Coming from a pretty wealthy family as Somin’s you grow up pretty comfortable, her parents owning one of the biggest law firms in Seoul meant that she was spoiled but not only money wise. She grew up loved and cherished and almost everyone showed her respect even from a young age and even when she was acting like a brat and did not necessarily deserve it. Struggling financially was never a thing she though was possible for her to live but so was her parents disowning her.
Ironically, it happened at one of her parents’ work parties. A place where seventeen years old Somin never really enjoyed herself much unless she found people her age and convinced the waiters she was nineteen and get some alcohol in her system. That time she had one too many drinks with her parent’s partner’s son whom she was close with from other social gatherings that they frequently attended and it ended up with her five weeks later sitting on her cold bathroom floor emptying her stomach’s content. The first times it has happened she had convinced herself that it was food poinsoning until her sister saw her and made her take multiple pregnancy tests, she cried herself to sleep for a week after the results came out positive.
She understood where they were coming from, the original plan was graduating high school in few months and get in law school, get a job then find a husband then have a child but she went on and burned all these steps and got pregnant.
She understood why they were angry they had all the rights to be but what didn’t make sense to her is why would they give her an ultimatum to either get an abortion or leave forever.
Abortion was an option that she really considered at first but couldn’t get herself to do it she grew attached to the little thing that was growing in her, so she made a choice and that choice was to keep the baby even if it meant not having her parent’s support. Her sister stood with her and helped as much as she could with her already having a family of own, the father of the baby also helped as much as he could since he was abroad to university. He had brought up the idea of getting married for their families, the idea got Somin angry at him for wanting to get into a marriage just for that reason. She always valued the concept of marriage and him wanting to get married when they weren’t even in a relationship. He understood that, his parents? not so much. At least they didn’t turn their backs on them and supported both her and the baby financially especially with their son out of the country.
After her first trimester pregnancy really took a toll on her health, enough for her to take online courses and barely leaves the house and if she did leave the house it was either to get groceries or to go to the doctor’s. Once she delivered her baby boy things didn’t get easier right away. What didn’t help was how time was the hardest thing to manage as a single mother, so much to do in a short amount of time and that left her so frustrated for not being able to manage it as she pleased. But later she learned that all parents had a problem with time management and you don’t really get time alone once you have a child, but once she came home tired from her long day at work and her son Matthew, waiting for her was worth it.
Jeon Jiwoo has been dancing since she was four years old. She started first with ballet then Jazz which led her to contemporary and later started to get into more urban styles and dancing has always been what she wanted to do in life. If you asked her just two years ago where she would see herself in the future she would say, dancing. Wherever it was. She has always being a free soul and enjoyed living in the moment, having no commitment to a city whatsoever and to travel the world; which she did for a while until she had no choice but to go back to Seoul.
It was 10a.m in New York when she got the call that informed her that her older brother, his wife and their son had gotten into a car accident.
Jiwoo had lost her parents at a young age which made her and her brother very close, he and his wife had been high school sweethearts meant that her and her sister in law were close and that she has been in their lives for a long time and not to forget her two year old nephew that she loved so much. So receiving that phone call, knowing that she might lose her only family ever really affected her. It took 15 hours to get to Seoul.
Saying those 15 hours were the longest of her life would be an understatement, during that flight she realized many things but mainly that she couldn’t keep running away and that after all she didn’t see herself living somewhere else than Seoul and that even though she liked to act as if she didn’t belong anywhere, but she belonged in Seoul and she belonged to her family. She’s always had the urge to get out of South Korea ever since her parents’ death, her brother always supported her deeming that if it was what she wanted then he had no say in that, she hasn’t set a foot in that country yet and she already felt guilty for being so absent.
Jiwoo experienced heartbreak three times. First was her parent’s death, second was her brother and her sister in law’s death and third was the heartbreak she felt when she heard her nephew calling out for his parents in his sleep. Just seeing him his little body in a hospital bed was enough to make her let out a sob that she couldn’t hold any longer. How is she supposed to tell him he won’t be able to see his parents ever again? How is she going to raise him? How is she going to take care of another human being while she couldn’t even take care of herself?
After few hours of crying on the uncomfortable plastic chairs outside of her nephew’s room she took it upon herself and decided that instead of drowning in guilt like she did during her flight she was going to let it fire her soul to purpose.
After two year of taking caring of Taehyung she understood that freedom as she perceived it before isn’t the same as she sees it now and that it isn’t the absence of commitment but the ability to choose-and commit yourself-to what is best for you. And nothing could be better than walking back home hand in hand with her nephew and listening to him telling her about the new friend that he made in preschool.
“Can I stay home?” Taehyung whined as he sat on the floor trying hard-and failing-at tying up his shoelaces.
Jiwoo sighed, “No Tae you can’t” she walked up to him and placed a kiss on his forehead as the little boy rubbed the out of his eyes with his tiny firsts.
“Don’t forget to put your toys in your backpack” to which he responded with a pout and crossing his arms close to his chest but still went to his room to get his Mickey mouse backpack and fill it with his little trucks and teddy bear.
As endearing as that sight was her heart ached a little knowing that she had to bring him most days of the week to work with her, the babysitter she trusted was busy with her studies and couldn’t take care of Taehyung.
What hurt her most was that he spent most of his day playing on his own. Sure the old lady in the reception at the dance studio she works at is adorable and loves having Taehyung as company she couldn’t spend her whole day paying attention to him and apart from the other dance teachers there he didn’t really interact with kids his age.
Could be the reason why he had an imaginary friend (Elliot is a very friendly dragon) even though she found it cute she was still a little bit concerned about it. No child should ever be in such loneliness cooped up in the back room of the reception.
She knew how lucky she was to have such an understanding workplace, and that in any of scenario bringing a four year old with her would’ve cost her her job, but she has been going to this dance studio ever since she was very young and she knew almost everyone that worked there and they were all very welcoming when two years ago she showed up again out nowhere to ask for job because she now had to take care of another living human being.
The good news is that the whole babysitting problem is soon going to end because ever since July she has been contacting different schools to try to find the perfect one for him and just happened to find the perfect one for him. She couldn’t wait for her little boy to go experience life and finally make friends especially since she knew how bad it was for him to always be so attached to her hip even though she learned to enjoy every little moment she spent with him and wouldn’t mind spend every minute of her life with him but she knew that is not healthy for him nor for her.
Today was a Monday and Somin was going through it.
First her sister was supposed to pick up Matthew half an hour ago but she got stuck in traffic, then she spilled coffee on her blouse and then Matt’s grandmother (from his dad’s side) called her and talked her ear off for thirty minutes about how they would love to pay for their grandson to be in a private school just for Somin to roll her eyes and tell her-for third time-that she would rather put her son in a public school and that she in fact found a really good public school for him and that she was supposed to go there to enroll him that same day.
Just after hanging up she let out a sigh and heard a little voice belonging to her son “Mama?”
She continued her quest to find something else to wear since she stained her blouse that said ‘I am a young single mother but I have my shit together’. Which wasn’t easy since most of her wardrobe consists of comfortable clothes like jeans and large shirts. Note to self, buy more adult like clothes especially if she was going to look for a new job with her diploma and quit her part time job as a waitress.
It took her a moment to realize that the apartment was too quiet “Matty?” she frowns when her doesn’t respond and calls his name again and still nothing.
One thing that Somin understood when she became a mother was that you should never leave your child unattended and having Matthew meant that even when she was in the same room as him she had to be extremely careful to what he did because he has the power of putting himself in questionable situations.
She has called her sister so many times telling her that she broke her child every time he hurt himself to not be extra careful with him.
She made her way to the living room where he was and immediately sighed in relief when she saw that his full attention was on the cartoon he was watching.
“Sweetie?” he finally turned his head in her direction. ”You called me?” he looked at her confused and shook his head. Of course. She sighed. He really had a short attention span. “Auntie shouldn’t take long to arrive and Seah is coming along with her” She chuckled as she saw his widened in excitement the moment she said his cousin’s name.
She heard a knock on the door and knew that it was her sister and niece, silently thanking god that they arrived. She really considered herself lucky that her sister was supportive of her and had a pretty flexible work. Quickly took her bag, keys and phone, and placed a kiss on her son’s cheeks and told him to not cause too much trouble.
It was finally D day. Taehyung’s first day in preschool and Jiwoo already knew that her day was going to be rough. She was so used to having him close to her all the time and she didn’t know how she would react if anything would happen to him if he wasn’t near her.
Under her confident gaze Jiwoo was very insecure when it came to parenting, she spent too many nights watching over Taehyung seeping body and questioning if she was doing the right things and worrying that she isn’t giving him enough attention or love.
The thing that scared her the most as a mom (not just his aunt) is that she will always worry because she only wants the best for him and won’t ever stop trying to provide it. Especially since both of his biological parents were no longer there to do so.
She took that responsibility very seriously.
Starting her day with waking Taehyung up this morning was a struggle; he was not used to be up this early so he was basically an immovable rock, refusing to get out of bed and that he did not want to leave Elliot alone to which she replied that he could always go with him because last time she checked there were no rules against bringing your dragon to school with you.
After ten minutes of Taehyung crying and clinging into her and refusing to go inside he had finally calmed down.
“Once you go in there, there will be a lot of other kids your age try to make friends and if you feel nervous you still have Elliot with you okay?” he nodded and wiped forcefully at his teary eyes “We’ll see each other in few hours don’t worry. And if you’re being good we might get ice cream before dinner”
He whispered in aw “Really?” she almost laughs at his change of expression but holds it. “Yes. Listen to the adults and if any other kid is being mean to you tell your teacher or tell me okay?” He nodded and worry filled his eyes. Shit she probably shouldn’t have said that. “Are the other kids going to be mean to me?” She shook her head quickly “No baby no one is going to be mean but it’s just in case that happens alright?”
“Good, give me a big hug now”
Somin had to stop herself from biting her nails as she waited for Matthew at the gates of his school. She was already receiving nasty glares from mothers there who were either judging her for her young age or choice of clothing(leggings and sweater), which quite frankly made her a little uncomfortable but she still shrugged it off.
Waiting impatiently for her son to come out. She could not wait to hear about his day and felt a little anxious, Matthew was a sensitive child who was naïve and very kind which made her shelter him as much as she could from this cruel world but now that he was in school she knew that not every kid was going to treat him as nicely and that she won’t be there to protect him. It meant that her little baby was growing and as much she was happy about it her heart ached over the fact that someday her little boy won’t have his baby cheeks and his eyes won’t hold the same innocence that they do now.
Her train of thoughts was soon interrupted by the sound of few screaming kids coming out and tried to look for her own, who wasn’t very hard to find since he ran straight to her and clung to her waist.
“Someone is happy to see me” she smiled to herself pleased with such a reaction. Maybe being separated from him all day wouldn’t be so bad if she got the same enthusiastic greeting every day.
Matthew looked up at her with big eyes “I’m always happy to see you” and Somin was ready to cry right there and then but had stay calm instead giving him a big sloppy kiss on his cheek knowing he wouldn’t enjoy it, “Ew that’s yucky”
“hey!” she nudged him with her first then held his hand. “How was your first day?”
He almost jumped out excitement “Ms Kim told us to draw an animal and I drew Elliot and she said I did well”
“That’s amazing sweetie. Will you show me when we get home?” To which he nodded excitedly
Somin jokingly responds “You mean to tell me i am no longer your best friend?” and Matthew abruptly stopped walking and a whispered in pure horror “I can’t have more than one best friend?”
“No sweetie. You can, mommy was just playing around” she assured him.
“Come on, let’s get home now”