Holidays and Emotional Fireworks

When I struggle emotionally, I’m prone to feel like a freak, utterly unrelatable, like no one else suffers from my particular malady, be it anger explosions or self-loathing or battling envy.

And man, what is up with the holidays and emotion overload?  I swear I start off excited to enjoy a special holiday with my family but many times, I sabotage my own happiness.

On Friday night before Fourth of July Monday, we set off for K’s mom’s house in CT.  During the tornado watch.  But we didn’t just set off as easily as that prior sentence sounds.  I only worked on Monday so that I can be with the kids the rest of the week after M’s school let out Tuesday at noon .  We kept active and social with playground runs, a trip to MoMA, and playdates, but by Friday, I was feeling agitated.  Spent.

When K got home that night, I was already in a mood.  I was taking the boys’ not listening too personally.  Also, unbeknownst to me, I was nervous about our CT weekend, an emotional minefield.  We hadn’t seen his brother’s family in too long so I became nervous and also subconsciously flashbacked to how unsafe I had felt with these in-laws in the past (though we are now pleasant with each other the few times we meet up, thank you Lawd).

During a jog around the neighborhood after K got home to relieve me, the damn sabotage cycle commenced.

My thought balloon formed as I jogged: “Why can’t I just stay home?  That way, I don’t have to feel nervous and not be all self-conscious about how to do my face while on this other planet called Greenwich.  It doesn’t have to be terrible like when K and I had a huge fight on a previous holiday and they actually left without me.  Why can’t I calmly just state that I am sorry to cancel but I will be taking three days for myself, without it turning into drama?”

But I knew I was wrong.  I had agreed to this CT weekend weeks ago and part of our recurring fight cycle is that for holidays, emotions overwhelm me and I want to bone out, when most of the time, word is bond for me and I do NOT flake.

I have open wounds about living across the country from my own family and friends for almost every holiday, previous holiday sabotaging and fight cycles, childhood wounds and all sorts of lovely shit.

Only in hindsight, as in NOW, as I write this four days later, I realize that I wanted K to connect and engage me after my tough day with the kids.  Instead, because he does not get as emotionally overwhelmed when taking care of them (he advises that I learn to tune them out sometimes), he does not fully know how to connect with me when I am pissy about a bad afternoon with them.  Pissy because I feel like I failed, pissy because I feel like I’m not the more patient version of myself from just a few years ago.

And he also wants to give me space to breathe.  I want that too but I also want him to come alongside me and help me untangle my feelings.

So when I said I may stay back, I think I wanted him to affirm me.  I wanted him to say, “You can gift yourself with some Me Time next week, I assure you, but this holiday weekend, I beg of you, to please join us because *we are not the same without you.*  We need you.  You bring a fun spirit to our family and make everything more magical.  I know you are feeling nervous about CT and I understand, but I will not abandon you or leave you to otherwise fend for yourself if you feelin’ unsafe…”  (BECAUSE YES, DON’T ALL MEN SPEAK JUST LIKE OPRAH?)

To K’s credit, he did try to cobble together a version of this statement but he also got frustrated when we started squabbling and said what I could not take at the time:  “Don’t worry, we will be JUST FINE without you.  No problem.  You will just regret not coming because you love to be out in nature and you will miss out on your kids.”

I was hurt so I lashed out, “FINE?!  NO PROB?!  MISS OUT ON NATURE?!  Oh, don’t worry about me!  I can get with some nature all by my damn self while you guys are just fine without me in CT!  AND I AM SO FUN.  I BRING THE FUN TO THIS FAMILY.”  (See?  When I don’t get affirmed, I start affirming myself but also insulting K, who is pretty damn fun.)

So many times, my emotional response is to skip Sadness and land on Anger.  Sadness feels like it could crack me wide open.  Sadness feels like I have no power.  Anger deceives me into thinking I have power in the explosive fireworks I unleash.

After much delay, we got on the road late at night.  Not all was well but at least I was able to get in the car this time.   I felt like a failure for keeping the boys waiting as we fought, and now that M is bigger, he even started imploring me to join them on the CT trip and laying out reasons why I should go.  It hurt my heart to hear him try to persuade me.

Going forward, I need to be able to VULNERABLY take a risk and say, “K, I am feeling all kinds of things re CT especially after a tough afternoon with the boys.  Can you please remind me of why I should go and also why I am needed in this family, though you seem to be able to handle it all without me?”

But OMG, who can speak like that?!  I think I am a very raw and vulnerable person but to ask exactly for what you need emotionally!?  It feels like I am giving him ALL THE ANSWERS on the Scantron test so all the correct “answers” are cheating.

To be continued…I hope?  Maybe.  (Because I gotta write about Saturday, too).

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bonding with Daddy’s friend’s family

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I’m so glad I went.

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Look what washed up in Madison, CT!

P.S.  In this age of social media, I need to remind those who are struggling during the holidays to know that the perfect red-white-and-blue photos are only part of the story.  Beautiful memories WERE created but there are demons to slay to get to the Kodak moments.  At least with me and my family.

 

 

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5.5 on 5.25

This is a time capsule letter for my firstborn, my GloWorm, our MLK,

I meant to write you a proper letter for your 5th birthday but now, you are already about to turn five-and-a-half on 5.25.

Today is your first day back at Kindergarden after missing three days last week, including your step-up ceremony.  You were hospitalized for asthma for two nights and two-and-a-half days after the doctor could not get your oxygen levels up, even though she had given you three back-to-back-to-back doses of albuterol and steroids.

When we heard that you had to go to the ER, we all reacted differently.

Daddy became even calmer.  He said he had to.

I started crying as Daddy pressed the elevator button with you in his arms, after he had packed a few things.  “My podoh-ahl [grape pulp], the last time you had to be in the hospital was when you were born.  I want you home and healthy!”

Ellis was still his funny self, asking for second dinner and for Mommy to play hide and seek because Mommy was so preoccupied.  I snapped at him that I need some quiet and that I was sad.  But at night, when he realized that you and Daddy weren’t going to be home, he said, “I’m going to punch the doctors in the face for taking my bruddah away.”

Micah, when you and Daddy weren’t here, even for just that first night when Daddy slept over at the hospital with you, the apartment just felt wrong!

I felt like my heart was outside my body, sleeping over at the Children’s Hospital, wheezing and struggling to breathe.

I even missed your whining, which usually drives me mad.  Actually, I didn’t miss your whining but I wished you were healthy ENOUGH to whine, in theory (where I could not hear you).

I wanted to crawl into your lungs and make them come correct, damnit.

On Friday morning, I called your dad to tell him that you most likely would not be discharged until the afternoon, so no use coming by in the early morning before heading out to the office.

Your dad said, “No, I just need to come by and see our whole family together.”

Your recent hospital stay reminded me of just how much we love you and how this family needs each member.  It also made me realize that on a universal level, one is beloved just by being born.  Not into a perfect family by any means, but by virtue of being born, you are beloved by someone or some ones.

Also made me think we need to recruit more family members but I digress.

I also remembered the times you left me breathless (oof, no pun intended), just by being you.

Like when we recently went on a spring break getaway to the Berkshires, Daddy and I were sitting in the hot tub with you guys, but beating ourselves up for forgetting to bring swim floaties.

“How we gonna forget swim floaties on a hotel-swim vacation?  Where is our head?”

Micah:  “How about we just thank God that we are here?”  (Word.  Schooled by our young son.)

Or when we went to hike to a waterfall on that same vacation, you and I were able to have the most special time, walking among the logs and dead leaves, and you said, “Mommy, you know when I just don’t listen to you?  That’s my bad.  I will do better.  I know it’s not easy.”

Or when we went away just to the nearby suburb of Plainview for Mother’s Day and we said we won’t have bedtimes and we were going to eat lots of chips even after dinner.  You grew very serious and said, “This is a big night, guys.”

Or when you were lying on top of me on a bench at the Museum of Natural History in LA and I said, “Oh, I wish I had my sunglasses!” and you said, “I’ll be your sunglasses,” as you covered my eyes with your still-small face.

That was my favorite moment of our most recent trip to LA because I know that soon you will be too grown to agree to lie down on top of me like a blanket so that I can cuddle you and caress your face and tell you how you is kind and you is beautiful and you is beloved.

I even addressed that with you again, during our special hike to the waterfall, about how our relationship will change as you grow older and you answered in your usual thoughtful and literal manner.

“Mommy, when I turn into a man and you keep wanting to hug me, and you said I won’t want to hug you as much, I will at least stand there so that you can hug me.  And of course, I will visit you – my kids have to play with you!”

Thank you for getting better and breathing better today.

Thank you for joining our family and being exactly who you are, even though you prefer your Daddy these days.  And now is not the time to blow up your spot by including other less precious moments when we are butting heads down Queens Blvd.

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I love how you instinctively grabbed my wrist so that I won’t slide down.

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growing up before my eyes – hiking in North Adams, MA

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you said you didn’t know how much you actually missed ellis until he was able to visit you once you got transferred from the intermediary ICU to the regular ward

E’s Notable Quotables

I’ve been taking a break from blogging for various reasons but I’m back for this drive-by post just so I can preserve precious moments.

I mean to write them all down in my journal but it seems like I am more willing to type it out if in blog form.

Both my boys crack me up daily.

Here are a couple notable quotables from the mouth of my nearly three-and-a-half year old Ellis:

Before hitting up the playground after school, the boys scootered as I chased after them to the Japanese market in our ‘hood so that we can pick up a few onigiri (rice balls in the shape of triangles, covered with dried seaweed).

When I noticed that only the spicy ones were still available that late afternoon, I announced to the boys that the non-spicy onigiri were all gone.

E’s round eyes got even bigger as his tulip mouth pursed seriously, and he exclaimed, “Call the police!”

Another:

Ellis started a bad habit only this week, of trying to stay up past their bedtime.  We did not want to give in so we started resorting to dirty tactics when we saw him trying to sneak out of their shared room right before our eyes.

“Hey, Daddy!  Let’s get ready to watch monsters on the TV.  In the DARK like a movie theater!” (me trying to prey on his current fears)

Ellis:  I know you guys are trying to trick me.  That is NOT nice.

One more:

On the way home from church, I was explaining to Micah:

“Being smart is so relative.  Some people are blessed to be smart in one way, while other people are smart in another way.  You should never feel bad because someone else, like a classmate, seems smarter than you, because you probably smarter than them in another way.

Also, you should never show off about your smarts, either, because in life, you will always meet people who are smarter than you.”

Ellis, from the carseat next to Big Brother’s:  “Like me.”

And that’s all for today.  I hope to stay awake for Grey’s Anatomy and ease on into weekend mode early on this Thursday night.

 

Freed People Free People

1,199,377,832 : number of Internet searches for pornography since January 1, 2015.

With that unfathomable figure on the black screen behind him, one of our church leaders shared his very personal addiction to pornography and how he was delivered from it in 1995.

I didn’t take any notes as I hung on to every word.  The sermon is not on our church’s website yet as he delivered this sermon only yesterday.  I will share it once it is up.

This was one of the most powerful sermons I have ever heard because of its very personal and raw nature.  I saw people wiping their tears as he shared his private pain.

Redd also mentioned how he came to decide to share this testimony with such a large audience.  He realized that sharing his story can bless others:  Freed People Free People.

This was particularly encouraging to me, the born Public Confesser.  Many times I wish I weren’t wired this way.  I feel like a damn fool.  Why do I always want to share?  I ain’t getting paid.

Why do I have such a compulsion to share my innards instead of keeping my status updates casual:  “Tried the new watermelon flavor blaster gum today.  YUM!”

As I sat there, watching Redd take a huge risk by sharing his secrets, I, too, wiped away a few tears that had slipped out.  I, one who has never even watched porn, connected with what he was saying.

I understand about bondage and what Apostle Paul talks about in Romans 7:15:  I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.

Redd also clarified that his sermon isn’t only addressing addiction to porn but to ANYTHING that makes us feel imprisoned.

Anger, overeating, eating disorders, drugs, shame, sex, fear, unforgiveness, blame, and so much more.  And in 2015, I’m sure there is a whole host of new addictions like addiction to our smartphones and social media so that we aren’t left alone with our own thoughts.

Redd asked the congregation to whisper in our own seats:  “I WANT TO BE SET FREE FROM ________.”

I want to be set free from ANGER.

It may be getting worse, not better, as I age.  I know that beneath the anger lies hurt but I seem to skip right over the Hurt to rush to the release of Anger.  This release is false as I don’t feel any better even after unleashing.

I am well aware of my triggers.  For one, it’s when I see others enjoying what I lack.  I know in my HEAD, that we all have different blessings but in my FEELS, I don’t see why I can’t have what others have.

*This is risky to share because I also have experienced folks enjoying being the object of my envy because it makes them feel better about themselves but that’s another topic altogether.*

I saw a woman in the locker room at a Korean spa on Saturday, the first day my MiL came over this calendar year so that Kevin and I could have a belated anniversary day to ourselves.  A whole entire day – Glory!

This woman walked in with her infant, her mom, and her MiL (or aunt).  She, herself, never tended to the baby as the doting grammas cooed over him and handled everything he needed – the undressing, the diapers, you name it.  The young mom just followed their lead and changed into her own spa uniform AT HER LEISURE.

Her leisure made my body hot.  Yes, I realize that you come to a spa to relax but how dare she relax with an infant?  THAT IS SUPPOSED TO BE IMPOSSIBLE.

I judged her for being lazy and spoiled(!) just because she was richly blessed with a day at the spa with generations above and below.

Then I checked myself and said, “Hold up, ajumma, why are you hating on that woman you’ve never met?  What is going on in there?”

I realized it was because I haven’t fully grieved being on our own these last five years as parents.  Sure, I talk about it A LOT, but I don’t think I really know what to do with the sadness I hold about my kids seeing my parents once a year.  How Kevin and I, for the most part, raise them up on our own.  When a couple church friends expressed interest in watching our kids, I actually cried because I felt SO LOVED and supported.

I have to clarify that we have great friends I’ve made since M was an infant, and we do regular playdates, but I’m talking specifically about the Family Village, which we lack.

And believe me, in my head, I know that things could be worse – at least both sets of grandparents are alive and well, at least Kevin’s mom was able to come over on Saturday. (I also struggle with GUILT for feeling my feelings!)

I also know that I am a very energetic and competent mama perhaps because it’s either Kevin or me tending to their every need, but when I see a mom of young children hardly lifting a finger because she knows that her Village will run over to her child walking dangerously in front of another child on the swings, something is triggered.

I want to learn to say, “I feel sad that my parents live so damn far away and can’t get to know my morsels as much as I’d like,” rather than, “Fuck these lazy spoiled princess mamas who don’t know how to do jack shit on their own.”

I want to be set free from my default emotion of ANGER.

I want to be set free from the guilt I feel for some of my feelings.

I want to be set free from blaming my husband when our lives aren’t quite what I pictured.

I want to be set free from criticizing.

I want to be set free from self-hatred.

Redd reminded us that FREED PEOPLE FREE PEOPLE.  What do you want to be set free from?  Let’s help each other.  Here is the passage we studied together yesterday – Isaiah 61:

Exaltation of the Afflicted:

The Year of the Lord’s Favor

61 The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners,[a]
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
    and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
    and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    a planting of the Lord
    for the display of his splendor.

They will rebuild the ancient ruins
    and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities
    that have been devastated for generations.
Strangers will shepherd your flocks;
    foreigners will work your fields and vineyards.
And you will be called priests of the Lord,
    you will be named ministers of our God.
You will feed on the wealth of nations,
    and in their riches you will boast.

Instead of your shame
    you will receive a double portion,
and instead of disgrace
    you will rejoice in your inheritance.
And so you will inherit a double portion in your land,
    and everlasting joy will be yours.

“For I, the Lord, love justice;
    I hate robbery and wrongdoing.
In my faithfulness I will reward my people
    and make an everlasting covenant with them.
Their descendants will be known among the nations
    and their offspring among the peoples.
All who see them will acknowledge
    that they are a people the Lord has blessed.”

10 I delight greatly in the Lord;
    my soul rejoices in my God.
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation
    and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness,
as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest,
    and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
11 For as the soil makes the sprout come up
    and a garden causes seeds to grow,
so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness
    and praise spring up before all nations.

Baby, I’m (Still) Amazed by You

The most joyous,

dream-like,

wonderful, literally wonder-FILLED,

time of my life thus far was when I was pregnant with my first.  I don’t even need to say “thus far” as nothing will surpass its top billing as the most wondrous time of my life.

All cliches made sense.  Growing a tiny human (and penis) in my womb was truly miraculous.  Just thinking about it made me want to lift my hands in worship even on the crowded R train during the morning rush (but I couldn’t only because I had to hold onto the pole).

In fact, it was so full of wonder and awe that towards the end of the pregnancy, I worried that when the baby arrived, that Lion King moment would turn out to be almost anti-climactic after 38.5 weeks of the most built-up anticipation.

Yes, a luxurious worry to have during a healthy and smooth pregnancy.

Needless to say, that “worry” was beyond silly as I couldn’t take my eyes off him that first night in the hospital.  Just staring and studying him. Falling in love so fast and furious that we were in our own world.  Hardly noticed when Kevin said he was leaving for the night (I had insisted – no place to sleep and no point in not investing in rest).

Similar to that silly initial “worry,” I also started wondering more recently, if being a mom to an older child would be less of a heartwarming experience since I can’t stare into his eyes while nursing or while nibbling on him any chance I get.

I even asked mom friends who have kids in their teens, “Is it gross?  Your boy’s little girl voice all deepening and them becoming straight up men?  Can you even recall them in their morsel-y baby form?  What’s it like when they are no longer cuddly and innocent?”

One friend said, “But he’s still him.”

Then I got reminded of just how silly this worry is when my firstborn says the darndest things.  He may not be my “baby” baby, but I’m still filled with wonder as I witness him emerging into a Big Boy at 4 1/2 years old, with a new, pointy (single) chin and strong feelings about who should win American Idol.

This list is mostly for me, so I won’t forget these fleeting sound bites.

On current events:  “If Optimus Prime was in Nepal, he could have held up the sky with his arms and kept the ground from breaking with his legs and all those people would not be killed in the earthquake.”

On Mommy announcing that she is going to eat a lollipop with a grasshopper lodged in the middle:  “Mommy, you are being so silly.  Look, I care about you so I don’t want you to eat that stuff, okay?”

On his friend’s dietary habits:  “I want you to drink more milk okay so you can be healthy. You can’t just drink water.”

On Gramma telling him to choose one toy at Wal-Mart:  “One, huh?  This is like American Idol.  There can only be one winner.  One can go home with me but one has to stay.”

On transportation:  “There goes another white bus but that one’s not for the people in jail.  Anyone can ride it.”

On theology:  “So when Jesus died for people’s sins, who are these people?  Do we know their names?  Do we know who they are?”

On Mommy and Daddy’s HUGE age difference:  “Mommy, you said the younger people should walk in front and the older people should walk in the back so that we don’t wander or get taken or walk into the street.  So that means Daddy should walk ahead of you since you’re older, right?  When you were five, Daddy wasn’t five!  He was only 4 1/2, right?  Do you get more tired than Daddy because you’re older?”

On private parts:  “Ellis, stop hitting Mommy in her Giovanna.”  (He knows the word “vagina” since babyhood, but after a slip-up, now prefers to call it by the more beautiful girl name.)

"Ellis, you're growing up fast but this weed is still taller than you."

“Ellis, you’re growing up fast but this weed is still taller than you.”

Ladybug’s Landing

It’s been a couple months since I blogged. First, different things came up so I didn’t have the luxury of writing at night.  Then we made it back to LA for our annual trip home.  Well, MY home.

It’s been hard adjusting back to NYC life, my home of nearly ten years, after getting a taste of what my life could be like in a sunny, palm tree-lined land where I could see my family weekly instead of annually, and where my kids could grow up with my best friends’ kids.  I’m sure I said that exact same thing about a year ago. I just feel so done with everything.  The weather, the congestion, the potholes created by the snow, the commute to our car, the repeating myself over and over again as I hear the boys going back and forth between lovefest and fighting every few moments.

Even blogging and Facebook make me say, “Eh, why bother?” Life feels “thinner” or less full here away from the different way of life on the West Coast, away from the folks who’ve known me since I was a kid.  Or from birth.

Daily tasks are just plain harder to accomplish here where space is at a premium and you don’t know how freezing it will be on any given day.  To walk out the door still requires pre-bundling. Don’t even get me started on the huge disparity in customer service in SoCal vs my ‘hood.  Folks be asking how it’s going while they SMILE at me, assuring me to take my time, asking if I need help with anything!

Finally, at the risk of sounding REALLY Californian, people’s auras were downright different.  People were happy and light as they hiked through the canyons, not pummeled by constant cold weather and rush rush rush. I’ve been sighing too much.  I’m still surprised by adult life even at my mature age.  It sure takes a lot of energy to maintain a household, a family, a marriage, not to mention friendships, individual needs, wants, and goals.

Then I go through a cycle of guilt when I hear about a young mama passing away suddenly at the age of 30, or yet another unsuspecting soul being stricken with cancer.

In my recent rut, I wake up with my hands outstretched to the heavens, praying that God will give me strength for the day ahead when I don’t FEEL the motivation I used to have. The spring in my steps.  The extra boost of mom stremf.  My mojo is lost or at least temporarily misplaced.

It’s funny that in my slump, when the last thing I want to do is take care of other humans, my kids end up encouraging me when I least expect it. Just last week, I was probably sighing again as I refilled their drinks and got up to fetch another library book to keep them from asking for TV.  While up, I put away a few toys, threatened to throw away Starscream if I stepped on him again, and peeked at the cable box’s clock to see when I can just sit in silence with no one asking me for one more thing.

Ellis climbed right up onto my chest with his huge round eyes.  Like a cat. He peered right into my “I’m So Over This” gaze and pointed out solemnly and loudly, “Mommy, you so lucky.”

“Lucky?”

I didn’t feel lucky in that moment.  I felt like the kids’ fat maid who needed to get fired.

“Why is Mommy so lucky?”  I itched to know. He got even closer to my face, with his wet tulip mouth and no sense of boundaries.  He placed his pudgy hand on my forearm.

“Because a ladybug landed on you, Mommy.  At the beach, the ladybug landed on YOU.  You lucky, Mommy.”  He looked very serious like a little preacher.

I remembered. I remembered how we got to play at the beach on Kevin’s birthday during our trip to LA.  It was around 85 degrees that day, the day after NYC had yet another snowstorm.  So hot that we even got to go in the water.  I was able to wear short shorts.  And my beloved Crocs.

A light grey ladybug landed on me while we were eating our gas station samiches.  I wanted to take a picture because I treasure magical moments.  He flew away before I got to memorialize him.  We all oohed and ahhed that the ladybug had landed on Mommy of all people!

That memory had stayed with little E.  And he had felt the need to mention it now when I felt so very uninspired.  The night before Ellis reminded me of this moment, a couple weeks after it had occurred, I had actually Googled “meaning of grey ladybug” while I was supposed to be using the bathroom.  Just sniffing around for some magic or meaning as I struggled with the minutiae of life.

My dumpling son is right.  I am lucky.  Even when I don’t feel it.  It sounds so much better coming from his innocent face instead of well-meaning adults.

And even when I couldn’t yield a Google search result explaining that a light grey ladybug landing on you while at the beach can only mean that you will win the lottery that month. IMG_1091 IMG_1087 IMG_1081 IMG_1072

Use Your Words

I am typing from my bed after another argument with Kevin. He is out in the living room building Legos with the boys before bedtime.

Just yesterday, I had commented on my friend’s status update about her counting down the seconds’til her husband walked through the door. She was sick while taking care of her little ones, about the same ages as my kids. I told her something like, “I feel you. There are days where Kevin will walk through the door and announce that he has to use the bafroom for just a li’l bit and I’m like, ‘Oh uh-uh, you don’t even know what the past two hours have been like. You needs to do that on your own time. I’m on break.'”

Then I read a blog tonight with some other mama saying the same thing so I mentioned to Kevin while he was feeding the kids dinner, “Hey, so it’s really not just me. This one blogger lady and other commenters are all saying it really bugs when they desperate for the husband to walk through the doors to give them the relief they been waiting for, only to have them say they gon’ use the bathroom right quick.”

Kevin responded logically. I loathe logic. He was annoyed. “So now I’m not allowed to use the bathroom when I get home?” Did I mention he was feeding the kids dinner as I recovered from a sore throat and earlier Charles E. Queso festivities, sprawled out on the playmat?

“NO! I’m actually NOT saying you can’t use the bathroom! I’m saying I need you to USE YOUR WORDS as soon as you walk through those doors. To express that you understand what kind of mental and emotional energy I expend when pouring out for the kids – the diaper chase, the disciplining, the repeating myself, the breaking up fights, the vagina kicks, the spills, the refills after the spills, the sitting down just to get back up again for something else. When you only rush off to the bathroom after I have been starving for someone to pass the baton to so that I don’t lose it, I feel crazed.”

We went back and forth, our voices getting louder and louder and even continued to argue in the bedroom while the kids were in the middle of their dinner, probably wondering why Mom and Dad were fighting again.

He then said, “Don’t actions speak louder than words? The minute I get home I try to take over to show you that I care.”

AUUGGGHHH! We always end up back at this Love Languages argument! Tired of it.

Kevin shows his love through acts of service. I express my love through words. I guess I also withhold love by withholding my words of affirmation. And yes, I do agree that actions speak louder than words. If he was gushing with his words but never helped me manage the household or raise the kids, I would call “bullshit!” on his love.

But actions NEVER replace words.

Kevin is one of THE MOST HELPFUL BABY DADDIES I HAVE EVER MET.

BUT I NEED BOTH ACTIONS AND WORDS.

Sometimes, I feel like man, close mama friends just get it more than the husband ever can, by virtue of being a fellow mama, like when we can safely share Mommy fails and Mommy stress with each other without having to swear up and down that we truly madly deeply love our kids. Only with a select trusted few can you say, “The other day, I totally messed up…I…” and before you can finish, they will completely understand and even share a worse Mommy fail if they your people.

Meanwhile, the husband swears up and down that he understands the emotional and mental roller coaster of being an at-home mama but I feel like he only expresses it to me in the way I need only when I ask him directly, “Hey, do you get it? Do you really get how sometimes I just wanna escape from everyone and everything? Just to recharge and regroup?”

HE SAYS HE GETS IT but when he is saying it AS A RESPONSE, rather than as an uninitiated affirmation, I feel like I cornered him into it and he is only saying it to assuage my rage. Keep the beast at bay.

In his defense, since I’m the one who has a blog to mouth off on and he doesn’t, he says he would love to affirm me DAILY but I don’t give him a chance because I criticize him immediately or use a mean tone.

I get it. Therein lies the tug-of-war.

I want the affirmation first while he wants me to back off from the criticisms first.

So after the kids go to bed, I have to show him this blog post instead of yelling again. OF COURSE HE CAN USE THE BATHROOM WHEN HE GETS HOME.

I am not really THAT bad, dag.

I just want to be understood first – that I’ve been desperately waiting for someone to pass the baton to.

I just want him to gift me by SEEING ME before he rushes off to the bathroom for even a second. To look me in the eyes, even when I try to take the stress out on him and can be downright cold, and say, “I know you must have been counting down the seconds ’til I walked through that door. I GOTCHOO. I’mma take the wheel now. I really gotchoo. How was today? You need not wait any longer. Well, only until I come out the bathroom.”

Sure, I may still sass him but deep inside, I would feel like he GETS IT. That I can still love my kids more than life itself but also feel like, “EVERYONE LEAVE ME THE F ALONE!”

And I know that the key to marriage is clear communication and asking for what you want, but maybe I’m wired differently because when I have to ask for what I want, like ordering from a menu, I don’t appreciate it as much if / when you say them to me. If I demand specific affirmations like the above, then it feels like you just parroting what I demanded, just to keep me from bitching, though to be fair, even when Kevin has made specific requests of me, I’ve flat out refused. At least he is more than willing.

I once had a tiff with one of my closest, oldest friends because I noticed that she would never ASK me how I’m doing when I was newly pregnant for the first time. So we didn’t talk much most of my pregnancy. I finally told her that when she didn’t ask, I felt like it would be weird to be all, “So, this is how I’m feeling now…”

She got emotional and was hurt. “Well, then why didn’t you just tell me how you’re doing? Why do I have to inquire?” I told her it’s because I feel stupid to just tell someone how I’m doing when they don’t express that they would like to know.

I never claimed to be low maintenance.

Actions do speak louder than words but just like I tell the little ones: USE YOUR WORDS.

And THEN go relieve yourself.

Fast.

I’m on break.