Not Missing A Thing

So it’s been five whole years since I changed careers to be a SAHM (stay at home mom).  It’s been a wild ride with so many unexpected ups and downs and through it all, I can honestly say I am glad I have been able to do it.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I don’t miss working outside the house…there are many times when I feel a sense of regret when I hear my former classmates say they are now licensed counselors and I wonder what I’ve been doing the past five years.  Being a full time mom is unlike any schooling or career I’ve ever had; there are no tests (well, maybe every day is a test – of patience, that is!) and no quarterly reviews or promotions to work for (and definitely no pay increases!).  It’s truly been a learning on the job experience even with all the parenting books out there (which I believe are good for general information, but those authors have only had experience with their own kids, not mine!).

I wish there was some way I could evaluate my work as a SAHM and get a grade or just a piece of paper that could tell me I’m on the right track.  It’s hard to see progress when you’re stuck in the every day mundane-ness of it all.  When I see old pictures of the kids though, I see how much they have grown, so that must mean all my blood, sweat and tears have done something productive, right?  And it’s nice to get complimented by random strangers in restaurants (it’s happened 2x so far!) on how well behaved E and C are; it makes me feel like I must be doing something right (and grateful these people don’t see the kids when they are melting down right before naptime).

But enough with the moaning and groaning.  To fully appreciate any job, I think the best thing to do is to look on the bright side.  So with that said, I have come up with the top 5 list of reasons why I like being a SAHM.

1 – I get to wear whatever I want to cause my kids don’t care how I look.
2 – There are no long lines at the grocery store during a weekday.
3 – I don’t have to be stuck in traffic going to and from work.
4 – I can take naps during the afternoon.
5 – And best of all, I get to see all the kids’ firsts – first word, first step, first time going down a slide alone, first time when they are successful with the potty…the list goes on and on.

Witnessing my munchkins’ first time holding hands 🙂

I’m sure when the kids are all grown, I’ll look back on these early years with lots of gratitude that I could stay at home with them.  Paychecks and promotions can wait, but childhood can’t.  And I don’t want to miss a thing about seeing them grow up.

Here’s Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing.”

How do you make the most of your time with your kids?

Fighter

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/freedigitalphotos.net

It’s amazing how something that happened almost 30 years ago still affects you today.  And strange how I didn’t realize it until yesterday even though I had dealt with it before, or I had thought I did.  

Yesterday, C was mistreated by a little boy and I wasn’t there to protect her.  When I told hubby about what had happened, he fell silent.  He really does not like it when our kids, or anyone for that matter, get taken advantage of by other people.  And he really didn’t like it that I wasn’t there to watch the kids and therefore couldn’t protect C (which I will totally change next time).  In my head I knew it was not a good situation, but there is a part of me that feels like I can’t stand up for myself so maybe I tried to make light of it.  But now that I am a mom, my tiger instincts should really kick in and I should be protecting my kids the way a tiger would protect her cubs!  Now I understand why I felt so helpless…

When I was seven or eight years old, I was a witness to domestic violence.  I don’t know if it was the first occurrence (it certainly wasn’t the last), but that one incident has stuck in my mind and colored my world ever since.  I felt helpless, afraid to move, just wanting to stay still in the background and hope the storm would pass.  It makes sense now why I put on a front of “I’m okay” to everyone and want to do things myself and not have to rely on other people.  But underneath it all, I feel neither tough nor invincible.  Instead I play the victim in my mind and have let myself be put in humiliating situations where I felt too helpless to fight back, where I just let things happen to me even though in my mind I wanted to say no.  

But I can’t let this go on…especially when I have kids to protect and be a role model for.  I want E and C to know they have a right to stand up for themselves and for other people.  I want them to be able to fight back when they need to instead of fading away into the background out of fear.   

And as for myself, this needs to be a new start.  I need to remind myself that I am not that little girl anymore and I am not helpless.  May God help me know that I can be a fighter. 

Here’s Christina Aguilera’s song “Fighter“.

What is an area in which you would like to be a role model for your kids?

I am a Rock… I am an Island

If I had to pick an animal to describe myself, it would probably be a turtle.  Not for the reason that turtles are slow (though I do tend to run on “Chinese time” a lot), but for the fact that they have a nice, hard shell around them.  I like how they have their own built in armor, which also serves as their home, so there’s no need to look for a place to stay when on the road.  Turtles may not be the most menacing of animals, but they seem pretty tough and self-dependent in my opinion.  🙂  And being the firstborn/almost-only-child that I am, I like to be strong and rely on myself.  So the idea of asking for help is like a foreign concept for me; I even realized recently that I think suffering is “noble”.  Well, suffering when the situation is out of your control should be admired, but it’s another story when it’s self-inflicted because I’m too stubborn to ask for help.  😛  And to make matters more complex, I also go to the opposite extreme sometimes and like to be co-dependent.  This is where the analogy of the turtle becomes this:

A teenage mutant ninja turtle! (Image courtesy of kidsprintablescoloringpages.com)

I think my overly-responsible and perfectionistic tendencies go into overdrive at times and I want to save the world – or just whoever needs help fixing a problem at the moment.  Hm…it’s all starting to make sense now why I chose a career in counseling.  Just kidding!  😛

But one can only function as an island for so long.  As I’ve learned over the years, it’s a bit hard to be on separate teams when you are married.  My hubby, the youngest of four, is great at cooperating and compromising and has put in a lot of hard work teaching me how to be a team player.  He says I still need work in the listening department; in my defense, I think I have the listening part down, it’s the following part that I need to work on.  😛  It’s hard for a self-dependent person to admit that maybe, just maybe, someone else might have an idea that is better that mine.  Another reason I’ve come to realize that it’s good to ask for help is that it really does take a village to raise a kid.  When you have more than one kid, the odds go up that one of the many dishes you are juggling every day (figuratively and literally!) will come crashing to the floor.  I have to say there are days when I would be much happier if I would just admit that I can’t do everything by myself (did I just say that?!).   
 
Recently hubby helped give me a new perspective on this whole issue – sometimes it’s for the sake of the other person and your relationship with them that you want to ask for their involvement.  This is where self-dependency and co-dependency become inter-dependency and there is mutual giving and receiving.  This is the way relationships ought to be and what I’m working towards.        
 
You know the question that goes, “If you ever got stuck on an island, what would you want there with you”?  I think I’d definitely like some sunblock and people, my family and friends, on my island.  🙂
 
Here’s an appropriate song for this post – Simon and Garfunkel’s “I am a Rock“.

What kind of animal would you choose to describe yourself?

Parenting is Unpredictable

I think it’s probably best for people with control issues to not have kids.  Actually, I take that back – maybe it’s a good idea for us because then we would realize there are just some things in life that we can’t control.  

There is nothing predictable about parenthood and it starts right from the get-go.  You can’t control when you’ll conceive and even with all the best estimations, you can’t control when you’ll go into labor.  And there is no way of knowing that you’ll gain 50 lbs during the pregnancy and give birth to a teeny, tiny 5 lb 11 oz baby (to this day, E is still a very picky eater!).  And once the baby arrives, there is no controlling how our minds turn to mush and our bodies start breaking down from sheer exhaustion and exertion.  I understand now why sleep deprivation is used as a torture method, but I think an even better way is to blast a baby’s cries non-stop until you can still hear those cries when you are alone in the shower.  😛

Don’t even get me started about parenting a toddler, especially one who talks in complete sentences at 18 months (C loves to talk so much that sometimes she says she’s talking to herself!).  This is when the notions of maintaining any amount of control start to vanish when this little person with a big attitude wants to have a say about everything – what she wears, what she eats, where she goes, etc.  There is no situation that makes you feel more out of control than waiting in a car for your kid to sit down in the carseat, so you can finally leave the parking lot you’ve been sitting in for half an hour.  Actually, there are plenty of other situations that could compare with this one, but they are too many to list and too frustrating to reminisce about. 😛

However, with all the crazy, uncontrollable parts of parenting comes another side that I had never predicted.  That’s the side that finds so much joy in just watching my kids while they sleep.  And how they make me smile just seeing their delight in the simple things in life, like dandelions.  It’s the part that still finds it unbelievable that they seemed to have appeared out of nowhere and are ours to keep.  🙂

E and C discovering a dandelion

Given everything that is out of our control, it’s a good thing a parent’s love for their child is just as intense as the insanity that comes with being a parent. 

Here’s a fun song, “Smile“, by Uncle Kracker.

What have you discovered to be the most unpredictable part of parenting?