That Even My Edges Are Loved

So, the new John Legend song, All of Me, just destroys me. I haven’t yet broken down sobbing while listening to it, but mostly, I think it’s because I’m afraid that if I start, I won’t be able to stop.

My favorite part is the chorus with the lyrics (full lyrics here):

‘Cause all of me
Loves all of you
Love your curves and all your edges
All your perfect imperfections

When I told Hapa Papa that I loved this song, he incredulously asked, “So, you’re telling me you love my farts? I’m pretty sure you do NOT.” I wanted to deck him. I guess he thinks he’s proved himself right on the impossibility of loving all of him. Well, I never said I loved the song because I loved all of him. Hmph. 

I love this song because I so desperately want it to be true for me. That all of me is loved and lovable – even my edges (and I certainly have many of those).

One of the side effects of having Daddy Issues is that for so long, I thought there was something wrong with me that made my father leave. I thought that if I just behaved a certain way, was more loving, sweet, and “Daddy’s Little Girl” that maybe just once, he would choose us. Every time he came home, I knew I was crazy to hope that he would change. Yet each time he left, I felt abandoned all over again.

The other day, I was reading the blog of someone I used to know through church and I just wanted to weep for her. She’s five years younger than I am and her entries reminded me of who I used to be – so broken and jagged, unable to believe I was loved and desperately wanting to be.

I recall the despair I used to feel constantly. That no one would and could and should love me because I was a horribly broken and shattered person. Who would want to hitch their wagon to that type of baggage? Even when I was loved, I couldn’t receive it. I didn’t believe it. I thought it was all a lie. I would do everything in my power to make myself as unlovable as possible, lashing out at the people who cared and loved me the most. Then, when I pushed people to their breaking point and they would inevitably leave, I would point to that example as proof of my unlovableness. That those people who “loved” me were made out to be liars.

I used to be somewhat dramatic.

Even now, after years of therapy and mostly healed relationships, every now and then, slivers of doubt and self-hatred slip into my thoughts. It used to happen when Hapa Papa would point out something horrible about my character and I would downward spiral into bouts of intense self-loathing combined with wanting to push Hapa Papa as far away from me as possible. But instead of wallowing in the despair as I used to, I now try to nip the unhelpful thoughts in the bud as quickly as possible.

A lot of it was me being unwilling to look at my own selfishness and sinfulness. When I finally chose to look at myself with as little self-condemnation as possible, I could see how Hapa Papa wasn’t attacking me or telling me that he didn’t love me. He was trying to love me by being honest with me in as kind of a way as possible. And truthfully, I am an incredibly selfish person (more so than most people), so the fact that Hapa Papa rarely pointed out my faults just meant that he is, as my brother said, The Most Patient Man in the World.

I can now say that I am in a mostly healthy place and can take Hapa Papa’s concerns about my character as him asking me to change because I hurt him with my selfishness vs. him asking me to change because I am irreparably broken and no one will ever love me and if they do, they are utter fools and completely deluded and once they find out what I really am, they will leave me.

I’m not even sure how the change in me happened except that I had to fake it until I made it. I have always hated that advice. It seems so insincere. But truthfully, that is what happened. I had to fake believing that I was lovable and loved and acted as if I believed that it was true until I actually believed it. At some point, I CHOSE to act AS IF what I desperately hoped to be true (that someone could actually love me), WAS true. And eventually, it was so.

This is just my really long-winded way of saying that I love this John Legend song because it reminds me of what I ultimately long for deep inside my cold, dark heart. That I am loved and lovable – edges and all. I suppose it took this many words for me to finally figure out the why and to articulate the sentiment.

IMG_0020

Proof Hapa Papa loves me (or did).

It is also my roundabout way of saying that this is how I feel Hapa Papa loves me. Perhaps he is not quite as romantic as John Legend, but Hapa Papa acts as if he loves all of me (even if he says he doesn’t love my horrible, selfish parts). Every now and then, I ask him if he still loves me, and he hems and haws, but I know he’s doing that just to tease me. (At least, I am choosing to think that.)

So even though Hapa Papa calls this an “idealistic, fake song,” it still makes me think of him. After all, I have his love for me caught on film. (Even if it was seven years ago – it’s still proof!)

Geez. When did this post devolve into a long mash note? Enough of that. Here’s the YouTube video of John Legend and his real wife, Chrissy Teigen. Beautiful people in a beautiful video.

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Nagging an Inattentive God

According to this Huffington Post article, nagging is one of the top reasons people divorce. (Incidentally, I’m obsessed with the HuffPo Divorce section. I find that sometimes, you don’t know what works until you see what’s broken.) I can tell you absolutely that if nagging is the main reason, I’m screwed because goodness knows I would never try to change my behavior. Everyone knows that Hapa Papa is the reasonable one in the relationship.

The main reason I nag Hapa Papa (other than, apparently, my being female – sexism alert!) is because I don’t feel heard. Hapa Papa has a bad habit of rarely acknowledging things I say to him. Of course, he claims that my heavy onslaught of orders/mandates/”conversation” makes it near impossible to acknowledge them all. I just say he’s a quitter.

So, I keep nagging Hapa Papa until he acknowledges me in some way (usually with annoyance). And then I nag him until he actually does what I want. (Two separate actions.)

Hapa Papa is not the only one in the family to bear the brunt of my constant nagging. So are my children. I constantly harp on Cookie Monster and Gamera to sit down properly in their chairs, (Cookie Monster falls out of his chair AT LEAST once a day. Like, seriously? No learning from experience, that child.) eat their food, pick up after themselves, put away their toys, hurry up, etc. The other day, Cookie Monster told me to stop talking and go away because he couldn’t stand hearing me tell him to sit down in his chair anymore. Then, he promptly fell out of his chair. Again. (I felt smug and vindicated; I am a small and petty person.)

Lately, I made the connection that my kids whine in due part because I nag. (Ok, I didn’t make the connection on my own. It was spelled out in this Parents article. More on this article in a future post.) My kids whine because they are afraid that they aren’t heard or acknowledged. So, they keep asking for the same thing over and over again, with greater and greater urgency. I really hate that they are learning my bad habits. I am hoping that if I stop nagging, they will stop whining. I think I made it fifteen minutes.

Anyhow, the other night, I was praying for my kids and I found myself repeating the same plea to God over and over again. “Please keep my children safe. Keep my children safe. Keep my kids safe. Watch over them and keep them safe from harm.” Sometimes, I varied it up and said the same thing but in different words. Or in a different order. And then I stopped.

Did I think that God didn’t hear me the first time? Or that God might have missed part of what I was saying? Or that God was stupid and required me to explain things repeatedly and slowly, as if God were a foreigner who couldn’t understand English?

When I thought about it, God doesn’t really need me to pray for Him to know what I want or need. And certainly not on repeat. Presumably, being omniscient and all, that’s stuff God would already know. After all, prayer is for the supplicant, to get to the root of their heart’s desire. So what did that mean when I kept praying the same thing over and over again, as if I were stuck in a loop?

And then it hit me. Some part of me thinks God isn’t listening. Or that if God is listening, that He doesn’t care. Therefore, the only way to get and maintain God’s attention is to whine and plead and cajole and just wear Him down until He’s like, “STFU! Here’s the stupid thing you wanted. Now, please STOP with the praying!”

If I were God, I’d have punched me in the throat. I’d be totally offended. And super annoyed. (I suppose who’s to say that God is not offended or annoyed? *slowly looks up and backs away*)

So I decided I’m going to try a new thing. I am only going to pray ONCE for something per prayer time. It’s really hard. It’s as if I am trying to fill up the airtime with God so that I don’t have to hear anything He has to say to me about my life or my desires.

It is hard to trust that God takes me seriously and wants me to have good things. It is hard to remember that God is the original Prodigal Father. That my love and desires for my children pale in comparison to how God feels about me. I find it incredulous.

Then, I find that the only prayer available to me is a short but apt one: “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24 ESV)

Massive Parenting Fail

A lot of parenting is a big crap shoot. You may have a situation (say, your kid being a real PITA when it comes to eating) and you want to find a solution. So, you look to your friends or the interwebz or books (remember those?). However, every now and then, you have a situation where it doesn’t really bother you, but you feel as if it should.

I will call this phenomenon, Creating More Problems for Yourself™, also known as, You Are a Fucking Idiot™, or You Stupid Masochist™.

As many of you know, Cookie Monster can be difficult when it comes to eating. He’s not the world’s pickiest eater, but he’s picky enough that it annoys me and bothers me and often, he goes to bed hungry because he just didn’t like what was for dinner. I’ve battled it out many a time with him, and it always leaves me wiped out, annoyed, and sad. Sad because I turn into a screaming monster and end up roughly shoving Cookie Monster into time out, or locking him in the garage (with the lights on), or locking him in his room for a few minutes. This leads to weeping hysterics from Cookie Monster (can’t imagine why) and escalating tantrums and simultaneous Limp Toddler (so I feel as if I’m going to wrench his arms out) and Will Not Move But Can Really Kick and Slam His Head Into Something Toddler.

However, we’ve been making some headway, and usually, I stop caring and tell him if he doesn’t eat by the time we go upstairs to take a bath, then he’s just going to be hungry until breakfast. For his meals in general, I don’t care if he takes a few bites, goes play, runs around, and then comes back for a few more bites, and then disappears again. It annoys me slightly because I know it’s a bad habit, and it makes it hard to go out to eat, but ultimately, I don’t care.

Well, one of my friends came over the other day and her four year old daughter kept saying that my kids weren’t sitting down to eat properly and running around during meal times. My friend wasn’t trying to make me feel bad or anything – she was just pointing out that they were very strict with their kids about meal times. No loud talking and no running off during meals. Totally reasonable. My friend was just trying to explain why her kid was making these observations. No judging.

Anyhow, I got it in my head that my kids should sit still and eat their food all in one sitting without taking breaks. I randomly decided to begin enforcing this yesterday morning – with no warning to my kids. Needless to say, it did not go over well. At 7:40am in the morning, I was already screaming at Cookie Monster, throwing him in the garage, bringing him upstairs to his room while he was screaming and weeping his brains out. All he kept crying was, “I want to play!!” I finally collapsed on the floor to the kids’ room and almost started sobbing. I left Cookie Monster there and went downstairs and ignored my children for awhile to calm down.

Then, I had an epiphany.

What the fuck was I doing? I don’t even care about whether or not Cookie Monster sits at the table quietly for the whole duration of his meal. If he doesn’t finish his food by the time we have to leave (or whatever other reason), then he’ll be hungry. I don’t want to scream and yell at my sweet boy. And certainly not first thing in the morning. Why was I trying so hard (and failing so miserably) to enforce something that I didn’t care about in a way that didn’t fit my personality at all? It was like putting on the wrong skin – that’s how I felt during the whole heated exchange. That I was not myself – and it was horrible.

So, I said, “Fuck it.” As a result, very little screaming for the rest of the day and yes, Cookie Monster went hungry for dinner because he didn’t want what I made and I was fine with that. So was he. He wasn’t going to die and I wouldn’t feel like a shit. Win/Win.

I know I’ve posted about this before, but it’s good to remind myself YET AGAIN. I do not want to be responsible for dimming the lights in my children’s eyes (especially Cookie Monster since he’s the oldest and I’m the hardest on him). I want them to know only love and kindness from their mommy, however imperfect I am. I want to be worthy of their love and adoration.

Cookie Monster can be an annoying PITA (ie: a preschooler) but then there are the times when he races out of the door after school, throwing his arms around me saying, “You’re here!” or when he ran to me last night and declared, “You’re my best friend!” (I don’t even think he knows what that means, but it means a lot to me.) There are the moments when we’re laying in bed and he cups my face in his hands and his big eyes glow full of love and enthusiasm and he just laughs and laughs and laughs. Or when we’re saying our prayers and he is just so grateful for everything when he recounts his day.

I have to hold on to the truth that I love my boy even when things are chaotic and I’m exhausted and cranky and feeling as if kicking a puppy would make me feel better. Sometimes, it’s just really hard to remember in the heat of the moment.

*sigh* When I tell Hapa Papa this and he’s also tired and cranky, sometimes, he’ll tell me that it’s my own fault because I wanted so many children and that it will only be harder with four kids. I have to restrain myself from punching him in the throat. But other times, Hapa Papa is sympathetic and understanding and gives a lot of grace.

That’s also what I have to remember: no matter how much I screw up and I yell, “Jesus!” in half expletive and half prayer, that I am given a soothing balm of grace that covers my many sins to my children. I have to trust and hope and choose to believe that God’s grace is sufficient – and that my children will grow up fine despite my many failings.

Weird. Somehow my post went from my massive parenting fail to a post ending on God’s grace. I suppose it is aptly fitting. Amen to that.

I Want to Punch You in Your Cloud

Warning: This post is quite full of ranting and some lunatic raving (both of which may or may not make any sense). There is no point other than the rant. It’s a silly and shallow post day. On the plus side, there is a video wherein very creative usages of swears and insults abide.

You have been warned! 😉

Does anyone even know what the “Cloud” is? I vaguely do, but ultimately, I don’t know what the Cloud is that all these tech people (and I am including Hapa Papa) talk about all the time. I think it has something to do with storing stuff online instead of on your computer or something or other? I have no clue. Maybe it has something to do with crowd-sourcing? (I realize Google and wikipedia can solve this ignorance for me, but I honestly don’t care.)

All I know is that every time Hapa Papa mentions the Cloud, or Big Data, or whatever industry specific buzz word crap that he uses at these web analytics conferences, I want to punch him in the throat. Of course, he often says these words just to piss me off. It amuses him how quickly I go Hulk Smash on him as soon as he mentions the word, “Cloud.”

I’m not even sure why I am so virulently opposed to this technology or whatever. It’s probably the name. What a stupid name. Cloud. Does it communicate in rainbows and have unicorns and leprechauns, too? It just makes me so ANGRY. SO RIDICULOUSLY ANGRY. My reaction is totally out of sync with reality. I mean, really. There is no reason why I should get so mad when I hear these terms. But I do anyway.

Cloud.

It’s so pretentious. And ultimately, I think that’s what it is. I hate pretension. (It’s ironic since I am quite pretentious and full of myself. But that’s me, and I am awesome, so all my pretension is TRUE and based on FACT so therefore, not pretentious. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!)

Anyhow, to close out my rant, (and ignorance), a video for you. It is very meta and industry specific, but it is HILARIOUS. Especially for the insults (those kick in around the 1:45 mark). (The insults, I believe, will work in any situation.)

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.”