Sometimes, My Day Needs a Delete Button

Today was horrible. It’s not even over yet. I can only hope that with the last remaining 4.25 hours, nothing explodes. I might explode. I am so furious, I just may spontaneously combust.

It’s Mother’s Day, too. Irony.

I woke up in a spectacularly shitty mood. I’ve been doing that lately. I keep hoping it’s hormones. Maybe I’m pregnant. (Nope.) Maybe I’m getting my period, finally. (Nope.) Or maybe, I ‘m just choosing to be a complete terror of a human being. (Maybe.)

Whatever the reason, I tried to snap out of it (ok, not really) but I would snap back into my funk almost instantaneously.

All I wanted was time to clean my bathroom. I hate cleaning bathrooms. I hate dirty bathrooms even more.

That’s a really fucking low bar for a happy Mother’s Day, but I don’t really care for holidays, anyhow. Besides, it’s not like I could just sleep all day, read, and eat without any small humans in the way – which is what I would REALLY LIKE RIGHT NOW.

I love my children. (I say through gritted teeth. Note to self: When you have to repeat “I love my children” like a mantra or a reminder or a last shred of sanity, it’s probably time to call it a day.)

I did not love my children well at all today. I still kinda don’t want to.

Hapa Papa left for London until Wednesday and I’m stuck alone with three small children who are conspiring to drive me crazy. He even took all three kids to the park this afternoon so I could have some alone time for a few hours. But it was not enough.

It all started when Cookie Monster and Gamera took forever to eat breakfast. They’re always laggards with eating, but whenever Hapa Papa has them in the morning, it’s even worse. Then, when I get them back, they backslide and suck and I get mad both at them and Hapa Papa for inflicting me with this. They eventually finish as well as eat lunch. They stuff their face full of snacks. It’s my own fault. I know. Then they complain and whine and whine and whine about being hungry for dinner so I make them dinner and what happens? They refuse to eat dinner. So I take it away and don’t even bother. I banish them to their rooms; I am so mad. Even Glow Worm, who normally eats just fine, is in on the hunger strike tonight.

All night, it is one thing after another. Glow Worm won’t go to sleep. Gamera and Cookie Monster burst into his room right when he is about to finally fall asleep again. I lose it and yell at them and tell them I will give them away. I force them to sit in the corner of my room. Glow Worm is screaming his brains out because hey, why can’t he sleep through his mother going ballistic? I try to comfort him, but he isn’t having it. I leave him to figure it out on his own.

And then, when I go back to my room, I turn back my sheets and what do I find all over my bed? Sand.

OMG MY BED IS FULL OF SAND.

I HATE TODAY I HATE TODAY I HATE TODAY.

There, I said it. I hate today. Fuck today. It can go suck on a rock. Mother’s Day be damned. I’ve never cared for Mother’s Day. Haven’t really even had a good one since I became a mother. I mean, they weren’t bad, really, just not anything particularly great. And today? TODAY WAS REALLY BAD.

Sometimes, when a day is going poorly, I want to hit “reset” and start over. Today is going so well, it needs to be deleted. As in, excised from my life. Poof! Monday better be a whole lot better or I’m gonna have some words.

Sigh. I better get over whatever malaise I’m going through because this cannot stand. My children will be rioting and I will be paying for their therapy for years to come. Poor little things. Too bad they’re such little shits sometimes. But what can they do when their mommy is determined to be a bitch and go rampaging?

They are much easier to love when they are asleep. (I think I am, too.)

Tomorrow will be better. I will it to happen even if it kills me.

A Cure for Resentment

Some days, everything Hapa Papa does is golden. He takes the children out to the park, drops them off at school, plays with them, feeds them, does everything for them and all I have to do is kinda show up and breathe. He will do the dishes, wash the diapers, and on top of that, do work. It is easy to love him then.

Other days, (especially when Hapa Papa is busy working), he can do nothing right. I notice every tiny infraction and point them out with little kindness or grace. I complain when he doesn’t immediately respond to my barked orders (let’s not fool ourselves and pretend I’m asking him nicely to do anything). I get upset that I’m spending all day wiping tiny baby butts and picking up after preschoolers with sieves for mouths and he gets to spend time in glamorous hotels like the Hilton and the Comfort Inn, fly to exotic locations like Nebraska, eat filet mignons, and gets a full night’s rest.

In turn, Hapa Papa gets annoyed that I am always tired and needing massages or a break, that he can’t get any work done at home, and that the burden of providing for five mouths is all on his nicely shaped shoulders. He thinks about how if I had just stayed on the marketing track instead of jumping ship to financial advising (something that I hated and wasn’t particularly good at), we’d both be in VP positions and paid comparably and then we’d be in even better and easier financial straits. He gets mad when he thinks about how I “squandered” my UCLA education and stay at home, reading, watching TV, eating snacks, and spending all his money on Amazon Prime. (Ok, that part may be true.)

Our resentment leaches out in acerbic comments, dirty looks, and heaving sighs full of portent and misery. We snap at each other and play the “Who’s got it harder?” Game wherein we both lose. Hapa Papa is better at holding his tongue, but when he doesn’t, his comments are barbed and mean. I have no such self-control and I go for the jugular and speak to kill. We explode into a few short and cruel sentences and stomp off (that would be me) to nurse our wounds. We find plenty of ammunition for self-pity.

Inevitably, Hapa Papa apologizes and I huff a bit more because sometimes, I enjoy clinging to being an injured party. (He apologizes first 99% of the time because he is a good man, a grown up, and kind. I am getting better at apologizing first, though. Or at least, letting things go a bit quicker.) We rarely are angry at each other longer than an hour unless I’m willfully being a brat and holding on to my grudge as if it’s a prize.

From our awkward détentes, we briskly move back to normal – usually with the aid of a few more apologies, stabs at attempted gratefulness for the other person, and a few self-deprecating jokes. But most importantly, it is our willingness to be grateful and see things from our spouse’s perspective that breaks us out of our tightly held resentments.

The truth is, both of us have roles that have their shitty and stressful moments as well as sublime and awesome moments. But when I start focusing only on my sacrifices and difficulties, I start thinking I am entitled to having a better life, a better husband, a better whatever. I get bitter, cranky, and cruel. This is when Hapa Papa and I start sniping at each other. It’s not always me starting it, but since I have no control over my husband, I can only point to my part of the problem. 

The easiest way I have found to stave off resentment is to choose gratefulness. To willfully remember the sacrifices Hapa Papa makes for our family on a daily basis and then thank him for it. The other way is when I notice my spoiled brat inner self starting to make objections, to highlight the absurdity by making a joke out of it and saying it out loud.

For example, if Hapa Papa mentions that he has to be on a call so he can’t help me with the kids, I might say something like, “But it’s Saturday!” To which, Hapa Papa will gamely reply, “It’s Wednesday.” Then we laugh and I remind myself that hey, Hapa Papa actually has to work occasionally and I’m already incredibly fortunate to have him at home 80% of the time.

See? I can be a grown up, too!

At any rate, it’s hard to go on and on about how hard I have it without sounding like an entitled prat (because, well, I’m being an entitled prat). I’m just glad Hapa Papa is a good sport and is so quick to turn the other cheek. What do you do to stop resentment in its tracks?

What I Learned On My Girls’ Weekend Getaway

This past weekend, a few fellow mommies and I went to SF for a Girls’ Weekend out. We lolled about, walked without considering small children, ate a ton and drank in the day time! Heck, we even drank at night! Awesome! It was so enjoyable and relaxing and truly fun. Thanks, ladies and husbands!

Here are a few things I learned this weekend on my first weekend trip without the kids in two years.

1) I didn’t really miss my children. Not even the baby. But I did talk about them at least 65% of the time and checked in with Hapa Papa every few hours.

2) Hapa Papa did fantastic with all three kids – even without having lactating breasts! Clearly, this is a sign that I need to leave more often.

3) Getting to know new friends is really fun. I’ve slowly been getting to know some of the moms at Cookie Monster’s preschool better and it has been wonderful. I don’t know why I worried so much about getting along with the other mommies. It gives me great hope for the future when the kids start elementary school.

4) Finding out what the other moms did before becoming SAHMs was a revelation. In our group, we had two lawyers, one child psychologist/school counselor, a financial advisor, and a preschool teacher. I had the least amount of education out of them all. They were all slumming it!

5) There is such a thing as too much chocolate. We attended a chocolate festival at Fort Mason and by the end, I was a bit sick of chocolate. Also, turns out I prefer truffles over bars. The best thing that I put in my mouth this weekend.

6) Valet parking in SF is totally worth it.

7) After attending an Asian American Film Festival, I realized I might have to start putting my money where my mouth is. If I want to see more Asians in film, I need to support their work.

8) Even though I’ve had my pixie cut for at least a month, I’m still not used to my new look. I am constantly surprised when I see myself in pictures and reflective surfaces.

9) I still get carsick.

10) Things that I might’ve found titillating or risqué a few years ago are now boring and contrived. Not because I am jaded or inured to sex. I’m just older and wiser and find some of the more desperate actions really sad.

11) I can’t control myself in bookstores. Especially when it comes to books that feature Chinese or Japanese stories for the kids. I’m also a sucker for coffee table books with tons of art/pictures.

12) Staying up until 3am chatting is better than sleep.

13) After coming home, say, “Thank you” to Hapa Papa and try to curb the urge to point out everything you see that is wrong with the house. It makes Hapa Papa feel shitty and me seem like an ungrateful jerk. Which I was for a few moments. Sorry, Hapa Papa. You are an awesome dad and husband and I am so fortunate to have you.

Since all the husbands performed admirably (one hit it out of the park by taking his boys on a spur of the moment camping trip to Santa Cruz), we clearly can leave our children more often. Any suggestions of where to go and what to do next?

Things That Make Me Happy

I have several inchoate posts in the queue and I just can’t seem to sit still long enough to write something coherent and meaningful. (Truthfully, I can’t stay away from the interwebs because, hey! Email! Quizzes! Wikipedia! Facebook! Random articles! Apparently, they are all more interesting than writing a blog post.) So, instead, I’m going to just list a bunch of things that have made me happy lately.

So, here they are in no particular order:

1) I love watching my older two kids interact. They are such good buddies and even their arguments are hilarious. Some examples:

a) Inevitably, the first words out of whoever wakes up second are, “Where’s Gamera/Cookie Monster?” 

b) G: “Top [Stop], Cookie Monster! You listen to me! You have to listen to me!”
CM: “No, thank you! I don’t have to listen to you!”
G: “Top [Stop], Cookie Monster! LISTEN TO ME!”

Mostly, I find this amusing because they sound exactly like me yelling at them to listen to me.

c) CM: “Come play with me, Gamera!”
G: “Okay!” or, “NO!”

Gamera never asks to play with Cookie Monster. She just follows him everywhere and does whatever he does. It’s super cute.

d) Every time we drop Cookie Monster off at preschool, Gamera is sad and begs to join her older brother. She asks every time if she can go to school with him and I have to break her heart every time. She gets super happy when it’s time to pick him up.

e) Gamera plays with trains, reads, and does everything EXACTLY like Cookie Monster. Clearly, I’m not teaching her anything. They even talk and tell stories exactly the same. It’s clear from syntax alone that they’re related.

2) Even in sleep, they are close. Their interactions are particularly amusing since one or both of them are asleep.

a) I often find them snuggled together in bed, or alternatively, squashing the other. I have watched Gamera sleep crawl over Cookie Monster’s face and settle on top of his head with her stomach. I have even found them holding hands.

b) When Cookie Monster sleep talks, he usually says, “More!” or “Cookie!” When Gamera sleep talks, she yells, “MINE!” or “No, Cookie Monster!”

c) One time, Gamera rolled over and found herself pushed up against Cookie Monster’s feet. In her sleep, she started yelling, “Top [Stop] kicking me, Cookie Monster! Top!” All the while, hitting Cookie Monster in the face. He was so confused, even in a dead sleep. I couldn’t stop laughing but eventually, separated poor Cookie Monster from his unreasonable sister.

3) Since my college friend, DS, has been visiting this past week, I’ve had the opportunity to catch up with an old friend who’s life is completely different than mine. It’s been awesome to get to know him a little better, as well as have deep conversations (like the kind we used to have in college – even if he did go to USC). My kids are going to be SO SAD when he’s gone.

4) Glow Worm’s random noises crack me up. He’s taken to growling after nursing. Clearly, he takes after his big sister.

5) I caught up on all my TV shows.

6) I made some progress on my 2014 Goals. Incremental steps, but hey, progress nonetheless!

7) Hapa Papa is back from his business trips and as a result, I have ceded all parental duties to him. This past weekend, he took the older kids to two parks each day. That’s three more parks than I took the kids to all week. (Hmmm… wait… that’s FOUR more parks than I took the kids to all week.)

8) Cookie Monster recently told me he loves the song, Counting Stars, by OneRepublic. Hearing him sing along to the song on the radio (and mangling most of the lyrics and surprisingly getting a decent amount of them correct), seeing him glow as he grins and sings enthusiastically, watching him dance along to the music, it is so precious.

9) Glow Worm attacks all the activity stations on his exersaucer. He gets even more excited when he sees his big brother and sister. He wants so badly to be big.

10) Cookie Monster has been really good about speaking more in Chinese after a few months of speaking more English. I’ve been making more of an effort to force him to speak Chinese and pretending not to understand him if he speaks to me in English.

11) Because of my pretending not to understand English and forcing the kids to speak Chinese, Gamera has made up a language. She knows she can’t speak English, but for some reason (either because she’s not sure how to say it in Chinese, or she’s just stubborn), Gamera now either mimes what she wants, or she speaks gibberish such as, “Hee hee ha ha hoo?”

12) I haven’t yelled much at the kids ever since I started trying the techniques in Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood (affiliate link). Although very cheesy and seemingly stupid, the techniques have been working really well for me. I especially love giving my kids choices for incredibly stupid things, as well as having set things to say when I’m frustrated or mad so that I repeat those phrases like a mantra and refrain from screaming at my children.

13) My food restrictions have eased up a bit (due to Glow Worm’s allergy doctor saying I can have some egg and dairy in baked goods even though Glow Worm is allergic to dairy and eggs). So, every now and then, I sneak a food item that makes me feel normal again. Today, I had 2.5 chocolate chip cookies. They were AMAZING.

14) My acupuncturist says I only have to go to a few more sessions. Then it will be mostly on an as-needed vs weekly basis. My Saturdays are going to be free again! (Currently, I drive three hours round trip for the sessions every Saturday.)

15) My mother is finally not sick and healthy again (after being sick for at least a month). So that means my kids can finally hang out with her (and I can have a small break when she comes over). YAY!

16) Hapa Papa. Sometimes, I get a little entitled and become a bit resentful, but when I remember all the things he does for us (especially the kids), I am so grateful. He is a fantastic and involved father and my kids are so entirely spoiled by him. Plus, he really does go out of his way to make sure I am taken care of and happy.

I want to make sure Hapa Papa knows that if I went back in time to tell my college aged self what to do differently, I would ALSO be very upset and sad if the altered past erased HIM from my timeline. He came home Friday night and grumbled, “I noticed that you only mentioned you’d be upset if you erased the babies, but made no mention of me. I noticed because you only included the ENTIRE FAMILY EXCEPT ME. I’m not upset, you know, but it did come to my attention…” Oh, Hapa Papa. You are adorable.

Even coming up with this list made me smile. What is making you happy this week?

Happiness is a Choice

Short of chemical and hormonal imbalances, I personally believe that happiness (like joy, hope, and most things) is a choice.

I’ve been a little too doom and gloom lately and it just doesn’t sit well with me. So I am going to make an effort to focus on the things in my life that make me happy. After all, just like being a SAHM isn’t always pretty, neither is it always alcoholism inducing.

So we take a little break from “telling it like it is” when things are the shits and bring you “telling it like it is” when your heart melts and feels two sizes too small because there is no way it can possibly contain your happiness.

In the interest of saving time, I will now present you with a list of stuff that is making me happy that is in all ways haphazard. (I need to go to sleep, people. I am old and sad that way, but it helps with the yelling. YOU DON’T WANT ME TO YELL AT MY CHILDREN DO YOU?)

1) Glow Worm’s skin is much improved (pretty much all better) and the intense care and doctor visits is slowing down. I know what to do if his skin flares up again. I am awaiting blood test results for Glow Worm’s possible food allergies/sensitivities, and I am finding more snacks I can consume so I don’t always feel on the brink of starvation.

2) When Hapa Papa travels, the older kids sleep with me and they are adorable and sweet and cozy and snuggly and I LOVE IT when they are sleeping with me. That is, until I wake up at the very edge of my king sized bed because one or both of them have rolled into me and used me as a wall and have pushed me to the last foot of my bed before I will fall off. Totally worth it.

3) Gamera gives the best hugs. She totally melts her body into you and curls her arms around your neck and sinks her head into the crook of your neck/shoulder and plasters herself into your chest and it is so perfect.

4) Cookie Monster is hilarious and goofy and I am so glad he is ridiculously good-looking because my goodness he is going to be such a dork and it’s hard to be JUST a dork but I am glad he is adorkable because then his undeniable attractiveness will be tempered and humanized so that instead of being one of those intimidatingly cool and attractive kids he will be a silly, approachable kid who is also incredibly beautiful on the outside. Wow. That was one huge, run-on sentence.

5) I love how after Glow Worm nurses, he has to chat. He has to chat and stare at me with his bright black eyes and chubby face and tell me all about his day and his insights into the human condition and how he has discovered the secret to cold fusion and by the way, he has also figured out world peace.

6) I am glad Hapa Papa interacts with the kids so differently from how I do. When he takes them to parks, zoos, museums, play areas, activities, whatever, the kids always have more fun with him. They run, jump, find sticks, eat snacks, walk, sit on his shoulders, look at lizards, jump, take pictures, run amok and free and wild and the pictures make me feel as if I’m a downer (I know I am) but also make me smile because I know my kids are so incredibly loved and adored by Hapa Papa and are having the time of their lives. Watching Hapa Papa love and care for our children makes me love him all the more.

7) When Gamera has a stuffy nose and says “My nose not working!”

8) How Cookie Monster always bursts through the door after preschool and runs to hug me with a huge smile.

9) Hapa Papa being a dork and dancing goofily around the house. Sometimes just to make me laugh.

10) This face:

Such a happy boy!

Such a happy boy!

11) And this face:

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How can we deny her anything?

12) And this face:

IMG_1974

What a goofball!

Amidst the frustration and yelling of parenting, I have many more moments of incredible joy. I just need to remind myself and choose to think exclusively of those every once and awhile. I feel much better today.

That Even My Edges Are Loved

So, the new John Legend song, All of Me, just destroys me. I haven’t yet broken down sobbing while listening to it, but mostly, I think it’s because I’m afraid that if I start, I won’t be able to stop.

My favorite part is the chorus with the lyrics (full lyrics here):

‘Cause all of me
Loves all of you
Love your curves and all your edges
All your perfect imperfections

When I told Hapa Papa that I loved this song, he incredulously asked, “So, you’re telling me you love my farts? I’m pretty sure you do NOT.” I wanted to deck him. I guess he thinks he’s proved himself right on the impossibility of loving all of him. Well, I never said I loved the song because I loved all of him. Hmph. 

I love this song because I so desperately want it to be true for me. That all of me is loved and lovable – even my edges (and I certainly have many of those).

One of the side effects of having Daddy Issues is that for so long, I thought there was something wrong with me that made my father leave. I thought that if I just behaved a certain way, was more loving, sweet, and “Daddy’s Little Girl” that maybe just once, he would choose us. Every time he came home, I knew I was crazy to hope that he would change. Yet each time he left, I felt abandoned all over again.

The other day, I was reading the blog of someone I used to know through church and I just wanted to weep for her. She’s five years younger than I am and her entries reminded me of who I used to be – so broken and jagged, unable to believe I was loved and desperately wanting to be.

I recall the despair I used to feel constantly. That no one would and could and should love me because I was a horribly broken and shattered person. Who would want to hitch their wagon to that type of baggage? Even when I was loved, I couldn’t receive it. I didn’t believe it. I thought it was all a lie. I would do everything in my power to make myself as unlovable as possible, lashing out at the people who cared and loved me the most. Then, when I pushed people to their breaking point and they would inevitably leave, I would point to that example as proof of my unlovableness. That those people who “loved” me were made out to be liars.

I used to be somewhat dramatic.

Even now, after years of therapy and mostly healed relationships, every now and then, slivers of doubt and self-hatred slip into my thoughts. It used to happen when Hapa Papa would point out something horrible about my character and I would downward spiral into bouts of intense self-loathing combined with wanting to push Hapa Papa as far away from me as possible. But instead of wallowing in the despair as I used to, I now try to nip the unhelpful thoughts in the bud as quickly as possible.

A lot of it was me being unwilling to look at my own selfishness and sinfulness. When I finally chose to look at myself with as little self-condemnation as possible, I could see how Hapa Papa wasn’t attacking me or telling me that he didn’t love me. He was trying to love me by being honest with me in as kind of a way as possible. And truthfully, I am an incredibly selfish person (more so than most people), so the fact that Hapa Papa rarely pointed out my faults just meant that he is, as my brother said, The Most Patient Man in the World.

I can now say that I am in a mostly healthy place and can take Hapa Papa’s concerns about my character as him asking me to change because I hurt him with my selfishness vs. him asking me to change because I am irreparably broken and no one will ever love me and if they do, they are utter fools and completely deluded and once they find out what I really am, they will leave me.

I’m not even sure how the change in me happened except that I had to fake it until I made it. I have always hated that advice. It seems so insincere. But truthfully, that is what happened. I had to fake believing that I was lovable and loved and acted as if I believed that it was true until I actually believed it. At some point, I CHOSE to act AS IF what I desperately hoped to be true (that someone could actually love me), WAS true. And eventually, it was so.

This is just my really long-winded way of saying that I love this John Legend song because it reminds me of what I ultimately long for deep inside my cold, dark heart. That I am loved and lovable – edges and all. I suppose it took this many words for me to finally figure out the why and to articulate the sentiment.

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Proof Hapa Papa loves me (or did).

It is also my roundabout way of saying that this is how I feel Hapa Papa loves me. Perhaps he is not quite as romantic as John Legend, but Hapa Papa acts as if he loves all of me (even if he says he doesn’t love my horrible, selfish parts). Every now and then, I ask him if he still loves me, and he hems and haws, but I know he’s doing that just to tease me. (At least, I am choosing to think that.)

So even though Hapa Papa calls this an “idealistic, fake song,” it still makes me think of him. After all, I have his love for me caught on film. (Even if it was seven years ago – it’s still proof!)

Geez. When did this post devolve into a long mash note? Enough of that. Here’s the YouTube video of John Legend and his real wife, Chrissy Teigen. Beautiful people in a beautiful video.

Cover Me

I didn’t appropriately account for how exhausted I would be with Christmas, visiting family, plumbing issues (not a euphemism – literal plumbing problems), and Glow Worm sleeping erratically these last few days. So, you all get another fluff piece (TWSS).

Best covers that are better than the original (sampling doesn’t count). Discuss in the comments. My favorites are below in no particular order (edited to reflect Hapa Papa reminding me what I really love):

1) Travis – Hit Me Baby One More Time (covering Britney Spears)

Who knew this song was so melancholy and deep?

2) Tori Amos – Smells Like Teen Spirit (covering Nirvana)

Well, pretty much anything Tori covers is better than the original, but I hate the Nirvana version so that means Tori’s version must be super awesome.

3) No Doubt – It’s My Life (covering Talk Talk)

The original is good but this one is so much better!

4) The Sundays – Wild Horses (covering The Rolling Stones)

LOVE LOVE LOVE.

5) Johnny Cash – Hurt (covering Nine Inch Nails)

So good people think NIN is covering Cash.

6) Mary J. Blige – One (covering U2)

Come on! It’s just too awesome! (But Hapa Papa doesn’t consider it a cover since Bono is also in it. Whatever.)