Somehow, I Thought I Would Be Better


Here’s the thing. I actually feel somewhat embarrassed admitting this, but it’s where I’m at right now.

I thought it would be different.

I thought it would be better.

I thought I would be different.

I thought I would be better.

But truthfully, although things got better briefly, better eventually just became the new normal.

You see, for years, my main pains in life were the daily minutiae of which a life is made.

You know the sort.

Cooking meals. Cleaning the house. Paying bills. Sorting mail. Keeping the kitchen table clutter free. (hahahahah! Like THAT is ever going to last or happen for longer than a day or two.)

And FINALLY, these past three months, I have been making big strides. I now cook the majority of my meals and a lot of my psychic pain revolving around meal times is gone.

I’ve given up on cleaning the house, but I have vacuumed a few times, and decluttered a few times (and I could really do it a few more times), and I am finally now considering getting a housecleaner again because my house is probably filthy I’m just accustomed to its filthiness.

I sort the mail and take care of any outstanding medical bills immediately (because those are the only ones that are not on autopay – despite my best efforts to make them so). I mean, gone are the days of being 90-180 days late for no reason other than not opening mail.

But after a few months (and likely a few weeks) of my new reality, the shine has worn off and now it’s just regular old reality and I’M STILL DISSATISFIED WITH MY LIFE.

Damn you, hedonic treadmill!

And last Friday, I was talking with Dr. T about how I feel unfulfilled and like I do nothing of substance all day and how I’m still not done with my ebook despite being 95% done and how I start things but don’t finish them and how I want to try for things but I am so afraid of failure and —

And you know what? I’m terribly worried that even if I do finish that ebook that a few weeks later and it will be my new normal again and I will go about feeling BLAH about my life again. 

The irony is that during the first or second session ever with Dr. T, she mentioned that she thought some of my feelings of stress and whatever was due to my not having a clear idea of what my identity was. That it used to be tied up in work or the things I did or accomplished, and now that I am a SAHM, I felt adrift and identiy-less.

At the time, I thought she was full of crap.

Oh, the crow I eat whenever it comes to things Dr. T observes. (Seriously, the only really good decision I ever made about Dr. T and her advice was sticking with her despite me thinking her kinda woowoo at the beginning.)

And now, here I am. TOTALLY FEELING UNIDENTIFIED.

I felt somewhat comforted the other day when I saw an old post of mine pop up in Facebook Memories. I guess this is how I feel every spring.

But then, I got bummed out because it seems that no matter what I do, no matter how many successes or risks I take, it all goes back to me being terrified of failure and being immobilized by it.

I start so many things only for them to end up abandoned and collecting dust in the wayside.

I have so many ambitions and yet so little follow through.

I feel as if life is passing me by and I can’t even get my shit together enough to homeschool my children.

I feel like a huge failure. 

I don’t know if it’s my Virgo-ness, my ESFJ-ness, my Type 7 Enneagram-ness, or something else entirely (FWIW, I hold very low stock in astrological determiners of personality), but there it is.

And it’s no use telling me how I manage to keep four children alive, blah blah blah blah blah.

In my wretched mind, if I can do it, it’s not that hard, therefore it doesn’t really deserve praise.

Truthfully, I don’t know what will make me feel better. And whether if something makes me feel better, whether the feeling will be permanent or just become the new baseline.

All I know is that I feel kinda meh and blah right now.

Maybe this is how I feel every spring. Restless and desiring bigger and better things. And then life crushes it all out of me.

Anyhow, there is no neat resolution to this post. I’m still figuring it out.

Dr. T asked me what I wanted, and again, I have no idea. Except maybe to feel as if I am doing something worthwhile. (And yes, raising four small humans is eminently worthwhile – but the end result takes SO LONG.)

I want to feel as if I am productive; making something of concrete value and worth. Yet all day long, I do lots of things and am productive but it is the stuff of life. You can’t just eat once and then you’re done. (And that is DEFINITELY not possible with cleaning or laundering or the folding of the laundry.)

And so, each day, it feels as if all I did was erased and swept away by the tumult and happy clamor of my tiny and forceful humans.

It is very unsatisfactory.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m  not depressed. I’m not UNhappy. Just not SATISFIED.

I’m positive Hapa Papa is feeling the same thing (except perhaps slightly worse since he’s not very happy at his job and at least I have more free time than he does and get to stare at all my adorable babies all day).

And before people start writing in with the comments about me needing Jesus or essential oils or both, thanks. I have both. In abundance. (Seriously, I have an entire DRAWER full of oils. And I suppose I have Jesus in my heart or something. So admittedly, that might be in less abundance because I have a cold, dark heart.)

Anyhow, no neatly wrapped bow on this post because that’s not the way life works. We just keep trudging along until one day, we’re on the other side (and hopefully, feeling less blah when I actively pursue the things I think I want).

Have a good Wednesday! May you find what you’re looking for.

 

 

Incoherent Ramblings of My Sleep Deprived Mind

I am a consummate idiot. 

Instead of going to bed at 9pm last night, and possibly sleeping through the night because Sasquatch seems to be sleeping longer when he is dry (so adding an insert to his cloth diaper was super helpful), I stayed up until 3-4am playing a new to me game called Two Dots.

This is why I can’t have nice things. This is also why I have never tried drugs. Because I have an addictive personality and dammit all if I didn’t spend all day playing this stupid game. 

In fact, I am currently fighting off the incredibly strong urge to play the game in order to write this post. 

So, because I ruined my brain and likely will be super cranky today (my busiest day of the week – great planning, jackass), I give you more of the random firings of my brain. 

1) My unders still hurt. Though I have mostly stopped leaking blood, my baby squeezing out parts still ache and are kinda throbby (and not in the good throbby kinda way). 

I really hope this is normal and not because I have an infection in Lady Town. 

2) I didn’t need to mention that there is a highly likely chance of me being TMI, right? 
No one is new here. 

3) I am ravenous. 

I would say it’s because I am breastfeeding, but mostly it’s because I make poor eating choices. 

So this is the secret to how I always end up losing weight post-baby. It is because my body just does that (sorry) rather easily and also because I breastfeed a lot. (Yesterday seemed to be continuous ALL DAY.) 

But, it is also likely because I am used to not eating dinner with the family and usually prefer to eat by myself after everyone is down for the night. Except now I am super tired and often fall asleep nursing in bed (we co-sleep) and by the time I wake up it’s too late and I just say fuck it and go back to bed. 

And then, when I am up during the day, I never particularly want to eat what the kids eat so I graze and eat mostly snacks so um, yeah. 

I especially eat a lot of chocolate and Halloween candy. It is delicious. 

Bad decisions all around. 

4) Gamera did not sleep well last night. She kept sleep-talking all night and she was NOT happy in her dreams. At least once, she sleep-yelled/whined at Cookie Monster and her frenemie, Rhythm Girl

I love how she gets pissed off even in her sleep. Clearly, she is my child. 

5) So I am bummed that Cookie Monster and Gamera’s eyes have succumbed to genetics and are now both wearing glasses for reading. 

However. 

The bright side is that kid glasses are no longer horrible and awkward like when I was a kid so they are adorable. 


6) Our part of CA seems to have finally gotten the memo that it is fall and indeed, has been fall for some time now. 

I am cold. 

7) My butt and legs constantly go numb because I am always sitting and nursing Sasquatch.

I am probably getting tennis elbow because I am constantly on my phone either texting or playing Two Dots

It’s a sickness. 

8) I love getting free books at the library. But I hate how I end up paying so many fines because I am incapable of returning books on time lately. 

9) I need to find new TV shows to watch that are episodic and not a continued story arc. I started Designated Survivor and though I enjoy it, the pressure to keep watching is about to do me in. I just can’t stand all the new episodes judging me in my DVR queue. And now there are so many it seems that watching them will take too much effort. 

I still have Roots on my DVR from summer. Still haven’t come up with the commitment to watch any. 

I need another NCIS or start watching Bones reruns again. Pretty much I just need to DVR old procedurals in syndication. 

Ooooh. Psych is back on Ion. Hmmmm. This shows promise. 

10) I am super excited PharmGirl is having her baby soon. Then we can have three sets of frenemy kids. And most importantly – I don’t have to make new friends so that Sasquatch can have friends. 

WINNING!!

Now, to convince my other good friends they want a third or fourth child. 

Alright. That’s it. My brain is done. See you soon!

How to Get Your Kids to Play With Their Toys

As many of you know, my house is a mecca of toys. Is it educational? Is it a logic puzzle? Does it involve building blocks or wood or MAGNETS? Is it a Lego? Or crafty? If so, I probably own it.

I’m a sucker for anything with a magnet. Or logic. Or building.

But the thing is, my children NEVER played with these toys. They were obsessively on their iPads. Otherwise, they were busy using each other as meat punching bags and smacking the crap out of each other with Minecraft foam swords and axes and plastic pointy light sabres.

So, all that money I spent on real wood blocks and Magnatiles and Magformers, etc.? All wasted.

What really upset me was that they LOVED to play with these toys at other people’s houses. Just not mine.

Jerks.

But these past few weeks, since we got back from Taiwan, things have changed. And I think I know why.

Despite this being only a few weeks implemented, I have a feeling the changes will stick. (Possibly because most of these tips are things I have read before. I never said I was re-inventing the wheel, people!)

So, without further ado: How to Get Your Kids to Play With Their Toys:

1) Get rid of your toys.

Now, unless you already were some minimalist or just amazing (and therefore, I kinda hate you but want to be you all at the same time), you probably have way more toys than you need or want and they’re just pissing you off.

Way back in the end of February, my friend, Danielle Faust at OkDani and FitNoire wrote a post about how she threw away all (or almost all) her kids’ toys.

Now, when I read her post at the time, I agreed and thought, wow! That’s amazing! But I could never do that at my house because so many of my toys have already been culled.

I was wrong. So wrong.

And four months later (what can I say? I’m slow.), I threw out a bunch of my toys. In fact, I threw away or got rid of any toy that pissed me off – no matter how educational or age-appropriate or “good” the toy was. If it made me angry or cringe, it was out.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I still have a lot of toys. I am not getting rid of expensive toys that I love. But I did get rid of 6-8 bags of toys that I HATED.

It was a joyous and beautiful day.

2) Have a place for every toy.

I know. None of this is the stuff of genius. We read about it all the time in those organizing articles.

But it’s true.

If there’s a place for the toy, and the kids know where it belongs, then they know where to put it back when they’re done with the toy. (And the answer is NOT the floor.)

It helps if the place is a clear box so they can see what toy is in which box (especially since my kids can’t read English). I also have painter’s tape on each box with Chinese/zhuyin and English on the label so the kids and Hapa Papa know what belongs in that particular container.

About two years ago, I had an organizer come in and buy appropriate shelves and storage things so that I have plenty of space, I just need to keep them OPEN.

Sometimes, the problem isn’t so much a lack of enough organizational materials as much as a lack of space. If lack of space is a problem, confer back to point 1.

The arts and crafts center. It’s not at all neat, but it will serve.

One shelf with toys. Some have been pulled out for play.

Another shelf filled with toys.

3) Take out 2-4 activities each day.

So, I have had a pretty organized home with toys and activities for months, but STILL the kids wouldn’t play with the toys. They instead would reach for their old standbys – the swords and sabers and then proceed to beat each other to a pulp.

I was annoyed. I mean, other than the toys looking so pretty in the boxes, what’s the point of having them if the kids won’t play with them?

That’s when I remembered what our home-based preschool teacher, PW would do at the start of each class time. She also has lots of fun toys in her house, but instead of having them all put away, each class period, she would take out 3-4 activities and put them on the floor for the kids to explore.

That didn’t mean she didn’t let them play other things, but it did mean she gave them direction.

Because if you think about it, having lots of choices can be overwhelming unless you are one of those people (and by those people, I mean people such as I) who always order the same things at restaurants. Otherwise, you end up paralyzed by all the choices.

Same thing with the kids and toys.

In the face of so many toys, they go to their easy standbys and don’t even consider the other toys.

So, now, either the night before or the morning, of, I take out 2-3 activities and put them on the floor. I usually take out:

a) one type of building activity (blocks, Wedge-Its, Magnatiles)

b) one type of sorting/sensory activity (a big box of rocks, fuzzy balls, plastic dinosaurs, glass beads, etc.), and

c) one type of puzzle or other game.

And then I go against every instinct and let them keep those three activities out ALL DAY.

In fact, I far prefer this to “rotating” toys. Mostly because I don’t really have to think about “storing” toys and then remembering to “rotate” them. I hate extra work and brain power I need to exert.

4) Limit screen time.

I hate this suggestion. It’s really Captain Obvious and judgmental and self-righteous.

But it’s true.

Kids really can’t play with your toys if they’re glued to a screen.

Keep in mind, I don’t care how long your kids are on the screen. I won’t judge. My kids spent the last week in Taiwan entirely on the iPad. Like, from morning til night. For a week. Blowing through $1,000USD in Airbnb rent just like that.

I don’t judge.

However, like I mentioned before. It’s difficult for kids to play with toys if there is no opportunity for them to actually play. So, limiting some of your screen time is probably necessary.

For us, my kids are limited to 2 hours of screen time where they actually choose what they can watch. Then, I will likely add Chinese science videos or TF Boys (their current obsession) on top of that because I’m a sucker and I don’t mind.

That has made a huge difference at our house.

Now, with all their newly freed up time, and seeing all the toys I have pulled out, my kids actually play with their toys. And somehow, it’s as if a mental block was pulled from their brains. As if they remembered all the other toys our home possesses.

Not only do they play with the toys I “suggest,” they also pull out their other toys. And since I usually have most drawing and art materials out on the table, the kids use those more, too.

Before, I would force the kids to clean up right away. But now, I am a little more relaxed about it. Instead, if the floor gets dangerous and too full, that’s when I make them clean up. And then I definitely make them clean up before we go upstairs for bed.

I don’t mind the extra mess as long as the toys are used and the kids are playing with each other and not a screen.

Anyhow, I realize that nothing I suggested is mind-blowing or new. But hopefully, still helpful. And not only helpful – applicable.

Let me know what you do to get your kids to play with their toys. (Or maybe you don’t have this problem at all!) See you Friday!