Pressing the PLAY Button on My Life Again

A few weeks ago I watched my youngest graduate kindergarten. Yesterday, I dropped off both munchkins at summer school in the morning and didn’t pick them up until almost six hours later. Yes, you read that right. Not one, not three, but SIX hours. That’s the most I’ve been on my own in almost nine years.

And it was glorious.

Cue the Carlton!

Cue the Carlton!

I went walking with a friend (four miles, baby!), shopped for groceries and guinea pig bedding, ate lunch and worked on book #3 without any interruptions!

Then today happened.

When I dropped off E and C at school again, I had this odd, unsettled sensation in the middle of my chest. It made me feel kind of lost like this …

One of the best shows ever, agree?

One of the best shows ever, agree?

… except without the island and smoke monster and cute doggie by my side. 😉

After some prayer and reflection on the drive home, I had an a-ha moment (which is a lot easier to do when you don’t have two kiddos fighting in the backseat). I realized that for the past nine years, I’ve poured all my time and attention (and blood, sweat and tears) into helping two people learn how to talk and walk, how to read, how to add/subtract/multiply, how to get along, and how to (insert countless verbs here) that I kind of put myself on hold. I pressed the pause button on my goals and dreams and ambitions. (Side note: Yes, it was a decision I made which I am (or have learned to be) okay with and am grateful for.) I just never thought the day would come when I would get to press the play button again.

Each year as the kids get older and more capable, I find myself with a little more time and energy. And with those extra hours and brain cells back, I’ve been finding joy in writing. If you had told me a decade ago that I would get to make up stories for fun, as well as write about real life stuff to encourage others, I wouldn’t have believed it. I had plans to work as a therapist and get licensed by the time I was forty. Instead, I ditched the internship hours I had earned, stayed home with my munchkins and am now heading down a completely different career path as a writer. And I’m turning forty this year.

Yikes. 😛

Whether it’s a mid-life crisis or a mid-parenting crisis, I am definitely feeling lost. Strange as it may be, as E and C are becoming more independent, I’m having to learn how to “walk” on my own again. It’s a new experience and a new chapter in my life, so I’m reminding myself that it’s okay to take baby steps. And it’s normal to stumble and fall. But as I’ve taught my kids, the most important thing to do is to get up and keep on trying.

And on that note, I’m going to be taking some time off this summer to “find myself” so I will be blogging about 1-2x a month instead of weekly. I’ll be posting on my Facebook page though, so you can find me there. 🙂

I think Kelly Clarkson’s song, “Catch My Breath” is a good song for this post. I feel like I’m catching my breath now that I have some down time, but also looking forward to what’s to come.

I would love to hear from you on how you’ve handled life transitions – I know there are all kinds! What helps you to find your way when you feel lost?

Monday Mentionables: Chicken Wings, Holiday Shopping & Christmas Songs

Oh my, I think this post qualifies as an “Almost-Tuesday-Monday Mentionables”. Haha. I am realizing that blogging while my munchkins are home on Christmas break is going to be challenging (cue the broken record of whiny voices asking, “Mo-om, what can I do?”). So in the spirit of trying not to be perfect, as well as, making my best effort to be present with my kids, I’m giving myself a “blogging pass” for the rest of the year. I hope to recharge and come back with a bang in 2014, so stay tuned. 🙂

In the meantime, here are today’s mentionables…

1. Sweet & Spicy Rubbed Wings. Thanks to hubby, I have fallen in love with chicken wings from Wing Stop. But since I am also frugal (aka. cheap!), I decided it would be more cost efficient to make them myself. I found this recipe online and it was pretty easy to follow. I did make some changes though: I left out the spicy ingredients and the coffee for the kids’ sake… and the paprika for my wallet’s sake ($8 for a small bottle!)… and the cinnamon for hubby’s sake (he dislikes it). So, I guess I just made sweet rubbed wings. 😉 But everyone liked it! Let me know if you try the recipe as is and how it tastes. 

Sorry for the poor lighting – gotta change out the lightbulbs over the dining table!

2. Holiday Shopping. In light of all the retail therapy that is being done this week, let’s not forget the poor men who get dragged to the malls by their wife/girlfriend/sister/daughter. Check out this link for photos of miserable men and the dark side of holiday shopping. 🙂

3. Christmas Songs. Just wanted to share four of my favorite Christmas songs.

#1: Little Saint Nick by the Beach Boys

#2: All I Want For Christmas Is You by Mariah Carey (performed here with Jimmy Fallon & The Roots)
#3: Underneath the Tree by Kelly Clarkson
#4: O Holy Night (sung here by Jackie Evancho)
Here’s wishing everyone a Merry Christmas! 

The “Good” Girl

“I love you because you are a good person.”

These words of affirmation came from E one day out of the blue.  I stopped what I was doing and my eyes widened as I grasped exactly what he had just said.  Then I looked at hubby with a shocked expression and stood there speechless.  Absolutely speechless.  I was touched that E would say such a thing and pay me such a huge compliment because one – he obviously forgot about the last time I lost my temper and two – I secretly pride myself on being “good”.  Being the square person that I am, I am good at being good.  I have never gotten a speeding ticket, I am a stickler for rules and I try to be “nice” to people and do all the “right” things.  When I was younger, a family friend even asked my mom if I had attended some kind of etiquette school because I was so proper!  Haha!  You could say I am the perfect example of a good little Asian girl.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/

Lately though, I have been a little tired of being “good” all the time.  I told hubby I wished I could be the irresponsible, forgetful, unreliable one sometimes (I admit though the forgetful part has become more true as I age).  I would like to not feel like I have to color within the lines all the time.  I would like to be able to do something without thinking and not worry about the consequences.  But, honestly, I can’t stop being me.  For one thing, it wouldn’t be natural and I’d need to work really hard at letting go, which would defeat the purpose.  And someone’s got to keep the hubby and kids fed and cared for.

This also made me think about whether it’s natural for me to be “good”.  I believe a lot of times I try to do and say the right things because I know I’m supposed to, not always because I want to.  Whether it’s due to a fear of rejection or failure or just plain stubbornness, I am used to my square ways.  But I’ve learned that unless I am motivated by love to be/do good, it’s all a bunch of b.s.  It’s worth more to be known as a loving person than a good person.  So much more.

But how do I make that jump from being just good to being loving?  This is where my faith comes in.  For most of my Christian life, I believed I could be a good little Christian girl by following the rules and doing good things.  I was the perfect candidate to be a follower of Jesus.  What I didn’t understand though was that if I was so good, why did I need God?  God is not touched by good little Christian Asian girls who do good things and stay within the lines.  He is actually more moved by people who may appear “bad” (broken and ugly) on the outside, but are clinging to His goodness and love in order to live life fully on the inside.

When I was studying counseling, one of my assignments was to attend an AA meeting so I could better understand what life is like for someone with an addiction.  I admit that had to be one of the most uncomfortable and out of the box experiences of my life, not because the meeting was strange, but because it was strange for me (the good little Christian Asian girl) to be at a place where you were supposed to admit you didn’t have it all together and you needed help to change.  What a humbling and eye-opening night that was for me!  For the first time, I saw people who were moved by love and humility to be better people and to live better lives.  I also realized how similar I am to those people – in need of recovery from my prideful and unloving ways – but unlike them, I was nowhere as far along in the process as they were.  Because the first step of the 12 steps is to admit you have a problem and I was still happily hiding behind my facade of being a good girl.

I know I am capable of doing good things, but I also often act out of pride, impatience, and a judgmental attitude, which are all the opposite of what is good and what is loving.  I think I have shared before about trying to be more loving as a person, but it’s only because I have come to realize how petty and unforgiving I can be (especially post-kids)!  Sigh!

I honestly still don’t understand why E said I am a good person.  I know I am definitely not a perfect parent!  If anything, he is the one who is good because he is able to see beyond my moodiness and impatience and still find good in me.  And his unconditional love, and that of the rest of my family and God, helps me know it’s okay that I’m not a “good” girl and I don’t need to try so hard to be one.  I just need to know I am loved and to let that love move me to love others.

A big thank you to my friends and family who love me and my dark side.  🙂

Here’s Kelly Clarkson’s song, “Dark Side“, about the not so perfect parts of ourselves.

Who in your life has witnessed your dark side and still loves you in spite of it?


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/

Check out Kelly Clarkson’s song, “Stronger“.

In what ways have your life experiences made you stronger?

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