hi, I'm Irene and this is my blog. all images and content © 2005-2017 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


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.


morning thoughts

bashful beams of light tell me that it's morning already. I am still swinging and floating between two worlds. I love those few seconds before I open my eyes. I can hear my husband snoring and feel his heavy left foot on my right leg. it gives me an odd sense of connection. I feel safe. my son Sean's head is resting on my left arm. as he cuddles up to me I am moved by the touch and feel of his little body pressing against mine. he seems peaceful, like he's home. a few seconds later, my dog is vigorously licking my ear. I like to believe that it is her way to say good morning. I don't know if I am repelled or touched. it is a little hard to breathe. we definitely need a bigger bed I think. then I hear this familiar little voice. my other son Will is awake and patiently waiting for everybody to get up. but he has found a curious thing hanging outside the blanket. that is my left foot. he giggles. the most beautiful sound in the world. he starts talking to it. then he hugs and kisses it. he's no stupid. he knows this will wake Mommy up. and it does.

I don't know a lot about life. about the world as I seem to glimpse it. about the universe I'm evolving in. I don't know much about motherhood. about friendship. very little about marriage. but this morning I have been reminded of the value of life. of the act of giving. and unconditionally loving. illness, anxiety, fear, doubt and guilt have reminded me that I need to embrace my life rather than constantly try to control and perfect it.

today I have been reminded of the six hundred different reasons why I married my husband and the millions why I love my children. and I guess that is all I need to know.


brotherly love

Sean: "can I play with you Will?"

Will: "of course Sean, because you are a beau-ti-ful rainbow."


letter to my 16 year-old son

"my dear son,

right now you're going through a roller coaster of new emotions. you're obsessed about friends, sex, studies, money, but mostly sex. you realize that your parents are flawed and have shitty tastes in music. your hair is out of control. you have different behaviours and reactions than those we approve of or expect from you. you need to question every value we have taught you, every truth you believe in so as to make the transition from boy to man. and we know it's a hard time for you. we understand that it may be the only way you're going to figure out who you are and who you want to be.

my dear son. I've seen so many things. things I hope you will never see. I've seen people killing people in the name of ideology, religion and race. I've seen the earth raging, I've seen children starving. I've seen horror, I've seen evil. but I've also seen beauty so glorious that I could almost choke. I've seen Love. I've seen bravery. I've witnessed miracles. these I hope for you to see. for they will make you a better person. life is difficult but there's not much that can't be overcome. enjoy the moment, learn from the past and focus on the present. pray every day. be open to all kinds of music. music will enrich your spirit and uplift your soul. follow your instinct but listen to others. I know you probably don't want to talk to your mother so hopefully throughout the years you have built a network of reliable and trustworthy elders to guide you in your life. your golf coach. your music teacher. talk to them. always hope for the best. recycle. volunteer. remember that all people deserve your respect no matter the color of their skin, social status, religion, culture and personal beliefs. but stay away from extremism. watch good movies. be a loyal friend. and be a good brother. always be grateful for what you have. and know that you never give too much. if you're lost ask for directions. learn how to forgive. treat women with respect. please don't smoke. never, ever drink and drive. read as much as you can. widen your horizon. love unconditionally.

I know that I am not a perfect mother and I realize that I can't protect you from everything. but I did the best I could. and I have faith in you. so remember that I love you. your father loves you. we've always have. never, ever doubt or question this. there's still so much I want to tell you but right now you're happily showing me your little bootie so I can wipe it.

so, my 16 year-old son. go. and embrace your journey.

God bless you always, your Mommy"


eternal sunshine of the spotless mind


given the opportunity what event or people would I want to erase from my memory?

there are pains that are so harsh that some days I want to bang my head against the wall and trigger selective amnesia. the one time I've been deceived and betrayed by the person I love the most and lost the trust I had placed in him. my father and the violence I've been exposed to as a child. probably also that one time I let out a big loud fart in front of 10 people. 15 years later I still blush when I think of it. but of course erasing these events and people would mean erasing all the good things that are intricately and intimately linked to them. the birth of my kids, the first 12 years of my life, the first time I fell for a boy at church. those things feed my memory with senses and emotions, colors, fabrics and sounds that shape my heart, mind and soul. there are invaluable and essential.

how decisive and meaningful are the bad things that happen to us? how much do they influence and teach us about who we are? do they unconsciously dictate the way we respond to life? are they as important as the good things?


dilemmas everywhere

my boys aged 3 enter kindergarten next September and I have to decide whether they will be together in one classroom or separate in two. the decision is complicated by school administration, friends and family who all believe that separation will support the growth of their independence and individuality. every morning I wake up with a contradictory idea that arises unceasing questions and doubts about the issue of classroom placement.

together vs. separated, boosters vs. car seats, educational computer games vs. traditional playing, SAHM vs. working mother. is life with kids only about choices, decisions and dilemmas?


a father and his sons


something is wrong. I have never seen this expression on my son's face before. as he is silently working on his puzzle, obviously, the emotions he is experiencing are too overwhelming for his 3 year-old body to contain. the little shaking of his lower lip and small chin betray the uncontrollable sobbing he is bravely trying to hide and let me catch a glimpse of his sadness and despair.

"I want Daddy... I want a plane and see Daddy..." he says.

I am knocked out. he has never said something like that before. and I realize my kids miss their dad the way I miss my husband. the void they feel cannot be compensated by any new toys or activities scrupulously planned in advance. they have intricate feelings and emotions that need to be considered, respected and nurtured.

"Daddy's coming back very soon. Daddy loves you very much" I tell him.

and I hold my son real tight wondering if there isn't any magic spell that could turn me into a human sponge so I could absorb every ounce of pain and sorrow of his little body.


the momster (part I)

I feel bad today about a lot of things. I feel bad because I really think that I am a bad mother and have truthful examples to legitimate my anxiety and fear. I question my every reaction, face expression, the tone of my voice and every word coming out of my mouth. I question my profound beliefs and values and suddenly they all seem to be blurred. blurred by what ? by the realization that education and discipline aren’t factual. it all happened yesterday night after I've watched a TV program about how to raise your kids well. my boys who seemed to be perfect reflections of typical boy toddlerhood now appear to me like little brats. the problem is that I have absolutely no landmark anymore. it’s like walking without crutches. what seemed to be very important yesterday is no longer something I have to yell about. inversely, what was casual and totally acceptable is now something I have to be firm about. and this is very confusing. I have to establish new rules, but I don’t know what they are. as a result I am depressed, over sensitive (I cried when my neighbor, who is a mother of two, offered to babysit my kids so I could go on a walk this afternoon) and lonely. I guess I’ve been hurt somewhere between my pride as a mother and the feeling of accomplishment I’ve nurtured throughout the years. I feel like I have to start over now. and this is scary, so scary.


how can I teach my little boy to pee standing up?

really. I'd like to know.