When I happen to score some down time during the day, like now, about one hour of nap overlap between the boys (if and when Big Bro succumbs to a late nap), I have plenty of tidying up, organizing, planning, or preparing to do.
I am choosing to write instead. For mental health reasons. I gave Kevin a heads up about this. I let him know that if I can squirrel away some quiet moments during the day, I will most likely use it to open up the laptop without one monkey trying to convince me that it’s YouTube time or another monkey climbing up my body, babbling, “mmmma-mmmmmmaaa!” in such an irresistible way with his Puss in Boots eyes and delectable cheeks that the next thing I know, I got him banging on the keyboard with his strong little fingers and mama forgetting which email she had to respond to.
In case people are wondering, it’s not just the physical work of looking after little ones all day, the hypervigilance I wrote about before, but the invisible emotional energy you are expending. So I choose emotional health by doing something calming and enjoyable during these precious breaks, even though I technically have the time to do the pile of dishes or get the stroller packed up for our evening excursion into Manhattan.
Emotional energy like:
Being patient spill after spill,
tantrum after tantrum,
after someone makes a run for it, out of the playground with a proud smirk on his 20 month old face,
running to grab the little guy who is more fearless than Big Bro at the same age, climbing up some advanced apparatus while you were adjusting Big Bro’s scooter helmet for him,
watching Big Bro slide down a new, steeper slide then realizing that Little Bro’s bedtime prayers were answered: the perfect Distracted Mommy opportunity had presented itself to jump into a shallow lagoon that had accumulated during the rainstorm,
speaking calmly, like a hostage negotiator, to convince both boys to climb down “slowly…slowly…easy…” from something they got attracted to.
So this morning, I had exactly 30 minutes to get ready and out the door. I really need to get everything ready the night before but again, I plead mental health reasons for wanting to completely exhale late at night and NOT have to be a responsible mama in advance.
Well, I learned my lesson. I hate having to rush so I will definitely prepare what I can the night before. I can’t even watch my husband’s favorite show “24” because the countdown stresses me out way too much (and that movie “Before Sunrise” where Ethan Hawke HAS to get to the airport and I’m freaking out way too much about the countdown to actually enjoy the movie).
I kept hearing the countdown in my head as I made a smoothie, one cheese quesadilla for Micah to eat at the playground after school, one egg and cheese quesadilla for Ellis, packing small fish boocheengeh for them to nibble on, their drinking cups, Oh, Ellis you climbed onto the table and spilled the water on a book, lemme change you, doh, I gots to brush my teef and tie my hair and change, Ellis, get down from that chair, you will Ah-Yah! Ellis please, we have to get into the stroller now. No Ellis, we can’t take that outside. Oh, Ellis, Mommy just has to run and grab the library books.
Then things got real harried as I scrambled to grab Micah’s scooter from our tiny coat closet, where everything fell out as I tried to finesse his scooter parts and helmet out. The entryway had a few stray toys and shoes that I ran over with our huge doublestroller, thereby breaking Micah’s toy saucepan.
I can’t make a clean getaway as a HUGE BOX OF DIAPERS we got delivered yesterday had the audacity to CONTINUE TO REMAIN THERE.
That is when things go left in my head and I start going down a familiar path.
“I told Kevin that one of the big obstacles to peace in my day is the damn lack of space, especially this entryway. I told him a countless number of times that if he and I can both do our part to at least clear the entryway so that when I’m rushing out the door, I don’t have to try to maneuver my way out, RAGING. And by ‘he and I’ I clearly mean ‘he’!”
“I guess he just doesn’t care enough to actually move this HUGE BOX OF DIAPERS for me. God forbid he make my life any easier even after I’ve asked him so many times to please help in this way.”
Then, I caught myself. There was a flash of a word that zapped onto my brain, not unlike the countdown I kept hearing earlier. Holy Spirit, is that You?
The word was GRACE. Not just a common Korean-American girl’s name.
GRACE. Something Kevin pours out to me daily. And Kevin does more than most husbands I know.
Yet when there is a huge box of diapers that just happened to be impeding my path, something I didn’t even notice myself until I had to rush out, instead of tapping into some GRACE towards my husband whom I used to shower with grace (in the B.C. era – Before Children – and even more so during our long distance dating era), I went down a dark path that sometimes ends with a dramatic (rerun) finale called, “Does He Even Truly Love Me?”
So tonight, I’m going to think and talk about Grace and why I hoard it these days. One reason is because I’m skurred that if I gift him with too much Grace, he won’t respond to my requests for change, or receive them as Urgent. Even though he explains to me that it would only spur him on to do better, I keep thinking that my angry outbursts would do a better job of getting him to never dare leave the huge box of diapers in my path again.
Grace seems too soft.
Maybe, just maybe, to hold myself accountable, I will choose Grace over Criticism for the next week and see what happens.
See why no Korean parents ever name their girls “Criticism.”