What I Learned On My Girls’ Weekend Getaway

This past weekend, a few fellow mommies and I went to SF for a Girls’ Weekend out. We lolled about, walked without considering small children, ate a ton and drank in the day time! Heck, we even drank at night! Awesome! It was so enjoyable and relaxing and truly fun. Thanks, ladies and husbands!

Here are a few things I learned this weekend on my first weekend trip without the kids in two years.

1) I didn’t really miss my children. Not even the baby. But I did talk about them at least 65% of the time and checked in with Hapa Papa every few hours.

2) Hapa Papa did fantastic with all three kids – even without having lactating breasts! Clearly, this is a sign that I need to leave more often.

3) Getting to know new friends is really fun. I’ve slowly been getting to know some of the moms at Cookie Monster’s preschool better and it has been wonderful. I don’t know why I worried so much about getting along with the other mommies. It gives me great hope for the future when the kids start elementary school.

4) Finding out what the other moms did before becoming SAHMs was a revelation. In our group, we had two lawyers, one child psychologist/school counselor, a financial advisor, and a preschool teacher. I had the least amount of education out of them all. They were all slumming it!

5) There is such a thing as too much chocolate. We attended a chocolate festival at Fort Mason and by the end, I was a bit sick of chocolate. Also, turns out I prefer truffles over bars. The best thing that I put in my mouth this weekend.

6) Valet parking in SF is totally worth it.

7) After attending an Asian American Film Festival, I realized I might have to start putting my money where my mouth is. If I want to see more Asians in film, I need to support their work.

8) Even though I’ve had my pixie cut for at least a month, I’m still not used to my new look. I am constantly surprised when I see myself in pictures and reflective surfaces.

9) I still get carsick.

10) Things that I might’ve found titillating or risqué a few years ago are now boring and contrived. Not because I am jaded or inured to sex. I’m just older and wiser and find some of the more desperate actions really sad.

11) I can’t control myself in bookstores. Especially when it comes to books that feature Chinese or Japanese stories for the kids. I’m also a sucker for coffee table books with tons of art/pictures.

12) Staying up until 3am chatting is better than sleep.

13) After coming home, say, “Thank you” to Hapa Papa and try to curb the urge to point out everything you see that is wrong with the house. It makes Hapa Papa feel shitty and me seem like an ungrateful jerk. Which I was for a few moments. Sorry, Hapa Papa. You are an awesome dad and husband and I am so fortunate to have you.

Since all the husbands performed admirably (one hit it out of the park by taking his boys on a spur of the moment camping trip to Santa Cruz), we clearly can leave our children more often. Any suggestions of where to go and what to do next?

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When Did *I* Become the Grown Up in the Room?

Ladies and gentleman, I am thirty-five years old, have three small children, am married, and own a business with my mother. Yet somehow, when I stop and think about it, I am completely baffled by this turn of events. How have I been entrusted with the daily responsibility of keeping alive three babies? More importantly, how have I kept them alive so long?

I recall about three and a half years ago, I was giving a talk to a bunch of junior high girls for the Soroptimists (I am not one, but an acquaintance of mine was) at a local high school. All of a sudden, someone pulled the fire alarm and we had to evacuate the class room. I looked around for an adult to follow and then stopped short. HOLY FUCKING SHIT. I was the adult. I had to make sure all the girls in my class met at the appropriate meeting point and then accompany them back to the classroom. What the what?

IT BLEW MY MIND.

How in the world did this happen? Who allowed this? To whom should I lodge a complaint?

I don’t know if it’s the Impostor Syndrome, the fact that I think I’m younger than I really am, or just complete denial of reality. But I find it so weird.

Does anyone else feel like this? That their view of themselves hasn’t quite caught up to reality yet?

I mean, I know I am a mother now. A grown up taking care of small children that are MINE (for reals) and that no one is coming to take away. I have responsibilities and I perform them (reasonably well). Yet STILL. It seems strange.

Granted, it is less surreal now than it was about four years ago when I was just about to have Cookie Monster. I wonder if that feeling of “Is this really my life?” will ever go away? Or whether at every stage in life I’ll still be somewhat surprised. I am reminded of these lyrics from the song, Once in a Lifetime.

You may find yourself in a beautiful house with a beautiful wife
You may ask yourself, “Well, how did I get here?”

You may tell yourself, “This is not my beautiful house.”
You may tell yourself, “This is not my beautiful wife.”

– Once in a Lifetime, Talking Heads

When I was younger and heard this song on the radio, I thought it was one of the stupidest things ever and hated the song. It made no sense to me. How could anyone not know their house or their wife? Plus, I thought the song sounded weird. Then, when I heard it in the trailer for the Nicolas Cage movie, The Family Man, and finally watched it, I started to like the song because it reminded me of the movie (which I really enjoyed). But it was only after I had Cookie Monster that I finally understood what the song was talking about.

I know. I was a little late to the party.

Now, I absolutely LOVE this song. It perfectly captures my bewilderment when I really stop and look at my life. I never in a million years would’ve thought I’d be a SAHM with three kids (and contemplating one, perhaps two, more). I thought I would be just like my own mother and work. After all, I turned out ok, right? RIGHT?

I remember a friend of mine telling me once her son was born, she knew that she was born to be his mother. She put on hold her career as an optometrist (a career she loved) and became a SAHM to three kids. When she told me this, I was stunned. I just couldn’t imagine someone giving up a career (temporarily, obviously) for a BABY.

I clearly lack imagination.

As soon as I saw Cookie Monster‘s squishy little face and huge dark eyes, I knew – just knew – that I was made to be his mother. Three kids later, I still know to the core of my being that being a mom is the best thing that has ever happened to me and that I don’t mind being a SAHM at all. In fact, I LOVE it. It is what I was born to do. I would rather do this than any other job (well, except perhaps the job where I get paid to lay around all day reading, watching TV, and stuffing my piehole with as much food as possible. Or as Hapa Papa would call it, “The Weekend.” As soon as Friday hits, I have a tendency to forget I’m a parent and force him to take care of our children solo.)

Anyhow, this is all just a rambling long post just to say that I can’t believe this is my life – but I am ever so grateful.

And with that, I leave you with the live version of Once in a Lifetime on YouTube since I can’t find the album version of this song.

“They look like good, strong hands”

There has yet to be a dead horse that Hapa Papa won’t beat and this quote from The NeverEnding Story is merely one of them in his repertoire. He takes secret (well, not so secret anymore) delight in making me cry just from saying these six little words, “They look like good, strong hands.”

GAH.

I can’t even fully articulate WHY hearing these words from Rockbiter chokes me up. Before Hapa Papa is even halfway done saying it, I am already yelling at him to stop it already. It’s just. I can’t. Blergh.

It’s just so sad. I think of my kids and failing them utterly regardless of how hard I try and them slipping away. I think of all the horrible tragedies that could befall them and I feel so small. So powerless.

It perfectly encapsulates my terror at all the things in the world that I cannot (and perhaps, should not) protect them from. It’s the saddest scene in the whole movie.

Oh wait, it’s not the saddest scene in the movie after all. It’s tied with Artax in the Swamp of Sadness! GAH^2!!

Now leave me be. My entire face is leaking.

I’m Afraid of Twilight

I have never read the Twilight or 50 Shades series – not because I think they’re stupid (which from what I’ve gathered from Wikipedia and generally being alive, I do), but because I am afraid I will secretly like them.

I pride myself in being able to detect good from bad writing and the thought of me liking books that allegedly contain such horrible writing – well, I find it wounds my self-image. In addition, I want to be special and an arbiter of good taste. How can I maintain this falsehood if I should actually *gasp* like mediocre books that millions of fangirls and fanmoms adore?

How ridiculous is this? Who cares if I like these books? Or don’t? Who is this arbitrary Gatekeeper of Coolness that I am trying to appease?

Never mind that I read plenty of Regency romance novels (although I do toss the poorly written ones to the side – I have standards, people). I have slogged through plenty of crappy fan fiction (I have a low tolerance for that, too). I even made it through two books of The Vampire Diaries and they were awful! Why should it matter if I like or dislike Twilight?

For some reason, I seem to have a perverse need to seem “rebellious” or anti-mainstream. A hipster-like mentality without actually being a hipster. In college, I steadfastly refused to like *NSYNC or Britney Spears or Harry Potter not for any valid reason, but because so many people liked them. The irony being that once I got over myself, I absolutely LOVED all three. ABSOLUTELY LOVED.

All you careful readers out there might be starting to notice a trend with me. I constantly avoid or deny activities, hobbies, even careers that I don’t think I should enjoy. As a result, I have often lived a fake life, including what I like and dislike, in a pathetic attempt to appease a non-existent Gatekeeper. That’s just sad, people.

The most ironic thing is that until recently, I had prided myself in being such an authentic person! It is only through writing this blog that I’ve come to recognize just how much of myself and my life was for building an image vs actually living. Only in the last five or six years have I become more and more comfortable with who I am as a person, gradually shedding the affectations of a person I thought I should be.

I am thirty-five years old.

How mortifying.

I don’t necessarily think the solution is just to read more Twilight or 50 Shades of Grey. (Although, I’m not as opposed to the idea as I once was.) It’s more that I can unabashedly claim the things I enjoy without shame. It also helps that geek culture seems to be on the rise in both popularity and acceptance.

Sidenote: Do you know that it was at least five or six years into our relationship before Hapa Papa realized how much I LURVED Batman and dinosaurs? (Separately, not together – although that would also be awesome.) HOW COULD HE NOT KNOW I LOVED BATMAN? THE MOST AWESOMEST SUPER HERO EVAR?!? Or dinosaurs? I mean, what’s not to love about dinosaurs?

Anyhow, suffice to say, I’m a dork. A nerd. A geek. Math humor cracks me up. I love science fiction and fantasy novels/books/whatever. I love books. I read CONSTANTLY. I love romance novels. I love YA fiction. I love Batman. (OMGERD, I LOVE BATMAN!!!) I love cartoons. Board games are awesome (especially Puerto Rico). I read fan fiction. I have written fan fiction. (No, you may not read them.) Puns rule. Most crappy pop-music is awesome to me. Star Trek: The Next Generation is the best Star Trek series ever and I LOVE JEAN-LUC PICARD (without apology!). I secretly wish I could code. I constantly find cartoon characters incredibly attractive. (I’m looking at you, Prince Zuko.)

And one day, I just might love Twilight. 

Why Are We So Afraid to Grow Old?

After all, people do know that the alternative to growing old is to die young, right? Personally, I’d prefer OLD, OLD, OLD to DEAD, DEAD, DEAD any day of the week.

Now, of course, most people don’t object to being alive – it’s a host of old-related problems that we’re worried about: health, money, our physical attributes and abilities deteriorating, mental acuity fading, etc. No one wants to be SICK and old or FRAIL and old, or what have you. However, in general, I don’t think anyone wants to be sick or frail at any age – it’s just that we associate these infirmities mostly with the elderly.

It might also be that I’m not really old yet. I’m turning thirty-five in a few weeks and then, I will be able to run for any office in the US. (Thanks, parents, for having the foresight to have me in the US! Sorry to everyone else should I ever go temporarily insane and run for public office.) Plus, I’m in a new age demographic! Go, me! My thirties have been awesome so far, so I don’t really expect the latter half of this decade to be any different. Nor do I expect any of the upcoming decades to be so bad, either.

It’s weird to be at an age you distinctly recall your parents being. It’s also weird being at an age where ten years ago, I would’ve considered middle-aged! (I certainly don’t consider myself middle-aged. After all, who wants to die at 70? Middle-aged should be 45-50, right? We’re all gonna live til we’re 100!)

But you know what’s not weird? Being older than I was before.

I pity people who mock me or tease me about being “old” (because they are young, foolish, and have LITTLE TO NO INDEPENDENT INCOME). I LOVE being the age that I am. What did I know when I was a teenager? Or when I was in my twenties? (Come to think of it, I will likely look back in a few years and think, “What did I know when I was in my thirties? I was such a baby!”)

When I think back to myself in my late teens and early twenties, all I want to do is go back in time and punch myself in the throat. Why? Because I was such an asshat. So full of self-righteous indignation, trembling in my sincerity to “do good” but having no means or skills with which to do anything, and thinking that being young, smart, and full of potential was enough. That “passion” was more important than money or stability or pretty much, anything.

BAH!! Get off my lawn, you stupid kid! It’s easy to have the luxury of such thinking when your parents subsidize your educational and living expenses.

Don’t get me wrong. I think passion is important. Doing good, also, important. But you know what? Money is a lot more important than I ever realized. (This will be a post for another day, but truly, only a person who was coddled, spoiled, rich and wealthy and super-privileged such as myself would ever think that money was NOT important.) Stability and practicality – also vital!

Ok, I suppose I’m being rather harsh with my younger self. After all, if I didn’t go through what I did, I wouldn’t be the Me that I am today. (Which is awesome.) And if anything had changed – likely, I would not be married to Hapa Papa with my awesome kids. I’d have a different set of awesome kids, perhaps – but just thinking about that and how time travel would affect my current timeline and perhaps erase my current beautiful life and children nearly reduces me to tears so it’s just as well that time travel is impossible (that we know of for NOW – dun dun dun!!!) because nothing’s sadder than a huge, pregnant lady crying about fictional things that are currently not possible and as of yet, have not happened – and if it did, WOULD NEVER KNOW.

Sorry. Tangent.

What was this post supposed to be about? Right. Growing OLD.

Truthfully, I suspect that I will always think that the age at which I am currently is the norm and not OLD. Surely, that is a moniker reserved for OTHER people. Not people such as myself! And when I am truly, actually old (like 70 or 80 or 90+), then really, the problem will be that everyone else is simply far too YOUNG.

Also, from here on out, I declare that we use the “er” method that Hapa Papa often employs to get out of trouble. Instead of telling me I’m “stupid,” he says, I’m getting “stupider.” Good thing I find this hilarious so he usually skirts out of trouble this way. So, really, we’re not all getting old. We’re getting older – which is totally and absolutely fact without judgment or baggage.

Anyhow, I meant this post to actually celebrate being older. I don’t know how I diverged into ranting. (Though truth be told, is anyone surprised that I started ranting?) So, in no particular order, not all-inclusive, (and obviously, YMMV since not everyone is me, nor in my privileged state), why I love getting older:

– Greater purchasing power
– Being more sure of myself, who I am, and what I am doing
– Wisdom (accumulated through lots of failure)
– Not being afraid to speak my mind (still working on this, but for the most part, pretty good)
– Savings
– Security
– Stability (in both life circumstances as well as emotional maturity)
– Freedom from following fads and trends
– Long time friends
– Making new friends
– Pursuing things that actually interest me vs. pursuing things that I think should interest me
– COSTCO (I thought I liked Costco when I was younger, but truly, now that I’m older, it is MY FAVORITE PLACE TO BE BESIDES MY OWN HOME)
– Freedom to stay at home
– Freedom to NOT drink (being constantly pregnant and breastfeeding also helps)
– Watching my friends grow into who they are
– Realizing that I can watch most things without consequence (I don’t really ever have to think about ratings or whatever as long as my kids aren’t involved)
– Actually enjoying being informed (vs glorying in my total ignorance and being proud of that fact when I was younger)
– Not driving around for hours just to find free parking
– Being able to afford luxuries such as concert tickets, massages, pedicures, etc without thinking overly much about it
– Being in a good place (emotionally, financially, and physically) to raise children
– Minivans are awesome and it’s ok
– Not having to ask permission (but often, having to ask for forgiveness – I guess humility is good, too)
– Learning to let things go and be more flexible
– Freedom to be a curmudgeon and blame it on age

I’m sure there are scads more in benefits, but even while making the list, I realize that I presume a lot about aging – that it brings more financial security and freedom. Obviously, that is not the case for many people (or even most people). So clearly, my list reflects that bias. Since I have no adequate response for that, I will just leave you with my favorite line from Fried Green Tomatoes. “Face it, girls, I’m older and I have more insurance.”