Uncharted Road of Life

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?

Gettin’ a Job In Tha Muthahood

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?

I Can Only Imagine

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.

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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“.

What storms have you weathered in your life?

Playing House

Image courtesy of nuttakit/freedigitalphotos.net

The other day hubby said, “Thanks for playing house with me.”  I laughed because I know what he means.  Sometimes we look at our lives and wonder how we got here – one house, 2 kids, a dog and a (brown) picket fence.  It almost doesn’t seem real.

When I was young, I played with a set of homemade paper dolls, a family with a mom and a dad and a couple of kids.  I used to think about what it would be like to meet my knight in shining armor, get married and have a family.  I always thought about how nice it would be to grow up and do all that fun adult stuff of falling in love and living happily ever after.  Now that I’ve realized that dream, I also realize that playing house is a lot easier to do when it’s with paper dolls.  With dolls, there are no chores to do, no bills to pay and you can go on vacation whenever you want.  But real life is not quite as carefree and also not always quite so romantic.  Marriage is hard work, especially once you get back from a week-long honeymoon in Kauai.  And once you throw kids into the equation, there’s just a whole lotta crazy going on!

It’s been over 5 years since hubby and I have slept side by side in the same bed together, 5 years since we’ve been able to have a conversation without being interrupted, 5 years since we’ve felt young, energetic and sane, haha.  Life has certainly changed.  These days, we spend so much time trying to meet the kids’ needs (in order to stop the crying and screaming!) that sometimes we feel like we’re just 2 nannies living under the same roof.  😛

The ironic thing is that I think having kids has made our marriage better.  Hubby also asked me the other day, “Do you think you love me more now that we have kids?”  (Haha, is that a rhetorical question?)  Well, I think I appreciate him a lot more now that we have kids.  Being on this parenting journey together helps me see how well we complement one another.  And suffering does bring people together, doesn’t it?  🙂

We just have to remember what brought us together in the first place and make it through this crazy stage of life with 2 small kids.   There’s no other person I’d rather play house with than my hubby…because no one’s got what we’ve got going.

Here’s a cute song by Charlene Kaye, featuring Darren Criss, called “Dress and Tie“.

What does “playing house” look like for you and your spouse?