Vision of Hope

We recently heard a sermon that asked us to ask ourselves what good came out of a dark time, that if it weren’t for that struggle or storm, we would not have been able to receive the good or learned that lesson.

A few years ago, Kevin and I were fighting one night.  Nothing new during that era.  Lotta fighting after the kids would go to bed.  Our church tries to equip us with marriage tools so that we don’t fight dirty but when I would get upset, the last thing I would think about were them tools.

Not that I forgot about them but I would scream, “F*CK those tools!  How am I gonna talk like a robot and speak in the MF ‘I’ when I can tell that I am NOT being heard!?!  And just so you know, we ain’t getting away with sh*t just cuz the kids are ‘sleep.  They can absorb this toxicity even in their dreams.  We hurting them but we keep doing this.  I hate us.”

Kevin would try to fix things by resorting to logic, coming up with solutions and that would, of course, enrage me even more.  Looking back, I think I just wanted him to say, “I hear you.  You are hurt.  I really hear you.”  (He may have even said that but oof, my fury burns hot.)

One particular night, we escalated ’til our throats were hoarse and he had to take a walk.  While walking, he prayed, “I just can’t do this.  It’s too hard.  It’s not getting better, Lord.”

He came home and seemed different.

He told me, “It makes absolutely no sense and you’re gonna laugh at me or get furious when I tell you this.  While I was praying outside, God gave me a vision of you sitting in a hospital room with a newborn baby _________ in your arms, smiling.  I saw the number 39 and the letters ___ and ___ and I sensed that God was telling me something, that it will get better and this vision of a new baby, even though there is just no way.”

“Lemme ask you something.  Did I have a husband in that vision and if so, who was he?!  Cuz right now, it SHO don’t seem like it’s gonna be you.  We oil and water.  That vision be MEAN and maybe something your mind spat out because you Christian and you don’t want to divorce?  And how do people divorce anyways, especially in NYC?  Pay for TWO homes!?”

Months later and years later:  “Dang it, why you gotta tell me about that vision!?  I am praying for peace about no more baby but that vision of yours keeps nagging at me!  What if it’s supposed to play out and we blocking it?”

Kevin logically explained, “So maybe it wasn’t a vision-VISION but something God just gave me to encourage me in that moment because I just wanted to give up.  Yeah, maybe I shouldn’t have mentioned it.”

Fast forward to my 40th birthday, when I got official word from peeing on my pregnancy test at my gym (more privacy than in our apartment), I did the calculation and realized that just like in Kevin’s vision with the prominent #39 that caught his eye, I had conceived our child during my last few weeks of being 39.

The dark years of fighting dirty and repeatedly hurting each other gifted us with not only Kevin’s vivid vision of hope but ways to fight better.  No counselor, church, book, or friend could have gotten through to me about how I must stop fighting dirty;  I had to experience the cost of fighting dirty and how it truly got me nowhere.

Without those dark years, I would have prematurely tried to fanagle one more baby because time was ticking, without learning how to communicate better.  Had I been blessed with child a couple years ago, all three kids would have been so young, my hormones barely regulated and our marriage may have fallen apart.

I’m extra grateful with my hands to the heavens and hopeful as the June due date draws near, but I’m also being realistic about tiredness, lack of margins, and being much more worn out nearly five years after our last newborn.  Prayers for us, please – to break the old cycle and create new cycles of hope and clear communication even with a new human to care for.

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my first two babies in 2013 – sorry for fighting loudly when you went to bed

 

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older and hopefully wiser mama in 2017, though I wrote “1st tri” instead of “3rd tri” and didn’t notice that the “c” in “coconut” had gotten wiped out and baby labeled as an “oconut”

 

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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.

 

 

Signs

I love big signs and I cannot lie.

Little signs too.  Anything, really.

I think I’ve always been this way.  Just like I’ve always loved stories and books and letters.

Signs help me keep the faith.

Kevin and I were in the midst of a huge blowout fight while at a Mets game.  I felt like I was the only weirdo in the stadium who just could not have a good time despite the phenomenal weather and being at my husband’s happy place.  This ridiculous fight that only kept spiraling.

Do others go through this, too?  When we have the rare child-free few hours, a lot of sh*t comes to light, maybe because we don’t have to censor ourselves any more?

Anyways, I called my best friend and said, “Let’s not even talk about this.  No need for commentary especially since you’re just gonna make fun of me.  Just pray for me, fool.  It’s like I’m determined to sabotage this day!  Why do I do this!?”

After laughing at me per usual, she prayed, “Please, Lord, may a friendly face in the crowds somehow minister to Jihee while she is upset.”

Minutes later, I run into our younger-than-us pastor, a Mets fanatic just like Kevin.  I wish I could report back that Kevin and I were able to salvage our Mets vs Dodgers afternoon but I would be lying.  We continued to fight so much that I told Kevin that we should at least fight in Korean in case folks live-Tweet our escalating exchange.

[And the irony is not lost on me that the game was Mets (Kevin) vs. Dodgers (LA/Jihee)].

Despite our horrible afternoon, when I find myself doubting or just feeling alone, I like to recall signs, or small answers to prayer, like running into our pastor immediately after my friend prayed for a friendly face.

Sometimes the signs are beautiful:  I was jogging and asking for forgiveness for lashing out in anger yet again and suddenly, I saw a cardinal fly onto someone’s porch.

I loved it.  What a gift.  Pigeons, robins, and even morning doves are more common in my NYC neighborhood but rarely do I get to behold a bright red cardinal.

Then another sign on the same morning as the cardinal.  I was about to step into the passenger seat of our mini-van to go to church after the cardinal-spotting jog, when I looked down at the wet road under my foot.  There was a gold heart smashed into the street.  Thank You, Lord.  Love, love, and more love when I needed it the most:  when I’m feeling like a failure for not having more control over my anger.

And yes, the words “Kate Spade” on the golden heart made it slightly less enchanting, but I choose to keep the sign free from commercialism please.  (Added bonus:  it was the morning of our friend’s baby sister’s wedding!)

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Other times, it’s a Bible verse shared on Facebook or a Bible verse I happen to stumble on when looking up a Proverb matching the day of the month:

It’s better to live alone in the desert than with a quarrelsome, complaining wife. – Proverbs 21:19 (New Living Translation)

And sure, I know that sometimes I am too much on the hunt for signs, hoping that the notecard floating in the wind will land on that patch of grass and reveal a perfect, timely message for me, only to realize that it was a teen’s handwritten study note about amino acids.

Nevertheless, thank You for signs.  I will keep looking.

 

Ode to Korean Spa

As I mentioned in the previous post, Kevin and I were able to visit the Korean Spa together last Saturday as part of our belated and continued wedding anniversary celebration.

We hadn’t been to one together for more than six years (I think).

We walked in and received our spa uniforms, a towel, and a toothbrush, all rolled up like a mini-sleeping bag for camp.  Or like soldiers’ supplies for battle.  After emerging from our respective locker rooms, we felt more “prepared” to relax.

Not just because we were at a spa where we didn’t have to beg our kids to please stop punching each other at Bronx Costco or please eat one more bite of food made directly by God before you can get you some Cheetos or please don’t touch brother’s nipple or Mommy’s Giovanna.

Lately, I’ve completely forgotten HOW to rest. I mostly blame the smartphone culture that I am part of, where info is always available at my fingertips. I do weird things to opt out but they aren’t long-lasting or even successful. It’s cool how Kevin doesn’t feel the same compulsion to check his phone.

Even when not working or with the kids, my mind is always running. Always one more thing to follow-up on.

Did I RSVP by the deadline (I don’t want to get scolded)?

Why must I triple-check my doc appointments since the staff keep switching things around on me?

When is the next Free Museum Day at ____________?

Is my mom working today or can she see the boys on Skype as they eat?

What are some family goals for the next month?

What else can we plan if all our summer Saturdays are accounted for?

Should I watch the Sandra Bland video though I fear I may not be able to cope?

Why do I have a vitamin D deficiency even during the summer?

Why does my left arm still tingle?

The Koreanness of our spa was what ended up easing us into relaxation mode.  Strangely, it felt like coming home though I was raised in Los Angeles and Kevin, various parts of the States, before ending up in the White town of Old Saybrook, CT.

I loved how it was homey, not fancy. It just felt like I was hanging out at a family friend’s house.

We swelled up with so much Korea Love that I had to keep Kevin from belting out “Dong Hae Mul Gwa” on his way to check out the Korean menu. He was practically skipping.

Oh how we needed this and oh how we had missed the Korean dramas they were playing on the walls. Many of our wintry, childless Saturdays were devoted to watching these sappy sagas, which we would actually rent from the video store(!) in Ktown Manhattan. The kitchen served Korean comfort food like ddukbokghee and baked eggs. Ajummas and ahjushees were just sprawled out in various stages of rest in the Jewelry Room or Salt Room or on the overstuffed leather couches.

Even when some ajummas got too loud, I had grace on them because they were my people.  I moved to another room but I wasn’t as annoyed.

I had overpacked by bringing four books when we only had four hours ‘til dinner but at least I had options.

The public bath portion upped the relaxation quotient even more. Of course public bath turned out to be epiphany time for me: I saw how I am truly middle-aged now, sandwiched between the flat-stomached, long-haired 20-something gals and the pahmah’d (permed), less firm 60-something grammas. Even this (Korean) nudity comforted me.  It was like looking at my body from years ago when I dared to think I was fat, to getting a sneak peak to Future Me.

The older ladies who did the body scrubs for spa patrons who paid for that additional service were donning their black bra and black panties, their daily uniform for climbing onto women’s backs to scrub away dead skin cells.

In between patrons, they would rest right aside the shower area, eating steamed corn and watching Korean TV. I admired them. Everyone talks about doing what you love. Find that passion, that calling. Find what gives you life. Don’t settle. I doubt that these older women dreamed about scrubbing down nekked women all day long but they were making the most of it and working hard. Respect.

And finally, what is a Korean spa experience without one of your fears coming true? I had told Kevin that I bet I would run into someone I knew while nekked. Don’t get it twisted – I love being nekked around old-time friends and strangers but not in front of familiar faces/acquaintances at small-talk level.

Immediately after I hoisted my more relaxed nekked body into the hot tub, a young girl and her gramma entered my tub. The little girl looked so familiar but I couldn’t place her. Then her FULLY CLOTHED mama ran in after her, demanding that she tie her hair before entering the tub. WHERE DO I KNOW THEM FROM!? I mentally scanned all the kiddie places I have frequented over the past five years and a-ha – I made a match.

They used to attend the same music class as one of the boys. We used to sit around in a circle, clothed, watching a White man sing and play his guitar for our kids while we accompanied him on our maracas, but there I was, buck nekked with my stomach rolls on display while this lady was covered up in her spa uniform.

Oh well, I wasn’t tripping. I just didn’t dole out my usual greetings because there is a time and place for that, and buck nekked at the Korean spa wasn’t it.

I was just relieved that there weren’t a series of bubbles floating up from under me in the still pool.

Relaxed Koreans eating American dinner after the spa

Relaxed Koreans eating American dinner after the spa

Dear Sizzler (and Facebook): Sharing is Caring

On the eve of our 07.07.07 wedding anniversary, I happened to be left alone with a sliver of quiet and my big iPhone while Kevin bathed the boys.

As usual, I looked at the many photos on my phone.

I noticed our recent family selfie from our evening drive to the beach.

We were all smiles and for once, I was IN the picture instead of behind the camera(phone).  I wanted to share it but I also couldn’t stomach plopping another perfect photo into the sea of perfect moments on Facebook.

Perfect moment overload these days.  Maybe it’s the humidity, but I just needed a break.

The picture tripped me out because we were in one of the worst weeks in our marriage thus far, but there we were, beaming at the beach.  Posting the picture without an accompanying “confession” felt incomplete.

This was the picture:

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And this was the caption:

[6.25.15 – the story behind this “perfect” family pic is that Kevin and I were doing horribly. At least a week and a half or so was spiritually dark.

We remembered that water is life-giving to me/us so we drove to the beach in the evening, after the workday, following wack GPS directions through alleys as if we were trying to lose the cops, hoping that the backdrop would help, even just a little.

Just felt like sharing that in case people assume that everyone ELSE on their Newsfeeds is living perfect lives that have somehow eluded them. As if there was such a thing. Chile, please.

Tomorrow is our 07.07.07 wedding anniversary. Praying that I can shed some bad habits of explosive anger, criticizing, and blaming. Pray for us when we pop up on your Newsfeed. Thanks!]

I was blown away by the feedback I received.  The number of Likes alone was mind-boggling.  I had only received that sort of Facebook love for the birth of my sons.

People were actually expending energy in their thumbs to comment and write me personal messages.  Facebook friends kept thanking me for being “real” and “honest,” and for “sharing what no one seems willing to.”

I was touched by the feedback but also couldn’t help but think that I hadn’t shared anything too radical.  I wondered why Facebook lacks more vulnerability in general since there was a swell of immediate response to it.

I sure didn’t invent it and I sure don’t have a monopoly on it but it felt like I had flipped the script on unspoken social media rules:  I had shared a chunk of my interior life instead of the 777,777th photo of my beloved boys in our courtyard.

I wonder why there isn’t more sharing?  Isn’t it only natural as we do life together and bother to update regularly?  No adult is going to be shocked that *GASP* your life is not perfect.  That you are not perfect!

We can still share the gorgeous photos and emoji-filled updates and viral baby dancing videos and 2.5 more parenting articles that will revolutionize the way I raise up my kids but how about a dash of Real Talk here and there?

Just from the response to my photo caption, I sensed that others are also feeling the void of two-dimensional Facebook.  Sure, we love to see what our friends are up to, what they are eating, where they are visiting but those updates alone don’t help us to connect on a deeper level and get to know each others’ insides any better.

Many Facebook users, including me, have reported more feelings of depression, isolation, and envy after scrolling through their friends’ highlight reels on their Newsfeeds.  This is because we almost never share back stories of our photos or go a little deeper in our status updates.  Maybe not full-on confessions like I’m naturally inclined towards but just a little something more?

Sure, there are some topics one should save for a safe, select few.  However, there are universal struggles and fears we have all gone through, are going through, or will go through by virtue of being human.  And by sharing, you may touch someone else.

This was not meant to be yet another rant against social media for only displaying people’s highlight reels instead of their real lives.  Hey, it’s not Facebook’s fault.  Facebook is not a living, breathing organism.  We, the users, make Facebook what we want it to be and lately, we’ve been keeping it pretty damn surface level.

My happy photos are NOT fake.  But they only tell part of the story.  And no matter what I may be going through, I am genuinely happy in those moments I hug up on my boys for a photo.

Just like my brother and I scribbled with a shorty #2 library pencil on a comment card at Sizzler, decades ago in response to their “No Sharing” policy at their establishments:  Sharing is caring.

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.

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.