I Can’t Get No Satisfaction

What is it about life that it just piles and piles and piles on top of everything and everywhere?

I mean, I realize that entropy is the default state of being and the Second Law of Thermodynamics so why fight against The Universe?

And yet.

No matter how much (or let’s be real, little) I do, it’s never enough. I always feel behind the 8-ball.

Is this a Woman Thing? Or a Mom Thing?

I mean, I don’t really hear Hapa Papa bitching and moaning about the state of the house (although, lately, it seems to be pressing on even him) or feeling as if he’s always behind or never caught up on shit.

However, now that I think about it – and I mean this in no way to diminish what Hapa Papa does because he is quite the involved father and provides pretty much all monetary support for our family – he really only has two major areas of responsibility: providing monetarily for the family and being an involved father.

Everything else is on me. Now, usually I don’t mind because quite frankly, I’m a control freak and I rather enjoy having everything be what I want it to be (or think it should be). But then, when things aren’t quite right, it’s all on me.

Hapa Papa is an easy-going guy and a good sport, so other than a few things, he really doesn’t have a particular opinion on whatever new parenting philosophy I’m trying this month or homeschooling or sports (wait, he does have an opinion on sports) or food or household chores or whatever. As long as it doesn’t particularly bother him, Hapa Papa mostly just gets out of my way and lets me do my thing and tries to support me as much as he can.

He is a good man.

But just like I (God-willing) will never have to feel that singular burden of providing financially for our household, he will never have to feel that singular burden of everything else. The staggering amounts of minutiae in the daily lives of five living and growing human beings.

I am overwhelmed.

(Although, I can’t say I have ever felt whelmed.)

It doesn’t seem as if it’s that much. I mean, I am a competent person of above-average intelligence and ability, right? Right?

So why do I feel so shitty? And so dissatisfied?

And now that I think about all the stuff that is within my purview, it really is a lot! I mean, I am not exaggerating when I say that Hapa Papa only needs to think about (and do) his career/making money and being a good father/husband. (And to clarify, Hapa Papa does a ton more than the “average” husband – so please know that I definitely appreciate him!)

Here’s just some stuff off the top my head that I have to take care of on a regular basis:

– Follow up with Car Rental Company to make sure they submit the missing paperwork to our credit card company re: a claim
– Follow up with Health Insurance Company re: multiple claims/missing money
– Submit FSA receipts
– Take care of all benefits
– Physicals and dental appointments for the whole family
– Saving/Investing
– Paying everyone and every institution that we need to pay
– Enrolling/Scheduling kids and their classes and paying on a monthly/quarterly basis
– Shuttling kids to all their activities
– Feeding/Bathing/Clothing/Maintaining/Keeping Alive/Disciplining children (and self and Hapa Papa)
– Keeping track of extended family birthdays/special events/visits/illnesses/etc.
– Keeping in touch with family friends
– Scheduling car maintenances
– Insurance (life/health/car/home/flood/umbrella WHATEVER)
– Shopping (food/clothes/home/educational/etc.)
– Cooking
– Cleaning/Laundry/Dishes/Garbage
– Mail (absolutely my LEAST favorite)
– Diapers
– Potty Training
– Parenting
– Taking out the garbage
– Compost
– Returning library books
– Sleep training
– Homeschooling
– Ovulation/Fertility Tracking (if we are still trying for a fourth)
– Taxes
– Anything that requires a phone call or a live human

Look. I know this shit is what life is made of. And again, it’s not like Hapa Papa doesn’t contribute in terms of housework (I am always elated when he unloads the dishwasher – one of my LEAST favorite activities even though it is incredibly simple). Furthermore, Hapa Papa is amazing at giving me space to decompress and disappear from the family. He gives me entire WEEKENDS (on a regular basis!) so I know I have it good.

But if I have it so good and am still feeling crushed, how the fuck are other people doing this?

Is everyone else just better at faking it?

(Ok. I do know some people who are terrible at faking it and when I look at them, I judge. I know. I’m a hypocrite. But seriously. Come on, people. Get your shit together.)

What do you think? Are we all just sucking at “adulting”? Did our parents have these problems, too? They must have, right? Let me know in the comments.

What Liam Neeson and Hapa Papa Have in Common

Okokok. So perhaps this title is a bit misleading. But stick with me for a few more seconds.

You see, lately, it’s become ever more apparent that Hapa Papa and I are totally failing at our respective roles. We are totally half-assing things and while amusing for the short haul, it is somewhat alarming (in a climate change-y kinda way) for the long run. Because Hapa Papa is fortunate enough to work from home most days (unless he’s “on vacation”), our kids have no concept of what it means to work (and work hard). I think they vaguely think that work means to be on the computer, go to airports, and stay in hotels. (Cookie Monster demands a Facetime tour of every hotel room Hapa Papa stays in. He particularly likes seeing the bathrooms. He’s a weird kid.)

Anyhow, Hapa Papa is always marveling that he used to work hard but now he has completely lost that ability. In fact, it has gotten so bad that work tasks that used to be easy can occasionally be stumbling blocks.

When I expressed concern over his job security, Hapa Papa responded, “Don’t worry. It’s like Liam Neeson in that movie, Taken. I don’t work hard, but what I do have is a very particular skill set.”

Here’s a clip of that scene for reference. You know, because I’m helpful like that.

Also, should I be offended that Hapa Papa includes me on the Mediocrity Train? Because when he is home, I cede all parenting duties to him and go out with my friends? (To be fair, it was my birthday.) And then when he has the nerve to actually go into work, I have  no idea what to do with my kids when they’re not in school or napping.

I really don’t know why people think I have a hard job. Yes, yes. I have three children. But seriously, short of making sure they are fed, wiping their bottoms, and occasionally separating them from all out brawls, I don’t really do much. No, I’m not underselling what I do. Please believe me when I say, I had multiple children for a reason. So they can play with each other and I can ignore them. Yes, even Glow Worm, the baby. He is very independent.

I can’t help sometimes feeling like I’m failing as a mother, though. Or if not failing, precisely, that I am quite mediocre because I am not making them do flash cards or whatever. It’s because I’m extremely lazy. That’s why I bought all those educational toys. They can learn while they play, right? Playdough and coloring are good, right? Spacial awareness and art and stuff? Tactile and fine motor skills? It’s also why I bought all those Chinese DVDs! They’re not zombie-ing out. They are LEARNING MANDARIN.

But then, I think back to my childhood and you know what? My parents didn’t play with me. I had piano lessons and Chinese school, but other than that, my days were filled with school, homework, hours and hours of TV and books. I went to a good school and turned out fine. (Hapa Papa occasionally likes to mock me and say that I went to a better school than he did but I don’t get paid. Then, I throw back that I don’t have to work and spend all my time buying stuff on Amazon and Costco and hanging out with my kids. Who’s smarter now? He usually concedes the argument at that point.)

Anyhow, not sure what my point is today except that um, yes. I’m a mediocre parent and I’m okay with that. Have a wonderful long weekend!

 

6 Eating Days Left!

SADNESS!! How can I just have six eating days left? Fleur and I are pretty much just dragging Hapa Papa around to our favorite places and forcing him to eat stuff and hold our bags as we spend way too much money on Taiwanese stationery, pens, and DVDs.

Here we go! Off to the updates. (A shorter one today because we have limited eating time.)

1) Arcades here are awesome! And the rides last so long Cookie Monster wants to get off before it’s done.

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2) First full day with Hapa Papa was fun but also hard. Starting out for adventures seemed so great until I forgot to bring money, ran back home to get some, and then lost my bus card (with $15USD on it!) in rapid succession. Hapa Papa mocked me and said, “It’s Week 5!” I say his presence threw off my game and it’s all his fault.

3) The kids were all super tired after a long, hard day of playing at Kidsburgh, and poor Glow Worm barely napped so as a result, it took him forever to fall asleep at night. Of course, because we all share a room, that meant that every time he was almost out, Cookie Monster would burst in the room and wake the poor little guy up again. I swear I almost committed bodily injury against Cookie Monster. I know he just wants to spend time with me and have my attention, but OMG GAH!

It was so sweet though. For some reason, Gamera is convinced that if she sings, Glow Worm stops crying. And it usually works. Really cute. Currently, she just sings one line of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” in Chinese. Then when Glow Worm stops crying, she is so proud and says it’s because he loves her and her singing.

4) I may have mentioned it before, but it bears repeating. When I do my Gamera voice, she sounds like Miss Piggy. That’s because Gamera sounds like Miss Piggy.

5) I was so wrong. Turns out, it is Cookie Monster who has forgotten how to walk and begs Hapa Papa to carry him. I think a lot of it is because Bebe keeps wanting Hapa Papa to hold her hand and Cookie Monster is jealous and possessive. Bebe misses her dad and my guess is that Hapa Papa being here reminds her of it.

Because the kids had been doing so well, I didn’t really think anything of it, but now that I do, I suspect the kids have missed their fathers more than we thought. It makes me feel even sadder for kids who don’t have their dads around.

6) We have purchased SO MANY Chinese DVDs. I even threw in a few Kung Fu movies for myself. Heehee. You know, for my education.

7) We went to another kids’ place yesterday called Fun Kids Fun and we liked it much better than Kidsburgh. It seemed less crazy. Plus, everything is adorable! You can pay by the hour or by the day. The kids loved it. I think they may have liked it more than Kidsburgh.

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Alright. Fleur and I have to figure out where to go shovel food into our gaping maws. Have a great day!

One Week Left!

I can’t believe we only have one week left! It seems too soon! Maybe the next time we do this, we’ll stay the whole summer. Only eight more eating days left!

1) Hapa Papa flies in late tonight! Whoohooo! We haven’t seen each other for about four weeks. The kids are excited. Lately, Gamera has been saying “我的爸爸說可以。” (“My Papa says it’s okay.”) to everything I or her teachers say “No” to. Pretty convenient if you ask me.

Even though Fleur and I have gotten into a rhythm and it may take some getting used to, I will be glad to have Hapa Papa
around. An extra set of hands is an extra set of hands. Oh, right. And we love and miss him, too.

2) The kids have gotten so good about walking to and from the bus stop. It makes me very pleased! Of course as soon as Hapa Papa is here, I bet Gamera will mysteriously forget how to walk and will be forced to be carried to and from the bus stop.

3) Cookie Monster and Gamera were taking turns being the teacher before bed. It was so cute. And a nice glimpse into their world and what they do at school. They were playing together in Chinese! And Gamera was playing by herself later in Chinese, too! Unheard of!

4) Speaking of language, Cookie Monster has picked up the Taiwanese way of speaking. He now adds “啊 (Ah)” to the end of every sentence as well as “超級(super)” to every description. So cute.

5) I forgot that the older kids have English lessons every morning and the other day, Cookie Monster started reciting in stilted, robotic, English, “Good morning, Miss Michelle! Thank you for reading us a story.” I nearly died laughing. Obviously, he still speaks English just fine and fluently. But boy does that kid mimic the teachers! I have to get it on tape.

6) Cookie Monster loves pineapple. He just shoves it in his mouth. This pleases me!! He also eats eggs and a few more foods. Whoooo!!

There is a pineapple and watermelon truck by the subway station and the guy there cuts them up fresh. 🙂 So we try to pick some up on the way back from our outings. Anything for my kiddo!

7) Glow Worm can now get to a standing position by himself! No holding onto anything! He’s walking so much better now, too. Not that he gets much opportunity since he is always strapped into the ergo.

8) Also, Baby Boy loves to eat. He really is adorable. (Photo credit: Fleur)

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9) Cookie Monster and Bebe are fighting and loving like sibs. Every morning they fight on the way to school to push elevator buttons. Poor Bebe arranged a good compromise but Cookie Monster still hit the buttons because he got there first. So yesterday, Bebe threw a massive tantrum and Fleur had to drag her to the bus stop.

Today Fleur left first to avoid this mad rush but then Cookie Monster threw a tantrum because he wanted to go with Bebe. He hates being left behind. He threw his backpack and for the second day in a row, his water bottle burst open and spilled all over his stuff. I ripped him a new one I was so pissed. The whole complex and block probably heard.

Poor little man. All the way to school he was uncharacteristically subdued. He kept saying, “I’m sorry, Mama.” I also apologized for screaming at him.

10) Gamera went upstairs with the teacher today without crying! Told me to stay downstairs. Yay!

11) I recently realized that I very much enjoy taking new buses. Fleur laughed and called me a bus collector. I like it because it makes me feel as if I’m a local and savvy. Plus, I see more of the city.

12) Saw some more of the local fauna yesterday afternoon. What the hell, Taiwan? (Photo credit: Fleur; iPhone mine)

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13) Yesterday, we ate three different shaved ices. One leftover from the night before. One at Smoothie House. And one at a random shaved ice place Fleur passed by on her nightly forays into the neighborhood after taking out the garbage. It’s our way of making sure we stay hydrated. (Photo credit: Fleur) Here’s a pic of a new shaved ice we got at Smoothie House.

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14) I keep forgetting to look for quality mah jong sets. I want the kind that is slightly translucent, fat, and looks like almond jello. Mmmmm.

Ok. Off to cram more food in my mouth. Have a great weekend!

Counting Down

This morning I woke up and thought it was Saturday. I started to freak out until I realized that it was Friday. Whew. I have three days until my trip to Taiwan and despite my friends constantly asking, I have yet to start packing. Mostly because what is the point of packing things we use every day? That would just serve to piss me off and confuse me if I had to constantly repack stuff I already packed.

Also, I am crazy and feel the need to have all the laundry done and house cleaned before I leave. (I always have this problem before trips.) There is nothing I hate more than returning to a house full of dirty laundry and bathrooms. I think it’s because I’ll be bringing enough dirty stuff back as it is.

Hapa Papa has generously told me that he would clean the house after we leave so I don’t have to stress about it. I love this man. However, the thought of him cleaning my bathroom makes me ill. Why? Because I don’t trust him to clean it right. sigh I am an ass. I will let him vacuum and do the laundry though. 😀

What about you? Any crazy pre-trip rituals or quirks?

 

Pants on Fire

I have a general rule that I will not lie to my kids – even white lies, lies of convenience, or statements to make my life easier. I do teach my kids about God and Jesus, so depending on your philosophical bent, that may or may not count as a lie. But since I do believe in God and Jesus, at least I am not technically lying to the kids (or at least, intentionally). The main reason I don’t, even when it would make my life considerably better, is because it breaks trust. And once my kids catch me in a lie (and they will!), they will start questioning everything I have ever told them in the past because hey, if I lied about this, what was stopping me from lying to them about that?

I even include Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy. (At least it cuts down on fictional gifts I have to purchase!) I know. I’m such a killjoy. But Santa is an old white dude who rewards you for being good on Jesus’s birthday – and it sounds a lot like the stereotypical view of who God is – so no thanks! Now, my kids know ABOUT Santa. But they just think he’s in a costume. Like Spiderman. Plus, it is much easier to explain all the Santas that crop up during Christmas time.

In fact, not only do I try not to lie to my children, I try not to lie in general. After all, what’s the point of telling my kids not to lie, not lying to my kids, etc., if they just hear me telling people lies (white or otherwise) just to make my life easier? Of course, I have no problem lying via omission. For instance, someone brings a food that is not delicious. I won’t say that the food is yummy. But I will thank them for bringing the food or comment on the plate that the food is on, or whatever. I will try to say true things in as kind a way as possible without outright lying. Hopefully, my kids will absorb this lesson without me having to explicitly tell them not to lie. Aren’t the most important lessons in life learned this way?

I find that the temptation to lie is similar to the temptation to deflect all the questions my kids have about their bodies or stuff in general. I am very honest with the kids about their body parts and I have no qualms about Hapa Papa or my nakedness around the kids. This, of course, leads to some very awkward and hilarious conversations. I’ve had to explain to Cookie Monster why his penis gets big, what pubic hair is, what a vagina is, etc. My reward for all my non-euphamizing are these types of conversations (FB friends will recognize a good many of these stories):

1) Cookie Monster: Papa has a penis and a gagina! 
Hapa Papa: Papa just has a penis.
Cookie MonsterGamera has a gagina!
Hapa Papa: Yes, Gamera has a gagina. Cookie Monster has a penis.
Cookie Monster: Papa has a penis and a gagina! HAHAHAHAAHAHAH!

2) After a month or so, we finally figured out why Cookie Monster thought Hapa Papa had a vagina and a penis. He thought the pubic hair was the vagina. He also pointed at Hapa Papa’s face and said, “Gina face! Gina mouth!”

3) Gamera: My penis hurts, Mom. 
Me: You don’t have a penis, honey. You have a vagina. 
Gamera: My ‘gina hurts, Mom. My penis fell off.

Anyway, this post isn’t to make you feel bad or judged if you do teach your kids about Santa or The Easter Bunny or even if you tell your kids or other people white lies. This is just my personal policy. I think it comes from my traumatic upbringing of constantly swallowing my father’s numerous lies in addition to reinforcing his lies with lies of our own (many at my mother’s behest). My father wasn’t even a very good liar – that’s how insulting he was. He didn’t even think enough of us to lie properly and NOT get caught. He just thought we were too stupid to catch him.

Of course, telling the truth is not the same as being blunt or using the truth to bludgeon people. (Although, incredibly tempting.) I suppose the key to this is to tell the truth in love. (Often, an incredibly difficult task.) It helps that I don’t really have a good filter when I talk to people so I am usually a little too honest in general. It also helps that many of my friends also consciously choose not to lie to their kids so we can support one another. I’m curious. Do you lie to your kids? If so, what do you lie to your kids about? Tell me in the comments.

Starving the Beast

You guys, I really am an ass of monumental proportions. I really don’t know what is my deal lately, but everything (and I mean everything) makes me angry or cranky or hypercritical or entitled or snipey or sarcastic (which, as much as it is funny to watch on television, is not really helpful to situations or a particularly kind way to deal with small children). Even attempts by Hapa Papa and poor Cookie Monster, who so desperately wants to please me, fall flat and either make me meaner or only temporarily make me feel better. Then I revert back to my horrible, beastly, selfish self.

I really want this to be a hormonal problem. Or an “other people” problem. Or even a situational problem.

But really, it’s a character problem. My character problem.

I really hate that.

I mean, even the way I wrote the first paragraph is telling. I’m some poor victim, reacting and blindly lashing out at all the cruelties and insufferable indignities my lousy children and husband are lobbing in my general direction. It’s their fault I’m cranky or mean. Why can’t they just get their shit together? Why am I the only one who has any sort of fucking sense?

But I know, deep down, that it is all my fault. I am choosing to be an ungrateful, cruel, short-tempered, exacting, whiny little child throwing a pique because I can’t have all the things all right now in the manner that I am accustomed to. I have no care for how my actions affect my children or Hapa Papa or anyone else. All I am thinking of are my needs. My wants. My preferences. My desires. Everyone else could just go suck on a rock.

Of course I know what I’m doing. I am a grown up who is not completely oblivious to social cues and how people work. And yet, I keep feeding my selfish inner beast. I choose to be a jerk and each time I give in to my baser desires, the choices become less and less obvious and become more and more a way of life and a way of being. It is becoming harder and harder to stop. (Oh, let’s not sugarcoat. I rarely rein in my sharp tongue these past few days and weeks. I’m not even sure for how long it’s been going on. This is a super big problem.)

Telling myself to knock it off already isn’t really helping either. I’m just going to have to accept the fact that vices are easy to fall into, but climbing out of them is like detoxing – rather difficult and full of withdrawals. I think first and foremost on the list is for me to just STFU. That awesome zinger I want to throw at Hapa Papa? Not helpful. (Particularly when he’s been graciously swooping the kiddos out of the way of my immediate wrath.)

Constantly criticizing Cookie Monster for whatever four year old thing he did to get attention because his mommy has been a real bitch lately? Not kind. (Gamera constantly scolds me for being unkind to Cookie Monster. She is quite a fierce little sister. Also, when I scolded her this morning, she growled, “You can’t talk to my ear! You don’t know what you talking about it!” She escapes most of my criticism because she is very good at manipulating me. Cookie Monster, however, is like a giant golden retriever puppy. All enthusiasm. No cunning whatsoever.)

But really, who wants to be a screeching banshee all the time at their kids? I’m not even yelling at them so much as tearing them down, little by little. Gamera might hold up just fine since she’s a brawler, but Cookie Monster? That sweet boy’s soul is withering right before my very eyes. (Although, come to think of it, he’s a pretty good manipulator, too. He constantly looks up dolefully with his big, brown eyes and says all wobbly, “You scream at me, Mama.” Even when I didn’t! Just because he knows I will immediately apologize and then he’s wriggled out of getting in trouble. My children are way too smart for me.)

Anyhow, before I got sidetracked by the brilliance of my own children, where was I? Ah, yes. Shutting the proverbial fuck up.

We are going DefCon1 on my inner beastie. It is times like these when I pray desperately, “Help me not be me!” I think it will take both divine grace and all my humanly power to fight my natural evil inclinations. I know at the root of it is my heart being a hard and recalcitrant piece of coal. I can only hope that a combination of God’s mercy and my tackling the outward symptoms of being mean will help.

As for being silent ? That will require a miracle. Or some metal wire.