Perspective from Modern Global Moms: Holiday Edition from Japan!
"We’re very grateful for all our experiences, and for our greatfamily and friends, and health! "- Eriko Suzuki
The holiday season is now behind us and we hope everyone had a wonderful one full of family, friends, love, laughter and joy. Here at MITERA, we cherished the opportunities to catch up with many of our friends scattered around the globe and to hear about how they spent their holidays with their families and loved ones. We thought it would be nice to share some of the stories of how multi-cultured global families spent their holiday season in places where they currently call home...
First on our list is our friend and a true MITERA Mama, Eriko Suzuki from Toyko. She is a finance guru currently working in business development for Coach Japan, a diver and a traveler, and a gorgeous wife to a handsome guy and a beautiful mom of two adorable kids.
Tell us about your beautiful family!
My name is Eriko and I am 29 years old. I’m Japanese, though I grew up in Houston TX, Toronto CA, Bahrain in the Middle East, and studied at McGIll University in Montreal. I am married to Alex, 34, who is half Austrian and half Japanese but was born in New York, raised in Japan and Austria, and studied in the UK and the United States. The Suzuki-Schweisguts became a family of four last August when our newest addition, Lisa joined our little family. We also have a son, Dominik who turns 3 in March and is the loving big brother to Lisa.
So one might say we’re quite international, and it is our hope that our children will grow up to see the whole world as their home and to be empathetic and kind to everyone regardless of where they come from.
How did you and Alex meet?
Alex and I met while working in finance. Alex was actually the smart boss I had in my first year at Morgan Stanley. After working on several assignments together, we got engaged while on a trip to the Philippines. Since we were both working hard in banking, him more on M&A transactions, and myself in capital raising, we didn’t really plan to have children until we became a bit more senior. But… as a happy surprise, we had our son Dom. After my maternity leave, I went back to work in finance working on a half time schedule (though for the investment banking world, it meant from 9 to 5 where average hours are 9 to 1AM…). Though it was rewarding and I appreciated my team’s understanding with my half-time schedule, it was still just too tough to envision a longer-term career in that intense environment. So, after a year I changed careers. I now plan sales and business development at Coach Japan, a former client from my banking days. It’s actually still a rigorous finance job, but my hours are a little bit more flexible.
What is your life in Tokyo like?
We live in Azabu, Tokyo, a bustling center of Tokyo full of expats and all sorts of interesting people, and great restaurants. We both love to eat, especially Japanese cuisine like sushi and tempura in small clandestine counter restaurants. Food, in fact, may be the main reason why we have rooted ourselves here. :-)
How do you normally spend your holiday season and how did you spend it this year?
While we love Japan and Japanese food, we also love to travel abroad. Alex loves the beach and lounging around, while I like more adventurous locations like Africa (I once spent 4 months in Kenya during University doing field work for a micro-finance project). So, when we plan our trips, we try to combine our two interests. And now with the added challenge of traveling with two kids, we have found places across Asia great. We also love to dive. Our favorite is the Philippines such as the Pamalican island, especially where the Amanpulo is (the place where Alex and I got engaged), with its turquoise blue seas and pure white sand…
As a family, we try to go on vacation once or twice a year. Christmas has always been a special time, especially for Alex’s side of the family, to enjoy the beautiful traditions of Weihnachten (Christmas) in Austria. During Christmas time, we most often spend time together with Alex’s parents who are diplomats. They kindly try to visit us from wherever they are stationed at the time, and we dress the tree in traditional ornaments, eat traditional Austrian cookies, and are often lucky to enjoy duck or ham prepared for us by the embassy chefs.
But this year, with Alex’s busy job, we could only manage to have our beach vacation on Christmas. So we celebrated an early one at home with Alex’s family, and later took off on a plane to head to Bali. Bali was beautiful and full of culture, and also full of fun activities for the children. The Aman hotels we stayed at even gave us Christmas presents!
Since MITERA is a brand for breastfeeding mothers, can you share with us your experience traveling with a breastfeeding infant and breastfeeding as a working mother?
Knowing the health benefits of breastfeeding (BF), I am grateful that my body responded relatively well to this for my first son Dominik. Thanks to my experience with my son, my second child is also exclusively breastfed (EBF). Though, until I actually became a BF mother, I really never knew how hard and challenging it could be. I have seen first hand that it can be harder for some mothers physically, and there are complications like mastitis, which I personally experienced several times. Then there are the environmental challenges where it can be difficult to BF in some places more than others... Traveling can be a little tricky as well, but I actually felt more reassured that my daughter was EBF, because then, in any situation, no matter what happens, as long as I am breathing, my daughter will have a source of food. I am always so fearful in the cases of emergencies, that I will not have the means to protect my children. What if our flight got delayed and I ran out of formula?
I am actually back at work now and I was able to put my daughter in the nursery in my office building so that I can go to nurse her every 3 hours. I am fortunate to have and am truly grateful for the understanding from bosses and colleagues for supporting my breastfeeding journey. But I also think I was able to propose this arrangement, only with my second child because I have gotten tougher as a mother. I am definitely stronger and more confident asserting my rights as a mother.
As for practical tips - even though I have a BF cape, wherever I am, I also carry a shawl, because they are so multipurpose! They are great for me when I'm cold, or wrapping the kids when they are cold, and also to use as a cover. My current favorite, as its very cold in Japan now, is a cashmere one my in-laws brought back for me from Belgium where they were stationed.
I think quality of products is so important for us mothers - when we think of them touching our precious little children. So... honestly, I am so excited for the upcoming MITERA line! There really is a void for beautiful and quality wear for women who want to live their lives as individuals as well as mothers. Something we can really feel good about wearing!
Thank you so much, Eriko for sharing your and your family's life with us! We feel so inspired by how you are trying to balance marriage, kids, career and hobby. We know it is not easy and there is no perfect balance so hats off to you!
Happy New Year to your beautiful family!