Things I Inexplicably Suck At

I am good at many of the mundane things in life: doing dishes, tidying the house (for the most part), making sure my children are fed and alive, buying groceries, breathing. You know, the important stuff of every day life. But somehow, I utterly fail out other things. No excuses. Just complete sucktitude. Here they are in no particular order.

1) Paying medical bills. Seriously, why can’t there just be an autopay option? Stop sending me bills. Start auto-billing my credit card.

2) Playing with my children. I don’t know if I was always terrible at it or that I started being terrible the instant I gave Cookie Monster a playmate, but dude. I really don’t enjoy playing with my kids. I don’t hate it, but I don’t love it. I constantly feel as if they should play by themselves and with each other and leave me out of the equation entirely.

3) Brushing teeth. (But flossing, I’m good.) Both for myself and for my kids. I don’t know why.

4) Bath/Bed time routines. Yeah, my kids are cute in the bath but really, I find myself especially short-tempered at night. I feel as if it’s the home stretch and FFS WHY ARE MY KIDS STALLING IN EVERY WAY POSSIBLE JUST BATHE AND SLEEP ALREADY!! GAH!!!

5) Remembering things. I originally started thinking about this post while trying to put the kids to sleep. I know I had another item on this list but I just can’t think of it. It’s been at most ten minutes since I first thought about this subject and then started typing.

6) Getting out of Costco and spending under $100. Impossible. In my entire lifetime, I think it’s only happened once.

7) Bringing in the mail. I’m excellent at bringing in my Amazon packages. Utterly pathetic at bringing in the mail.

8) Filing taxes on time. In my entire lifetime of filing for taxes, I have never filed by April 15. EVER.

9) Using everything we buy. Especially produce. I am really bad at remembering to cook real food. I throw away a lot of stuff. *sigh*

10) Doing anything that requires a phone call. (I finally remembered the item!) Scheduling doctor appointments? Calling customer service? Disputing something? Bah! Why can’t everything be done via email/text/online forums? WHY MUST I SPEAK WITH A HUMAN? For some reason, the phone becomes an 800 lb gorilla when I have to use it for anything that is not ordering take out. (Even then, I am annoyed I can’t order online.) It’s 2014. GET WITH IT, EVERYONE.

Welp, there you have it. A non-exhaustive list of the stupid things I’m terrible at. Am I utterly alone in this? Tell me in the comments.

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Why I Am a SAHM

Sometimes, I think I am damaging my children’s understanding of what women can do by being a SAHM. Are my boys going to look for wives who will only be homemakers? Will my daughter think her career options are limited? Am I reinforcing gender stereotypes?

Of course, I know intellectually that the whole thrust of feminism isn’t to force all women into the workplace and devalue motherhood and being a homemaker. The point of feminism is to give women and men equal rights and opportunities so that if I want to work, I can work. If I want to stay at home, I can stay at home. (Same goes for my husband.)

Hapa Papa often jokes that I pulled a Bait and Switch on him. I looked good on paper: graduating from UCLA, working in marketing then becoming a financial advisor. And then, BAM! I popped out Cookie Monster and decided I never wanted to work again. (No, this is not a discussion on whether or not caring for children is work. Yes, it is. But I am merely referring to “work” as in an occupation for which I am paid taxable dollars.)

I always assumed I would work after I had kids. My mother worked and my brother and I turned out fine (dare I say, AWESOME?). But I do know that as much as I appreciated the freedom of being a latch-key kid and the hours and hours of TV we’d watch after school, I envied my friends whose mothers were home. Part of me longed for someone to welcome me home when I got back from school, perhaps with snacks.

Please don’t misunderstand me. My mother never missed a concert or school event. She always knew the gist of what was going on at school. (This is especially impressive since she was an immigrant and this was all PRE-internet!) She knew who my friends were and was incredibly strict regarding who I was and wasn’t allowed to hang out with. I am incredibly grateful – especially now that I realize just how easily influenced I am! (I am no stalwart independent. I am quite the follower and easily misled!)

At any rate, as soon as I took one look at Cookie Monster, I knew I would never work again. I didn’t want to miss a single moment of his little life and the lives of his siblings. I wanted to shape my children, for better or for worse. When the kids eventually go to school, I want to be there at pick up and drop off. I want to know their teachers. I want to be involved in the PTA and their classrooms. (Ok, I take that back. I definitely do NOT want to be Room Mom. NOPE. Not for me.)

But mostly, I want our home to be a sanctuary. A hub. I want the kids to bring their friends over after school, play, hang out, do their homework, eat, and bask in the inanities of life. I want to be in the background or foreground (depending on what is needed). I want to be the constant heartbeat of their lives until they launch themselves into college and young adulthood. I want to be their security. Their home.

I want to provide my children with the stability I never felt when I was growing up. I want to be their rock.

Of course, many parents provide these things even while working. But to me, I want to be home full time. Even when all the kids are in school, what place of work would have me work from 10-2? No one in their right mind would hire me unless it were shift work. Plus, I am more than certain those precious child-free hours would be quickly eaten up by the millions of little things it takes to manage a family of several children.

I am just so grateful that Hapa Papa’s job makes enough money so that we can live comfortably on one income without hardship. I am grateful that Hapa Papa supports me being at home. I am grateful that I get to be present for almost every glorious, boring, mundane, infuriating moment with my children. It is an incredible honor.

My Children Keep Me On My Toes

When Gamera was almost two weeks old, Cookie Monster locked himself in the nursery. Since it was the kind of lock that requires a key, he was in there, with a dirty diaper (of course) for over 30 minutes. (This was the 2nd time he’d done this, by the way. The first time, he managed to unlock the door – also with a dirty diaper. Cookie Monster liked to run away from the changing table and go into his old room). Poor boy was screaming and weeping the whole time. It was unawesome.

Cookie Monster banged on the door, tried to claw his way out of the room, and kept trying the door latch. It was very traumatic. I was totally trying not to sob!! I did start crying a little bit, but I didn’t want to freak Cookie Monster out so I tried to stay as calm as possible. Plus, it’s hard to pick a lock when you’re weeping hysterically. Finally, the last 5 minutes or so, I just stuck my hand under the door and told him to hold my fingers. It was so sad. Thank God the locksmith came in 20 minutes and charged us $100 for it!! He broke the lock (even he couldn’t pick the lock) and got Cookie Monster out.

I eventually changed out most of the locks to ones that he could easily unlock. I was not about to go through that again!

Of course, my favorite was when the locksmith asked, “Why didn’t you just ask him to unlock the door?”

I looked at him and said, “He’s under two. Don’t you think if I could’ve gotten him to do that for the last 30 minutes YOU WOULDN’T BE HERE RIGHT NOW???”

Cookie Monster recovered quite quickly though. After all, nothing a lot of ice cream, milk shakes and fries didn’t immediately cure. He had nothing of nutritional value that night for dinner.

Fast forward to this afternoon where I am nursing Glow Worm in the nursery and the older kids are playing in the guest bathroom. Next thing I know, Cookie Monster comes to me and says Gamera won’t open the door. I hear her trying the handle repeatedly but to no avail.

I think to myself, “Wait! Didn’t I change all the door handles last time?” A quick check on both the doors of the guest bathroom suggests that I did not. I keep trying to get Gamera to unlock the door. After all, she is a lot older than Cookie Monster was when he locked himself in the nursery.

She is not having it and begins to cry. As I am trying to pick the lock (with Cookie Monster running around, getting in the way and Glow Worm wiggling on the hall floor, I try to comfort Gamera as best as I can. I completely fail at describing how to unlock the door.

My friend, DS, who is staying with us for a few days tries to help me remove the lock. Unfortunately, the screws to remove the handle are on the other side of the door. That seems ass-backwards to me.

Gamera is still crying. Cookie Monster leans his head against the door and asks her repeatedly if she wants to build a snowman.

The locksmith tells me it will be twenty minutes and $120 (inflation much?). Thankfully, Gamera finally figures out how to unlock the door (after my friend and I have completely mangled one of the locks). The locksmith arrives minutes after she self-liberates so I still have to pay him $50. *sigh* At least she’s out.

Tomorrow (or maybe Friday), I will have to switch out the remaining four door handles for the ones with a push button lock so small children can open the door easily. I can’t believe I didn’t learn my lesson the first time. I’m sure when Glow Worm is older and I have Baby 4Glow Worm will manage to lock himself in somehow with a lock I thought I switched out. That would just be my luck.

On a different note, this morning, Cookie Monster’s preschool teacher told me that yesterday, some twins were visiting class to check it out. When she told the class the twins were in their mommy’s tummy at the same time, Cookie Monster jumped in to tell everyone that he came out of my tummy (I had a C-section with him) and that his Gamera came out of my “gagina.” (She and Glow Worm were VBACs). His teacher was just relieved no one had follow up questions.

How I Know I’m a Parent Even When I’m Alone

As a SAHM, it is very rare for me to be without one or all of my children. So, when I am out by myself, it’s really weird. Of course, I revel in how simple and quick it is to do ANYTHING. And then, I run into the problem of not knowing what to do with myself.

Anyhow, here are some signs that remind me I’m a parent even when my kids aren’t around:

1) I have the urge to point out every single firetruck, police car, garbage truck, BART train, turkey, cow, horse, WHATEVER that would interest Cookie Monster or Gamera.

2) I don’t have any chapstick, hand lotion, wipes, snacks, water, or anything useful on hand because I was so excited to use a tiny purse that I barely remembered to pack my wallet and phone.

3) Instead of buying what I need for myself, I wander toy aisles, buy their favorite snacks and drinks, and look out for snacks and stickers and candy I can score for free. For the kids, of course.

4) The doctor’s office know me by sight and by my children’s names, but not by MY name so when I go for myself, they are somewhat flustered and have to ask me for all my insurance information and have me sign all these forms because I haven’t been in to see them for myself in over a year.

5) When I go to the grocery story I go straight to the bakery for our free cookies until I realize I am an adult all alone so I can’t get one.

6) Every task and errand is light years faster and I find that I have allotted myself way too much time. I find myself wandering the aisles just to bask in all my free time.

7) I am constantly checking my phone for updates about the children from Hapa Papa.

ETA: 8) Swaying and rocking the following (but not limited to): nothing, books, groceries, my purse, food, a tasty beverage. While waiting in line. While standing. While breathing. With no baby.

What about you?

Can You Get PTSD from Taking Your Kid to the Dentist?

You stand there, feet rooted to the tiles of the lobby floor. Your eyes are watching events unfold in all their insane glory. Time slows down and the whole while, your brain is stunned and stuttering, “What. The. Fuck. No. Wow. OMG. Is this happening? OMG. It is happening. It is happening to ME! Fuck!”

Ladies and gentlemen, this was all before 9:45am this morning.

So six months ago, I thought it would be so efficient and awesome if I scheduled both Cookie Monster and Gamera’s dental appointments at the same time because hey! Who doesn’t love efficiency? Turns out, Cookie Monster doesn’t love efficiency!

Erroneously, I thought that since it would be Gamera’s first time at the dentist, she would benefit from watching Cookie Monster go first. Clearly, I have no memory because WHY WOULD I THINK THAT? There has been no evidence during our previous two visits for Cookie Monster that this would be: A) a good idea and B) ever going to happen. I blame it all on a completely unrealistic hopeful optimism that has resulted in three children.

Fast forward to this morning. We start off pretty good. That is, until Cookie Monster gets wind that we are going somewhere after breakfast. He comes upstairs asking me where we are going. Because I have a stupid policy of never lying to my children (sometimes, I really hate this policy), I tell him we are going to the dentist. He is not happy. I make a classic parenting mistake. I tell him if he doesn’t go, then his teeth will rot and the dentist will have to pull out his teeth. (WHY WHY WHY DID I FUCK MYSELF IN SUCH A ROOKIE AND STUPID STUPID MANNER? I DESERVE ALL THE BAD THINGS!!)

As you can imagine, that went over well. Instead, I should’ve just said, “I love you too much to argue.” (I’m trying out a new parenting method and the hardest part is for me just to STFU. Clearly.)

Cookie Monster starts to whine and cry and hides himself behind the rocking chair. I wrangle him downstairs while he kicks and screams, all the while saying, “I love you too much to argue.” Hapa Papa somehow forces Cookie Monster into the car seat. (This is a Herculean task. First, Cookie Monster is very strong for a four year old. Second, when he’s pissed, he’s even stronger. Third, have you ever tried to force a small child into a car seat? How can they simultaneously be so rigid you are afraid you will snap them in two while being so limp that you cannot get a decent hold on them to smoosh them into the car seat? I just. Fail.)

The whole car ride there, Cookie Monster begs, weeps, and screams, “Let me out!! I want to go home! Get me out!” We arrive at the parking lot and Gamera is very excited and comes out of the van like a normal child. Somehow, I remove Cookie Monster from his car seat and continue my tenuous hold on his writhing body and exit the car very carefully. The Asian dude in the car next to mine just stares as this drama unfolds. (Incidentally, I hate the random side hand holds by the door on my minivan. What is the point of them except to provide easy handholds for my hysterical child to grab and prevent me from walking away from the vehicle?)

I stumble the hundred feet from the lot, through the lobby, and into the office. Cookie Monster sees Tangled on the TV and calms down somewhat. Gamera is busy playing Legos in the corner with another little boy. Every few moments, Cookie Monster whimpers and cries and demands to go home. The receptionist asks me to fill out paperwork as she watches me try to get a handle on my son. I resist the urge to smack her in the face because OMG DOES SHE NOT HAVE EYES?

Somehow, we make it to the moment where the dental assistant asks us to go in. This does not go well. I carry Cookie Monster who is of course, screaming and kicking and weeping, and Gamera, who is two compared to her brother’s four, walks in calmly of her own recognizance. The next thirty minutes are a blur of Cookie Monster throwing a tantrum, begging to leave, screaming, “I want to go out! Take me home! Take me home!” He asks for water. He drinks water. He says his tummy hurts. He trembles and shakes. He storms into the reception area. He storms back. I have to juggle holding him and answering inane questions from the dental assistant.

I put Cookie Monster down because I have to hold Gamera as the dentist looks at her teeth. She cries a bit, but overall, lets the dentist (who is AWESOME) do what needs to be done. She is calm and mostly, Gamera just wants to watch Tangled and have a lollipop and take home a purple balloon. Her teeth are fine. She is a fucking baller.

Finally, the dentist looks at Cookie Monster’s teeth and I use all my strength to hold him down and she tries her best not to get bitten by my rabid four year old. His teeth are fine. All she does is look at his teeth and gives him a goody bag and a balloon. I don’t know why he is ballistic.

We leave and I apologize profusely to all the staff and traumatized parents in the waiting room. We are now in the lobby and I am trying to tie down his balloon when Cookie Monster stands stock still and starts to vomit yellow acid all over his pajamas. (Did I mention he was still in his PJs and pullup and also, BAREFOOT because Mom of the Year here couldn’t get him to change or put on shoes?)

It just doesn’t stop.

He just stands there, mouth open, an arc of bile continuously spewing out of his mouth. (An ACTUAL ARC. Like a FOUNTAIN.) It spatters yellow and bubbly all over the nice tile floor, creating a slick puddle all around Cookie Monster’s bare feet. He vomits straight down his nice, white, bulldog pajamas. And he just stands there.

Thank God he didn’t eat breakfast and just had water at the dentist.

Gamera doesn’t move and stares, stunned. 

I freeze. I don’t know what to do. I run to the bathroom and grab paper towels. I throw them on the rapidly widening pool of gastric acid. I do this repeatedly. Cookie Monster takes off his shirt and uses it to wipe his feet, the floor, and steps on it. I valiantly refrain from yelling at him and tell him to stop that. I put his shirt in my purse. He walks to the door and lays down on the ground.

I go back to the dentist office and ask them to call a custodian because my kid has just vomited all over the lobby. A few minutes later, two nice dental assistants in their pink scrubs and face masks come out to clean the floor.

They tell me to go home and assure me that this happens all the time. (Somehow, I highly doubt that but I desperately want it to be true.) One of them gamely says, “At least there are no chunks!” Bless her heart.

I immediately drive to McDonald’s and binge on orange juice and hash browns.

It occurs to me that I forgot to make our next appointments. I think I’ll wait a few weeks for them to forget us and become anonymous once more.

Happiness is a Choice

Short of chemical and hormonal imbalances, I personally believe that happiness (like joy, hope, and most things) is a choice.

I’ve been a little too doom and gloom lately and it just doesn’t sit well with me. So I am going to make an effort to focus on the things in my life that make me happy. After all, just like being a SAHM isn’t always pretty, neither is it always alcoholism inducing.

So we take a little break from “telling it like it is” when things are the shits and bring you “telling it like it is” when your heart melts and feels two sizes too small because there is no way it can possibly contain your happiness.

In the interest of saving time, I will now present you with a list of stuff that is making me happy that is in all ways haphazard. (I need to go to sleep, people. I am old and sad that way, but it helps with the yelling. YOU DON’T WANT ME TO YELL AT MY CHILDREN DO YOU?)

1) Glow Worm’s skin is much improved (pretty much all better) and the intense care and doctor visits is slowing down. I know what to do if his skin flares up again. I am awaiting blood test results for Glow Worm’s possible food allergies/sensitivities, and I am finding more snacks I can consume so I don’t always feel on the brink of starvation.

2) When Hapa Papa travels, the older kids sleep with me and they are adorable and sweet and cozy and snuggly and I LOVE IT when they are sleeping with me. That is, until I wake up at the very edge of my king sized bed because one or both of them have rolled into me and used me as a wall and have pushed me to the last foot of my bed before I will fall off. Totally worth it.

3) Gamera gives the best hugs. She totally melts her body into you and curls her arms around your neck and sinks her head into the crook of your neck/shoulder and plasters herself into your chest and it is so perfect.

4) Cookie Monster is hilarious and goofy and I am so glad he is ridiculously good-looking because my goodness he is going to be such a dork and it’s hard to be JUST a dork but I am glad he is adorkable because then his undeniable attractiveness will be tempered and humanized so that instead of being one of those intimidatingly cool and attractive kids he will be a silly, approachable kid who is also incredibly beautiful on the outside. Wow. That was one huge, run-on sentence.

5) I love how after Glow Worm nurses, he has to chat. He has to chat and stare at me with his bright black eyes and chubby face and tell me all about his day and his insights into the human condition and how he has discovered the secret to cold fusion and by the way, he has also figured out world peace.

6) I am glad Hapa Papa interacts with the kids so differently from how I do. When he takes them to parks, zoos, museums, play areas, activities, whatever, the kids always have more fun with him. They run, jump, find sticks, eat snacks, walk, sit on his shoulders, look at lizards, jump, take pictures, run amok and free and wild and the pictures make me feel as if I’m a downer (I know I am) but also make me smile because I know my kids are so incredibly loved and adored by Hapa Papa and are having the time of their lives. Watching Hapa Papa love and care for our children makes me love him all the more.

7) When Gamera has a stuffy nose and says “My nose not working!”

8) How Cookie Monster always bursts through the door after preschool and runs to hug me with a huge smile.

9) Hapa Papa being a dork and dancing goofily around the house. Sometimes just to make me laugh.

10) This face:

Such a happy boy!

Such a happy boy!

11) And this face:

IMG_1958

How can we deny her anything?

12) And this face:

IMG_1974

What a goofball!

Amidst the frustration and yelling of parenting, I have many more moments of incredible joy. I just need to remind myself and choose to think exclusively of those every once and awhile. I feel much better today.

Sometimes, Parenting is a Slog

I came to an unexpected realization tonight. I don’t think I’ve been happy lately. A lot of it is due to me feeling overwhelmed about Glow Worm and then my two older kids on top of that. Then, I feel stupid for feeling so overwhelmed because let’s be honest. Glow Worm’s skin issues aren’t life threatening. (The infections may have come to that had I allowed them to rage on, but I didn’t and he’s much better now.)

After going to Stanford pediatric dermatology, they gave me some skin regimens that though labor intensive and a pain in the ass, are quite doable and are working. My main gripe with them is they care more about treatment versus prevention. They seemed skeptical about what I think is the root cause of Glow Worm’s eczema (protein sensitivities from food). So, short of repeated treatment (granted, effective treatment), they aren’t really helpful in terms of preventing this from occurring in the future.

I find this both disappointing and infuriating. It’s not like I suggested Glow Worm’s eczema was caused by aliens doing scientific experiments on him. FFS, be useful! It is NOT a fait accompli! Blergh.

So, hopefully, this is just a phase that I’m going through. Sorry my blog is nonstop complainy lately. Please don’t think I am not grateful for my life and my kids. It’s just a tough (for me, anyway) time at the moment.

What I am SUPER grateful, other than my family, are my awesome friends who go out of their way to babysit my older kids so I can take Glow Worm to doctor appointments without also having to deal with two small children, as well as offer to pick up and drop off Cookie Monster from school. It so strange how it was initially very difficult for me to accept this type of help. Now, I’m all for it.

Truly, I don’t know how people do it without any help from friends or family. I would just curl up and cry (more).

I am so tired that my house is a mess (I haven’t really cleaned it in at least a month – which in the grand scheme of things, is not a big deal, but the part of me that likes to get things clean and done cringes), my kids are barely fed and clothed, and I just pretty much let Cookie Monster and Gamera fend for themselves. In fact, this morning, I realized that not only do I have no idea how to play with Gamera when Cookie Monster is at school, I have no desire to.

I am not sure whether or not that is a good, bad, or neutral thing.

Part of me thinks that one of the perks of bearing multiple children super close in age is me no longer needing to entertain small children. The other part of me thinks that I am a lazy, half-assing parent. (Perhaps both opinions can be simultaneously true.)

I know several of my friends have suggested that I hire a baby sitter to come and watch the children while I decompress. While I appreciate that suggestion, the thought of doing so just causes me more stress. My kids have only been watched by family or close friends. Hiring a babysitter to watch all THREE of my kids (that is THREE kids four and under) is costly (around $25/hr or maybe more) and likely, traumatic for my incredibly clingy children. In fact, I think Glow Worm would be the most accepting of a baby sitter. Also, I find it really wasteful since the whole point of me being a SAHM is to STAY AT HOME. This is my JOB.

Keep in mind, I also do have a reasonable amount of alone time when Hapa Papa is at home or my mom comes over. I do leave the house sans children. Of course, when I come back, I usually have to be OK with the house looking as if a tornado swept through it and my kids in various states of disarray. (Not that this is not the situation when I watch my kids by myself, but it is even MORE overwhelming when I have just been all peaceful and happy and then walk home into what seems like a Disaster Zone and have to switch back into parenting mode. Then I find that all that Zen-ness immediately leaks away and my shoulders tense right back up.)

Anyhow, I find myself constantly tired and annoyed – even with going to sleep when the kids sleep (around 9pm). Granted, my sleep is constantly broken, but I AM sleeping. I finally got around to watching some TV the other day (I haven’t made a dent in my DVR in at least a month) and my reading seems to have picked up again. But mostly, I feel as if I’m treading water and anything I do to decompress just piles up the To Do list higher and higher.

Compounding this is Hapa Papa traveling a lot as well as my mom being gone for about two weeks with her own travels. Yes, yes. Cry me a river. I realize that so many people out there are single parents and have to deal with this AS WELL AS work full time. I get it. I am not special or unique in my travails. I’m not trying to start a “Who has it harder” pissing contest. I am just telling it like it is for me right now.

No doubt, I just have to chug through this and in a few weeks, Glow Worm will be markedly healed, I will get more sleep, my kids will miraculously listen instead of looking at me like I’m making suggestions until I yell at them and even then, they move SO FUCKING SLOWLY – oh right, I was in the middle of telling myself that it will all be better soon.

I know I would seriously feel less stressed if I did the following:

1) Sleep more.

2) Build in more time to account for the unaccountable SLOWNESS of my older children doing ANYTHING that requires haste.

3) Stop caring HOW my kids do things as long as they do it. However slowly.

4) Eat more fruits and vegetables. (Oh, let’s just be honest. Eat fruits and vegetables. That would instantly make it more.)

5) Stop worrying about if my children injure themselves. I can warn them all I want but if my kids seem to have an utter inability to sit in the center of the fucking chair, then they deserve to fall off. Every day. I just. Gah. I suppose that’s why we have health insurance. *sigh*

6) Choose to focus on the good moments.

7) Choose to let go of the bad moments.

8) Drink more peach bellinis. Mmmmm… I need to learn how to make me some of those. I have a VitaMix. And Google. It can be done. (Sigh. Now I’ve become a stereotypical SAHM who drinks. I don’t even drink! But I can start!)

Alright, who wants to have an afternoon (Oh, why lie? Morning sounds fine, too.) play date where we make and consume peach bellinis?