'Every day is children's day!'
It's not just a day on the calendar in Korea. Oh no, it's a national holiday and very few people go to work. Very few except me, as my school stayed open so as not to mess up our term schedule. (The same applies to Buddha's Birthday and National Independence Movement Declaration Day or whatever the damn day is called) So while my husband got to swan around all day*, I had to go to work and organise our Children's Day hoopla.
The irony is that in Korea, every day really is children's day. As a culture, on the surface at least, there is little that is more important than having children. Couples who are married but childless are constantly badgered by their families about it. Educated, professional women give up work to stay at home not through choice but because maternity leave is practically non-existent and it is the expected thing to do. Korean parents spend a huge portion of their income on private after school academies (I have heard around 50% but I haven't found any hard evidence of that. I do know it's high because I know what my school charges for 3 hours of tuition a week, and these kids go to 4 or 5 different academies in a week.)
Korea has a crisis in public education and parents have very little faith in the public school system. Rather than pay more taxes to attempt to improve it, parents prefer to push their children through various after school classes every day. Even if you feel your child doesn't need to go to Maths Academy, or, and whisper this very, very quietly, you can't afford it, he still must go because the other children in his class go. If he gets even one page behind them in the text book then his hopes for entering a good university are dashed and you have failed as a parent.
The double irony of this is that the cost of having children, along with crazy long-hours working culture, has pushed the birth rate waaay down. It is now below Japan, and one of the lowest in the world (some studies say the lowest). Over the next ten-twenty years Korea will need more than a million immigrants to fill the upcoming gaps in their workforce. This is perhaps why fertility treatment, including IVF, is relatively affordable (but that's a post for another day... promise.)
Sacrifice for your children is expected, and everyone does it. The basic system of Korean culture is that you sacrifice for your children, and then they will look after you when you are old. I once had a student look at me disgusted because I didn't send money to my parents. The fact that they were both still working at the time, were both department managers and making a lot more than I did was irrelevant. It was my duty to look after them, and send them money every month.
So yesterday was a day to celebrate children. The area I work in was turned into a giant street fayre, and I had to walk past dozens of strollers and babies and small children (I'm not jealous of older children, I teach them and I know what a pain they can be) just to get into the office. But you know, it wasn't so bad. Maybe it's because we're actively pursuing treatment now, maybe because I've only had one failed IUI so far so things still seem hopeful. I don't know why, I just know that it wasn't so bad.
*Actually my husband works incredibly hard and I don't begrudge him his day off, I just wish I could have spent the whole day with him.