Things That Make Me Happy

I have several inchoate posts in the queue and I just can’t seem to sit still long enough to write something coherent and meaningful. (Truthfully, I can’t stay away from the interwebs because, hey! Email! Quizzes! Wikipedia! Facebook! Random articles! Apparently, they are all more interesting than writing a blog post.) So, instead, I’m going to just list a bunch of things that have made me happy lately.

So, here they are in no particular order:

1) I love watching my older two kids interact. They are such good buddies and even their arguments are hilarious. Some examples:

a) Inevitably, the first words out of whoever wakes up second are, “Where’s Gamera/Cookie Monster?” 

b) G: “Top [Stop], Cookie Monster! You listen to me! You have to listen to me!”
CM: “No, thank you! I don’t have to listen to you!”
G: “Top [Stop], Cookie Monster! LISTEN TO ME!”

Mostly, I find this amusing because they sound exactly like me yelling at them to listen to me.

c) CM: “Come play with me, Gamera!”
G: “Okay!” or, “NO!”

Gamera never asks to play with Cookie Monster. She just follows him everywhere and does whatever he does. It’s super cute.

d) Every time we drop Cookie Monster off at preschool, Gamera is sad and begs to join her older brother. She asks every time if she can go to school with him and I have to break her heart every time. She gets super happy when it’s time to pick him up.

e) Gamera plays with trains, reads, and does everything EXACTLY like Cookie Monster. Clearly, I’m not teaching her anything. They even talk and tell stories exactly the same. It’s clear from syntax alone that they’re related.

2) Even in sleep, they are close. Their interactions are particularly amusing since one or both of them are asleep.

a) I often find them snuggled together in bed, or alternatively, squashing the other. I have watched Gamera sleep crawl over Cookie Monster’s face and settle on top of his head with her stomach. I have even found them holding hands.

b) When Cookie Monster sleep talks, he usually says, “More!” or “Cookie!” When Gamera sleep talks, she yells, “MINE!” or “No, Cookie Monster!”

c) One time, Gamera rolled over and found herself pushed up against Cookie Monster’s feet. In her sleep, she started yelling, “Top [Stop] kicking me, Cookie Monster! Top!” All the while, hitting Cookie Monster in the face. He was so confused, even in a dead sleep. I couldn’t stop laughing but eventually, separated poor Cookie Monster from his unreasonable sister.

3) Since my college friend, DS, has been visiting this past week, I’ve had the opportunity to catch up with an old friend who’s life is completely different than mine. It’s been awesome to get to know him a little better, as well as have deep conversations (like the kind we used to have in college – even if he did go to USC). My kids are going to be SO SAD when he’s gone.

4) Glow Worm’s random noises crack me up. He’s taken to growling after nursing. Clearly, he takes after his big sister.

5) I caught up on all my TV shows.

6) I made some progress on my 2014 Goals. Incremental steps, but hey, progress nonetheless!

7) Hapa Papa is back from his business trips and as a result, I have ceded all parental duties to him. This past weekend, he took the older kids to two parks each day. That’s three more parks than I took the kids to all week. (Hmmm… wait… that’s FOUR more parks than I took the kids to all week.)

8) Cookie Monster recently told me he loves the song, Counting Stars, by OneRepublic. Hearing him sing along to the song on the radio (and mangling most of the lyrics and surprisingly getting a decent amount of them correct), seeing him glow as he grins and sings enthusiastically, watching him dance along to the music, it is so precious.

9) Glow Worm attacks all the activity stations on his exersaucer. He gets even more excited when he sees his big brother and sister. He wants so badly to be big.

10) Cookie Monster has been really good about speaking more in Chinese after a few months of speaking more English. I’ve been making more of an effort to force him to speak Chinese and pretending not to understand him if he speaks to me in English.

11) Because of my pretending not to understand English and forcing the kids to speak Chinese, Gamera has made up a language. She knows she can’t speak English, but for some reason (either because she’s not sure how to say it in Chinese, or she’s just stubborn), Gamera now either mimes what she wants, or she speaks gibberish such as, “Hee hee ha ha hoo?”

12) I haven’t yelled much at the kids ever since I started trying the techniques in Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood (affiliate link). Although very cheesy and seemingly stupid, the techniques have been working really well for me. I especially love giving my kids choices for incredibly stupid things, as well as having set things to say when I’m frustrated or mad so that I repeat those phrases like a mantra and refrain from screaming at my children.

13) My food restrictions have eased up a bit (due to Glow Worm’s allergy doctor saying I can have some egg and dairy in baked goods even though Glow Worm is allergic to dairy and eggs). So, every now and then, I sneak a food item that makes me feel normal again. Today, I had 2.5 chocolate chip cookies. They were AMAZING.

14) My acupuncturist says I only have to go to a few more sessions. Then it will be mostly on an as-needed vs weekly basis. My Saturdays are going to be free again! (Currently, I drive three hours round trip for the sessions every Saturday.)

15) My mother is finally not sick and healthy again (after being sick for at least a month). So that means my kids can finally hang out with her (and I can have a small break when she comes over). YAY!

16) Hapa Papa. Sometimes, I get a little entitled and become a bit resentful, but when I remember all the things he does for us (especially the kids), I am so grateful. He is a fantastic and involved father and my kids are so entirely spoiled by him. Plus, he really does go out of his way to make sure I am taken care of and happy.

I want to make sure Hapa Papa knows that if I went back in time to tell my college aged self what to do differently, I would ALSO be very upset and sad if the altered past erased HIM from my timeline. He came home Friday night and grumbled, “I noticed that you only mentioned you’d be upset if you erased the babies, but made no mention of me. I noticed because you only included the ENTIRE FAMILY EXCEPT ME. I’m not upset, you know, but it did come to my attention…” Oh, Hapa Papa. You are adorable.

Even coming up with this list made me smile. What is making you happy this week?

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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:

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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?

I am a Monster

Yesterday morning, I yelled at Cookie Monster and Gamera so much Cookie Monster asked me why I was screaming at him. I told him if he didn’t want to listen he could live with someone else. Then Gamera told me, “Stop talking. Stop saying that. It’s not nice.”

Schooled and shamed by a two year old.

I sat down and cried.

I have been feeling a bit overwhelmed.

In the past month, I have been to the regular doctor at least 4-5 times. I’m heading their again today after just going yesterday. For the same kid. Poor Glow Worm. I’ve driven 3 hours round trip for the Chinese doctor at least twice a week for the last four weeks.

Glow Worm’s eczema is better but now that that’s taken care of, he has yeast infections in all his moist fatty folds (armpit, neck, genitals, knees, ankles) that because I thought was eczema, I put the steroid ointment on it which apparently suppresses his immune response so it got worse and now, there is a bacterial infection on top of that. Baby Boy didn’t cry when he was itchy and scratching his head into a bloody mess, but now he is weeping when I even gently touch his under parts. This morning, there was blood all over his scrotum because the open wounds stuck to his diaper and when I opened it to change him, it ripped off his skin.

We both cried.

After coming home, I noticed both his eyes were rimmed red and starting to have production. I think he has pink eye. On top of that, an angry rash has developed over his torso and scalp. It doesn’t look like the eczema he had before and his skin was just getting better. Hence the return trip.

(ETA: He has impetigo. The rash is a bacterial infection. So are his eyes. He’s starting oral antibiotics and eye drops and eye ointments. The doctor also wants me to go to Stanford pediatric dermatology to see what’s going on.)

Although Glow Worm used to sleep twelve hours in a row at night, he now wakes up every 3-5 hours (for awhile, it was every two). Throw in my other two kids who occasionally wake up crying for me – even if they fall back asleep almost immediately, I AM STILL UP.

Hapa Papa has been in NYC for work vacation and though my mom has come a few times to help and my friends have been awesome, they still can’t parent for me. (Too bad!)

These are not excuses. Just context. Every parent goes through this crap (and many of you have gone through more on a regular basis). I know I am not special. I know I shouldn’t yell or scream or nag or be petty and mean, but sometimes, (OK, a LOT of times), I am.

I tell myself after each bout of being a jerk that I won’t yell anymore and be like that person who wrote an article about how she stopped yelling for a year. I hate her.

That resolve lasts about five seconds or until one of my kids spills some milk. Whichever comes first.

I tell myself that I shouldn’t nag and the main reason I yell is because they don’t listen to me (possibly because of my nonstop nagging and yelling).

I feed my children and cajole and bribe and beg and threaten and scream because WHY AM I DOING THIS WHEN THEY HAVE PERFECTLY FUNCTIONING HANDS? But they are slow or picky or whatever so I feed them even though I know I am just perpetuating this cycle of bad habits and if I would just let them be hungry already then they (especially Cookie Monster who FFS is Four Fucking Years Old) would eat everything and all of it quickly and independently.

Even though I know better, I threaten my kids with, “I’m getting mad!” They now freak out and worry (especially Gamera, poor darling) and when they notice I am starting to lose it or my tone changes, they immediately ask, “You mad, Mama? You mad? You happy?”

It’s gotten so bad, sometimes I say, “Do you want Mommy to get mad? Do you want to be in trouble?” Then Gamera will cry and say, “I don’t wanna be in trouble! I don’t want you get mad!”

I don’t want my kids to constantly fear me getting angry or want to please me so badly they will suppress themselves to do what I want. (Although it sounds awesome when I am so pissed they are throwing a tantrum because I won’t let them play with a purple loofah because it’s pretty.) I don’t want them to worry constantly about making me or anyone other than themselves happy. I don’t want them to be “good” because they don’t want to be in trouble. Apparently that means I am grooming them for sexual abuse. I DON’T WANT TO GROOM MY KIDS FOR SEXUAL ABUSE!

I want to tell myself to cut myself some slack, that tomorrow is another day (or when I am really ambitious, right “now” because at any moment, we can start a new day). But the problem is, day after day, I HAVEN’T CHANGED.

I feel as if I am an alcoholic.

I pray and beg God to change my character faults or to protect my kids from myself and have them grow up mostly ok and less fucked up than I did (but really, sometimes it seems to be a huge crapshoot). Then I feel like I’m copping out by not doing the work myself and only hoping that some god or mythical creature is going to wave their magic wand and poof! I am all better and no longer a complete asshat.

Nope. Still a giant asshat.

Unfortunately, it’s one of those situations where fighting against my natural tendencies seems to be the only way to change. Seems like a pretty stupid way to go about it if you ask me.

Seriously. Before I got married and had kids, I thought I was awesome. Oh, sure, I knew I had “character flaws” but I wasn’t really confronted with them day in and day out. (Mostly because my friends and coworkers were perhaps too kind to me and nice to my face.) Now, I’m not exactly off my “I am Awesome” train, but it certainly is tempered with the Reality of my temper and selfishness.

The worst part is, I can see how my worst traits are getting passed onto my children. When they are frustrated, my kids scream and yell and want to throw or hit things. You could say that it is because they are young and small and don’t quite yet know how to cope with frustration and anger. Fine. But then, what’s MY excuse?

I used to pray all the time for God to change my circumstances or bail me out of a situation. Now, I am constantly praying for God to change my character (or at least, to help me change and choose better for myself). I suppose that is also a sign of growth and change. I just wish I weren’t constantly being humbled and having my ego handed to me on a platter.

Perhaps this is also one interpretation of daily “dying to my self.” Well, I tell myself that I would gladly die for my children. Here is now a constant opportunity to do so.

The Things We Do

I don’t know how parents of kids with special needs or severe illnesses do it. For the last few weeks, I’ve been driving Glow Worm about 1.5 hours away to see a famous Chinese medicine doctor for his eczema. (Glow Worm kept breaking out no matter what I ate and was scratching his head so bloody that his sheets looked like the site of a massacre.) On top of that, I’ve taken him to Western doctors for steroid/cortisone creams and have so many unguents and creams and ointments, I should open my own store!

Obviously, Glow Worm doesn’t have anything seriously wrong with him. (Although, I would say the boils and pus-filled blisters, bloody scars, and general discomfort were getting to be very serious.) But all these appointments and trips to the special doctor take time and energy and money. Incidentally, I also have Cookie Monster and Gamera to take care of. Thank goodness Hapa Papa has a pretend job where he can watch the kids or take them out to fun places. Hapa Papa’s out on vacation next week in NYC so I am going to be juggling a lot of kids and doctor appointments. It should be interesting.

Now, Glow Worm is much better thanks to a combination of my diet changes (I call it my Extreme Love and Sadness Diet) and the steroid/cortisone ointments and creams. I feel as if I haven’t seen my older kids in weeks. Also, I’m exhausted. (Did I mention that I’ve been fighting off a pretty bad cold?) Hapa Papa is exhausted, too. We are all exhausted.

I am also incredibly hungry. The Chinese doctor said I can’t process proteins very well so I am passing all these unprocessed proteins to Glow Worm in my breastmilk and his poor system was so overwhelmed that he started to react to everything I ate. So, I got put on a cleanse of sorts and my diet is pretty restricted. I am also undergoing a lot of acupuncture, acupressure, and dietary therapy. I have to avoid dairy, gluten, fatty and/or fried foods, eggs, soy milk, seafood (fish is ok), and an assortment of other random things.

I am SO HUNGRY.

Hence, the Extreme Love and Sadness Diet. Extreme because, HOLY SHIT WTF CAN I ACTUALLY EAT? Love, because, I do this out of love. Sadness because, well, I also love food and these dietary restrictions make me full of The Sads. And now, I am full of The Hungers. But Glow Worm is much improved so I will keep this up. (Pretty much until he’s weaned. SIGH.) The only other plus side is that I’ve dropped a lot of weight in a very short period of time. So, you know, if you ever want to drop weight, all you have to do is STOP EATING EVERYTHING.

It is totally not worth it if it’s just for weight loss. I was pretty cranky the first few weeks.

Also, did I mention that I AM SO HUNGRY?!

Anyhow, this is all just a long, rambling post to say that I have so much respect for parents of children with actual, serious situations/illnesses/problems. I don’t know how they do it (other than they HAVE to so they DO). I don’t know how their other children do it. (Again, they HAVE to so they DO.)

All I know is that I kinda miss Cookie Monster and Gamera. But then they have insane nights like tonight (they were both exhausted but refusing to sleep and Gamera basically went ballistic) and I think, “I don’t really miss that. Have fun, Hapa Papa. I’m outta here.”

Cover Me

I didn’t appropriately account for how exhausted I would be with Christmas, visiting family, plumbing issues (not a euphemism – literal plumbing problems), and Glow Worm sleeping erratically these last few days. So, you all get another fluff piece (TWSS).

Best covers that are better than the original (sampling doesn’t count). Discuss in the comments. My favorites are below in no particular order (edited to reflect Hapa Papa reminding me what I really love):

1) Travis – Hit Me Baby One More Time (covering Britney Spears)

Who knew this song was so melancholy and deep?

2) Tori Amos – Smells Like Teen Spirit (covering Nirvana)

Well, pretty much anything Tori covers is better than the original, but I hate the Nirvana version so that means Tori’s version must be super awesome.

3) No Doubt – It’s My Life (covering Talk Talk)

The original is good but this one is so much better!

4) The Sundays – Wild Horses (covering The Rolling Stones)

LOVE LOVE LOVE.

5) Johnny Cash – Hurt (covering Nine Inch Nails)

So good people think NIN is covering Cash.

6) Mary J. Blige – One (covering U2)

Come on! It’s just too awesome! (But Hapa Papa doesn’t consider it a cover since Bono is also in it. Whatever.)

Vanity, Vanity

A few weeks ago I realized I hadn’t posted any pictures of Glow Worm in awhile on Facebook. When I stopped to consider why, I admitted it was because lately, the poor little guy’s face was badly covered in eczema. Of course, I still thought he was adorable, but let’s be real. I didn’t think the pictures would perfectly show off his cuteness.

Once I acknowledged that, I told myself that was silly to not take/post pictures of Glow Worm just because of something he couldn’t control. I didn’t have to curate my children’s online images THAT much, right? So, I snapped a pic and posted it, eczema and all.

I was unprepared for the response.

Almost immediately, people began commenting, concerned about Glow Worm’s cute little face. Suggestions for lotions, potions, medications, creams, etc. came flooding in. My uncle forwarded the pictures to my doctor aunt, who then forwarded it to a pediatrician friend to diagnose and solve the problem. I even got a free tube of an awesome lotion by Paula’s Choice that has helped in soothing the eczema and smoothing his skin.

I couldn’t quite process how people were so worried. I thought I was just posting a picture of Glow Worm.

Now, obviously, people were commenting because they wanted to help. No one was suggesting that Glow Worm’s picture shouldn’t be posted or that there was something wrong with his face. It did, however, make me examine why I was initially so hesitant to post his picture in the first place. Plus, it made me wonder: why am I so obsessed with how my kids look? (Well, other than the fact that they are incredibly good looking. Not that I’m biased or anything.)

I wouldn’t consider myself a vain person. I don’t worry about makeup or how I look on a regular basis – as long as I am somewhat presentable and not looking like a mess. Of course, when I choose pictures that I’m in, I want to choose ones where I look alright, but in general, I am more concerned about making sure the pictures convey my kids in the cutest light possible. (Yes, I consider Group Time Out pictures to be incredibly cute with the bonus of being hilarious. Oh, heck. Here’s an oldie but goodie, now.)

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Group Time Out!

Anyhow, it got me thinking. At what lengths am I willing to go to so that my children will be good looking? And why am I so obsessed with it?

When I was in high school, I knew nothing about makeup or how to dress. I was not UNcool, but I distinctly recall wearing thermal underwear (both long sleeves and pants) under a t-shirt and boxer shorts and considering that an acceptable thing to wear in public. Not only that, I remember wearing it more than once. I realize that most of the 80s and early 90s are a fashion wasteland when we look back upon it in nostalgia/faux-horror, but I think the outfit I just described was just as cringe-worthy then as it is now.

I was lucky enough then (as I am now) to have relatively good skin. I don’t often break out and when I do, it’s mild. So, in general, me not knowing how to wear makeup (let alone being allowed to do so) in high school wasn’t really a problem. HOWEVER. There were the occasional days when I would just have one gigantic red zit on the tip of my nose and understanding how to use concealer would have been much appreciated.

I often wonder how my life would have changed had I possessed the savvy to use makeup and clothing effectively. Would my character have changed? Would I have been more popular? More highly sought after by boys? Would that have even been good for me?

Then, of course, I project all my experiences onto my children. What if my children have bad acne (like some of my and Hapa Papa’s family members experienced)? I’m sure I would have them see a dermatologist or take medication, but would I have them wear makeup as concealer? Even the boys? I seem to remember a guy in high school that used concealer and him being mocked for it. I didn’t see anything wrong with it at the time – nor was I knowledgeable enough to see if it were true. Would that be the case for my boys in the future?

Regardless of acne, would I allow Gamera to wear makeup? As a rule, I don’t think most teenage girls really need to wear makeup at all. Personally, I think they should bask in the freedom of not wearing makeup to look good for as long as humanly possible. But I do kinda want Gamera to know HOW to use makeup and how not to look like a clown or a streetwalker. I do want her to feel confident on “bad breakout” days (or at least, more so than NOT having any makeup on would make her).

This, of course, is just the tip of the iceberg. It plays on all my worries and insecurities as an awkward adolescent. (Is there any other kind?) I focus on outward appearances because that seems to be the easiest thing to curate and change. Who hasn’t watched make-over shows and in viewing the final product under all the nice clothes and face spackle, thought, “Wow! They look great! Who knew there was an attractive person underneath all that?”

But in my heart of hearts, as superficial as I can be, I know that ultimately, my children’s outward appearances shouldn’t be that important. I know that the content of their character, the generosity of their spirits, are more important than looks or intelligence. (More on this in another post some day.) I just pray I have the strength of character to realize and promote this in my children.

Until then, however, I leave you with these gems:

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Cookie Monster

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Gamera

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Glow Worm