Kevin just left for his Wednesday night ritual. Looking for parking.
“Do what you need to do Jihee-yah! I’ll be BOCK,” he said as he left.
I’ve been wanting to write for so long but have been burnt out the past couple weeks. Since the kids have been battling a persistent cough and runny nose, I have been running after the one who can run and wrangling the other tender morsel to wipe their faces multiple times an hour. NONSTOP. The second one has to succumb to my sucking his snot out with my beloved Nosefrida but the first one just starts running like Peter, the chubby white boy on “The Cosby Show” whenever I threaten him with, “You’re next, Micah!” My days are filled with snot, spit-up, tears, drool, “Cover your mouth when you cough, Micah!” and, “Ellis, Ow, ow, ow, let go of mommy’s hair,” and a dozen requests for Mommy to do something else right then and there. Micah has also been a bit sensitive lately to our adoration of his little brother, acting up more when he sees me caring for or nibbling on Ellis.
As I started typing this, I got a whiff of a distinct gnarly smell. I began looking around the living room to see if I missed a puddle of spit-up from when Ellis practices crawling too soon after a meal. Nope. Couldn’t find anything. It turns out it’s my shirt. Just a general stench from wearing it two days in a row while carrying the kids around.
As thoroughly spent as I am, if I don’t write, I feel incomplete and even melancholy, just a shell of myself. I have to write but I’ve been confused about the medium: what belongs in a journal, in an email to a close friend, in a blog post, or even in a letter to my kids (moments to read about when they are older).
Since my last post, so much has happened in the world, namely the Boston Marathon bombing, which I don’t have the energy to string together words for at this moment.
When I want to write about 17 different things, and don’t get to jot them down, I lose them all.
(Okay, I need to take off this smelly shirt before I can proceed).
Two Sundays ago, Kevin and Ellis stayed home from church to nurse their colds. Kevin rarely misses church and I was tempted to stay back with them to gladly declare the day as Family Rest Day but I ended up driving just Micah and me to church. I acutely craved church after hearing about Pastor Rick Warren’s son, Matthew Warren, taking his own life at the age of 27, after battling depression all his life. A lot to unpack.
Quick drive down Queens Blvd. Micah is talking to me about what he sees on the road or singing along with the chorus of Taylor Swift’s “Trouble, trouble, trouble, Ohhh!”
We get in the vicinity of church and I start looking for parking. We pass by a crew of firemen washing their firetruck. Each time we pass, Micah exclaims, “FIRETRUCK!” At first, it was a cool sight to see, but each time we pass by them, it becomes a reminder that we STILL ain’t found no parking!
I start sweating profusely as I struggle to withhold my choice curse words. It is maddening to deal with parking even to get to church! I am very close to just driving back home since we are already half an hour late and I can’t stomach such tardiness. I can imagine myself surprising sick Kevin by stomping back into our apartment and throwing myself onto the couch, crying about how we couldn’t go to church due to PARKING! I know how much little Micah loves his Sunday school and this pisses me off even more.
I pray for patience, calm, and a parking spot. I explain to Micah, “We just need to park the car and then we can go into the church. You can go into your Little Lambs class but we need to park our car, okay?” (I used to wonder why parents bother to give play-by-plays to their toddlers but now I see how it can prevent tantrums if they know what’s going on, and how they are part of the action).
I start muttering while breathing deeply, “For the LOVE of GOD, please, please give us a parking spot!” Micah starts to parrot back, “…Love…God! please…parking! Love…God…oh, Mommy, firetruck!”
As the radio starts to blast George Michael’s oldie “‘Cause I gotta have faith, the faith, the faith, I gotta have faith!” I come up on a parking spot, like an oasis in the desert. A big space too! Now I see how God was teaching me patience and timely provision. I can make it to church after all. He had prepared this spot for me while I of weak faith doubted. What a great lesson, a story to tell on my blog perhaps? Almost too good to be true, especially with the perfect song playing on the radio!
Our friends pull up beside me in their bigger Honda. I say hello and check with them, “Hey, I finally found parking after more than 30 minutes! This is fine, right, this parking spot?” He checks for a few moments and informs me, “No, this is a construction site. You can’t park here.” Sure enough, I see that there is a sign on a makeshift wooden facade indicating that it is a construction site and that cars will be towed. It looked too good to be true because it was.
Moments ago, Micah and I had been high-fiving and cheering, “Yay, parking! Awww, jeahh!” but I sheepishly scoop Micah back into his carseat and explain that we cannot park there after all. Somehow, I am no longer tempted to return home to have an adult tantrum. I continue to look for parking. A huge truck ahead of me swoops in on a huge spot that I had been salivating for. In order to not give up, I keep picturing Micah learning songs in his Sunday school class. Keep my eyes on the prize.
We eventually find legal parking.
That Sunday ended up being the first time Micah stayed in Sunday school by himself. I kept sneaking peeks through the window in disbelief that he was able to separate. Initially, he started crying when I left but after I took him into the sanctuary for a few minutes to show him that this is where Mommy and other adults will be singing and listening to sermon, he looked at me firm in the eyes and solemnly said, “Bye Mommy!” I knew then that this was going to be it. He was ready.
Sure, parking is just parking, not a matter of life or death and this is a long-winded rant but when I thought I had found a spot with that George Michael song so aptly setting the mood, I thought I had come across a sweet little nugget, a neat story about having faith and God providing even something as insignificant as parking in moments of “darkness.” (I was really reaching, I know).
But life is messy and complex. God does not provide everything that can make for a sweet anecdote about faith or fit easily into a chapter of “Chicken Soup for the Soul.” Instead of the gift of that initial parking spot, I was gifted with resolve and self-control by not succumbing to my quick temper, by not driving home dejectedly. And the unexpected gift of Micah staying in Sunday school on his own for the first time.
In this wilderness of staying home with two very young children, I often feel lost in terms of next steps. The How of it all. When do I go back to work? In what form? How do I pour out all my heart and breath for my kids and family while still remembering to dream for myself and figure out what is life-giving to me apart from being their mama? And how can I contribute income to my family doing something I enjoy, while still being able to spend heaps of time with my kids? Is this even possible or must I white-fist it through some job just to provide?
I don’t know.
It may not be a simple story I can put a bow on and present as a neat chapter of my life but I want to keep searching. I may sweat profusely and throw tantrums along the way but I want to keep on keeping on. Goodnight.