True (S)tori

I’m not going to make fun of Tori Spelling any more. At least I’m going to try my darndest.

When I talk about folks from my real life, I (usually) feel bad for gossiping / talking trash. But I seem to give myself license to make fun of celebs because they are public figures and many are so ridiculously privileged that it boggles my mind. I especially talk bitterly about those who have benefited from nepotism like Miss Tori Spelling of Aaron Spelling legacy fame, though my real beef with her was how she and her now-husband cheated on their ex-spouses to get with each other.

Both my boys were home with me today fighting a powerful cough once again. Micah is particularly susceptible to such cough attacks around this time of the year, but little E has also been suffering the past couple days. At one point, it would’ve been comical had it not been so pitiful – both of them performing a cough duet, fighting to be the one who gets to sit on my lap, not able to use their words because they were coughing so much. Just droppin’ ‘bows on each other and crying, grabbing at me.

While it was a tough day, I felt flattered by how much they just wanted their Mama. They won’t always want me and they are growing up so fast.

Kevin came home to relieve me after a trying day, gifting me with some halal cart food he had picked up to make dinner easier on me. The boys could hardly even drink their beef broth through their coughing so we didn’t force it. After tending to many cough episodes, Kevin declared that he, too, wasn’t feeling well and fell asleep with Micah in the boys’ room, both of them on the floor.

E is right next to me in our big bed as I type this.

Back to Tori Spelling. Because all the boys were down for the night by 9 pm, a rarity, I decided not to read my book and instead tuned into Truly Terrible Television.

“True Tori.”

Sure we’re both from Los Angeles, but our upbringings could not be more different. I could not relate to any of the issues this girl has.

Until tonight.

She was crying at her therapist’s office, talking about how she gives her daughters extra hugs throughout the day because they remind her of when she was a little girl and how she just yearned to be loved. How she felt starved for her mother’s love.

That touched me.

Don’t get it twisted – I felt loved by my parents even though they expressed it by working long hours at whichever small business they owned at the time in order to provide for us. They didn’t have to say “I love you” or always affirm me to make me feel loved. But as a sensitive and inquisitive kid, it would have been nice to have gotten more time with them, to just talk to them freely about my many emotions and thoughts, have them truly see and hear me more than their store hours would allow.

But, like Tori, I catch myself doing things as a mama to my beloved boys because I know I would have wanted those things when I was growing up. Affirming them, cupping their precious faces in my hands to tell them how much I love them and how they are the only Them in the whole wide world. And always apologizing when I mess up.

Also, take the holidays, for example. Why was I scrambling to order an Advent Calendar for Kids today in the midst of reading them library book after library book so that they wouldn’t think Sick Day meant TV Overdose Day? We even sat in our tiny bathroom with the hot water running to create a steam room, with piles of library books which I could hardly read through my fogged up glasses.

Because my parents had to work EXTRA long hours at their store during the holidays, it was understood that they wouldn’t be around much. I didn’t realize the deep melancholy that triggered in me until decades later when I became a parent. I suspected it earlier when I would feel funky as the holidays approached but after I became a mama, I would find myself in fetal position sometimes during this Most Wonderful Time of the Year.

While I understood that the holidays meant longer work hours for my parents, I never grieved the sadness and envy I felt during the season.

The holidays meant loneliness. Feeling left out from general merriment that the entire damn world seemed to be partaking in without us. Joining our second cousins for their tight-knit family festivities but feeling like outsiders as we weren’t truly a part of their crew. Watching my well-meaning relative slip some money into an envelope to gift it to me and my brother whispering to another that they hadn’t accounted for our attendance during the gift exchange.

Inevitably, we all fail in some ways as parents. Kevin’s mom once commented, “You’re so picky about how much juice or sugar the kids are allowed to have yet you and Kevin fight in front of them. That’s much more harmful than them having candy.” That stung because it was true.

We do what we do NOT want to do. And sometimes it just kills me that I can’t provide them with the most loving home environment due to our failings.

But that doesn’t stop me from trying again the next day.

This month, trying comes in the form of making their holidays magical. I want our family to spend extra time together this month, counting down the days before Christmas on their Advent calendar that should be arriving in a few days. I know I have to exorcise more holiday demons but I’m hoping that with lots of prayer and equipping myself with the Word, I will be able to gift my kids with magical holiday memories.

We are all broken. Whether you a skinny blonde daughter of a Hollywood mogul or a Korean-American daughter of immigrants, we have deep wounds.  Thanks to my children, I’m able to wrestle with them and move forward.

My dudes taking a hug break in between coughs.  Please Lord help me to do right by them.

My dudes taking a hug break in between coughs. Please Lord help me to do right by them.

6 thoughts on “True (S)tori

  1. Very transparent and heartfelt. I can relate. My favorite part was “by equipping myself with God’s Word…”. Their are many wounds in which the enemy gains access to inflict inadequacy feelings. But we know he is the father if all lies. So just keep celebrating that you are still trying. That is a greater telling of truth than the thought that you are failing.

    • thanks for reading, dawg. you my only Chong fo’ ‘lyfe. i know i have nagged you to read my posts but it don’t feel quite complete until you do. LOVE YOU! you a part of my childhood like fami-Lee.

  2. This is a wonderful post, Jihee. Thank you for your honesty. I’m sure many parents feel the same and you really articulated your inner world so well that a non-parent like me could relate! Sometimes I wonder if parents overcompensate for their lack of this and that… like if I had kids, it would be really hard for me to deny them new toys or clothes because I always coveted that growing up (we were hand-me-down kids, which was fine in hindsight but you know all the baggage that comes along with not having new things around kids who always have new things… #firstworldpain). My parents also had a ga-gae all our American lives (the bane of my youthful existence) but they really valued Christmas so we always prioritized family time around the holidays. So Christmas has truly been a joyful season for me in more ways than one, and I’m grateful for that. I’ve always taken on the view that probably most parents traumatize their kids no matter how good they are at parenting.. well, simply because we’re all broken (like you said). I joke around that it’s probably a matter of how MUCH we traumatize them based on years of therapy they’ll need. haha… yeah.. not something to joke about but it helps me get through some painful stuff of childhood. I’m inspired by how much you love your kids, Jihee. No doubt, you’ll go through trying days, weeks, years with them… but there’s nothing like the love of a mother and I can’t wait to hear about how much they love you back.

    • thanks for reading and commenting, CATE! It is a whole ‘nutha level of joy when Micah tells me, “I love you SO much Mommy. I will never forget you,” and Ellis tells me, “I love you little bit Mommy” so that I can fake-cry and he can amend the statement to, “I love you SOOOO much” with his fish lips. So glad we were able to reconnect through wordpress! hope you doing well. Enjoy your first Christmas as a married couple!

  3. This post like many of your previous posts is courageously vulnerable and real. There are few writers and few moms who would bare it all the way you do. It takes heart and you definitely have a ton of that in your writing. You turn the messiness of life into meaningful moments on the virtual page. You are my Korean Anne Lamott! Proud if how u pushed past the pain to make a positive change so your children can have the holiday magic you didn’t get to experience as little one. You go girl! Xoxo

  4. Pingback: You came like winter snow… | Lyrics of a Caged Songbird

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