hi, I'm Irene and this is my blog. all images and content © 2005-2016 Irene Nam unless stated otherwise. please do not use original images without permission. thank you!


in loving memory of
Oliver Yu-An Nam
Feb 1 - May 20 2014


to all the mothers of the world

mothers are everywhere. whether they are pushing the latest stroller or shopping for diapers, at the head of a major company or scrubbing the bathroom's floor, mothers are all around us. today the world is celebrating you. and I feel tremendous pride to belong to a group of incredible women who are teaching me every day just what the purpose of my life is. I am proud to be a part of the testimony of thousands of generations of mothers whose experiences, knowledge and dedication have filled the earth and make it a better place. today the world celebrates your intelligence, your beauty, your strength and your weakness, your confidence and your humility. today the world acknowledges your uniqueness. but let's be honest. we want more than compliments. we want a dishwasher. we want one of those round automatic vacuum cleaners. we want health for our children. we want a brighter future for our children. we want love and unconditional support from our partners, a Valentino evening dress and a decent pair of shoes. we want two weeks at the spa. we want to have dinner with a celebrity. we want a whole night of sleep. we want peace.

whatever you want right now I pray God to give to you. personally, I want a new haircut. happy mother's day.


my family, sort of.

I've had the loneliest childhood ever. most of the time, I came back to an empty house after school, ate, studied and went to bed by myself since the age of 12. some believe that it has enabled me to develop independence and self-reliance. I believe I still have not fully recovered from the void and isolation.

yet I don't feel bitter about the circumstances of my dysfunctional home life. I've been blessed with a handful of wonderful people who have welcomed me and given me the opportunity to share the experience of a family. they were the children of my parents' friends, a small community spending every weekend, Christmas and summer holidays together. the early years we mostly spent hours performing our own versions of StarWars. I still have whole sequences of "return of the Jedi" recorded in my head. these memories are priceless. we shared the afflictions and doubts of adolescence, the first time my heart ached for a boy, used a tampon and my idolatry for Leonardo DiCaprio. they put up with my many whims. they have guided me with the innocence of their young age and with the genuine love of older brothers and sisters. I remember everytime they surprised me with a gift on my birthday or comforted me after I threw up in the swing or got locked up in the bathroom or gave me a safe ride home after a party. they cried at my wedding and gaze at my boys. I owe them my sanity.

everytime I see them I realize how much I love them, in a discontinuous and moderate way, and how well these people know me. and how well I know them. their face expressions, voices, laughs, clothes, everything about them is familiar and reminds me of another buried and treasured souvenir. they're the family I never had. sort of. without the annual reunions and inheritance issues.


momster in Paris

my husband and I are celebrating our 5th anniversary at the end of this month. when you live in Paris, people tend to think that life is easier. more beautiful. more exciting. more meaningful. they think you have romantic walks by the Seine river waving at the tourists-crowded Bateaux-Mouches from a 200 year-old bridge or that you have dinner in fancy restaurants ordering dishes with names that say many things but not what you're going to eat and drinking wines older than your grandparents.

maybe my husband and I will do all of that. but maybe we'll rent a dvd and get a box of spicy hot wings at KFC and hang out in our lounge pajamas all day long. this is the beauty of living in Paris. you take your kids to a small park with old women feeding a hundred fat pigeons though it is illegal and look up and the Eiffel Tower is greeting you. you walk continuously watching your shoes to avoid dog poop on streets that have welcomed the greatest philosophers and writers of the 20th century. you can have the best pastries right downstairs your building or a tiny expresso sitting at a table in the middle of a sidewalk and it's the coolest thing ever. you can buy a cd on the Champs-Elysees and have the worst Starbucks caramel mocha frappuccino in the world. you can experience, sense and feel inspiration and still go back to your tiny modern dull apartment and feel like home. I absolutely love that.


I wish I were

Mom: "Will, go clean your room NOW!"

Will: "or you will become a bad dragon?"

Mom: "yes, a very bad dragon!"

Will: "oh Mooooommy, why aren't you a lovely princess?"


life is

I often think that life is about the big stuff. marriage. pregnancy. motherhood. and how to glue all these things together to make it as good as possible.  but today as I was blow-drying my hair, I saw my son running around the house wearing his winter hat and holding a spoon yelling "I am a magician!" while my other son came to me and asked "what's that?" pointing his finger at my bra. and then it hit me. maybe life is more about the little stuff. the stuff we think are meaningless and insignificant. the stuff that happens between the big stuff. right now my boys are playing human hotdog with their Dad who keeps asking them how much they love him. usually I would not stop and stare. but I do today. because this is also what my life is about. I realize that now. and I don't want to miss one bit.



there's nothing more exhilarating than watching my son laughing. not giggling. really laughing. his eyes are like two horizontal brackets and his mouth is so wide open you can actually see that little thing hanging between his tonsils. his face has 300 different expressions of delight. a symphony is playing in his little body celebrating life and endorphins. he's laughing like his innocent heart is about to explode in a thousand colorful fireworks. like nothing else exists. I'm witnessing wholeheartedness. and I could stay there watching for ever.


the momster (part II)

while driving home I'm thinking that I could hit my head against the steering wheel until I bleed if only the perspective of pain was not so frightening. I'm crying. and I'm heartbroken. I don't know why and how it all started. I think we adults have the ability to delete the shameful and embarrassing very easily. I would have forgotten too, I think, if only my boy hadn't come to me and hugged me saying "Mommy, I'm scared because you're not happy with me". I become numb. is my heart still beating? I don't think so. the guilt is so harsh that I could almost choke. I don't even know why I yelled at my sons with such fierceness. no matter what they did nothing can legitimate nor justify that. I do not deserve to be their mom. I truly don't. how can I write about the wonders and beauties of motherhood and yet be such a lousy mother most of the time? I have a meeting today I can't avoid so Sean and Will have to spend the afternoon at daycare. I can't wait to go pick them up and hug and kiss them and tell them how much I love them. because I do. God knows I do. I only hope remorse and guilt won't have killed me by then.



I can think of no word or combination of words to define motherhood the way I actually feel it. it is a whole. a big whole that transcends common sense and English vocabulary. a lifetime assignment that I am now fully embracing and that gives my life a sense of meaning and value. today's session with the child therapist revolved around the kids entering kindergarten next September and whether they will be together in one classroom or separate in two, growing up with two languages, two cultures, educational stereotypes and 4 year-olds' innocent cruelty. I know. there's still so much to do. the road is long. and it's going to be hard sometimes. most of the time. but I believe that if I've made it so far maybe I can make it a little further. and I have little glimpses. I see open notebooks on the family dining table, I see piano lessons, I see popcorn and Star Wars DVDs, I see laughing, I hear loud music in the car, I feel love. and this brings tears to my eyes. because it is not a fiction. it is real. and it's all there waiting for us.


a woman's soul

when I was pregnant I naively thought that I would be the unique hybrid version of the perfect mom-wife-woman addition. like those we see on Pampers TV ads and who are so comfortable wiping other people's babies' butts. but it has been something completely other than that. becoming a mother has enabled me to grow and evolve as a person but definitely not like I had expected. birthing children has developed a profound sense of compassion in me, not only for other mothers, but for the woman condition in general. I hear words such as breast cancer, children custody and single mother and I just know. no, I can't possibly know. but I feel.

I feel the frustration, the anxiety, the doubt, the exhaustion and despair. but I also feel the courage, determination and hope. writing on this blog I have never been prouder to be a woman. we mother. we cure. we save. we juggle with more than two jobs to feed our children. we defend. we teach. we manage to pursue a career and raise happy kids. we love. we love so much. we have flaws and imperfections yet we see astounding beauty when others only see the ordinary. we are emotional. we fall but we always rise up again. eventually, we always triumph.

in my fantasy world  no woman is hurt. they live freely for the joy of giving, loving and dancing. they face no adversity, emotional or physical pain or trials of any kind. and they are never, ever separated from their children. but such world does not exist. and life is difficult. and so unfair. for all of us. but I am stunned. I am amazed. because every minute someone in this world is birthed, healed, loved and blessed. every second a life is reinvented and finds a sense of purpose because of a woman. we are more than we think we are. we can do far more than we think we do. I think God has given us something that drives us even when there's no visible hope. I believe it is a woman's soul.


thank you


"we don't really know what's going on with our Mom these days, but we want to thank you. we don't know what she's frenetically typing on her laptop every morning or eagerly reading that makes her smile and giggle like that but we've rarely seen her that happy, except of course, when we do our little bootie dance or say the fabulous 3 words. we love our Mom and it was hard to see her crumble and cry of exhaustion at times. we understand that it might have been frustrating to take care of us for the last 3 years though she will never really admit it. she loves writing. and she loves people. she's always had. and having the opportunity to share what she loves doing the most with genuinely caring, inspiring and awesome ladies like you is something she's deeply grateful for. you have taught our Mom about compassion, courage and inner strength. but most of all, you have taught her simplicity and humanity. thank you for opening her eyes to a world of endless possibilities and her path to a new journey she's now ready to fully embrace."

from Sean (tiger and ballerina) and Will (cave man and mermaid), 3 years old.