so true – the Internet is still here! I had such anxiety about the drop in traffic to my site, missing whatever the Internet was upset about at the time, etc., but it’s all fine – my online world did not end.

  12. Kat says:

    I’ve noticed that when I get the most defensive and angry at something someone is saying, it’s because there’s a sliver of truth to it. And yes, the whole “you bloggers ignore your kids” thing is one of those spots for me. I have a lot reasons as to why what I do is okay and doesn’t hurt my kids, but there is some truth. Sometimes it’s too much, I’ve had to teach myself when to clue in and detach my brain from the desire to curate content ALL THE TIME. Sometimes it just needs to shut up.

  13. Marta says:

    I so need this. Even when I am present I’m not really present because I’m always thinking of the next thing. My favorite phrase seems to be “multitasking while multitasking”. I’m getting tired of talking about being tired. I’ve taken many breaks from blogging (but always with guilt and fear that no one will be there when I come back). But what I really need is to quit my phone for a little bit. I’m toying with taking a technology timeout. I just really don’t know if I would be able to do it.

    I’m glad you’re feeling better and more rested. I was worried! xoxo

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