Hello, 2024! I’m reflecting on 2023 and my new journey of self-discovery, empowerment, and financial freedom as a single mom in Tokyo. My “New Year’s Resolutions For The (Newly) Single Mom” is a guide to embracing 2024, the Year of the Dragon, with a gentle ferocity.
2024.1.11 UPDATE: Shout-out to my soon-to-be ex-husband for trying to use this blog post during today’s mediation to prove that I “underreported” my income and thus deserve less child/spousal support.
Imagine thinking this post is some kind of “smoking gun” when: (1) financial abuse/neglect is one of the reasons I cited in my divorce filing; (2) a simple Google search shows that anything under ¥200,000 doesn’t need to be reported. Did YOU report YOUR Mercari earnings on your taxes & income statements to the court? How about customs duties on your imported goods? SMH
No matter what you say, police reports don’t lie, sir, which is *exactly* why you can’t contact me directly. Thank you for validating my decision to leave. Stay blessed!
New Year’s Resolutions For The (Newly) Single Mom
This post contains affiliate links which means that The Wagamama Diaries makes a small commission of items you purchase at no additional cost to you.
Let Go Of Soul-Sucking Relationships
AKA Stop giving second chances to people who aren’t worth my time.
Truthfully, I got a head start with this one in March 2023, when I finally filed divorce papers at Tokyo Family Court.
As my legal battle draws to an end, I’m applying this resolution to all areas of my life. Relationships can only work when one person puts in just as much effort that equals their partner’s efforts.
People show/tell you who they are – your job is to listen and see.
After all, if he wanted to, he would.
In my constantly desperate bid for time and attention, I lost my self-esteem and self-respect. I became a shell of who I was. I was constantly watching my words and actions in order to keep just a bit of peace.
I’d lived here in Japan for nearly a decade before getting married. Yet, somehow, I really thought that I’d be nothing if I left.
But in reality, it’s the parasite that needs a host, not the other way round.
When I look at what my life had become with him in it, I had to ask myself, “Is this the life I want?” “Is this the life I want my daughter to see and who I want her to be in her future relationships?”
One thing that kept me from filing divorce papers and moving out, was the constant fear that everything would be my fault if I dealt the decisive blow, that I would be guilty of “destroying” my family.
And, with my green beauty start-up, Edo Beauty Lab, barely making a profit, how could I make it on my own? Especially when her father had taunted me numerous times that he wouldn’t pay child support if I left.
These past three years, trapped in limbo, wondering if it was Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay.
But, things got physical in late October 2023, and I had to get the police involved. I realized that it was now or never. So, if breaking up my family made me selfish, then so be it!
Which leads me to my next resolution for 2024…
Sayonara, Mom Guilt!
After all, my blog is called “The Wagamama (selfish) Diaries!”
I rebranded my blog in Summer 2019 in order to focus on beauty content, like my favorite Japanese beauty products.
But, I’ve come to realize that being selfish with my time is more than my weekly “Self-Care Sunday” beauty routine.
To put it bluntly, I will no longer feel terrible saying “no” when I don’t want to do something.
There’s only 24 hours in a day. I can’t realistically have it all or do it all – at one moment, at least. So, my plan for 2024 is to budget my time just as I would budget my money.
It’s easy to put yourself last when you’re a mom, but this is number one for me this year.
I will set time for myself, because as the SOLE caretaker, I need to be in peak physical, emotional, and mental shape. Even if I have to leave work an hour early in order to get things done, I’m doing it.
For me, this means a meticulous use of the Clock app. I set reminders that literally include a designated period of 30 minutes of ME TIME every single morning, along with my twice daily dog walks.
Budging my time to make time for myself also means I rely heavily on the Google Calendar app.
So, when my daughter asks me, “Mommy, can we go to …?” I literally pull out my phone, find my earliest availability, add it to the calendar, and set two reminders.
I use nearly every color available to categorize and coordinate my work schedule, private events, and payment due dates. I also add my daughter’s school and extracurricular activities.
Even mundane things like “going to the post office,” and “return library books” are neatly scheduled into my calendar.
Stop Comparing Myself With Others
My daughter started elementary school in April 2023. Since then, she’s endured an incredible amount of environmental and family changes.
For a while, she’d talk about how she wished her family was like that of her friends’, with a mom and a dad and a sibling or two.
But, I gently reminded her, we were that kind of family, and we were not happy. You never know what’s going with other homes, so don’t get caught up in what others have. Every situation has its own set of advantages and disadvantages.
You may even be happier than those you compare yourself to, and not even realize it.
My social media detox has certainly helped me with this revelation. What we see online is merely a snapshot of a single moment in someone’s life.
We’d been to Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo Disneysea as a “family” numerous times. But, our Halloween 2023 mommy-daughter Disney date was genuinely the most fun. I was exhausted for the rest of the week, but it was an eye-opening experience.
Imagine going to Disneyland and having to tone down your excitement because there’s “someone” in your group that can’t stand to see you happy, enjoying life. Now, imagine living 24/7 in an environment like that.
When I think about it, I have laughed more in these three months than I have in three YEARS.
It’s been so free and liberating, that I will not allow myself to settle for less anymore.
I don’t know how other couples make their marriages work. But, I will no longer play the Spy x Family game and pretend to be happy when I am far from it. (The new Spy Family movie is absolutely hilarious, though. Do check it out if you haven’t already!)
Choose Kindness. Every Time.
As recovering people pleaser healing from a toxic relationship, this is a funny one to write. But, what I want to get across is that there are times where you can either be right or be kind. Always choose to be kind.
It took me a long time to get the courage to write about my divorce. Not because I wanted to be diplomatic, but because I was filled with so much resentment.
Every time I’d sit down and try to write a blog draft, or post an update on my Instagram stories after a court date, I got so angry and frustrated that I just gave up.
But, I realized that holding on that hate and anger and resentment was holding me back from being a better version of myself. And, I needed to be a better version of myself for my daughter.
So, instead of wishing malice on my ex husband, I wished that he would never again hurt anyone the way he hurt me.
And I truly meant it. Not in a snarky New York, “I wish you an ounce of luck,” kind of way, but in sincere hopes that one day he can become a better person for our daughter’s sake.
It’s harder to be stepped on if you’re standing up.
Being kind and polite doesn’t mean you have to be a doormat. It’s not rude to have a boundary or to expect to be treated with respect. Boundaries exist for a reason.
If someone doesn’t respect my boundaries or treat me with respect, I don’t need to explain to them WHY their behavior is hurtful. All I need to do in order to protect my peace is leave.
Count Every Blessing
It’s no secret that being a single mom is hard, and I know that the chips are stacked against me as a single mom in Japan.
It’s even harder financially because my divorce is not yet finalized. Unfortunately, this means I’m still married on paper and thus do not qualify for many government subsidies.
While my start-up has been put on the back burner for time being, I’m fortunate that I have found other employment opportunities. I have a steady stream of private English lessons, and am grateful for an equally steady stream of Adsense and Amazon Japan affiliate revenue. This flexibility provides me with quality time that I can spend with my daughter and on healing myself.
With that said, just to be on the safe side, I will report this side hustle income this year. Then, in the upcoming months, I will post candidly about finances as a legally-married-not-yet-single mom in Tokyo!)
I am satisfied with what I have overcome in 2023 as a mother and a person and look forward to setting – and achieving – new goals in 2024!
Explore Tokyo…and Beyond!
Miss M and I have a wonderful time bonding over our love of capsule toys, anime, and music.
As movie fans, we often turn a movie date into a full day trip. We choose a movie theater in a different part of Tokyo, and plan our day accordingly.
Back in September, we did the PreCure Stamp rally which took us all over Tokyo using the Toei bus. The final stop was Ikebukuro, where we explored the Animate Ikebukuro Flagship Store.
Then, in December, we headed to Roppongi to watch the Spy Family movie. Afterwards, we ate lunch at the Christmas Market, saw the Tokyo Revengers Exhibition, and ended the night with a walk down Keyaki Street.
Lately, Miss M has been hinting at going to Korea, and has even started studying using a book that I used on my extensive travels between 2012-2014.
While Korea might be a distant possibility in 2024, I definitely want to explore more of Japan!
(Since there are obviously “eyes” on my blog, I need to cover my butt here and say that these are merely wants and not a concrete plan of action.)
Blogging For A Cause
I don’t intend for The Wagamama Diaries to be a substitute for legal or otherwise professional assistance. However, I can use this platform to help others as I heal.
Breakups/divorces are never easy, even when your mind is set. And, when you’re in a foreign country trying to navigate the legal system, everything feels so cold and complicated.
At this point I’m not sure how much I want to reveal about my ordeal. (Besides, there’s plenty of “divorce in Japan” material out there.)
I’ve since overcome the fear of starting over. But, I truthfully feel anxious when I think about the future, especially when it comes to financial stability.
However, even if it’s just a post about my budget beauty routine or vlogging my favorite low-cost kid-friendly activities in Tokyo, I want to share a different side of my new life in Japan!
New Year’s Resolutions For The (Newly) Single Mom
How do my “New Year’s Resolutions For The (Newly) Single Mom” align with yours? Here’s to cultivating self-love, chasing dreams, and savoring the wins, big and small, in 2024!