Here’s Mommy!

It’s a new year and a welcome opportunity to slough off the dead skin that was 2017. The holiday season was hectic for us, full of food, family, snowstorms, emotions, friends, chaos, a reasonable amount of fun, and a whooooole lot of togetherness.

We’re used to the cold in Canada, but it was so prohibitively chilly over the holidays that no snowmen were erected, nor was any sledding or snowshoeing attempted. We did manage to make a hot chocolate run at one point, but the warmth of the beverage was quickly cancelled out by the icy burning of my face and fingers in the frigid air.

The snow fort building and snowball fights we had planned for the kids got replaced by sofa fort building and a fistfight (Thing 1 gave Thing 2 a bloody nose), and aside from visiting other people’s houses, our activities were restricted to our open-concept home where it’s very hard to be alone. At the end of it all, I emerged with five extra pounds, a deeper appreciation for silence, and a serious case of cabin fever.

I love my kids. I do. I think, however, I love them even more when they aren’t underfoot. Recently Thing 2 decided that he’s afraid of being alone (even when he’s in our aforementioned open-concept living room and he can see me in the kitchen), and as much as I want to make him feel secure and unafraid, I also want to run away before I lose my mind and start chasing him with an axe. Without the routine of school over the holidays, I found myself with a constantly orbiting satellite that refused to brush his teeth by himself. I nearly lost it a few times, and I confess that Jack in The Shining suddenly made a lot more sense to me.

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Fortunately the kids went back to school yesterday, and it was glorious. But the whole experience made me want to be better prepared for the next time we’re trapped indoors with no end in sight. I guess a good place to start planning would be to figure out what we as parents are supposed to do after we’ve endured 1,000 rounds of Jenga, allowed six consecutive hours of Xbox, binge-watched three series of Teen Titans Go!, turned the living room into a Lego minefield, and bickered over Monopoly, and it’s only day one of a two-week winter break.

In the meantime, I’m grateful for the time I spent with my family, but even more for the start of the school semester. Here’s hoping the weather’s more accommodating over spring break.

Running Away

I’m about to get on a plane. I’ll be gone for two weeks.

Travel has always been a big part of my life, starting as a child when my family and I would take 14-hour flights from Washington D.C. and spend sweltering summers in South Korea, visiting an endless parade of relatives. Unless I’ve miscounted, I have 35 first cousins and a bagazillion more distant ones.

My mother would dutifully shuttle us from house to house, some in the middle of the hectic metropolis, a few by the sea, and one or two in the countryside. These rural visits traumatized me, as the houses we went to were inevitably surrounded by well-fertilized fields, and at least one of them had no flushing toilet. (My older sister’s got a great story about an unfortunate mix-up between a bowl of noodles and a chamber pot.)

As a kid, I never appreciated these trips. It felt tedious and exhausting to see aunt after great-aunt after great-great uncle after great-great-great grandfather (we visited some of their graves in the mountains; to this day the sight of twisted Asian pine trees and magpies fills me with dread). One year, after a particularly long, hot day of endless family and culture clashes, I had had enough of the heat and the comments from aunties about my weight, and I told my mother I was never visiting Korea again.

Of course, I went back a couple of years later, but this time only with my younger sister. We had no clue what we were doing, so our itinerary was greatly simplified. Instead of trying to see every single person in the family, we managed to keep it to maybe four different houses. With no real parental supervision, my sister and I had a relatively decent time, eating icy desserts, drinking banana milk, and laughing at the way they censored racy song titles on album covers. You remember Right Said Fred’s hit, “I’m Too Happy”, don’t you?

Eventually, I finally went alone. It was the first time I fully enjoyed myself there. I went to restaurants, shopped, spent time with my cool cousins, skipped the ones I didn’t know that well, and realized that the country I’d previously found unappealing was actually quite the opposite.

Before that trip, traveling seemed like a burden. All I wanted was to stay home for a whole summer with nothing expected of me. After that trip, I finally understood that I, too, could travel for vacation, not just obligation. I simply needed to travel alone.

Fast-forward to now. Hubby and I have been married for a while, we’ve traveled together, taken solo trips, gone on vacation with his family, had kids and taken them places, and visited my parents both in Korea and DC. If we’re lucky, we’ll keep doing this until they tell us we can’t.

Traveling with Hubby and the kids is great, don’t get me wrong. I know we’re incredibly blessed to be able to take the trips that we do and show Thing 1 and 2 different parts of the world. But I definitely feel an exhilarating sense of freedom when I travel alone. I do what I want. I am responsible for no one. I accommodate no one. No one stresses me out with their last-minute bathroom emergencies right before boarding on a discount airline that never waits.

Until yesterday, I was counting the days to this child-free, husband-free vacation, anxiously waiting until I could sit in this airport wine bar and have a glass of white to inaugurate my holiday.


But then last night, we had an impromptu family dance party before dinner. After dinner, Thing 2 practiced piano without complaining. Thing 1 read to his brother without objection. Hubby and I laughed long and hard about nothing in particular. For an evening, my little family was perfect, and I felt such pangs of regret at the idea of leaving them for so long.

Fortunately, I had the foresight of taking a video of each child at his whiniest, so if I really miss them while I’m gone, I’ll have a great reminder on my phone of why I’m taking this trip in the first place. I’m grateful for this vacation, for my husband who let me leave for so long, for my parents whose generosity at my birthday paid for the ticket, for my friends whom I’ll visit across the pond (oh, yeah, I’m not going to Korea), and for the opportunity to come back home with my batteries recharged.

Bon voyage.


 

 

 

 

 

 

Confession Time

Parenting can be rewarding, sure, but it’s also really hard. Today I wanted to encourage those of us who are parents, want to be parents, or don’t want to be parents, with some words of wisdom to get us through the tough times.

Unfortunately, none came to me, so all I have is this list of confessions for your consideration. After all, confessing is good for the soul.

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  • I have used the fridge door to hide behind while flipping my kids the bird. (Hopefully they don’t look at my feet when I do this- otherwise they’d see the silent but aggressive stomping that goes along with it.)
  • I have lied to their faces about toy stores being closed at 2:00 p.m. on a Saturday.
  • I’ve hidden their gadgets and pretended not to know where things went.
  • I’ve spent their birthday money from Grandma and Grandpa on wine and ice cream.
  • I’ve locked myself in the bathroom and let them fight while I played Candy Crush on my phone.
  • I’ve stolen their chocolate and blamed it on their dad.
  • I’ve talked about them behind their backs, sworn at them under my breath, and secretly laughed at their screaming when a spider fell on them.

There are many more confessions that I dare not put in writing, lest child protection services finds out, but needless to say, there’s some room for improvement.

I know that each day I manage to keep the kids alive and somewhat hygienic is technically a win, but as they get older and more complicated as individuals, I want to get better at not just coping as a parent, but thriving as one, and helping them thrive as well. Sometimes it’s easy, like when they play peacefully together and tell me they love me. Other times I want to run far, far away where no one under 18 can ever follow.

But I do love them, ultimately, and I want to do right by them. They are amazing and have enriched my life immeasurably. I just need to remember this during the next tantrum. Or even right now, as Thing 1 came up to me and farted on my leg as I wrote this. No joke.

One last confession- I just sat on him and returned the favour.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The New 30

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I just turned 40.

Maybe it’s a big deal, maybe it’s just a number. I’m feeling pretty good about it, except for one thing-

I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.

I ask my kids this question sometimes, hoping the answer is “a doctor” or “accountant” or anything that leads to financial security and them moving out of the house one day. The last time I asked, Thing 1 said “Michael Jackson”, and Thing 2 ignored the question completely, opting instead to painfully squirm his way out of my straight-jacket embrace. (I let him go, mostly because he accidentally elbowed me in the bladder, but I’m pretty sure he was going to say “brain surgeon.”)

I’ve taken personality tests, hoping that I fit into a category that was easy to define and easier to employ. Apparently I am everything and nothing, introverted and extroverted, right in the gray area of the Meyers-Briggs test. I have a friend who’s a psychologist, and even she said she couldn’t figure me out. Psychologically, I am plasma.

Many of my fellow parents have gone back to school for event planning, interior design, nursing, or even med school (!!), which is incredibly admirable. The problem is there’s nothing I’m interested in enough, that I’m aware of, for which I’d be willing to suffer through another degree.

I’ve made lists of my interests and strengths, and have sought advice from people much wiser and more experienced than me, all of which led to the following conclusions:

  • As a freelance English editor, I already get paid to watch TV shows and movies, and I don’t find it particularly gratifying.
  • Sudoku solving isn’t a career.
  • Neither is annoying my husband. Or my kids.
  • Crochet can only be lucrative if I actually finish something.
  • I can’t charge people for praying for them.
  • I’d have to master more than just the corpse pose to teach yoga.
  • Snark is hard to monetize.

So I guess I’m writing this until I figure out what I’m supposed to be doing with my life. If it helps you in any way at all, this will have been more than worth it. At the very least, I hope that reading about my awkward blundering through adulthood makes you feel better about your own journey.

🙂