Spring Break Fun

Every year, we pack up the whole family in our Swagger Wagon and make the trek down to LA and San Diego to visit family and friends for about 9-10 days. By the end, the kids are super homesick and we’re exhausted, but it’s always a good time. Here are some of the highlights from this year:

1) I used to stress out about when we would get to see Hapa Papa’s family but I don’t anymore. If they have time to see us, great. If not, well, we made an effort to drive to LA – they can make an effort to see us. And they do! It’s great. Once I stopped stressing out about it and started setting up meetings with my own friends and then just letting his family know our availability, things were much better. I was far less grouchy.

2) The house we rented this year was FANTASTIC!! 2 bedrooms (KEY when you have an infant), 1 bath (with tub), full kitchen with dish washer, a living room, dining area, washer/dryer, spacious front yard, and plenty of free and easy parking. WONDERFUL.

3) As usual, we met up with a few friends (quality vs quantity) and the best times were had when we were at either their house or ours. Meetings in restaurants tended towards chaos and the utter inability to hold an actual conversation.

4) Seriously, I cannot stress enough how awesome the place we rented was. I didn’t realize how stressful our last place was until we stayed in a stress-free environment this year. Totally worth the uptick in cost.

5) As always, San Diego is my favorite part. It’s the portion where I can actually call a vacation. (Everyone with small children knows that traveling with said small children is NEVER called a vacation. In fact – it is several times more work!!) We stay a few days with my dear elementary school friend, CB, and her family. She plans out all our meals, activities, and all I have to do is show up. It is MARVELOUS.

6) Of course, I also got to see some other friends in San Diego. Our yearly visits are a treasure.

7) What I found most awesome this year was my complete lack of doing anything. We saw friends and family. That’s it. No outings. No zoo trips. No sight seeing. Nada. Just seeing and enjoying people. My favorite. We’ll make a separate trip this year for Disneyland where we will see no one and immerse ourselves with four days with the brainwashing money-making machine known as the House of Mouse.

8) The trip back up from San Diego took almost twelve hours. That’s right. TWELVE. Between the three children (two of which are potty trained), we had five poop stops, (three of which were within the first two hours), two food stops, and one general rest stop. Because they’d been cooped up for so long, we stayed a bit longer at the rest stops to give the kids adequate “airing out” time.

I swear it was easier when the kids were still in diapers but we finally made it home. The kids were all asleep and transferred beautifully to bed.

9) My house was a disaster (which always makes me cranky) but I did some minor cleaning and I feel much better.

10) I picked up some parenting tricks (well, I will be attempting to apply said parenting tricks) and imparted a few of my own. This ALSO makes me very happy.

How was your Spring Break?

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?

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.

IMG_0020

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.