The Problem with Time

It’s cliché by now. All those more experienced mommies wagging their figurative fingers at you, telling you to enjoy every moment because after all, “The days are long but the years are short.”

And it’s totally true. IT TOTALLY IS.

(But it doesn’t make you feel better when you’ve already experienced a year’s worth of annoying child-caring and it’s only 9am.)

Anyhow, I blinked and my baby, (not the current baby, but my baby for the last four years), Glow Worm, is now four years old.

FOUR YEARS OLD.

I remember when Cookie Monster (7.5) was four and I thought he was SO BIG. After all, compared to the newborn Glow Worm, he was huge. As for Gamera, I don’t recall her ever being four.

I mean, obviously, she was four. (And come to think of it, it was a lot of crying. I mean, 5.75 is a lot of crying, but 4 was even MORE crying. OMG IT WAS EVEN MORE CRYING.) But for some reason, Gamera always seemed older than her actual age and I constantly thought she and Cookie Monster were the same.

But Glow Worm.

Glow Worm has been my baby for the past four years and even though it seems as if he all of a sudden became a big boy over the summer, it still has caught me completely by surprise.

And now that he is four (OMG, HE IS FOUR!), I still find him so very small.

In my mind, he’s still a baby. At least, that’s the excuse I give Gamera and Cookie Monster when they complain that I’m not being fair and letting Glow Worm get away with shit they couldn’t even dream of getting away with.

Part of it is because Glow Worm was such a late talker that he only started being intelligible (and still, half the time we’re not sure if he’s babbling away in Chinese or English when actually it’s CHINGLISH) and he’s also short for his age. And part of it is because compared to his older siblings, he really IS a baby.

But mostly, it’s because I’m in rampant denial.

HOW CAN HE BE FOUR?

He was always such an independent baby, and now that he is four, he is even MORE independent.

This summer, he was in full time school in Taiwan just like last year. But because this year, we had Sasquatch (9 mos), I did not get to spend much time with him after school. We had the hour between his pick up and the older kids’ pick up time, but once Hapa Papa joined us in Taiwan, he took over that pick up.

I didn’t even realize how much I missed that time with Glow Worm until the week was over.

In fact, it took me awhile to even realize that I had barely talked to or spoke to Glow Worm until the week was almost over.

I know.

FAIL. FAIL. FAIL!!

Now that we’re back home and he is starting up preschool again (and for more days than last year), I am missing him a lot. For some reason, he has switched to Hapa Papa being his favorite so Glow Worm no longer fights to sleep with me at night, so I don’t even get to snuggle with him in the evening or at night. (He just informed me today that he loves Papa when I asked him to kiss me. Like he would be cheating on Papa if he kissed me. Hmph.)

Joni Mitchell is totally right. (To be cliché yet again.) I did not know what I had until it was gone.

I mean, Glow Worm now will occasionally still seek me out in the morning and snuggle with me for about five minutes, but then he’s off and running and has no time for me except when it is most inconvenient. (Like when I’m trying to appease Sasquatch and Glow Worm MUST sit and squirm in my lap because OF COURSE.)

It’s not only with Glow Worm, of course.

I know that though I spend a lot of my time with all my kids because I’m their primary caretaker, it’s not focused or necessarily quality time bonding. (To be honest, it’s a lot of reading Chinese and English and nagging.)

However, Gamera and Cookie Monster fight to sleep with me at night (they now have to take turns and the loser gets Hapa Papa as consolation prize). But even then, it’s hardly quality time because they want to spend time and talk to me but I’m trying to put Sasquatch down.

Incidentally, Sasquatch has been a punk lately and refuses to sleep at the boob because he now likes to ROLL AROUND WHILE NURSING and now I have to rock him to sleep in the rocking chair and yes, I know I should sleep train but FFS I just broke down (and sold) the crib because he’s never in it and since he can now walk – OMG HE CAN WALK UNASSISTED – it’s not safe to have him put himself to sleep in my bed.

So as a result, I’m mostly annoyed at Gamera or Cookie Monster for not being quiet and wanting to actually have a conversation with me and they’re sad because I’m mean and as Cookie Monster says (to guilt me on purpose), “I just want to spend time with you, Mama.”

And then I feel like a giant asshole. Because HE WANTS TO SPEND TIME WITH ME. BECAUSE HE LOVES ME.

Whereas I am done with being hugged and kissed and only want some uninterrupted alone time.

I should clarify. They DID fight to sleep with me at night. But now that we finally re-arranged their room so that it’s truly their room with a twin over full bunk and trundle bed, plus moved all their clothes from the family closet to THEIR room in their own dresser, THEY ALSO WANT TO SLEEP IN THEIR ROOM WITH HAPA PAPA.

OMG. Did I mention that the reason Gamera no longer wants to sleep with me is because we moved all her clothes into her room AND SHE DOES NOT WANT TO WALK?!?

Dr. T says I should consider spending a little bit of quality time with the kids every day. Like, play games with them or draw with them or read with them or SOMETHING that is NOT homeschool. And that even though I constantly say I birthed siblings for a reason, that perhaps my kids would stop being assholes and trying to get my attention in negative ways if I actually paid them ANY attention at all during the day.

And then perhaps also, bed time would go a bit easier.

I know Dr. T is right.

I also sense my time with the kids slipping away and soon I will be old and my kids won’t want me at all and I should be grateful that they love me despite my being a crotchety dick because after all, I’m the only mother they have and they still want love and affection THOSE BASTARDS —

SO.

So.

So, Hapa Papa and I have decided to take turns taking a kid out for a date each week. (My mother already does this and it’s a big hit with them. They LOVE being the only person with a beloved adult.) I also am trying to make sure I spend quality time with the kids each day (although perhaps not individually).

I suppose that won’t actually kill me.

I might also enjoy myself and feel better as a parent and human being.

Thus far, I have spent time playing a board game with the kids one day, and playing my beloved (but ignored) logic games with them another day. I even spent quality time with Glow Worm.

I guess it was enjoyable and my heart might have become slightly less Grinchy.

Anyhow, am I the only one who doesn’t spend quality time with my children because I spend such a massive QUANTITY of time with them? How do you ensure that you get meaningful moments with your children? Let me know in the comments.

Time Is The Real Killer

Walking into Peet’s Coffee, inhaling the scent of coffee and seeing all these grown ups leisurely sipping coffee and tea and chatting aimlessly, reading books and newspapers, living grown up lives, I feel a sharp pang of nostalgia. A deep yearning.

This life. I used to live this life.

It reminds me most of college and the early years post-graduation. A free and easy time. No mortgage. No kids. Nothing but time and money. Well, perhaps not a lot of money. But not many of us had a ton of money so it didn’t really matter. We had enough to be comfortable and do the small things we wanted to do. We lived in crappy apartments and ate out at cheap eats.

I miss LA, the city of my young adulthood. Home of late night cafes and Norm’s and lounging in Barnes & Nobles, pretending to do homework or write or whatever, but really using it as an excuse to hang out with friends and chatting deep into the night.

It’s true, what they say; youth is wasted on the young.

Had I realized at the time what I had? That most precious of commodities: an unlimited expanse of time ahead of me. A life unencumbered.

I’d like to think that I did but I’m pretty sure I didn’t. I wasted so much of my free time angsting over love and religion and relationships and boys and just really stupid, worthless things. Well, perhaps not worthless exactly. But certainly not worth the amount of time I obsessed over these subjects.

Why did I not spend more of my time reading, writing, eating, knitting, crafting, and risking? Why did I dream such small dreams? Or worse yet, why did I dream such lofty dreams and do nothing to pursue them?

And now, it’s not so much that it’s too late so much as I am so tired.

The only reason I am writing today is because I asked Hapa Papa a week in advance so that I could ditch the kiddos and sneak away to a café and write. I’ve been slacking lately and I know if I don’t right the ship and get back on course that I’ll blink and it will be another year gone and I’ll have let my thoughts molder by the wayside and BLAM! Next thing you know the kids will be in college and I’ll STILL be just a bundle of potential, a fantastic description when you’re young, a damning epitaph when you’re old.

I have to remind myself that like all things in life, this is only a season. A season of small children with big needs. A season full of small humans whom I love.

Yes, yes. I actually have to remind myself that I love my children.

I know. I’m a terrible human being.

I mean, it’s easy to remember when they’re snuggly and cozy and cute and agreeable and funny and hilarious and doing what I want them to when I want them to in the way that I have told them to. (You know, like good little robots.)

It is terribly difficult to remember when they’re cranky and tired and demanding to play more Halo or candy or cookies or juice because they are SO HUNGRY but yet refuse to eat their oatmeal or sandwich or soup or whatever else I’ve been tricked into providing because they said they wanted that for dinner but take one bite and refuse to eat anymore.

Not that I would know anything about this, of course. Purely a hypothetical situation.

To think that someday, in the near future, I will look fondly back on these chaotic, frustratingly repetitive days and actually miss them. I will write a similar post, perhaps after visiting a new young mother, or perhaps even when being with my own grown children and their small babies.

I think of this possible future and my throat hitches, a lump already forming in my overly sentimental chest.

Someday, someday soon, my babies will be big and grown and independent, with loves and lives of their own. And while of course, every parent aspires to raise good, contributing people full of vitality and love, people who are separate and yet connected, the idea is bittersweet to me. (However tempting a clean, tidy house with nothing but time ahead of me sounds.)

Isn’t that the irony of life? Just when you get what you think you want, you would give it all back just to have a moment of the good old days.

It is the curse and blessing of temporal beings, locked unidirectionally in the forward flow of time.

Carpe that diem, friends. It will be tomorrow before you know it.

What I REALLY Want for Christmas

Since it’s right before Christmas, I figured I would join the fray and throw out what I want for Christmas. (Yes, it’s a fluff piece today. TWSS!) After all, this is the season of getting, right? The thing is, in my household, I’ve just told people not to get me any presents anymore. Anything I want, I get (within reason). I tell Hapa Papa all the time, every day is Christmas thanks to Amazon Prime!

Truthfully, there’s not much I want. Most of my acquisitive instincts have been subsumed into my children’s wants/needs/desires. However, I would like more of the following:

1) Sleep

2) Time to myself

3) Time with my friends (without children)

That’s it. I imagine that’s also what Hapa Papa wants. Too bad for him I’m the Taker in the relationship.

But really, these are all easily attainable. I would also get more sleep if I didn’t act the fool and actually went to bed at a decent hour. Now that the kids are older and play with each other so well, I get a LOT of time to do what I want (as long as the kids are around) when Glow Worm is napping. And I usually get to spend some alone time with my friends on the weekends because of Hapa Papa’s kindness.

Don’t let that fool you into thinking I’m some kind of Zen ascetic. I’m sure I have mentioned that my house looks like a toy store vomited and then a cyclone full of toys and Play Doh hit at 100mph. That’s because I have too many toys. (Which I’m trying to get rid of.) I have both a storage problem and a supply problem! And what do I do about it? BUY MORE TOYS. Because, you know, Cookie Monster is getting older. So, um, I need different toys. I mean, he needs different toys. For big kids. *sigh*

The only good thing about getting rid of toys, (other than all the space it frees up for MORE toys) is that I am having Cookie Monster choose which toys to donate/sell/disappear. He’s not too bad about it, so at least he’s okay with choosing toys he doesn’t really play with (and no, he’s not “donating” the toys Gamera plays with). He does ask why some kids don’t have toys, though. I don’t know that I have a satisfactory answer yet that makes sense in his world. But I’ll keep trying!

Anyhow, what do you want for Christmas? Let me know in the comments.