|Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/freedigitalphotos.net|
So who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? I’m proof that with a good teacher and sufficient motivation, change is possible.
|Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/freedigitalphotos.net|
So who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? I’m proof that with a good teacher and sufficient motivation, change is possible.
I ran into an old friend the other day who said in a “I can’t believe it” kind of tone, “You stay home with them (the kiddies) all day?” I took a deep breath and replied, “It’s training in progress!”
I’ve been thinking lately how much motherhood has changed me and how far I’ve come in the last 5+ years. I’m not tooting my own horn, believe me, cause I know of other moms who stay at home and don’t have any family nearby to help them and/or are raising a special needs child, so I know I have it fairly easy in comparison! But I also realize how much I’ve been stretched, broken down and molded physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually – it’s like I’ve been training for a marathon and have finally started to gain some momentum in my stride.
I recently read the book, “The Hungry Little Caterpillar” to my kids and began to see myself as that caterpillar, especially the part where it eats and eats and becomes a big, fat caterpillar (yes, I considered pregnancy a time of indulgence!). And after it is done eating, it makes a cocoon and holes up in it for about two weeks to do some changing. I, on the other hand, kind of stayed in a “cocoon” for a good five years cause there was a LOT of changing I had to do in becoming a mom.
It would have been nice if I could have magically transformed into a “mom” as soon as I laid eyes on my baby, but I’ve discovered this title kind of needs to be earned (through lots of manual labor and shifts in perspective!). I never realized how much sacrificing I would need to do as a mom and how everything becomes about the kids and you get placed on the back burner – waaay in the back! I never knew how all consuming it would be to be a mom, how it zaps your energy, finances, memory, and surprisingly, your identity, too.
Before I had kids, I had once read on a friend’s (who is a mom) facebook profile that she was trying to salvage her identity. I now understand what she meant. Over these past few years it feels like I’ve morphed into someone else. The upside to my metamorphosis is that this introverted, square, almost only child is now a little less shy, a bit more conscientious of other people’s needs and doesn’t need to have everything go my way every time (though that would be nice!). I can do some things now that I couldn’t do before I had kids like cut hair, strike up conversations with strangers and take really fast showers (like under 4 minutes). 🙂 The downside to this transformation though is a lack of balance at times, meaning that there’s a tendency for my identity to be all “mom” and for the other parts of me to get pushed out of the equation. For a while I lost sight of the things I used to enjoy, like listening to music that isn’t about buses or monkeys or spiders and reading books that don’t have pictures on every page. It even got to the point where my mom could tell I hadn’t brushed my hair (I was happy enough to have just washed it, who cared about brushing it!). 🙂
Well, now that the kids are a little older and more independent, I am glad to say I have a little more time to brush my hair every day and even read a magazine sometimes. I’m also trying to put some of my needs back on the front burner, like exercising regularly again so I can be healthier and set a good example for the kids. And I’m starting to contemplate what I can do with my time next year when both kids will be in school!
Supposedly, they say that when a butterfly breaks itself out of the cocoon, it’s stronger for having done so. So here I am finally emerging from my cocoon and hoping that the person I am now as a mom is an improved version of who I was before having kids. Cause what doesn’t kill you, definitely makes you stronger! 😛
|Image courtesy of wiangya/freedigitalphotos.net|
Check out Kelly Clarkson’s song, “Stronger“.
In what ways have your life experiences made you stronger?
|Image courtesy of Dynamite Imagery/freedigitalphotos.net|
So it’s that time of the year when I start thinking about getting older (and hopefully wiser, hehe). It’s funny how the climb up the proverbial “hill” seems so long and slow when we’re young, but once we hit the top, it feels like we’re stuck in an avalanche and the ride down is fast, scary and out of control! I think for me, the reality of being “over the hill” hit me when I realized I am (as we all are) trapped inside an aging body. I owe this revelation in part to the hairdresser that cut my hair recently who kept commenting on all the gray hair I have and to the numbness I now feel in my feet sometimes when I sit too long! Even with the fortune of having Asian genes on my side, I am definitely not looking or feeling like a spring chicken anymore!
I completely understand now why my mom doesn’t like celebrating birthdays anymore and why people go through mid-life crises. You get to a point where you know youthfulness (especially the high metabolism part of it) is temporary and wrinkles are permanent. And you wonder (or at least I’m starting to) if you’re making the most of your days. And I’m accepting the fact that I only have one life to live and this is it.
All this makes me think of bucket lists. I don’t have one written down, but if I did, it would go something like this (in no particular order):
1. Enjoy each day and all the big and small moments
2. Pass on to my kids what matters most – faith in God and care for others
3. Write and publish a book(s)
4. Make sure my kids know they are loved
5. Laugh more and complain less
6. Be thankful
7. Continue to grow
Even though I don’t look forward to aging, I’m going to look on the bright side and be thankful for all the years I’ve had so far to live, learn and love. And I’m going to stock up on some anti-wrinkle cream. 🙂
This song by Kris Allen reminds us to “Live Like We’re Dying“.
What’s on your bucket list?
|Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/freedigitalphotos.net|
Hubby and I belong to a couples’ group and one of the recent icebreaker questions we had to answer was, “On a scale from 1 to 10 (10 being highest), how would you rate your marriage?” Each spouse had to answer the question and thankfully hubby answered first (haha). I actually don’t remember the number he said, but it was something “safe” like a 7 or 8. My answer was probably “safer”; I said, “It varies, sometimes it’s a 7 or 8, sometimes it’s a 2, but I married a 10.” Good answer, huh? 🙂
I’m not trying to be cheesy, but I feel very blessed to have married my hubby. I know he puts me (and the kids) first and even my mom comments on how well he treats me (that’s a definite compliment!). He has been my number one supporter, giving me the okay to quit my full-time job so I could go to school full time to finish my degree faster. It meant he had to work harder to make sure we could be financially secure, but he never complained. He has been there supporting me throughout the births of two kids and the aftermath of crazy, sleepless nights and even encouraged me in breastfeeding (he jokes that he was my lactation consultant). 😛 He has supported me in being a stay at home mom, which means listening to my emotional rants and working even harder to provide for us. He has seen the worst parts of me, yet still treasures me enough to have sold his prized camera to buy me diamond earrings for our anniversary. I truly did marry a 10.
I’m thankful that we got married when we were fairly young and were able to do some growing up together. There’s a quote I read from a book that says many of the wounds we have were caused by people and yet ironically (and appropriately so), it’s also people who help heal our wounds. God has definitely used my hubby to help in my personal growth and healing. I don’t know where I’d be without him. Well, I’d likely be a prickly (think porcupine) and unhappy person. Instead, I am a more confident, happy and whole person today.
I try to remind myself each day to be a “10” for him and to do my part in making our relationship the best it can be. Even on those “2” days when we barely talk (asking “Are you coming home yet?” doesn’t really count as quality conversation) and I am exhausted from dealing with the kids’ tantrums, I make the effort to smile when hubby comes home (haha). Believe me, it would be a lot easier to just hand off the kids and run out the door (for retail therapy!), but it means a lot more to stay and connect with him. I know that if we commit to making our marriage a top priority throughout all of life’s ups and downs, we can someday reach that ultimate score of “10”. Well, we could at least get a “10” for effort. 🙂
This song by Colbie Caillat is a good reminder of why I ought to treat hubby better than anything I’ve ever had… cause his love has brightened my life – “Brighter Than the Sun“. 🙂
Who has brightened your life?
I’ve been telling people this past year that I want to be a more fun person. I almost wanted to make it my new year’s resolution, but then, if you make being fun an assignment, it really isn’t that fun anymore, is it? 😛 So it’s been more of a self-analytical learning process that I’ve been on – trying to understand why I’m so square and finding ways to not be. 🙂 There’s likely a dozen reasons why I am the way I am, but it all really comes down to genetics and upbringing, which are things I can’t change, so I just need to make do with what I’ve got! I especially want to inject more fun into myself so I can be a positive influence on E and C. I mean, what kid wants a party pooper (aka. little old me) raining on their parade every day?
For starters, I’m really trying to put aside the anal part of myself when I play with the kids. This is difficult because for some strange reason (haha) I find myself wanting to clean up whenever I am supposed to be playing. I even use the excuse that it will give us more space on the floor to play on if I just put the legos or books or cars away first! This definitely doesn’t go over well with the kids who couldn’t care less how many things are obstructing the carpet. So my motto now is “play first, clean up later”. Once all the fun is over, there will still be plenty of toys to put away (and cleaning up can be made into a game itself!).
I’ve discovered though that I’m not very good at playing. Maybe I’m just not into racing hot wheel cars or playing grocery store for hours on end. A lot of times I find my mind wandering to things I want to get done (ie. dishes) or trying to stifle a yawn. 😛 Hubby, on the other hand, can make any activity fun and interesting for the kids. The other day he set some cotton balls on fire with a new flint he bought – all this on the dining room table! The kids were fairly entertained as I hovered nearby with a fire extinguisher in hand (not really cause we don’t own one, but it would have been nice!).
The other issue I have that hinders my fun-ness is that I try to micromanage the kids’ fun. 😛 I think many parents do this from what I’ve overheard on the playground: “Don’t touch the dirt!” and “Pour the sand here, not there!” And at home, it’s hard not to cringe when the kids want to mix different play dough colors together or when ingredients go flying all over the kitchen counter when we’re making muffins. But I’m trying to reign in my nit-picking and just go with the flow!
Honestly, life (especially childhood) is too short to not have fun. And I will stay square if I miss out on these spontaneous and carefree moments. Thank God that I have this second chance to be a kid again, or maybe for the first time cause hubby calls me “the one without a childhood”. 😛 Just gotta remind myself not to complain because it really is a good life (if I don’t let my squareness get in the way!). 🙂
Here are some pictures of my recent fun (aka. mostly non-anal and non-micromanaging) times of playing with the kids:
And here’s a song by One Republic, “Good Life“, that gets you moving!
What makes your life a good life?
I used to think I was a pretty patient person… of course this was before I had kids and became a stay at home mom. I based this belief on the fact that I usually don’t mind waiting in lines, even “black Friday” type of lines, but truthfully speaking, this probably just means I’m a tenacious shopper.
My true colors came out though when I became a parent and my capacity for “long-suffering” (as patience is defined) was really put to the test. I can truly say that parenting brings out the best – and worst – in you. Emotionally and mentally, I’ve been stretched and pushed to the limit so many times that I no longer pray for patience for fear that I’ll find myself in a situation where I’ll need to be patient (I’m only half-joking about this).
I’ve had my fair share of meltdowns, one time during which my mom found me with my head in my hands and both kids crying their heads off in our bedroom closet waiting for back-up to arrive. That was surely one of my less glamorous moments as a mom!It seems like an almost next to impossible task to try to stay calm, cool and collected when you come face to face (quite literally) with people half your size, who are twice as loud as you are, and are inconsolable with a capital I!
The thought occurred to me that maybe the only way you can remain patient with kids is to become like a robot. Being a robot means there are no emotions involved because robots operate solely on facts. Bottom line, I would no longer feel frustrated, angry or impatient regardless of what ridiculous situation I found myself in with the kids!
|Image courtesy of supakitmod/freedigitalphotos.net|
I actually tried this robot method once during one of E’s cows – we were driving in the car and for some reason he had taken off his socks and shoes and was demanding that I put them back on for him RIGHT NOW! I like to think I’m Supermom, but unless I had two heads and four hands, there was no way I could accomplish this feat. And believe me, I tried explaining this to E, who promptly started screaming and kicking my seat as soon as he heard the word “wait”. So I went robot style – I turned off my feelings, bit my tongue and concentrated on the kid’s song playing at the moment (quite appropriately, I might add!), “Jimmy crack corn and I don’t care”, all the while trying to ignore the back massage I was receiving. You would think his little bare feet would have been sore after that twenty minute ride, but obviously I had given birth to a son with feet of steel.
Somehow we made it home in one piece, me with tense shoulders up to my ears and poor C with some ringing in her ears (but to be fair, E’s had to put up with her tantrums, too). After E calmed down a bit, I put his socks and shoes back on, though all the while scowling and growling under my breath. Looking back, had I succeeded at being patient in that situation? Um,not really. Sure, I hadn’t yelled out loud, but inside I was like a bull ready to charge!
So I’ve been thinking, what is the real secret to being patient with kids? I finally realized it’s about being empathic and putting yourself in their little shoes (assuming they have taken them off – ha!) and understanding that they’re like little aliens who were dropped off into this strange world and are learning to cope with their many limitations and often overwhelming feelings of frustration and anxiety. And once we understand where kids are coming from, we can exercise humility, which is at the core of patience. It’s this humility that gives us the capacity to put aside the demands and expectations that revolve around us (perhaps for our kids to behave like mature adults so we don’t have to?) and make it about someone else. That’s when the true colors of love really come out and everyone and everything is better because of it.
No one ever said long suffering would be easy (hence the word suffering!), but for the sake of loving our kids, it’s worth the effort. I’m definitely going to try this method, instead of the robot one, the next time I (gulp!) need to be patient. Sigh, being a parent really does bring out the worst – and best – in you, doesn’t it?
One of my favorite passages from 1 Corinthians 13 that talks about patience: 4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Speaking of our true colors, here’s the perfect song for this post – Phil Collin’s version of “True Colors“.
What circumstances have brought out your true colors?
I love taking vacations. Hubby didn’t know this fact about me when we got married, but he sure learned it quickly afterwards when I constantly talked about taking another trip. Now that we have kids, it’s a little harder to travel, but we still try to do overnighters or weekend getaways when we can. I had heard though that vacationing with kids is just living life in a different place. I’ve found it to be true. We definitely can’t be as spontaneous as before, sleep in late, or eat whatever, whenever we feel like it. We have to keep to a certain schedule so we can make sure the munchkins are well-fed and not overly tired. But I have to admit that even with its limitations, life in a different place is still more fun (who doesn’t love having your bathroom cleaned and meals cooked by someone else?).
So we just returned from a weekend in Monterey, our home away from home. Just as I was finally feeling relaxed and carefree (as much as a square person can be carefree!), it was time to go home. On the drive back, the looming tasks of laundry, cooking and cleaning started piling up in my mind and stress started crawling back into my system. I couldn’t help but get wound up all over again (well, I guess I could help it, but old habits are hard to break). Sadly, I think I’ve discovered the downside to my love of vacations – the post-vacation blues. Returning home after a trip is like a rude awakening, kind of like being treated as royalty for a short while and then getting dethroned to a servant. I think even the kids get the blues too; on our trip they only had one meltdown each, but when we got back, they became puddles of exhaustion and frustration.
So does this mean it’s better to not take vacations? Hm…I don’t think so, haha. That would mean being wound up all the time and never getting a break from every day life. Maybe the key to the post-vacation blues is to take more trips so that we get used to the cycles of highs and lows and they aren’t as shocking to our systems (hubby, if you are reading this, I am only kidding!). In reality, taking more vacations would mean spending more money and eating more than usual, which would not be good for our pocketbook or waistlines. I guess the only solution is to somehow bring the vacation mindset into our every day life, at least once in a while. This could mean not being so hung up about going by the schedule all the time or letting the laundry or dirty dishes pile up a little in exchange for doing something fun. And it certainly means changing my attitude that real life is all work and no play.
For starters, I’ll look at our Monterey pictures to help remind myself of all the fun we had and try to keep that vacation spirit alive. If that doesn’t work, maybe I’ll start thinking about planning our next trip. 🙂
|Me and E|
|Hubby and C (wearing his top)|
|Lazy Sea Lions Up Close and Personal|
Here’s an oldie, but goodie – “Vacation” by the Go-go’s (and boy, am I dating myself)!
Where’s your favorite vacation spot?
|Image courtesy of Idea go/freedigitalphotos.net|
A while back as I was driving to pick up E from school, I encountered some construction on the road and saw a sign that read, Road work ahead. Expect delays. I sighed (and smiled) as traffic started to slow down and thought about how smart it was for the workers to warn us that we’d need to be patient (as if warning us would make us more patient, but you can’t blame them for trying!).
I thought about how nice it would be to have a sign like that about life, one which reads: Life ahead. Expect delays. It’s a fact that we all encounter delays in life, in the form of speed bumps, pot holes, U-turns, windy roads, detours, deer crossing – metaphorically speaking of course. 🙂 Maybe if we knew to expect these delays as we traveled along the uncharted road of life, we wouldn’t feel so much like we were being thrown off course all the time.
In the past five years we’ve faced many delays in parenting our high need kid. But if you know E and how sensitive, cautious and particular he is, you would understand why it takes him a lot longer to adjust to new situations and new people than it does for other kids. You wouldn’t be surprised to learn that he didn’t sleep through the night until he was almost 2. It also makes sense that it took him a whole year to get used to going to preschool! We are so thankful there are no more “I don’t want to go to school!” conversations at bedtime and no more crying at school now; in fact he likes school and is making friends. 🙂
Our current “roadblock” is related to E’s schooling, more specifically our decision to keep him in preschool an extra year (aka. redshirting). I (especially the “tiger mom” in me!) had never expected this delay, but I know it’s the best thing for E to give him more time to build his confidence and to grow socially. Several of my teacher friends say it will be good for him in the long run and wished more parents would do the same for their kids. I seem to be the only one having a hard time with this cause I don’t want him to fall behind and I don’t like having to explain to people why E will not be going to kindergarten this year. I’m thankful though that he’s small in stature (he’s got hubby and me to thank for that!) so he’ll fit in well with his younger classmates.
I guess I just need to accept that there are good and necessary reasons for life’s delays and expect them to occur instead of getting frustrated when I’m “stuck in traffic”. After all, those roads do become a lot smoother once all the “construction” is complete.
Here’s Sara Bareilles’ song, “Uncharted“, which is about traveling the uncharted road in front of us.
How do you deal with roadblocks in your life?
|Image courtesy of Michelle Meiklejohn/freedigitalphotos.net|
I’ve been thinking lately that’s it’s way to easy to become a parent (assuming there are no conception difficulties). When I was in the hospital after having had E, I couldn’t believe that the doctors and nurses were just going to let us take him home! There were no diaper changing tests, no home inspections, not even a background check that we had to pass. Even when we had adopted our dog Sparkle, the cocker spaniel foster home made sure we had a yard for him to run around in and even had us sign a form stating so. No one at the hospital asked us any questions about our home or our experiences with raising a person. It kind of makes parenting seem like the easiest job to qualify for, right?
Wrong! If I could have, I would have given myself a parenting questionnaire to answer to see how prepared (or not!) I was to have kids. I would have required myself to take that test early – not on the day I was to bring E home from the hospital, but much earlier than that – probably on the day I decided I wanted to have kids, way back in the last century. 😛
That questionnaire would have gone something like this:
1. Are you able to function on minimal amounts of sleep, morph into a cow (this is what a nursing mom feels like) and learn to do everything with one hand (because you’ll always be carrying a kid with the other)?
2. Can you remain calm, cool and collected under pressure (for example, when you have 2 screaming kids in line with you at Bed, Bath and Beyond and a grumpy old man keeps giving you the evil eye)?
3. Do you know how to handle unreasonable requests (such as cutting food up exactly the way someone wants it or else be faced with a major emotional meltdown)?
4. Can you show flexibility, patience and persistence in times of extreme frustration (ie. giving sponge baths for a whole month to a toddler who suddenly develops an aversion to water)?
5. Are you able to multi-task efficiently and effectively (for example, nurse a newborn baby while cutting your toddler’s hair as he naps)?
And these would only be the questions addressing the first few years of parenting! Unfortunately, or fortunately, I don’t have the experience yet to write about what it’s like to raise a teenager, though they say it’s similar to the terrible two’s. 😛
So if I had been given that questionnaire before having kids, I would have definitely scored a big, fat zero. And I may have been too scared to become a parent. I was, to put it plainly, very naive about what parenting entails. Hubby, on the other hand, was a lot more realistic and hesitant, which explains why it took us 5 years (and a lot of convincing from me!) to have kids. And now he’s the one who’s always saying we should have had kids earlier!
I may have headed into this parenting adventure blissfully ignorant, but I’ve learned so much along the way. And thanks to my kids, I think I’ve been changing into someone who is a lot less dainty, a lot more decisive and overall, a whole lot tougher. Tough enough to tackle the teenage years ahead? We’ll see about that.
Now if I could only add all these new skills I’ve acquired as a parent in my resume for the next time I apply for a job… 🙂
Here’s a fun video about living “In Tha Muthahood” by Anita Renfroe.
What new skills have you acquired or want to acquire as a parent?
There’s a saying that goes, “In every life a little rain must fall”. Fortunately I’ve had a pretty clear weather forecast throughout my life (I think God knows I can’t handle much!), so I’ve been used to having things go “my way”. It was quite unexpected therefore when I faced my first downpour three years ago.
It was three years ago this month that I walked into my doctor’s appointment anxious, excited and hopeful… and walked out in disbelief and sorrow. I remember everything about that day – what I was wearing, how hot and sunny it was, how sad the doctor looked when she told me she could only find one baby on the ultrasound instead of two… and how I had to break the news over the phone to hubby who was at work.
This was one storm we weren’t expecting or prepared for. But there we were in the midst of it, soaking wet and cold. And during that very same week of the appointment, hubby had also been close to losing his job. When it rains, it really does pour!
It’s true that time does heal…though it was hard to grieve while taking care of a toddler, but sometimes those distractions are what keep you moving forward when you wish the world would stop. And a burden shared among friends and family becomes lighter than trying to take it all on yourself (though I did try to hide in my turtle shell at times). I don’t regret that we told people early on that we had been expecting twins. It would have been harder if we hadn’t; we would have had to pretend everything was okay after the miscarriage (and I’m not a very good poker player). I valued all the hugs, flowers and cards we got and the well-intentioned comments we received. It was comforting for us to know that so many people were praying for us, even people we had never met.
These days I try to hold on to the good that came from the bad – I’m so thankful we have one ultrasound picture of C and her twin.
Recently, C has been saying she wants, “liang ge mei mei” (translation = two little sister, which is how she refers to herself). Not sure where she got this idea from, it may have been because she recently met her identical twin cousins for the first time. Or maybe she knows more than we think? Whatever the case is, when I heard her say that, I wished with all my heart that we had “two C’s”, too. But for now, when I hear her call, “Mama, look!” and see her spin and dance around, I can imagine another little one in a place with all sunshine (and no rain!) dancing happily with Jesus.
Here’s a beautiful song about heaven from Mercy Me – “I Can Only Imagine“.