Eugenia Choi, a Concert Violinist and a Mom, on Instilling Culture Into Children And Fighting Expectations
Eugenia Choi is a New York City-based classical concert violinist and a mother to her toddler daughter, Kenzie.
Eugenia in her neighborhood in her Grace Dress in Black
Tell us a little about yourself and how you identify as a New Yorker mother.
As a musician, I feel so much at home in my Lincoln Center neighborhood that I have lived within the same half-mile radius ever since I was a kid. I love that I now raise my own daughter where I grew up and we make the most of it being the city's performing arts nucleus. My daughter especially loves the Young People's Concerts at the Philharmonic, Balanchine's Nutcracker at City Ballet, as well as Juilliard Junior classes at my alma mater. It is important to me to instill in her an appreciation for the arts at an early age, both for her own enrichment as well as to identify with me and what I do.
How did you get to where you are today as a concert violinist?
Practice. Malcolm Gladwell says one needs to have put in 10,000 hours to become an "Outlier”, but most professional musicians far surpass that number by the age of 12. I really have to credit my mother, who was a "Tiger Mother" long before that book came out.
Eugenia (in her Grace Dress) and Kenzie
Tell us about your pregnancy experience in New York.
I had a very easy pregnancy and enjoyed every stage of it. The city is so efficient (get anything you need at any hour, delivered to you within minutes) and has a highly attuned populace, always opening doors and giving up seats. One gentleman ran up to me in the rain and insisted I take his umbrella. The famous Burger Joint pulled me out of a line of 30 people to immediately get this pregnant woman a burger and shake. I love New Yorkers!
What were some of the surprising things about pregnancy?
I was not gaining enough weight so my OB prescribed me to eat ice cream every day. This was the best news ever.
What were your go-to brands to dress your bump?
I attempted to shop at a maternity store once but walked out appalled at the poor quality, high prices, and sheer hideousness. I never bought any maternity clothes during my pregnancy but just wore the more forgiving items already in my closet such as stretchy, boxy, or billowy pieces from Lululemon, Miu Miu, J. Crew, Uniqlo, and Blumarine. Leggings were my best friend. Mitera wasn't available at that time, but I certainly would have lived in Mitera had it existed then.
What are some of the most surprising things about your experience as a new mother?
While I was pregnant, people kept telling me that life as I knew it would change forever and that I should adjust my expectations in terms of career, freedom, and self-image. I was determined to prove them wrong and set out to be a modern mom doing it all, baby in tow. I taught violin lessons 5 days after giving birth; at 2 months old, she was in her stroller backstage at Carnegie Hall while I performed (with my mom watching her and watching me on a screen); my daughter has traveled all over the world with me on tours. My mother has been a huge help and has been incredibly supportive. Plus, it is fun to travel tri-generationally.
How did you manage to juggle all the demands of your new life as a working mom?
I live day to day and I am so sorry to anyone whose email i have not yet answered in a year.
What are some of your – happiest, hardest, funniest, craziest moments of motherhood thus far?
When Kenzie was nine months old, I had airline points about to expire, enough to travel from New York to Bali in business, and I was not about to forfeit those points. So, I took her. Alone. To Bali. My friends thought I was crazy but I imagined it could actually be an extraordinary experience, which it really was. We stayed at two different Alilla Villas (highly recommended) at Soori and Uluwatu, where it was tranquil and stunningly beautiful. I joke that Kenzie and I went on a "honeymoon" together.
By the way, something about a mother traveling alone with a child brings out such unexpected kindness in people at airports. Now, I find it harder to travel solo, having gotten used to skipping lines and stroller pre-boarding!
What are some essential kid-friendly items for when traveling long distances?
When my daughter was a baby, it was like packing up the entire house, from baby-proofing gear to toys to appliances. I used to stuff as much as possible into our stroller travel bag for that free extra checked bag. Now, it is much easier with a toddler and I always pack:
- lots of Ziplock bags
- wipes for sanitizing airplane trays, screens, arms, and shades (people always stare at me as I do this)
- "High Five" magazines for kids
- Crayola travel dry-erase board
- iPad and kids headphones
- Mr. Men books
- nursing cover that I now use as an airplane napping shade for my daughter
- first-aid kit with children's medicine and thermometer
- I love my Mitera "Le Diaper" bag, which I use as a Mom Kit to keep necessities within easy reach. It is the perfect size and easy to clean.
Any favorite online parenting resources?
- Redtri.com for children's events in several U.S. cities
- NoTimeForFlashCards.com for playtime activities
- OhHappyDay.com for fun kid's party ideas
- WendysLookBook.com for affordable fashion styling inspiration
What does a brand like Mitera (Mitera’s dresses) mean to you and to other women/mothers?
Someone finally cared enough to prioritize new mothers as worthy of having clothes that look and feel luxurious, especially during a vulnerable time when we don’t know who we are anymore with our changing bodies. Yoko has put so much care into every detail of her clothes, you know every piece is a labour of love and not a mass-produced item.