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!”


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,


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.”


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.



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.


I’m on break.

Crazy Saves

I’ve been struggling due to a personal matter. I felt like I couldn’t handle one. more. thing. and dreaded the extra maintenance a rainy day requires when wrangling the kiddos outdoors.

After picking up Micah from school, I was strolling Ellis from our parking lot, carrying the boys’ stuff on the crooks of both arms and not bothering with an umbrella for myself because How? I also couldn’t use my left hand to grip the stroller because I had accidentally knifed myself while rushing to cut a carrot for our breakfast smoothie the other morning.

Micah hasn’t done this in ages but suddenly he starts crying and screaming, while I am trying to get us all home on this drizzly, dark afternoon. He starts begging me TO CARRY HIM HOME. When he did this a while back, a stranger had to help me get home.

He was pulling on my jacket as we crossed the busy street, blocking Ellis’ stroller so that I was forced to run into him. My body heat started to rise and I prayed silently for help. I was getting pissed.

After crossing the street, I paused to go down to his level, hold him in an embrace, and tell him, “I know you want Mommy to carry you. Sometimes you want me to show you how much I love you by carrying you but I just can’t right now. I’m sorry. Will you be my big boy and walk home for me?” I lost my balance and plunked my butt right into a puddle.

“Carry up! Carry up! Piggyback!?” He was not relenting.

Our three blocks home was going to be hell. Like I said, I was fragile this week and couldn’t stomach a meltdown. His or mine.

I suddenly remembered some advice I had heard ages ago.

Act crazy to throw a mugger off his game.

Reasoning wasn’t working and more rain could hit as the afternoon sky looked more like it was 11 pm out.

I raised my hands to the heavens and started hopping in place while bellowing, “CARRY UP! CARRY MOMMY UP!? SOMEONE HELP MOMMY? CARRY MEEEEEEEE! CARRY MEEEEE!” I started dancing to my own beat while cars drove by and the kids gazed up at me.

Micah paused for a beat. His face broke out into his Denzel mega-watt smile. He started cracking up. So did little E. So much that Mr. Pillow Cheeks started gasping for air while cackling away in his stroller, watching Hyung laughing and Mama actin’ a fool.

“Again, Mommy! Do that again!”

I know Crazy won’t always save the day but it did today.

our mom cray.

our mom cray.

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This is Part Two from the previous post, so it may not make sense as an independent post:

I was relieved to hear Kevin challenge me instead of agreeing with whatever I said in my agitated state. “But I think it’d be good for you to go to church.  You always feel better.  Then afterwards, you can have the rest of the day to exhale.”

So I drove me and Micah to church the next morning since runny-nosed E needed to stay contained at home.  I saw a parking space on the street so I pulled over to the left to grab the spot.  Immediately, the car behind me honks.  

I have Honk Rage.  HONK HONK HONK. As SOON as the light turns green here in NYC, HONK HONK HONK, HONKY TONK TONK! Honk You! Most Honking City I’ve ever lived in (Seoul doesn’t count because I was too young).

Perhaps I should have pulled over farther to the side? Had I not signaled?  Not sure. I just know that honks invite the Michael Douglas from “Falling Down” from within me to come out and play.  They transform this Calculus Camper into a wannabe thug who wants to respond to your honk with, “Oh, aight, you wanna go in? Let’s go!  Just don’t hit me in the face, son.”

As the car passed by me, I thought, “And I’ll just bet it’s someone from my church, too. Augh! Why do we even bother, coming to church week after week, trying to come correct, then go forth and honk away in this nasty concrete jungle. I AM SO OVER EVERYTHING! I should have stayed my ass home.”

The car passes me and the driver looks right at me, to see who had the audacity to pull over to park and cause an inconvenience. Sho ’nuff, it IS someone from church. For some reason, it makes my agitation grow though no previous ill will towards this person. Even though rationally, I know that maybe they were honking only to tell me to move over a few more inches.

But I don’t want to be rational.  Just one of those “F*CK EVERYTHING AND EVERYONE!” moments as I was already agitated.

After a tough Saturday, I CRAVED some rest in the form of sitting in the sanctuary and hearing a life-giving, refreshing sermon. I needed it. Spiritual spa.

Because Micah was having a hard time staying in his Elephant Room without his friends there on his first day, with mostly kindergardeners, I took him with me to the sanctuary to show him how close I would be to his new classroom.  In a moment of wishful thinking, or denial, I LEFT MY JOURNAL on my seat, perhaps subconsciously thinking that by leaving it there, I would get to come right back by myself.  To shed my negative thoughts and replace them with Word.

However, when we got back to Elephant Room, I saw just how out of place Micah felt on this first day and I promised I would stay the whole time, and would never sneak off.

During his Elephant activities, I told Micah that Mommy needs to run back for less than 30 seconds and get her notebook from the sanctuary since she was staying with him for the rest of his class.  He started shaking his head vehemently and crinkling his face. Since I had left him earlier and Micah had started bawling, I didn’t want him to cry again if we could avoid it.

“Fine, Mommy will go back right after service and get the notebook.”

We went back and it was gone.

I asked the ushers and everyone was really good about looking for it.  I checked the Lost and Found, and spoke to the person in charge.

I started feeling really weird, like my face was going to crumple up just like Micah’s. I felt really prickly, worn and fragile. PLUS, THIS WAS MY JOURNAL.

“I’m sure it will turn up,” assured a friendly face.  But this didn’t comfort me at all. In fact, it made me feel similar to when Kevin says, “Calm down!”

I couldn’t believe it but I just sat down in front of the sanctuary and started to cry. I wished I had stayed my ass home. I didn’t need any more irritations.

Obviously, it wasn’t just for the journal though I did feel mighty naked and out of control to have it floating out there for anyone to pick up and read through, even without malicious intent. MY JOURNAL.  As open as I already am, blogging for my tens of readers to see, the words in my journal are on a whole ‘nutha level of raw and uncensored thoughts and emotions. For anyone to pick it up and peer into made my eyes water and my heart beat fast.

Just then, a familiar face saw me crying and let me fall onto her and cry. “It’s my journal – I can’t leave and just hope it turns up.”

She promptly ran downstairs and found it for me in the one place I had neglected to check because I was moving too frantically from spot to spot, literally running through the church, holding Micah’s hand. Someone had turned it into the front desk. I hadn’t checked there after someone told me there is no staff at front desk on Sundays, only on weekdays. I felt beyond foolish.

The tears were for a lot of things. Stress.  Frustration.  Exhaustion.  Burnout.  Worry about the future.  Not anything new.  How I can’t get extinguish my envy when I see grandparents helping out regularly so that friends and acquaintances alike can reclaim their couplehood without the kids in tow.  In fact, lotta grandparents were helping out even more as the kids grew older.

It was such an appropriate analogy, my having to choose between fetching my journal (WRITING/ME TIME) or staying with my kid (MAMAHOOD).

Before I had kids, I needed long stretches of quiet for myself to devour books, write, think, swim, decompress. Just because I became a mama doesn’t mean that my natural constitution immediately reconfigured itself and I can do without those life-giving things. I am still at my best if I can have longer, more frequent blocks of quiet for my overthinking brain to cool off.

But reality is that my kids come first to my wants. Most of the time, I’m okay with that as that is what a Mommy does. I even embrace it because it feels like I was born for this.  But I’ve come to also realize that if I neglect to take care of myself in these ways I have labeled as pure luxury, I won’t perform at my optimum level..

I felt so annoyed that Micah wouldn’t “let” me go fetch my notebook, though I know he was really thrown by his new surroundings. Then, I started beating myself up over a lot of miscellaneous, irrelevant crap, including my crying about the damn journal.

It’s just hard sometimes, and even harder to say that especially using these trifling examples of “sacrifice.”  Big deal – I had to stay with my boy at his Sunday School. But it wasn’t just that.  It was an accumulation of thangs.  And I know I should be thankful.  Always.  That guilt makes me feel worse.

 As a Mama, I expect myself to be selfless but oh, how selfishness rears its ugly head. I want uninterrupted time to myself. I want to watch MY TV shows. I want to listen to MY music in the car. I want to attend MY service at church. I want to be able to talk to Kevin without interruption. I don’t want to share my mochi ice cream.

Why I gotta be the adult all the time? Just because I AM one?

YES.  The answer is Yes.

Growing up is hard to do, even for a Mama.  Growing pains are not just for the youfe.

Running on Empty, a status update, not just a River Phoenix film

I misplaced my journal in public today.

Well, to be accurate, I knew exactly where I had placed it but it was no longer there when I returned.

Today was Step Up Day at church for our little guys, as Ellis is about to turn two on October 1st and Micah starting pre-Kindergarden tomorrow. Daddy stayed home with Ellis, who was supposed to be officially jumped in as a Giraffe. He had a runny nose so we wanted to be courteous to his classmates and not spread the love.

Micah was joining the Elephant Room, made up of fellow Preschoolers as well as Kindergardeners.

We had been talking about it all this week, as well as about his upcoming new school. He was excited. He was ready.

When we walked in, he changed his mind. He said, “Where are my friends?” The room did look very different from the Giraffe Room and he didn’t know one classmate or teacher. He was the youngest dude there, with his end of the year birthday and the only new kid from what I could surmise.

I tried extra hard: “Ooh, there’s Pastor Rich’s daughter! Oooh, there’s V, remember she came over to watch Jeremy Lin basketball with us a while back with her family? Remember you went to VBS with O?”

On my better days, I would have been HAPPY to stay and get him adjusted to his new surroundings, even feeling like it was a treat to be able to observe him in a classroom setting.

But Lord, I was in a mood. Lemme back it up.

Yesterday, our family went to play at a Back-to-School Festival at a local park after I ran to the optometrist for a wonky eye in the morning. We got there and it was super hot and humid like we knew it would be. But we thought it’d be a cute, celebratory event for our preschooler. And it was. And I got to hold my friend’s new son.

We got back home just in time for Kevin to finally enjoy himself a Daddy’s Late Afternoon and Night Out. I even wrote him a (rare) tribute on Facebook because I truly appreciated all that he does for us, even though sometimes I get jealous that he “gets” to go to the office and use his computer without two warm, brown little monkeys climbing his body to take over the keyboard. And twisting his titties.

I was really excited for his time out and even sent him out early. After all, I do this all week. I got this. What’s an extra day of unpaid overtime?

As soon as Daddy left, Oh My Lawd. I lost all control.

We started off by doing some cute arts and crafts from the Back-to-School Festival while it stormed outside. But the never-ending day started going downhill quickly afterwards. Downright brutal. It was still humid out despite the intermittent storms, yet I refused to turn on our extreme A/C with Ellis’ nose running. The heat added to everything. I also refused to give them any screen time because screen time is a reward, not a right, though in hindsight, I see that it could have been a reward for Mommy.

It was need after need, fight after fight, repeating myself to no avail, yelling, cursing under my breath, trying the opposite of yelling by whispering to get them to obey me. I felt like I had ADD as I would begin to do something then completely forget what urgent thing I had run into the room to do as one of them would demand something else. Then another spill.

They would egg each other on. If one of them demanded something from me, the other would feel left out and demand something too. There was no reasoning.

After feeding them dinner by bribing them with Transformer tattoos so that they wouldn’t skip another meal, I hid in our tiny kitchen to do the dishes for some down time. I felt like stabbing myself in the forearm to match the frustration I felt on the inside.

I also started feeling sorry for myself, thinking about local mama friends who get weekends off thanks to their parents or in-laws. I knew I was starting to travel down a dirty path of envy and bitterness.

I also knew that bedtimes weren’t gonna happen. That’s a whole other topic I don’t want to get into, lest I receive comments on all that we’re doing wrong.

By the time, Kevin walked in the door (kids still not sleeping, yelling “Hi, Daddy!” from their room), I looked like I had been at the sauna with my damp face and disheveled non-ponytail. I announced that I was not going to church the next day because I felt like I was running on empty and that I need to be alone in a quiet space.

I felt like a car that was long overdue for maintenance. About to break down.

I haven’t even begun to get to the meat of this post…
-To Be Continued-

In Pursuit of Magic

People are always looking for signs. For meaning. For something more.

At least, I know I am. I know I can be completely ridiculous and try too hard at times. Recently, a friend who prays a lot asked me during a casual conversation, whether we’d like to have more kids. I raised one eyebrow and peered intensely into her face as I thought aloud, “WHY? Do you know something? Has He mentioned something? Who sent you? ARE YOU A PROPHET?”

Even on my “Bachelor in Paradise” guilty pleasure show, there is a scene where Claire is having an emotionally intimate moment with her dude on the beach, sharing about the death of her dad. Suddenly, she squeals as she notices a turtle going out into the ocean after laying a bunch of eggs. She says it is a sign from her dad. New life=new beginnings.

I especially love stories where parents have DREAMED of their child’s name, gender, or arrival.

My heart hurts when I hear of the signs that parents receive after they’ve lost their children. When they are dealing with their unimaginable grief, their child’s favorite animal just happens to show up in their backyard, or a red cardinal ends up visiting them EVERY SINGLE DAY while on vacation.

Or in the case of Kevin and Marina Krim whose two beloved children, Lulu and Leo, were murdered by their nanny in NYC in October of 2012.

Marina posted on Facebook:

“I accepted that Lulu and Leo’s physical presences were no longer with me and I needed to learn to connect with their spiritual presence. I needed to use my 5 senses ‘outside the box’ to connect with Lulu and Leo. Once I started to do that, little everyday things began to take on new meaning. This was the beginning of my lifelong scavenger hunt — clues that my Lulu and Leo were leaving me to find.”

[The title from this blog post is from Marina Krim’s post “My Pursuit of Magic” which I could not find a link for.]

One can argue that such signs are frivolous and reaching for connections when there aren’t any. Sure, there is no proof of any connection and it can all be chalked up to coincidence but you also have a choice.

To look for magic or not.

Today, I ended up being out with our boys from 8:30 am to 5 pm, for three back-to-back-to back activities. I just wanted to eke out the remaining sliver of summer.

During our second activity of the day, around the sixth hour of being out, AFTER the lucky little guy emerged from his beauty sleep in the car+stroller, I was WIPED and started to beat myself up.

“You have no one to blame but yourself. Being out like this all day, about to fall flat on your face when you should have gone home after lunch and before naps.”

I had hoped that I could rest a bit if both of them had fallen asleep during the ride over but alas, Micah and I ended up cruising all over the park and zoo while Baby Bro snoozed.

I really didn’t know how I was going to make it, strolling about 100 pounds after an already active morning, wrangling both of my wriggly guys who had just MacGyver’d out of the public bathroom stall at the zoo to expose me in my huge Korean underwear.

Thankfully(?), I only exposed myself to a friendly nanny from our co-op who happened to be visiting the zoo to pick up her charge. I was able to exchange warm greetings while the door remained open.

The boys and I ended up in the aviary. That was when things started getting magical.

Recently, we had only speed-walked through the aviary because we were always with our little buddies. I would chat with the mamas as we chased our kids up and down the ramps. We never really stopped to admire the macaws and blue-billed ducks and other winged creatures.

I noticed for the first time today, just how mesmerized my baby was. Micah, too, but especially Ellis.

And just as I had started beating myself up for being out all day and burning myself out with two more days left in the week, a skinny white bird perched in front of us, within touching distance from us.

He showed no signs of flying away.

We were beaming, thrilled to be in his presence. To have him stay awhile.

As cheesy as this sounds, I felt all this love and gratitude gushing out in that moment. So grateful to be alive and for the very reason I was so wiped out: TO BE PLAYING WITH MY KIDS TOO MUCH!

Just minutes before, I was sighing as I zipped up my shorts, about to konk out in the bathroom while peeing but as I clenched my boys in my arms with this amazing white bird with blonde tufts of “hair” joining us, I was gifted with a precious memory I can tuck away for good.

I received the “sign” to be, “It is all worth it, Mama. Your toiling away for them is NOT for NAUGHT.” I got pumped with a jolt of energy to last me a few more hours.

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The thing about the pursuit of magic? The more you look, the more you’ll find.