Commence Panic Mode


I am not excited. 

We are T-9 days from our Taiwan Trip 2017 and I am not excited. 

I mean, I am excited for all the yummy foods and hanging out with my mommy friends in Taiwan, but… I am not excited about packing or traveling at very fast speeds in a metal tube with my four children for 12-13 hours. 

At this point last year, I think I already started packing. I have not even bothered. Or tried. Or felt bad about it. 

I don’t know if this means I have evolved or I am super procrastinating. Maybe both. 

Does it count if I made my packing list about two months ago? And have been Amazon Priming like a BOSS?

But truthfully, I bought most of the stuff last year and I don’t really need anything else other than more bug spray/sunscreen combos. 

And diapers. Lots of diapers. 

But otherwise, my kids are going to the same camps (actually, one less camp so it’s even easier), we are staying at the same Airbnb, and my mother is coming with me for a few days and my cousin is flying back with me so really, what is there to worry about?

Then why is there a nervous ball of dread in the pit of my stomach? Why am I purposely avoiding thinking about this trip for fear of totally freaking out?

I have taken my kids to Taiwan before. By myself (and with friends and family). I have sent my kids to school there before. I have used buses and taxis and MRTs before. I have even ergoed a baby there before. 

I can do this. 

It will be fun. (Mostly.)

I will eat lots of delicious food. (Especially almond tofu shaved ice.)

I will see my friends. 

I will see my family. 

I will have a constant sweaty front because of Big Fat Baby Sasquatch permanently being worn. 

I will not be pregnant. (Thank goodness for small mercies.)

I will be fine. 

My kids will be even bigger and they remember stuff from last year so they are prepared. 

We will be fine. 

I have to keep repeating this to myself like a spell. 

I will be fine. I will be fine. 

And if I am really delusional, maybe I will be so fine I will consider bringing a toddler to Taiwan next summer. 

I guess I should see how things shake out this summer before I do anything that stupid. 

Suck It Up, May


How is May over?

You know what this means, right? Almost 1/2 of 2017 is over. That seems way too fast.

As usual, here is my monthly check in to see how I’m doing with my yearly goals, aka: My Year of Sucking it Up.

1) Take family and personal health seriously.

What does that look like? I want to:

a) Cook at least 5 meals a week. Still hitting the numbers but May was a month where I felt blah about food and my cooking it. I bought $30 of meat that I was too tired to prep and it rot in my fridge. 

I cooked, but not with joy. It was kinda meh but we ate. And that is important. 

The new thing is that I finally broke out the 愛玉 (ai4 yu4) seeds and made my own 愛玉 (an herbal jelly-like dessert)! This has totally cut down on my trips and cravings for T4 and I am super pleased.

Now, I make my own Taiwanese drinks (Earl Gray and Mother’s Milk teas + homemade 愛玉 + a spoon of honey) and my wallet is happy and so is my mouth!! 

Because I didn’t really get a chance to write a lot, I didn’t go out much, so my personal eat out consumption went down. 

b) Be active once a week.

Still nope. Unless you count lugging Sasquatch around everywhere. Baby boy is 22 lbs. That’s WORK. 

d) Take vitamins and supplements.

This has been hit or miss. 

e) Go to sleep when the kids sleep 4x a week.

This has definitely been happening and happening a lot. So, of course, this cuts down on alone time and writing and reading and TV time. 
It’s a balancing act and currently, the pendulum has swung toward the sleep like an old lady side. 

Sadly, STILL TIRED.

f) No texting while driving.

This was a really bad month. I even got a ticket for texting at a stoplight. Did that scare me straight?

No. 

I feel as if I am hurtling towards the inevitable smack at the bottom. 

2) Take my responsibilities as a grown up seriously.

Multiple rounds of sick kids. Work. Hapa Papa doing extra work. Supervising the handyman getting work done for the house and a smattering of other things. 

I adulted. 

3) Write.

I didn’t do too much writing this month. However, I DID release my ebook (affiliate link), So You Want Your Kid to Learn Chinese.  

It even shot to #1 in the Chinese Language Instruction category in a day!


Thank you to all my readers and friends who helped make that happen. I really appreciate it!

Now, I am thinking of other books I can write – and then gathering up courage to write it. 

Alright. That’s it for May. How are you doing on your resolutions? Still going strong?

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.

 

 

My Love is an Act of Will

LoveIn case you missed my performance back in May, here is a video of my reading for Listen to Your Mother SFI’ve included the transcript of my piece after. Also, please do check out the entire line up for Listen to Your Mother SF 2016. They are hilarious and moving and fantastic women with wonderful stories. You will not regret!

“Mama,” said Gamera. “I love Daddy more-er. He’s the funnest.”

Twice a day, my 4 year old daughter, will inform me without fail that she loves my husband more than she loves me.

She has her reasons.

He was her first word. He’s way more fun. He plays with her (especially that awful Cooties game that I would rather stab my eyes out than play). He takes her to McDonald’s and indoor play spaces and to the park.

He calls her “Sweetness” and “Baby Girl” and cuddles with her at night and throws her onto his shoulders and plays Tickle Monster until she collapses into giggles on our bed.

He is the funnest.

And most of all – he rarely yells at her.

For the first eighteen months of my oldest son’s life, I never yelled or raised my voice in anger. I used to be so proud of myself.

Gamera never got to meet that person. She was six months in my belly and had another three months to go. By the time she showed up, I was tired and overwhelmed and had made yelling a way of life.

It was slow at first. A slow ramping up of fury until it broke over my small children in a consistent wave of screaming and yelling.

And later, at two and a half, she would defend herself and her older brother, holding her ground. “You don’t know what you talking about it!” she would stomp, face red with scowling, arms crossed in indignation. “Mama, you’re NOT kind!”

So I totally get why she loves my husband more-er. Who wouldn’t?

Before I had children, I thought love would be effortless, flowing through me as water from snow melt.

Who would have ever predicted it would be like squeezing blood from a stone?

Who knew love could be so hard – especially when it sent the dark corners of my heart into stark relief?

Of course, I knew that love was not always easy. I had plenty of experience of that in my romantic relationships. And I knew from growing up with an abusive father that love for our children could look much different than what I wanted for my own kids.

But I had thought – I had hoped – that I would be better. I would be different. I wouldn’t let my father win.

But I was broken still and my inner beast, the echo of my father – his script, his cadence, his very words – spilled hot and rushed through my trembling lips and clenched fists.

Of course, she loves her Baba more-er.

I accept that she may never know or understand that my loving her is an act of will.

Not because she is not lovable. She is. All my children are.

But I hope and pray that they will never understand firsthand how I clawed my way up from my despair, buried under decades of lies, denial, and self-protection.

That I love her when I ensure that the cycle of abuse will end with me and not be passed onto them.

I love her when in November 2014, I decided enough was enough and asked for help.

I love her when I choose to do the hard mental and emotional work when I go see my therapist every Friday and plonk down $150.

I love her when after a year and a half of weekly counseling, I have finally turned a corner and now rarely yell.

I love her when I get enough sleep.

I love her when I pay attention to what my body is telling me – and when I listen to my body.

I love her when I drop my armor of anger and apathy and allow myself to feel and process pain, fear, and anger.

I love her when I look at the hard truths of my growing up, my coping mechanisms, and their consequences.

I love her when I choose to walk away from her instead of scream.

I love her when I humble myself to apologize and ask her for forgiveness.

I love her when I let her feel what she feels and say what she thinks – even if it’s messy and dramatic and overblown and infuriates me to no end.

I love her when I model how to pursue healing.

I love her when I tell her that even if she loves Baba more-er than me, or is angry at me, or even hates me, that I will love her. That she can never lose my love.

I love her even though she loves her Baba more-er than me.

It doesn’t matter.

Because every day, my love for her is a hard won act of will. And that is enough.

Top 20 Reasons Why I Actually Live in a Frat House

If we’re friends on Facebook and in Real Life, you’ll likely notice a common theme regarding posts about my children. They’re a pack of wild animals.

No exaggeration.

It’s my fault, really. I don’t particularly care if the kids beat the shit out of each other as long as they don’t do it in public (I don’t want to look like a bad parent) or beat up other people’s children (because again, I don’t want to look like a bad parent).

I mean, I used to make half-hearted attempts to stop them. After all, isn’t their taking kung fu supposed to teach them discipline and proper shit kicking etiquette, et al.? And again, aren’t I supposed to care that my three children are often mostly naked and all I hear are their little fists pounding against each other’s flesh?

But then I realized that I don’t actually care and trying to tear apart my barbarians only pisses me off. I yell and try to enforce rules about not hurting each other only to get kicked in the face or whatever and quite frankly, it’s not worth it to me. If they wan’t to punch and kick each other, they are welcome to it.

In fact, I’ve gotten to the point where I tell them that if they hurt each other in the course of their actions, to not come to me and cry about it because I will just tell them it’s their own fault and that’s what happens when you beat the shit out of each other. It hurts.

They are a pack of vicious dogs.

Also? The keyword for this post really should be, “Beat the shit out of each other.” Seems to be a recurrent phrase.

So, in light of my children being a horde of uncivilized assholes, I submit to you the Top 20 Reasons Why I Actually Live in a Fraternity House:

1) To steal from Irish Twins, my life is full of genitals and injuries. If that’s not frat life, I don’t know what is.

2) My house smells a lot like farts and dirty socks. And rotting food. Especially in the couch area. Not sure why. And I may never discover the true reason (other than my children have sieves for mouths).

3) The floor is crunchy. And sticky.

4) The house is in complete disrepair. I’m missing blind slats, the carpet is for shit, there is not a surface that has not been urinated on (or hasn’t touched a naked bottom), floor tiles are loose, a toilet seat has been cracked for years, certain bathtubs have a permanently loose hot water handle that keeps falling off, and there are random “imperfections” in our walls.

5) I’m not sure what we eat, but I think it’s a lot of nuggets, pizza, and fries.

6) Did I mention that we have a lot of injuries?

7) And exposed genitals??

8) There are countless hours of HaloMinecraft, and YouTube being played.

9) I am always finding random socks shoved in weird places. But always only one sock. Never a pair.

10) My children know what a trash can is for. And yet, this knowledge somehow doesn’t translate into using it.

11) There are armies and armies of empty plastic cups laying around on flat surfaces.

12) Conversations are basically one long fart, poop, or pee joke.

13) Someone is always being wrestled, sat upon, punched, kicked, yelled at, or light-sabered.

14) No one goes to sleep at a reasonable hour.

15) The backyard is full of debris from destroyed plastic toys and disintegrated chalk and sand and rocks and miscellaneous crap.

16) Someone is always climbing or jumping or falling off of a chair/bannister/couch/random hangy thingy.

17) We are always out of food.

18) There is rarely any homework or “learning” going on. Did I mention that I homeschool?

19) Not a day goes by without at least one mention of penis, “gagina,” or butthole.

20) And finally, there are a lot of “fucks” thrown around (though to be fair, that is mostly from me).

So there you have it. Please tell me I’m not the only one?

Also, I’m pretty sure none of my friends will ever consent to come over ever again. Not unless I steam clean and/or bleach every possible surface area of my house. (And even with that, they will have to come over immediately after this deep steam occurs because otherwise, my house will revert to its base state of grossness.)

Hope you have a wonderful Memorial Day. See you soon!

Being Invisible

“So, what do you ladies do?” The hairy, overly tanned middle-aged white man asked.

My friend, Laney, and I had been busy chatting in the hot tub on our last day together when Bob*, with the self-importance only a middle-aged white man can project, interjected and proceeded to monologue for the next 45 minutes wherein our sole purpose was to murmur sweet, appreciative assents while we seethed yet somehow were trapped in societal expectations and did not extricate ourselves. After all, we were there first! Why should we be forced to move? And yet, who was the big loser in this encounter? Us.

I am still pissed about this.

Anyhow, Bob had now moved on from what he thought about himself and was now, however briefly, willing to share the spotlight with one of us.

“What do you do?” he asked again as Laney and I hesitated. Do we engage more? Do we reply in a way to seem interesting? Or do we reply in such a way as to shut down conversation?

I knew what I would do.

“I’m a stay at home mom,” I said.

I watched as the interest in his eyes died before I even finished speaking the words. He turned immediately to Laney

I was uncertain whether I was relieved or furious that he did exactly as I had ensured. Hadn’t I answered in this way so that he would dismiss me and my life? So that I could deflect and not have to endure him any more than I had to?

And yet. And yet.

Every now and then when I think about my life, I think how it is the perfect NOC (non-official cover for those of you not in the know) for spies, cons, and surveillance personnel. After all, there is nothing more nondescript than a mother with her children. No one expects them to be anything but what they are – which is innocuous background noise (at least, until one of those kids has a very public meltdown).

We blend. We are scenery. We disappear.

Today, I walked into a cafe without my usual coterie of babies and for a brief second, I made eye contact with a man sitting at the counter. My mind wandered to where it normally wanders in a split second. I wondered, what would I be like now if I were single? Would I still be attractive? Desirable?

When I meet men now, do they even see me? Or do they only see my SAHM uniform of sweats, unwashed face and hair, long sleeve tee, thick ugly socks, and double-wrapped scarf?

And why does it matter?

Every time I ask Hapa Papa if he is ever worried I will have an affair, he always laughs. Not unkindly, mind you. But still. He laughs.

Nothing is as flattering as your husband laughing at the idea of you having an affair because who would want to have an illicit affair with someone encumbered with three small, young children?

Hapa Papa sure knows how to make a woman feel desirable. Sorry, ladies. He’s taken.

Incidentally, this is not a post to elicit reassurances from my lovely and dear friends.

Lately, I wonder if I ever felt as if I were visible or if it is solely a consequence of my current identity. Did I ever feel as if I owned a place? Secure with my place in the world? My role? My identity?

Or is this merely another manifestation of feeling as if amazing and I are mutually exclusive states of being?

Whatever the reason, I’m done. 2016, you’ve been warned. And you’ll see me coming.

 

*Not his real name. Or it could be. I have no idea. I’m still pissed off about it but I forgot his name in its entirety.

Barf, Barf, Barf Everwhere

Sorry for the small break in posting. Our household got hit with a stomach bug and I’ve been neck deep in barf, diarrhea, and laundry (because of the barf and diarrhea). Delightful.

I don’t think our house has EVER been hit with so much illness (thank goodness!!) and several of us got hit twice. And by several of us, I mean me. Ok, fine. Cookie Monster, too.

It got so bad that last Wednesday, I barely took Gamera to school before being unable to do anything else for the rest of the day. I begged my mom to pick her up and I just let Cookie Monster and Glow Worm fend for themselves all day. And by fend for themselves, I mean they iPadded and iPhoned and Haloed to their hearts’ content. Then, my mom showed up with Gamera and lunch and they got semi-fed. Unfortunately, she had to leave so again, all three children under six were running amok in the house as I lay in bed in semicoherence.

This is how mommies are wonderful: after a long day of meeting with clients, my mom came back to my house around 7:30pm, fed and bathed all three children, and then had them clean up the entire downstairs (which seriously, looked liked several natural disasters swept through). Then, she finally left for her home to take care of herself. (And my poor mother caught the stomach bug over the weekend.)

Where was Hapa Papa during this time, you might ask? On “vacation” in Texas. We didn’t leave him out, though. He joined our dubious club on the weekend, too. But before that, he was a big help while I malingered.

Anyhow, that is the current update of our peoples. Thank goodness I homeschool – we basically didn’t do any formal learning for about two weeks. But now, we are slowly getting back into the swing of things (including blogging).

Have a healthy and non-barfy Wednesday!