“All the things.”
This is a phrase Ruby uses a lot and it’s a great way to describe our conversation which dipped into all the things about motherhood from giving birth to mental health to racism and spirituality.
Ruby and I initially met at UCLA. Kind of hilariously, considering the work we each ended up doing, we were in the same co-ed business fraternity. We were friendly, but we were not the close friends we now are, brought together by similar experiences and perspectives not just of motherhood but of how we look at existence altogether.
Ruby is Chinese-American and her husband Jason is Black. Together, they have two beautiful sons: Dashiell (aka Dash) and Romare. With the birth of Dash, their first born, both Ruby and Jason experienced depression that they did not initially seek any support for.
The birth itself was traumatic with Dash getting stuck, the epidural wearing off, and the painful use of interventions. Ruby reflects that she did not even feel scared at the time because she was so drained and so out of it; she wasn’t even sure she was alive when she took her first look at her new baby. Her description of the state of her delivery room is the opposite of what you would typically hope for and envision about the moment of welcoming a new baby into the world.
What really caused Ruby persistent physical pain was the allergic reaction she had to the stitches she needed for her 2nd degree tears. (Even writing this sentence makes me wince!) She was in constant pain whether lying down, sitting, or standing. The only way she could manage to nurse her baby was by lying on her side in contorted positions, which was horrible for her back. Pain medication did nothing. She had no choice but to wait - an entire year! - for her body to heal.
In the meantime, she was of course, doing all the things all new mothers have to do which are already challenging enough. Dash was also a very sensitive baby with high needs and sensory processing issues. She was exhausted trying to provide enough stimulation for him and trying to get him to sleep, which she says, without a trace of irony, was the bane of her existence. The only way she could get him to sleep was to spin around in crazy circles and bounce on a yoga ball until she was pouring sweat, her body actually aching. He resisted everything from having his diaper changed to being put in his carseat. Ruby implemented the advice of books, experts, and friends, but nothing worked. Rather than realizing that the advice was not right for her child, she just kept trying, failing, and feeling worse as this cycle repeated.
She was deeply depleted. Her body struggling to recover, in extreme exhaustion, dizzy and spaced out. “It’s actually so scary to think back on that. It wasn’t safe that I was alone with a baby in that state, and often driving!”
But she and her husband did not know how to ask for help. She did not talk to anyone about how much they were struggling because she did not want to be a burden. What little energy she had went to pretending that everything was fine on the outside, although on the inside she was desperately telling herself, “I guess this is how it’s supposed to be? Why isn’t anything easy? I HATE MY LIFE.”
On her 35th birthday, two years into motherhood, she felt somewhat randomly called to get herself a tarot reading. The reading was incredibly positive and amazing, revealing that huge transformations were happening. She would rise like a phoenix from the ashes! She left feeling inspired, knowing that change was on its way.
And she waited for that change. A month passed, then another, but nothing changed. If anything, everything got harder and she felt more miserable. After the third month, she had a defining moment that she refers to as her breakdown. “I was so angry. Everything was supposed to get better. It got worse! The reader had lied to me. The universe had lied to me.”
Another month later, Ruby decided to listen to the recording of that tarot reading. Somehow, she heard messages differently this time around. It was as if a light switch had instantly flipped.
She finally understood why she was so miserable: She had lost touch with her soul, her real self.
Ruby could see how her day to day reflected following a script rather than a life of choice. Just as she had sat back and waited for the transformations the tarot reader promised to happen to her, she had been sitting back thinking life was happening to her. Her thinking changed from “I should be doing what the book says. I should be working this job. I should have a certain type of kid” to “We don’t have to do anything we don’t want to. We can change it. We have the power. We can make a decision to change all of it. And if I want change, I need to grow, evolve, and be better so I can meet my child.”
From the very next day, Ruby’s energy towards her son shifted. Instead of misery, she felt gratitude. Instead of feeling burdened, she felt happy. She was present and just wanted to be around him. And what was perhaps more incredible was the way he changed in turn. She believes that he felt the shift of her energy and finally felt seen and appreciated and as a result, he started thriving where he had been developmentally behind.
This lightbulb moment lifted the debilitating heaviness of Ruby’s depression and enabled her to start making better choices. She started talking more honestly to friends about how she was struggling, she sought therapy, and she accepted help.
By the time her second son, Romare, was born, Ruby was in a much sturdier emotional state. The birth was easier which brought immense relief and healing. From the beginning, Romare was a different, more easygoing baby. But regardless of personality differences between the children, Ruby says, “I was so chill with #2. It’s just impossible to avoid being neurotic with #1. If you care and you want to be a good mom, it’s just going to be an anxiety-ridden time and it’s going to bring up your own sh*t. Nobody told me this in those words. And I went crazy feeling like I was the only one that felt this way because otherwise, wouldn’t people have told me how it would be? But, I actually think this period can be so traumatizing for people that they literally lose the memory around it and block it out. I know a lot of moms that just don’t have memories of the hard times.”
When it comes to trauma, Ruby explains, “The nature of trauma is that it’s at the subconscious level. You can’t see it without support. You can’t figure out the solution on your own. You can’t just sit around and think your way out of this stuff. You need the support. You have to reach out and ask and then you have to actually accept the support.”
Growing up in an immigrant family whose culture does not allow for talking about feelings, Ruby saw that her mother did not have the capacity to hold space for anything that felt negative or uncomfortable. With compassion, Ruby guesses that it was something her mother had been taught as a child herself. Ruby learned to move through life not wanting to burden anyone with her feelings or her needs but all this changed as she learned to live more from her soul’s guidance.
There is something about becoming a parent and wanting to be for your children what you did not have, accepting them in a way you wished you had been accepted, that is so healing and empowering for your own self.
Layering onto her immigrant upbringing is the fact that Ruby is raising biracial children, especially - two Black boys. She struggles to know what the right thing to do is as far as talking to them about our systemically racist society. She feels the responsibility of talking to them so they can be aware and prepared but she is hesitant to burst the bubble of their innocence. When she talked to Dash about George Floyd, he wondered out loud if perhaps he might be safer since his mommy is Asian, something Ruby had found herself thinking when Dash was born. Looking upon her newborn baby, she had felt relief that he looked more Asian than Black, purely out of concern for his safety.
“It breaks my heart to say this but I thought, maybe there’s a slightly less chance that he’ll be discriminated against, maybe he’ll be slightly safer in the streets.”
Of course with the explosion of AAPI hate crimes over the last couple years, not to mention school shootings, “safety” feels tenuous at best.
Feeling the weight of all there is to worry about, I asked, “How do you stay sane?”
Bursting out laughing, Ruby exclaimed, “How is anyone staying sane?!”
She did, however, share her non-negotiables:
- “Some kind of regular movement, even if it’s just a quick walk in nature. Everything is processed through our bodies so we need to move the energy.”
- “Some form of meditation, which doesn’t have to look like whatever you think mediation should be. For me, doing Askashic readings is a meditation.”
- “Connection. This can look like therapy, intuitive readings, life coaches, or spiritual mentors. Any relationship that brings comfort and solace. The key is that there is a connection to other people.”
Ruby and I have both been very intentional in sharing our stories and in not forgetting the heartbreakingly difficult seasons of motherhood that we have been through. We have learned so much as mothers, especially through the struggles with our firstborns. We have been completely changed, despite having once naively insisted, “I’m still going to be me, I’m not going to be on of those moms!”
Ultimately, we have come to see that challenges are a gift. It takes time, self-reflection, and inner healing work to get to this point of understanding. It is borderline impossible to hear this when you’re in it. But when you’re ready, there is a choice to see the gift in there somewhere.
Ruby now knows that her children came to help her, to lead her to evolve. Her life, her perspective, her work, where she puts her energy - all of it is completely different to how things were before she became a mother. Her pain, trauma, and depression were the impetus for her spiritual studies which evolved into her work today as a healer, intuitive guide, and all around boss witch. She is known for the joy with which she approaches spiritual work and her giggles are just about the most uplifting reminder that despite all the hard things in this lifetime, we are so lucky to be alive and we are all meant to thrive.
Find Ruby on Instagram.