routine freakout

i am pooping my pants, people! not really.

so today was bud’s routine 18 month peds appointment. there, i was in for a shocker. the pediatrician nonchalantly asked me if i was interested in preschool for bud. my eyebrows went up. yes, of course…why, do you ask? well, as it turns out, enrollment begins in january for the following september. are you kidding me?! we are already talking about preschool here?!

bud is a year and a half. i just had him last year! i can still say that as we are slowly counting down to 2014. once 2015 hits…oh, geez i just don’t know! but preschool?! isn’t it too soon?!

the pediatrician reassured me it was just an option, but preschool does allow registration at two and a half years. which bud will be. next september. *gag

we are discussing my little baby becoming two and a half years old. waaaaaah. time, you are so cruel! the thing about raising a kid is that the moment you feel comfortable and used to one phase, the next phase hits. which is fantastic. so great. a truly selfless mother would embrace this. but i, on the other hand, am mourning the loss of little babyhood. i am clinging on for dear life. it’s just so dang hard to let go. on the outside, i am encouraging my kiddo to flourish, to grow…but internally, i am a little (okay a lot) sad. it’s passing me by too fast. they don’t lie when they say, “it goes by fast!” and by “they” i mean strangers who would initiate conversations with you at random places when you were carrying around a wee little newborn. why does that always happen? because they want to forewarn you of the upcoming heartbreak if you are not prepared. not prepared to let go. cue frozen song?

if that wasn’t a shocker for me, pampers sent me an email newsletter asking, mom, have you started potty training? surely you can’t be talking about my wee little baby, pampers?! but indeed. they are. because if preschool wasn’t enough to think about, the beginning of potty training also arrived at this momentous occasion. it all feels so early! the thought of no more diaper changes and having a little walking and talking person being independent enough to go to the bathroom on his own was a bridge i hadn’t even thought of crossing. and now i’m there. crossing.

after i picked my jaw off the floor at how fast my baby is growing, i focused on the joyousness of it all. it only gets more fun, i was once told. and i believe that to the fullest. the second you adjust to one period of your baby’s life, you’re hit with the next (sometimes unexpectedly) but you are always thinking to yourself, holy balls…i thought it was fun before, but it just keeps getting better. okay, sure, i forget to embrace it a lot of the time. but with a smiley, giggly reminder of your product, it’s hard not to smile and giggle back.

the mommy wars

i have been away from the mom scene for quite a few months now. after a friend’s recommendation, i had joined a mommy group on meetup.com and had been catapulted into playgroups, mommy meet ups, and story time readings. i think what did it was when i had hosted a meetup, i was greeted with the same question several times from different mothers: what other activities do you involve your kid in? stammering with responses that vaguely expressed “none”, they had all yammered away at giving me advice, recommendations, and insight into what they do with their babies.

in retrospect, i can say that i got swept away with something that wasn’t at all necessary. i felt pressured, i felt like i fell behind in the mommy category. but i know perfectly cohesive, mature adults who never went to daily playgroups. and i’m sure ted bundy had once been right there, clapping along in gymboree classes. what i mean to say is, it’s great to get your kid socialized. but there are a lot of expectations as a mother–a mile long standard, that we are all being set to. if you don’t have a packed schedule monday through friday, you’re perceived as neglectful. lazy, even. and that you’re encouraging your child to be completely codependent. but…isn’t that what preschool is for? no matter how much you prepare your kid, this transition never comes easy. not for the mother, who loses either way. secretly, we want our kids to tear up a bit when we wave goodbye. but then again, when they dash in, without so much of a kiss on the cheek, we’re also at a bit of a loss.

another realization i am facing is that the mommy community is brutal. if you haven’t heard of the “mommy wars”, i suggest you google it. a bunch of moms labeling each other and judging to the harshest extent. do any of us even meet up to these expectations? and the labels…woo wee! so many to fall under! but they comfort some of us; it allows us to judge each other easier. which is definitely not a good thing. what kind of mom are you? is the question i see in the narrowing eyes of the mothers scrutinizing me at every meetup. i am covered with tattoos. i am significantly younger than the moms in my area. i also don’t own a bugaboo or joovy baby stroller, a mercedes, or a two hundred dollar diaper bag to cutely tote around my toddler’s poopy diapers. in case you didn’t catch that, we live in a ritzy area that we were fortunate enough to get into with a housing program and our military background (we loved the schools). here are the labels that we love to choose from:

 

-the organic mom (organic food, self explanatory)

-the all natural mom (not to be confused with organic mom; these moms strictly use all natural products ie. sunscreen)

-the germ mom (go ahead and touch that pile of dog feces!)

-the sterile mom (must.clorox.everything…DON’T TOUCH THAT, YOU’LL GET EBOLA!)

-the fit mom (always seen in lulu lemon leggings, a puffy vest, and a hoodie that screams, perfect combo for running and yoga!)

-the new mom (see this unwashed hair? that’s not a skin condition, that’s just my unmoisturized, hairy legs…crap, i forgot to put on underwear…)

-the helicopter mom (child is always within hug’s reach because at any moment, a guy in a ski mask can pop out of the gymboree toy bin and abduct my child)

-the “it’s all good” mom (child is sticking a fork in the electrical outlet–he’ll learn!)

-the overindulgent mom (sure, you can have this brick of gold)

-the stringent mom (i fashioned this toy out of toilet paper rolls and paper clips! do you like?)

 

the thing is…none of us fit under one label. and some of us put so much pressure on ourselves so that we do. because we want to be “that mom” that we aspire to. but honestly, no one, not even jessica alba herself, is a single labeled mother. we just need to remind ourselves that there’s a certain image that people project, and it may not even be realistic or authentic. that’s the thing about living in a society that relies so heavily on social media; we can all be the person we want to be online. don’t ever believe the hype. be a little bit of everything, but most importantly, remember to be all of you.

side note: great article from the new york times forwarded to me today by a newly made (gasp!) mom friend! i never thought this day would come! i finally found someone like minded in this world full of crazy (ahem–moms). man, it’s tough out there. but your people are out there! you just gotta look. much like dating. remember how fun that was (NOT)!

article is here. if you are wondering if this article is worth your time to read…it is. i know some of you mamas are busy dollies, but ohhh this is a good one. for this new rising culture of moms where you are never good enough. the writer, heather havrilesky speaks of the overwhelming pressure of being a mom in this time, which has changed greatly since we were young. little sneak peak for ya:

“We are besieged by Facebook images of sun-kissed children canning homegrown peaches and building tiny replicas of the Eiffel Tower out of toothpicks and being home-schooled on organic dairy farms in Wisconsin.”

“Personally, though, I don’t want to read about amazing kid-friendly boutique hotels with treehouse cabins in Sweden. I don’t want to know about the most delicious cherry pie some super-relaxed stay-at-home dad made with his towheaded toddler. I am not interested in hearing theories on what gave your 5-year-old such a premature grasp of quadratic equations, or about the countless benefits of living in Berlin for your now-German-speaking, bicycle-riding, train-hopping spawn. There’s too much pressure, on parents in general and mothers in particular, to keep our kids away from corn syrup and bullies and industrially farmed beef while introducing them to chapter books and charcoal drawings and parasailing.”

HA! and this reminds me…new goal for moi: make sure that the next time i meet a fellow mom, make that extra effort getting to know her. the real her. and ask her questions to get to know that person beyond the label “mom”.

good day to you all!

veteran’s day

every veteran’s day, i get a funny feeling in my chest. is it shame? pride? how can you feel emotions that so directly conflict with one another?

i had never been to war. i had never been deployed to anywhere of real threat. and when i see images of marines, soldiers…my brothers in arms fighting and dying for their country, i feel a little sick.

today, of all days…how can i receive thanks for serving in the military when i had never experienced anything as traumatizing as they had? i had never seen my fellow service members bleeding out on the dirt. i had never seen the look of terror in the eyes of boys who will never see their 21st birthdays. never taken a bullet for my country. how can i be lumped into the same category as these heroes?

this is not a lesson in modesty. it’s simply that i don’t feel worthy to be a subject of praise on this day.

any other day, my chest swells with pride that i had committed a number of years of my life to the service. but on veteran’s day, my feelings are mixed and bittersweet. the air force has their values: integrity first, service before self, excellence in all we do. once i had become pregnant, i knew i had to opt out of the military. i no longer agreed with these values. and i would be an impostor if i stayed in. once i realized i would have a child, i knew it would never be “service before self” ever again. my child will always comes first. and it wouldn’t be fair to my fellow airmen while they put their duties first. so i submitted my request to my commander to be released from duty; a chance women only get in the military. and i took that chance.

i still feel this urge to give back. give back to the veterans and the active duty service members who are fighting. fighting for this country, fighting for their jobs amidst ptsd, fighting to hold their families together, fighting to hold off bad memories that seep back into their minds.

i think i may be onto something, guys. i’ve been thinking a lot about what to do once bud starts preschool. besides writing, of course. last year i had applied for a job as veterans career specialist at a local college. as someone who got her masters while active duty, i thought this position would be ideal. luckily, it turned out not getting that job was a blessing in disguise, as i got the wonderful opportunity to watch my kid’s daily ups and downs. but still, the days are quickly ticking down to when i need to hunker down and seriously look for employment once preschool starts. my three year plan is still in its wee baby stages…but the ideas are fizzing!

anyways, thank you to my fellow veterans. what you sacrifice to this country, big or small, is worth year long celebration. i can’t even begin to express my gratitude for what you have done for us. MUCH love!

happy veteran’s day, to all of you. you guys deserve it more than i do! muah!

motherhood and vitality

i’m the type of person that needs to figure stuff out for her own. i’m stubborn as hell and i won’t have anyone telling me what to do. (those of you who are older may understand that perhaps people aren’t telling me what to do but simply giving me advice out of love.) i used to wonder, is this mentality a result of having an overbearing korean mother? maybe a side effect of having an ex-friend who loved dismissing my opinion on anything and everything?

regardless, i am beginning to understand that this is an unappealing trait that you get as you gain age. you think you have your stuff figured out. you think that you are an adult, and that gives you rights, dangit! for instance, you can’t get my husband to do anything he doesn’t want to do. even if it’s for the benefit of his health. i’ve tried vitamins, health foods, teas, etc. etc. only to despair over money ill spent. it took me years to accept this. and years to realize, aren’t we all like this?

if my mother were to tell me to eat an apple a day (which she never fails to remind me) i would reply with an indignant response (“what, you don’t think i know how to be an adult?!”). as a child, we were forced to listen to our parents. we had to obey all the silly rules (no ren and stimpy?!) and gratefully eat all the veggies off our plates. now that our training wheels are off, we think we have it all down. ah, the curse of adulthood. we are cocky enough to think that we know what we’re doing. hint: no adult, anywhere, knows fully what they are doing. beauty of life, people.

so when my husband and mother kept nagging me about taking care of myself better instead of starving myself throughout the day chasing around a toddler, i ignored them. until i ran around a playground and felt weak. and kind of like the tin man, where my joints were creaking and stiff. and i inwardly groaned when my little man wanted to  be picked up. because of my bad back.

the number of times my baby will want me to pick him up are LITERALLY NUMBERED. and this is my reaction? because my stupid body is resisting? i was angry. with myself, with my weakness. since leaving the military, this has bothered me on a daily basis; how weak i have become since i stopped caring for my health. and this was when it stopped. i started working out this week. and running more often. because now i’m thinking about the future. so when my kid forms the words, “more! more!” my attitude will be, bring it on!

sure, hearing someone else give you advice is quite different than reaching that determination yourself. it’s less motivating to be doing it just because your loved ones are telling you to do it versus doing it because you truly want it. but if you’re anything like me, know that you are not only wasting time, but the number of moments you can share with your kid. all we ever have is now. later may never come.

every little thing is gonna be okay

bud and i took a trip to the grocery store to score some apple cider vinegar. have you heard about this craze?! it’s supposed to be the all-curing miracle remedy for flus, weight management, allergies, etc. etc. bc someone (ahem, bud) brought the plague into our house. that plus some green juice and i was ready to trek on home.

as i was putting bud in his car seat, i heard a woman yelling, “hello! hello!” i looked up and saw another young mom, waving and calling, “my baby is in the car…can you come get this?” i looked over to the shopping cart attendant, who looked bewildered, and went back to buckling bud in. the woman looked as if her ankle was chained to her car. an understandable concern, but i couldn’t help but smile since she was about three feet from her car and the cart depository (or whatever it’s called?) was literally across the aisle from her. i smiled at her ridiculousness. because that used to be me! scared, oh-so careful, and paranoid.

now, i don’t mean it’s alright to dash in the grocery store while your window’s cracked for your babe. no, i don’t mean to be neglectful. what i mean is, we have this new life to care for, and it’s the smallest things that appear daunting. it’s crazy to see where you used to be when you see it. motherhood teaches women how to be brave and not to sweat the little stuff. we think that every little action we do might result in a catastrophic event that will jeopardize the safety of our little ones. what if the car were to spontaneously combust? what if a kidnapper broke into the car while i stepped away to put the cart up? these unrealistic thoughts used to plague me and as we both grew together, i found myself a little wiser. because i remembered, it’s all going to be okay. cue bob marley.

not everyone likes you and that’s okay

so my biggest struggle with writing has been sharing my work. i recently joined a writer’s workshop locally, and the hour prior usually has me giving myself intense pep talks.

it isn’t news that i have trouble with caring too much what other people think. when i get into it with a sales associate, a rude mom, or a raging driver, i harp. i harp for a good several hours. what could i have done or said differently to prove my point? why didn’t they get it? it’s not so much an issue i have with people liking me more than i had an issue with coming to terms with someone treating me like i’m less than. i needed them to get it. but why do i even care?

same goes with my work. i am terrified of what someone thinks about my writing. to the point where i am editing for someone other than myself. why? why cater to an invisible audience that i have entirely fabricated? the audience that already hates me?

because of this, i have began a mental exercise. and i have to say, it’s going quite well. i have recently read an article stating that one of the signs you care too much about what other people think is when you fail to recognize that people bring their own biases, personal experiences, and prejudices to the table.  you cannot control anything about this. you cannot control anything beyond this. so, i start by asking myself: would it bother me if adolf hitler hated my piece? no. why not? because why should his opinion matter? he had some seriously skewed perceptions about world views and personal matters that completely disagree with my own. that’s why. and that’s the type of logic (perhaps not that exact reasoning) that i need to apply to everyone else. because by writing, you are reaching out to your people. and if someone hates me because i have the same name of someone who stole their boyfriend or because i resemble some schoolmate they can’t stand, then that’s completely erroneous and irrelevant to me. and this may be true! people may actually dislike my writing for these reasons! and this is a reality i have to accept. whether someone hates my work because they have a legitimate reason or the reasons mentioned–i’ll never know. and i have to learn not to care because either way, whatever the reason, it does not give validity to their claims just because they think it. does that make sense?

you just have to laugh and say, too bad. that’s their own deal. so i can do this mental exercise about hitler but i can’t do this about some potentially disgruntled stranger who’s opinion equally does not matter? um, so far…yes. but i’m working on it. and i can feel myself shift a little in a positive way. so in case you haven’t been paying attention: if you don’t end up liking my book, you=adolf hitler.

just kidding.