Choosing To Be Content With Less

We decided to pass on the bigger home. Turns out, Hapa Papa doesn’t want to work until he dies. Slacker.

Although part of me is disappointed and had already envisioned our family in the bigger house, (especially my books in that glorious built in bookshelf!!), mostly, I feel relief. As awesome as the house sounded (and it was so awesome!!), in the end, it boiled down to what Hapa Papa wanted for our lives. He wanted flexibility to be with our family and to have the freedom of paying off the mortgage right around the time Cookie Monster heads to college. (Paying for 3-4 kids in college would also be difficult if we had a huge mortgage to consider as well.) He wanted to replicate what his father had: possibly fifteen or so years of his own time during retirement before passing. Plus, he didn’t want me to feel constrained with our budget.

I want what makes Hapa Papa happy.

Also, I definitely didn’t want to hear Hapa Papa blame me for this financial burden any time something cropped up. And he would blame me! Well, not necessarily blame, but he’d definitely mention it. A lot.

To this day, he still gives me crap about moving to NorCal without discussing it with him. He rightly alleges that if he hadn’t have followed me up north, we would’ve broken up. He’s totally right. But he did move up north so it all worked out in the end. (Never mind the fact that I didn’t take into account how he felt or thought about anything at all and just up and moved.)

And to be fair, I do agree with Hapa Papa. I just like to pin all the responsibility on him because now, I can get a bunch of stuff done to my current house due to misplaced guilt on Hapa Papa’s part. (He told me it was an excellent bluff strategy on my part. After considering an expensive house, all my remodeling requests sound really cheap.)

But as much as I joke about it, I am satisfied with staying put. After all, Hapa Papa is right. We would be trading our easy lifestyle for one that was considerably harder for what? A larger house? What is the point of working so hard (and in order to pay for the bigger house, Hapa Papa would have most likely had to get an even higher paying position which would require more in terms of time and effort) and never seeing the kids (or me)? Why would we choose to forgo swimming, martial arts, art, dance, and music classes for the kids just for more space?

Of course, this doesn’t preclude us moving to a bigger house in the future if our financial and family circumstances change. But for now, even though we could afford the house, ultimately, the trade-off wasn’t worth it for our family. Also, I think I get new hardwood floors and a custom built-in out of this experience (shhh… don’t tell Hapa Papa). So in the end, I still come out on top.

Many thanks goes out to our fantastic realtors, Brady and Erica Hobby of Hobby and Associates Real Estate Services. Their incredible knowledge, competence, and patience made this whirlwind palatable. I am only sorry that this is the second time I’ve engaged their service with no payoff for them. (The perils of me being impulsive and Hapa Papa being the sensible one of the family.)

And thanks to all of you, dear readers. Your comments and messages helped more than you know.

A Crisis of Identity

One day last week, after walking my two older children to preschool, my youngest son and I walked past a house two doors down and saw a “For Sale” sign in the front yard. On a whim, I took a flyer from the box and when I finally got a chance to examine the specs, I immediately contacted my realtor.

Currently, we live in a home about a five minute walk from this new place. We love the area and particularly enjoy how close we are to all the fantastic schools and parks. We also love the home we are currently in (we bought it when I was pregnant with Cookie Monster) and hadn’t thought to make any changes until I saw this particular house.

The place we’re considering is almost double in size and with three growing children and perhaps one more in the near future, this home would more than comfortably accommodate our family of five (hopefully six)! Other than what my mom considers a bad feng shui front door (it leads to an outgoing street), this house would be an amazing environment in which to raise our kids. Not only would our preschool be two doors down, (I mean, I could leave Glow Worm napping at home and pick up the kids with no problem), but our kids are familiar with the neighborhood and the park down the street.

Obviously, anytime you look at a house double your current one in size and amenities, what’s not to like? With that said, I am in love with the built-in bookcases on the top floor. I love the large rooms, the extra surprise spaces like the office and the bonus room, the lovely built-ins in the kitchen and the office, and the great natural light in all the rooms. The backyard is the perfect size (ours currently has a giant, useless slope in it) and with the spa (or as Cookie Monster calls it, the “comfy comfy”), so much fun. Plus, we are big fans of the third garage space where we can stow all our crap (I mean, essential kid stuff). What a luxury!

What then, is the problem?

(Also, a little too late since we made an offer Friday afternoon.)

Well, here’s the thing. I always considered myself a simple person. I told myself when we moved into our current place that we wouldn’t ever upgrade – even if we did have four children. After all, people live in much smaller spaces all the time. I don’t believe kids have to have their own rooms (and even in the new house, they’d share) or require a ton of space. And when I just had Cookie Monster, it didn’t seem necessary. In fact, even with the three kids right now, our house seems just right. A lot of it is due to the way my house is laid out – it seems much bigger than the actual square footage. But now that the kids are getting bigger and the age range of toys is getting larger, I feel as if our house is just stuffed to the gills with stuff.

I suppose I could just get rid of more stuff (gasp), but let’s not get crazy.

But let’s cut line, here. A huge house with double the mortgage and expenses is NOT a simple lifestyle. A house this size is completely unnecessary and it seems somewhat wasteful in terms of space (oh, the glorious space!), resources, and monetary outlay. We would have to significantly alter the way we spend money (oh, ok – the way I spend money), and we most likely would not be able to have extra classes for the kids (eg: martial arts, dance, piano, etc.), at least, not for awhile. Plus, not only would our mortgage increase a LOT, it would take us thirty years to pay off the house whereas with our current house, we will likely be done by the time Cookie Monster starts college.

It seems to be a giant pain in the ass. But the HOUSE!! It’s BEAUTIFUL! And HUGE! And the built in bookshelves!! (My inner nerd longs for an actual library in my house – complete with a wheel-mounted ladder!!!)

You see my conflict? I almost want the sellers to counter with an offer we absolutely can NOT afford because then the decision is made for me. No moral and existential debate and discomfort. Just a definitive, “No.” But if it works out, then I have an internal crisis! Am I one of those people now? (I mean, we are already, but it is significantly easier to hide when your house is smaller.) Will I be flaunting wealth?

I know. I know. This is totally a 1% problem. But it is still my life and my problem!

Is it moral to have such a large house with its accompanying expenses in a world of such great need? Is this the right type of environment I want to provide for my children? What will I be teaching my children if we move to a bigger house? Is it even as big of a deal as I’m making it? I mean, plenty of people live in big houses and are good, moral, generous people. (I really don’t mean to imply that they are not. This is clearly my personal issue.)

But even more than that, is a bigger house really going to make me happier? Is it worth having to be a lot more careful about our spending habits (which we really should anyway, but right now, there is significantly more wiggle room) and sacrificing an easy lifestyle to which I’ve become accustomed? Is this going to be a habit of mine where I am constantly trying to upgrade the outer trappings of our lives? Is my house going to look awesome on the outside but have no furniture on the inside?

Ultimately, I just worry that I’m being sucked into the American lie – that bigger is better at any and all cost. I worry that I am traversing a slippery slope and soon, I will become a person that my college self would find anathema. I worry that this is a step closer to being out of touch with what is the norm and that my “happiness baseline” will gradually increase until I require ever more and more. I worry that I will choose more and more to turn a blind eye to injustice and inequality because it will threaten the way I choose to live. I worry I will become the rich young ruler and that it will be easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for me and my children to enter the Kingdom of God.

I worry that I am being unfaithful and that at the end of days, Jesus will look at me and say he never knew me. That he was hungry and I gave him nothing to eat.

Am I over-thinking things? Or worrying about that which has yet come to pass? (Especially since we don’t even have this house.) How do you resolve such dissonance in your own life? 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!

 

The Gatekeepers of Heaven

As I’ve gotten older and more life experience (as well as met more people with different life experiences), I’ve become more and more liberal in my theology and thinking. (Oh gracious, I’ve become more and more hippie-like and this disturbs me.)

I feel as if there are fewer and fewer lines of distinction on what it means to live a “Godly” life. Evangelical Christians would have you believe that you have to do XYZ and look a certain way before you are “Saved” but really, I think that’s just bullshit. That’s just the new Pharasaical order.

If you think about it and consider the patriarchs of the Christian/Jewish faith and their lives, they really don’t fit into the nebulous “Christian standards” very neatly. Or at all.

For instance, what about Abraham? He married his SISTER. Ok, HALF-sister, but still. EW. He whored her out repeatedly to other kings (I don’t believe for a second that she always remained untouched). On top of that, he had a concubine because his wife was barren.

What about Lot and his daughters getting him drunk and impregnating them? That’s right. daughtERS. Plural. How drunk do you have to be to not realize you’re having sex with your DAUGHTERS?

What about Israel (aka: Jacob)? He had two official wives and at least two concubines and at least thirteen children (of course, we only know the names of his twelve sons and the one daughter who was raped).

Or Judah, Jacob’s son? He visits a prostitute – who turns out to be his widowed daughter-in-law, by the way – and impregnates her. When he tries to turn her out for being a whore (hypocritical, much?), she sends him proof that it was he who did the whoring.

What about Joseph? He married an Egyptian and had two sons and I’m pretty sure they weren’t brought up in his religion, etc.

Or King David? With his hundreds of wives and concubines, he commits adultery and murder. He may have been a great artist and a man after God’s own heart, but he sure messed up his kids and condoned the rape of his daughter. (Well, perhaps condone is too harsh of a word. But definitely doesn’t do a damn thing about it.)

Or Paul? He told people that it was better to be a eunuch for the Kingdom of God than to be married because then you could devote passionately to the gospel. Somehow, I have a feeling that Christianity would’ve died out if that were the case.

Please note, I am only bringing up the “faithful” in a long line of “faithful” servants. They were deeply flawed human beings – and yet, God still spoke to them and favored them. They were polygamous, murderers, incestuous, adulterers, and really, just a product of their times.

And yet, Christians constantly like to draw boundaries and lines of who belongs and who doesn’t. Okay. Let’s be fair. This is not a problem or distinction known only to Christians. This is a human problem.

If I am honest with myself, I, too, have my own ideas of who gets to be a “Christian” or not. For instance, I have a hard time believing that racists, sexists, misogynists, and hateful people can be “True” Christians. Or really, I have a hard time believing many of the vaunted Biblical heroes would be considered “Christian” by today’s standards. They were some deeply troubled and fucked up people.

John the Prophet? CERTIFIABLY INSANE. I mean, Revelations is one crazy work of fiction, right?

My point isn’t to nitpick people and be the Heaven Police. It is merely to say that God seems to cast a wider net than we do. Case in point: the parable of the vineyard workers.

Here’s the tl;dr version. An owner of a vineyard goes out at 6am in the morning to find workers at the local Home Depot. He picks up a bunch of folks and sets them to working, telling them he’ll pay the full day’s wage at the end of the day. He goes back to Home Depot at 9am, noon, 3pm and again at 5pm. At 6pm, the end of the day, he lines up everyone and starts paying the folks he hired at 5pm. He gives them the full day’s wages. So, the people hired at 6am fully expect to get paid their wages and then some. But when it comes to their turn, they get paid the same full day’s wages. The 6am (and perhaps the 9am workers, too) start grumbling about how it was completely unfair. They should have gotten more wages. What the heck? Was this guy a commie?

The owner gets wind of the complaints and asks the 6am workers, “Hey, did I neglect our agreement? Did you not agree to work the full day for this set amount of wages? Did you not think that was fair at 6am? Then what’s it to you if I am generous and choose to pay the later workers the same amount?”

I love that parable. If not because really, who are we to complain if God is generous?

It’s because we feel entitled to certain blessings and good things and “wages” that we start drawing lines around who deserves what and why. But in reality, who the fuck are we to decide who gets in and out of Heaven? When did God say we were the gatekeepers? And who is to say that God isn’t being generous with the wages in the first place? When did we become so fucking awesome? The appropriate response would be gratitude.

I also love it because clearly, I’m also on the benefiting side of the “last minute” workers – and let’s face it, all they really do is show up for an hour – if even that! It’s awesome. To receive unexpected and undeserved blessings. (That’s what I consider privilege: like, what sex/class/race/orientation/ability/etc. that I’m born into.) The appropriate response, again, would be gratitude.

Anyhow, my point really is that God lets in who He wants to let in and that culture is constantly changing. The only true criteria seems to be you have to be human (this is not to be species-ist) and a sinner. There is no way we would let in Abraham into the holy Church circles as he was. I mean, come on! What we consider appropriate changes with time. Are we wrong? Do we have to go back to Old Testament times? When if a woman was raped, she was given to the rapist as a wife and all the guy had to do was pay a donkey?

I am SO thankful that I do not live in Biblical times. Or any other time other than now. I am also deeply grateful that the pillars of faith were sometimes execrable human beings. That means I may have a chance at Heaven, too.

Flirting With Homeschooling

So, many of you know that I’m a completely lazy parent. I can barely muster up the energy and desire to play with my children (that’s why I gave them playmates in the handy form of siblings). How can I possibly think that I will be able to teach my children anything and homeschool them?

My brother thinks I’m turning into the DuggarsHapa Papa thinks I barely pay attention to my children now – how will I add teaching on top of that?

Here’s the thing. I don’t particularly want to homeschool, but I am feeling very conflicted.

You see, I firmly believe in kids having lots of free time. Free time to play, to read, to watch copious amounts of TV. In short, to have the sort of childhood I recall having. I also want my kids to learn and be fluent in Chinese so that kills either a Friday night or a Saturday morning for the foreseeable future. If I add sports, music, and other activities on the list, that’s more afternoons gone. I would also have three (hopefully four) kids in these classes. Unless they are all in at the same time, it’s going to be a LONG time. Plus, I’m sure their regular schools will have homework as well.

Don’t get me started on how stupid homework is. I get needing homework for math, science, and reading. But a lot of the homework I’m seeing is truly a waste of time. I already know I’m going to be one of those annoying parents who complain about the amount of homework their kid brings home every week.

My friend told me her first grader (in the same school district my kids will be attending) had to write a paragraph on what MLK’s “I have a dream” means to them. Then, the parents had to write an essay on the same topic. WTF? The parent has to do homework?? I’m sorry. I already have a college degree, thanks. I don’t need to be doing homework for the fucking first grade. Also, how do people who work full time even deal with this shit? If I were a working parent, I’d seriously be even more livid. Why is my precious little time with my kids going to be wasted on busywork and stupid sheets of paper that teach them “math mountains” (what the flying frak is that?) and circling how many things “11” is?

No.

Which brings me back to my dilemma. How do I have my kids in extracurricular activities and school without overscheduling them?

I know there is no way my kids can learn EVERYTHING (forget time constraints – they likely won’t be interested in everything). I also want to say I have certain non-negotiables in terms of what my kids will learn such as a musical instrument, a sport, and Chinese. But even if school lets out at 2:30pm, that’s not a lot of time for other stuff PLUS free time. It will likely be just extracurricular stuff and no time to just be a kid.

So, I was thinking. If I homeschooled, then my kids could take the extracurricular activities during the regular school day and I could teach them their “normal” curriculum at other times, that would be awesome! I mean, no offense to regular schools and teachers, but I am pretty sure that I would take less time to teach my kids the same stuff by virtue of there only being my kids vs. twenty-six other students. I can tailor the pace to my child and not teach to the mean. If my kids need me to slow down, I can. If they need me to hurry up, I can. Plus, I can teach a lot of stuff in Chinese (and my Chinese will thereby improve, too!). There really seem to be so many benefits!!

There are two main drawbacks for me. 1) Cookie Monster is highly social and I think if he were stuck with me all day, he would miss kids his age. I can sign him up for classes with peers, but there is no real substitute for sharing life with a classroom of other children. 2) I have to teach my children and spend all my time with them. sigh I mean, I love my children to pieces but this sounds truly awful. Almost enough to break the whole idea altogether.

An alternative is if Cookie Monster gets into a Chinese immersion magnet school in Oakland and then, I don’t have to worry about adding Chinese school on top of other activities. Then, it’s really just being reasonable with outside activities.

For those of you who are further along in the parenting time line and have older children, how do you manage? And for those of you who homeschool, any tips? Good sites? etc? Thanks in advance for all your help, friends!

I know I have at least a year to figure out what to do – and that any decision I make isn’t final. I can put them in regular school, pull them out, put them back in, etc. It really is rather flexible. But I do believe in being prepared.

For now, I will think about trying to do more formal teaching for my kids in the afternoons. Cookie Monster is showing signs of wanting to read so I guess I’ll teach him that. Gamera might just learn because she wants to be like her big brother. If I can actually follow through on this (and maybe teach Cookie Monster some basic math), then perhaps I will have a decent shot at homeschooling them in the future.

Or maybe pigs can fly. Sigh.

Why I Post So Many Articles About Privilege (Specifically, White)

Disclaimer: Due to the nature of this post, I just want to remind people of my commenting policy (both here and on my Facebook wall). The tl;dr version is that I reserve the right to immediately mallet comments I consider to be trolling or offensive. Plan accordingly.

Ever since I decided to “come out” (so to speak) and start sharing articles on the things I truly believe in (whether parenting, relationships, education, race, etc), my Facebook wall has gotten a little bit heated. I’m still getting used to dealing with comments that are completely and abjectly wrong (okay, okay, DIFFERENT THAN my opinion). It’s difficult for me regarding issues I am passionate about (and have a certain strong opinion on) and see some of my friends have almost diametrically opposed views come out and comment. It is hard to separate my disappointment or aversion to their point of view from their personhood – as I imagine it is difficult for them regarding me.

Some folks have wondered why I keep posting articles about race and privilege and not about other things. Why do I “only” share links about certain aspects of race or privilege? Well, quite frankly, it’s my Facebook and I can post whatever I want. Just like this is my blog and I can write about whatever I want. Also, I think about race and privilege quite often and that’s what I’m interested in.

But why all the white-bashing? Why all the articles about all those evil white people or mean rich people? Why all the race baiting?

Race baiting? No. Just because an article mentions the actual REALITY of many people of color does not qualify as race baiting.

The only people who think race doesn’t matter are people who have the privilege to ignore it and can pass through their daily lives without the constant reminder that they are [insert race].

Hapa Papa tells me he no longer reads the links I post about race because I post too much about it. That is his right and his prerogative. But you know what? It is also his PRIVILEGE.

He doesn’t want to think about race? He stops reading my articles and voila! Doesn’t have to think about race anymore.

How many black, Latino, Middle Eastern, or Asian people would like to go about their day and not think about race? I bet 100%. Except they don’t get to. Why? Because if a black dude walks down the street, he gets to hear all the car doors lock as he strolls by, minding his own business. He gets to watch people cross the street in order to get out of his way. Are all these people doing it on purpose because he is black? Probably not. But it happens often enough that he notices it. It happens often enough that lots of black men notice it.

When an Asian person is asked, “Where are you from? No, where are you really from? No, where are your parents from?” They don’t get to forget.

Asian people don’t get to forget when they hear, “Great job! You play T-ball pretty well for a Chinese kid!” and get blindsided on a Saturday morning when they’re just trying to enjoy watching their kid hit a stupid ball and run around.

They don’t get to forget.

They don’t get to forget their race because no one lets them forget it.

Part of the reason I post a lot about race is that I read a lot of anti-racism sites. In fact, for a few years or so, I had to stop reading these sites because I got so burned out reading constantly about the shit that goes on in the world against people of color.

But then I realized. I am incredibly privileged. I have the option to surround myself with people with whom I rarely have to think about race and just be. I am surrounded by enough Chinese and Taiwanese people that I don’t feel I am in the minority. I can shut that part off if I want to.

However, I do live in the real world and even though I live in the Bay Area, that does not make me immune to some of the more annoying aspects about being a Taiwanese person living in a “white” world. As a result, I often post articles that touch on some of my frustrations.

Why don’t you post more articles about the people of different races getting along? Why are you so divisive? How are you different from the KKK? You must be some kind of bigot.

Are you fucking kidding me?

Dear reader. In general on this blog, I try to avoid anger. I tend to avoid “ranting” because I don’t find the tone helpful or useful to a conversation at large. Plus, who wants to always read strident blogs that spread their anger like a contagious disease?

Well, not today. I’m angry. I’ve been angry for awhile now with some of the comments I’ve been getting.

Oh, SCA5 doesn’t matter to you because your kids aren’t full Asian. They won’t be discriminated against when applying for college.

I try not to care what other people say, but I am human. Of course, I care. And lately, I have started to feel as if I can’t post what I want on my own gorram Facebook page without having to deal with essay long comments telling me how I’m wrong or totally off my rocker. Well you know what? Fuck that.

It’s not even that people disagree with me. I actually have no problem with folks disagreeing with me. I have surprisingly enjoyed reading other people’s POV and either re-evaluating my own position or further solidifying what I believe. I don’t expect everyone to think exactly the same way I do. (Shoot, Hapa Papa and I disagree on a lot of stuff and we’re still married and love each other and get along just fine.) It’s just that I’m tired. (And the thing is, I’ve only had to deal with it over the last few months. Can you imagine what people who are constantly on the forefront posting about hard issues have to deal with?)

What particularly gets my goat is when the hurtful comments come from Christians – especially white Christians. (Disclaimer: I also know plenty of white Christians who are incredible allies and have been great sources of healing and support. This rant is not about them. Also, I truly believe that even if people disagree with me or are hurtful, for the most part, they are good people and don’t intend to be dismissive or cruel. But alas, good intentions don’t protect from crappy consequences.)

When white Christians hear the experiences of Christians of color (also, Western Christians re: non-Western Christians) and dismiss our concerns, it is a slap in the face. If we are all one body in Christ, that is like the liver hurting and the armpit saying, “What are you talking about? This isn’t my experience. I am not feeling any pain. You’re not hurt at all.” Or, “Suck it up. Stop being so sensitive. Stop being divisive.”

You know what is truly divisive? When white Christians tell Christians of color that their experiences are void. Untrue. Not as bad as they claim. When white Christians tell us what to write or talk about. What to express.

Why don’t you talk about XYZ instead of all the ways there is racism? Why don’t you talk more about Jesus? 

You want an example of privilege? THAT’S PRIVILEGE. When someone tells you their pain and their experience and you tell them what they should feel and talk about instead because it makes you uncomfortable or doesn’t jive with how you want to picture or view the world. Because it makes you uncomfortable and possibly racist. And because apparently, being racist is the worst thing in the world.

It’s not. I am racist and prejudiced all the time. But when confronted with it, I try to do something about it and examine my motives and responses.

An appropriate response? “I am so sorry you’ve experienced this. I am sorry for my part in perpetuating this experience. How can I help? How can I learn?”

Do not tell me what to do or give me advice unless I specifically ask.

What does it hurt a person to acknowledge their privilege? No one is asking people to not take advantage of what they’ve been given. Even if people didn’t want the privilege they have, too bad. They can’t take it off. Society will treat people however it wants. That is not a person’s fault. This goes for EVERYONE. Besides, it is possible to have areas of overlapping privileges and non-privilege. (Eg: poor, white male, rich black woman, etc.) Being non-privileged in one area does not exempt a person from privilege in others. Privilege and lack of privilege interact in a multitude of ways.

Look. I’m not trying to make people feel guilty. That doesn’t serve any larger purpose. Plus, people have no control over what race, sex, orientation, etc. to which they are born. But people DO have control over how they respond to other people’s pain and experience.

What is privilege? To go about your daily life and not wonder if an interaction was because of something over which you have no control. To rarely be in situations where you wonder if you are imagining a slight because of who you are. To go about your day with people who are remarkably similar to you.

This is why I surround myself with mostly Asian/Taiwanese people. Is that racist? Perhaps. But is it racist for white people to only have white friends? WHY IS THAT NEVER THOUGHT ABOUT? Right. Because white is default.

I hang out with mostly Taiwanese mommies because I don’t have to constantly explain or justify my experiences. I enjoy being surrounded by people who are just like me. You’re tired of hearing about privilege? Well I’m tired of having to explain privilege and proving that it exists. I’m tired of having to deal with its repercussions in MY life. Plus, you don’t have to hear about it. You can turn it off. That in itself is a privilege. But you know what? I’m tired of not being understood or always having to explain myself and my kids and my culture to others. I’m tired of being “other.”

I’m also tired of being thought of as practically white. You know why people think that? Because people of color know how to “act white.” We know how to adjust ourselves so white folks don’t feel uncomfortable – because God forbid white people feel uncomfortable.

But don’t dismiss my experience because you want to live in a “post-racial” world (a fucking bounder if I ever heard one). Yes, it is better than it was before. But in some ways, blatant racism is easier to deal with than the subtle slights. When someone is obviously racist, we can point at it and say, “See? RACISM!” But when it is subtle and hard to point out, it is like a slow death by a thousand paper cuts.

I link to these articles not because I want to harass people as they are going about their daily lives, brandishing white privilege as a means to make good people feel shitty. I do so that people can possibly misunderstand me and people like me a little less.

This is why I link to articles about race so much. Because it finally highlights MY voice. MY experience.

Don’t you dare tell me to shut up.

Why I Am a SAHM

Sometimes, I think I am damaging my children’s understanding of what women can do by being a SAHM. Are my boys going to look for wives who will only be homemakers? Will my daughter think her career options are limited? Am I reinforcing gender stereotypes?

Of course, I know intellectually that the whole thrust of feminism isn’t to force all women into the workplace and devalue motherhood and being a homemaker. The point of feminism is to give women and men equal rights and opportunities so that if I want to work, I can work. If I want to stay at home, I can stay at home. (Same goes for my husband.)

Hapa Papa often jokes that I pulled a Bait and Switch on him. I looked good on paper: graduating from UCLA, working in marketing then becoming a financial advisor. And then, BAM! I popped out Cookie Monster and decided I never wanted to work again. (No, this is not a discussion on whether or not caring for children is work. Yes, it is. But I am merely referring to “work” as in an occupation for which I am paid taxable dollars.)

I always assumed I would work after I had kids. My mother worked and my brother and I turned out fine (dare I say, AWESOME?). But I do know that as much as I appreciated the freedom of being a latch-key kid and the hours and hours of TV we’d watch after school, I envied my friends whose mothers were home. Part of me longed for someone to welcome me home when I got back from school, perhaps with snacks.

Please don’t misunderstand me. My mother never missed a concert or school event. She always knew the gist of what was going on at school. (This is especially impressive since she was an immigrant and this was all PRE-internet!) She knew who my friends were and was incredibly strict regarding who I was and wasn’t allowed to hang out with. I am incredibly grateful – especially now that I realize just how easily influenced I am! (I am no stalwart independent. I am quite the follower and easily misled!)

At any rate, as soon as I took one look at Cookie Monster, I knew I would never work again. I didn’t want to miss a single moment of his little life and the lives of his siblings. I wanted to shape my children, for better or for worse. When the kids eventually go to school, I want to be there at pick up and drop off. I want to know their teachers. I want to be involved in the PTA and their classrooms. (Ok, I take that back. I definitely do NOT want to be Room Mom. NOPE. Not for me.)

But mostly, I want our home to be a sanctuary. A hub. I want the kids to bring their friends over after school, play, hang out, do their homework, eat, and bask in the inanities of life. I want to be in the background or foreground (depending on what is needed). I want to be the constant heartbeat of their lives until they launch themselves into college and young adulthood. I want to be their security. Their home.

I want to provide my children with the stability I never felt when I was growing up. I want to be their rock.

Of course, many parents provide these things even while working. But to me, I want to be home full time. Even when all the kids are in school, what place of work would have me work from 10-2? No one in their right mind would hire me unless it were shift work. Plus, I am more than certain those precious child-free hours would be quickly eaten up by the millions of little things it takes to manage a family of several children.

I am just so grateful that Hapa Papa’s job makes enough money so that we can live comfortably on one income without hardship. I am grateful that Hapa Papa supports me being at home. I am grateful that I get to be present for almost every glorious, boring, mundane, infuriating moment with my children. It is an incredible honor.