Naps, Penis Envy, and Bruce Lee

Naps.

Something I never thought about before I had kids, other than daydreaming about taking them while stuck at the office.

However, for parents of young children, naps are as crucial as feedings. Scientifically, a lot happens during these little guys’ naps. Brain development and whatnot. Practically speaking, naps nourish them and keep them from becoming overtired monsters. Naps also provide parents with much needed quiet and Halleluyer time to regroup. More than an incidental benefit for us.

Commonly heard among parents:
“We won’t be able to make it because that’s during Little Timmy’s nap.” “Maybe we can swing by if he gets his morning nap in.” “Too bad our kids’ naps don’t fall in the same range – we’ll never see each other at this rate!”

While I know all too well the importance of naps, I still imagine folks judging me when I can’t avoid factoring in naps when planning just about anything. It sounds so rigid and square and what’s-the-big-deal?

So recently, we went to our friend’s lovely new house on Long Island. The boys were having an extra fun time playing in the sprawling finished basement with their buddies, then taking a lovely group stroll to their local playground that our Queens boys had never been to. We enjoyed some pizza together for lunch and normally, this is when Mama would peace out with our crew, wrangling the kids into their carseats so we can rush home in time for naps.

The other playmates all napped later on in the day or had retired from nap life altogether. Plus they all lived within five minutes of each other, unlike us.

But next up on the fun agenda was playing in their POOL.

I decided to be Cool Mama instead of Nap Nazi for once and tried to sound like I hadn’t been worrying about this nap issue throughout the pizza party.

“Hey, it’s a special occasion. It’s not everyday we come out for a pool party so we’ll stay. I’ll just aim to leave before 3:30. I mean, I’ll just suffer a little by carnapping them on the drive back. I’ll just be stuck in the car for a while but…oh well, if that’s the worst of it, I’ll be fine.”

We all cheered about staying longer as I struggled to get them into their swim trunks and slather sunscreen all over them.

We had a blast. Ellis was brave and trying to be all Baywatch, acting like he could swim on his own, even though the water was surprisingly cold. Micah had fun though always gravitating towards the steps, my ever-cautious firstborn.

But alas, all good times must come to an end. Loaded them up, thanked the hostess once again and we were on our merry way. While driving, I couldn’t help but smile about the wonderful memories we had made that day. And both boys had konked out as soon as I started driving so Mama was able to work the radio without my Warren G. Regulator car DJ weighing in from his carseat.

This was practically Me time, driving with my snoozers.

Hmmm…I could’ve used one more trip to the bathroom before I drove off but ahh well. (A common theme ever since I had the boys. Just seems easier to hold it in than to take the baby off of me or to ask someone to watch him when they are busy watching their own little ones).

We get to our parking spot 2.5 blocks away from our building. Ellis wakes up first. Micah still snoozing away so I bring Ellis to the driver seat with me.

Um, you know what? I really have to pee. Can’t front no mo’. I had been holding it in for over an hour, I realized.

Ellis is quickly growing into a toddler so I can’t just contain him on my lap, nibbling on him the way I used to just a couple months ago. He wants to drive, stand, climb, jump. He starts reaching for the cross hanging from our rearview mirror and STANDS ON MY BLADDER.

straw that broke the camel's bladder.  Ellis using my bladder as a stepstool.

straw that broke the camel’s bladder. Ellis using my bladder as a stepstool.

Whoa, there. Elevated Risk of Peeing officially heightened to SEVERE RISK. Code Red. Code Red.

I quickly looked at the empty water bottle next to me. I hadn’t grown a penis in the last few minutes so I don’t know why I looked at it so longingly.

Code Red. Code Red. This did not feel quite like labor but this must be what appendicitis or a kidney stone feels like.

It was still bright and sunny out and I was parked in an area with heavy foot traffic. Many employees walking to and from their offices and nearby stores.

Wait, didn’t FEMA work in this building next to my car? They are government workers so I can ask them to watch my babies while I go pee and they wouldn’t dare kidnap them since they got job security for life. Unbeatable benefits. They wouldn’t want to jeopardize that. There goes an ambulance driver. Should I ask him to sit in the car while I pee behind his ambulance right quick?

Damnit, damnit, damnit. No. Time. To. Deliberate.

I can see my friend’s building from here. Should I call her to run out here so I can pee? But what are the chances she will pick up her phone in time? And by the time she gets her little twins to walk out with her, I will already have peed myself. Father Lord please help me.

I scanned the premises. Wait, is this the FEMA building or does the FBI work here?

Let’s go over the most logical positioning for the public urination that was about to go down. If my butt faced outward towards the sidewalk, then all the government workers would come up on my kimchi squat and possibly turn me in for public urination.

TIME IS RUNNING OUT.

I rushed Ellis back to his carseat so Mama can take care of business. Thankfully, he didn’t protest and cry. Micah still snoozing away.

Hopefully this will just take a few seconds and no one will walk by. Here goes nothing.

I kimchi squat real low in front of my car.

THIS WAS NOT TAKING A FEW SECONDS.

Apparently, I am half-Korean and half-racehorse. The pee just kept flowing and flowing down the asphalt. Looked like my car was part of the BP oil spill. I even said to myself, “Self, slow up. Just try to relieve yo bladder halfway. Like folks who get half a tank of gas and fill up later. But in reverse. You can pee in private later. Have some dignity, girl.”

My bladder said, “Bitch please,” and peed even harder. The pee just kept coming. I think some of this pee was from 2011. Potentially, any of the other car owners in this uncovered parking lot could walk up behind my bare ass at any moment. That thought seemed to only encourage my pee to gush out some more.

Good Lord, I was finally done. Zipped up and ran back into the car, heart beating fast and furious. A man in a suit walked by on the other side of the car. I needed to unload to someone so I messaged my friend a mysterious, “THAT JUST HAPPENED.”

Little did I know that my wacky afternoon was just getting started.

When Micah finally woke up, he woke up pissed (no pun intended). Therein lies the danger of napping on the go. They are not as deep or comfy for my little dude so he tends to wake up cranky and needy.

Note to future parents: sometimes, a shortened/disrupted nap can be worse than skipping a nap. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

He threw the biggest tantrum of his life thus far. I was wearing Ellis and three bags. I did not have the stroller on me. Micah demanded to be carried up all the way home because he was so needy. While he WRAPPED HIMSELF AROUND MY LEG, bawling and screaming, I just took deep breaths and pleaded with him.

Onlookers in cars pointed and looked away when I caught them watching.

A woman came up to me and I was sure she was a fellow mama who was going to try to divert his attention from his meltdown. I was grateful in advance for this angel as more cars drove by and watched us.

“Hi, um, excuse me, sorry but do you know where Union Turnpike is?” she dared to ask me.

I was going to reply, “Am I on candid camera? Where is my boy John Quinones? Can’t you see that I am wearing one kid on my body, three bags, and a wailing little boy is glued to my leg? I can hardly hear your question!”

Instead, I figured, I ain’t getting home any time soon so might as well be of help. I replied, “If you just walk up that way and make a left, you’ll hit Union Turnpike. Just keep going. Yup, no problem.”

I realized that Micah was not going to relent until I carried him home. I was about to cry myself.

An elderly couple watched us in horror, went into their building, got changed for an early dinner, came back out AND WE HAD NOT BUDGED. Micah was still not taking “no” for an answer. “Oh dear! Is something WRONG with him? Is he sick or something!?” they asked.

“No, he’s just uh, well, clearly very upset. He wants me to carry him home all the way over there.” I pointed. I wanted to add, “Carry on, unhelpfuls. Raise up and git to your earlybird dinner if you ain’t gonna help at all.”

Finally, my knight in shining armor walks along our path. Asian-American dude. Chinese?

“How can I help? Do you want ME to try carrying him home? Which one is your building?”

“Thank you but I don’t think he’s going to let you. Thank you so much for trying to help. I don’t know how I’m going to get home. He has never gotten this upset.”

“Let me carry your bags home at least. I’ll leave it with your doorman.”

“Thank you so much. Can I just tell you? You are the only one who offered me any kind of help. Everyone else just watched us. What’s your name?”

“Bruce. No problem. Glad to help.”

I carried the both of them home. It took an hour to walk the 2.5 blocks. I had to take breaks as the sweat fell into my eyeballs. Once I carried him, he started to breathe normally again. I walked by our doorman shaking my head. And sure enough, Micah was all smiles once we walked in the door. LIKE NOTHING EVER HAPPENED.

“Mommy?” he smiled his Denzel smile. “I want to watch Do-ra!”

When Kevin got home that day, I told him about our day. He responded with two questions:
1) WHERE EXACTLY DID YOU PEE? Obviously the best positioning would have been to open both doors on one side of the car to build yourself a cubicle. Please tell me you did that.

Um, no, because that would’ve been too logical duh! I peed where it was MOST VISIBLE, at the nose of our car, because I’d rather have one of the other drivers, one of our co-op neighbors or maybe even my friend with her twins, walk in on my bare ass, rather than squat BEHIND the car and have a FEMA worker/FBI/CIA report me! I was banking on the other drivers quickly looking away because you know when you are embarrassed FOR someone and you have the decency to avert their gaze?

2) Why did you make your load even worse by carrying the three bags in addition to the two kids? I could have fetched that stuff later.

BECAUSE I COULDN’T FORESEE THE NEAR FUTURE?! BECAUSE I DIDN’T KNOW MICAH’S TANTRUM WAS GOING TO BE THE WORST EVER! BECAUSE I DIDN’T KNOW WALKING 2.5 CITY BLOCKS WAS GOING TO TAKE ME ONE HOUR, 28 MORE GREY HAIRS, AND A SLIPPED DISC!

Shout out to Ellis who was patient the whole time except for one squawk when I carried his big bro right on top of him for a split second.

And to my hero whom I have since dubbed “Bruce Lee”: never will I forget. Respeck.

And last, but definitely not least, to my sphincter for not trying to join my bladder’s party.

Didn’t wake up knowing that public urination would be far from the low point of my day. Never a dull moment these days, I swear.

I hope our co-op doesn’t waste our maintenance fees on something as silly as surveillance cameras for our parking lots.

Monkey Bars, Swings, and Bubble (Burst)

Watching Micah on the monkey bars is a treat. His arms outstretched above him, head smushed into his chest to create a slight double chin, and his head looking a bit large for his little body brings me back to his baby days. He is full of glee as he associates the monkey bars with his favorite gal, Dora the Explorer. My 5 feet 2 1/4 inch self was holding him up as best as I could, though sometimes ending up with his groin smashed up against my sweaty face.

turning everything into monkey bars

turning everything into monkey bars

Ellis was deprived of his morning nap by tagging along today. I had reclined his seat and placed a swaddle blanket over it so that he can take his morning nap in peace, even at the playground, but it didn’t work out as he was wide-eyed the whole time we were out. Didn’t let out a peep but I still felt sorry for my Baby Beluga. Not a big deal in the grand scheme of things but ever since I read about how naps are key for their development, as important as food to these little guys, I like to protect their naps if at all possible. However, the plight of a second-born is that life almost always revolves around big bro’s activities.

I found myself giving extra hugs and kisses to Micah as he even FEELS more grown-up when I pick him up, too tall for the baby swings now, though still squeezing into them. I was also giving extra hugs and kisses to Ellis. I just couldn’t resist him as all his rolls trembled with fright when first seated on the swing next to big bro, with the loud roar of the Long Island Railroad train speeding through behind him, until his fright turned into open-mouthed glee.

pure joy

pure joy

I was teaching Micah to pump his legs out and back so that he can control the speed of his own swing. I sat in my own swing to demonstrate while both gazed over at me. “Out and back, out and back, Micah! Look at Mommy’s legs! I go so fast!” (You know you’re getting older when even swinging too high and too fast causes vertigo). I was telling them stories about what we did before we got to the playground and what we will do after.

Micah asked solemnly with his clear, wide eyes, “More talking, Mommy? More talking?” He loves my stories and is starting to tell more elaborate ones of his own, although with nonsequiturs like, “Obbah gangnamstyle! Sexy lady! Your eyes!”

These days, especially in the heat, I admittedly have a chip on my shoulder about how I have no local relatives to help out regularly, how both kids are home with me full-time with no hired help.

Of course motherhood should not be a contest but sometimes, even while reading my trifling Facebook Newsfeed, I find myself stung with envy, saying out loud, “MUST BE NICE!” at acquaintances who have plenty of help and plenty of REGULARLY SCHEDULED child-free breaks, not just on their own but with their husbands. They must be healthier for it all around.

But watching my two favorite guys swinging back and forth, beaming at me with smiles reserved only for their mama, I was thinking, “Man, this motherhood thing is WILD. I am the most joyful woman in the world during priceless moments like these, and then there are those Updating Resume moments where I just wanna pull my hair out and go lie down in a clean, white room for at least four days.”

Just then, I noticed a nanny watching us and smiling. She was very warm towards us, especially at little Ellis as he squealed. She kept watching and smiling.

I started swelling up with pride, as she SURELY must be admiring how hands-on, doting, and active I am with both little guys, as a noble, sacrificial sweat dripped down my face. And how obviously in love with them I am and how I am only thriving as a mama, without a hint of ever being overwhelmed, insecure or grappling with questions of identity. EVER. Not a struggle in sight.

Yeah, I got this. Even a professional childcare provider recognized this gem. POP MY COLLAR TIME!

I packed up the kids, bracing myself for a visit to our Key Food with its narrow, cluttered aisles, clinically depressed cashiers and senior citizens balking at our huge stroller being there at all.

The nanny rushed to catch up to me before we strolled away for good.

“Are you looking for some help? I have a nanny friend looking for work if you need someone.”

Wait, what?

photo(8)

“Go Work in Office, MOMMY!” aka Thursday

I am recovering from a 6.5 or 7 tantrum on the tantrum Richter scale (I reserve the right to change magnitude after experiencing more tantrums in the future). What a dramatic way for my firstborn to turn 29 months old today.

A seven-minute walk from the playground ended up taking us approximately 45 minutes (door to swing). Don’t know what set him off. He has been battling a pesky, persistent cough for about a week now but something else set him off on a whole ‘nutha level.

Some guesses:
He was annoyed that I didn’t bring his scooter while the other kids scootered ’round and ’round? (He started scootering on an imaginary scooter). He saw me adoringly place Ellis back into the stroller first? He heard me cooing at Ellis as Ellis faces me in the stroller? He asked for milk and alls I had was diluted juices (apple and orange)? He is two years old?

As we left the playground, Micah demanded to be carried. I explained to him that I could not carry him on the street while strolling his brother. “We can hold hands, Micah. But Mommy cannot carry you up. Too heavy for Mommy, ok? Mommy hold you at home, okay!?” This made him throw himself on the ground and scream, “Mommy! Carry up, carry up. I’m baby. Carry up, carry up.” This broke my heart because Micah never exhibited any jealousy when we first brought Ellis home from the hospital but lately, he’s been saying, “Mommy, put baby down. I’m baby. Carry up. Hold me.”

I crouched down and held him in a big soothing bearhug to let him know that I hear how upset he is. But holding was not sufficient. He wanted to be carried all the way home while I strolled the double stroller!

I tried to keep him in the stroller but he was thrusting around so much that I let him loose. I was not strong enough to force him back down, which is what his daddy always advises. He bucked so much that his snack tray fell off and onlookers watched me pick up all the dried strawberries, dried bananas, and animal crackers from off the ground.

“Micah, do you want to live here on the sidewalk of Queens Blvd.? You have a home. You don’t live on the streets. I see our home from here (pointing). Let’s walk like good boy and Mommy will give you big hug and read you stories when we get home.” Made him more pissed.

While he cried and carried on on the sidewalk, an obese lady walked by with her brown poodle. She saw me struggling with Micah and she just shook her head at us, laughing derisively! I wanted to pause from our scene to tell her to go suck a bag of…(it wasn’t an empathetic laugh. It was a ridiculing, “I hate f*cking bratty little kids” laugh.) Few other passersby walked by and were much kinder, one saying that he’s a grandpa of three, and that they can get like this at this age. I told them about the lady who laughed at us.

Man of the hour: li’l bro EZ who waited patiently ON THE STREET FOR nearly 40 MINUTES, in the chilly shade, while his big bro was working it out. Shout out to neighbor doing laundry in the basement who ESCORTED us to the elevator as I had to carry hysterical Micah after all while she strolled Ellis. If I didn’t carry him, he would walk right under my feet so that I couldn’t even walk without tripping over his body.

Man of the Hour, waiting patiently (pictured here before tantrum erupted)

Man of the Hour, waiting patiently (pictured here before tantrum erupted)

Micah understands everything these days so when he heard neighbor lady say, “Wow, your little sister is so good and quiet. She’s waiting patiently,” (about Ellis), he started crying more.

At one point, I tried to carry him under my armpit, like a huge clutch but he got even more upset by that. I reasoned with him that I can hold him to his heart’s content once we got home. That didn’t work.

More aftershocks at home when I tried to put him down for a nap. He actually said, “Mommy, go! Go away,” (which is not uncommon for him to tell both Mommy and Daddy when he poops or wants to play alone with baby) but for the FIRST TIME EVER he also said, “Go work in office!” Excuse me, little boy? I’ll have you know I always update my resume after one of your big tantrums anyhow but you told me to do what now? Like you aren’t the same boy who hadn’t been able to separate from mommy or daddy in Sunday school until two weeks ago?

TGIThursday at the very least. Two Trader Joe’s tamales later, I am still wondering what made him get THIS upset. Maybe I’m still new to the Terrible Two’s club, but this was a doozy. Gotta go now. A resume don’t update itself you know.

Lazy Susan

Don’t you just cherish those moments when you get so inspired and renewed with hope?

Last night, when half my family, K and M, went out in the fresh snow to fetch the family some Chinese food for dinner, I used the half hour to unwind by playing on Facebook.

I came across a video clip called, “Oprah: ‘This Is Gonna Shut Your Mouth!'” It’s really too late at night for me to summarize the clip accurately but basically I got to “meet” Nick Vujicic, a young man born without arms or legs. Sure, I’ve heard inspirational stories before but this dude really got to me. He had such lively eyes as he broke it down for us all – how he is now able to truly rejoice in the Lord though he was tormented in his childhood, feeling cursed and worthless.

His journey to self-acceptance and blessing others all around the world is beyond astounding. Visually, he is jarring to lay eyes on, especially for the first time, as he is only a handsome face/head set atop a torso with no arms or legs. All you see is a torso making its way around effortlessly. No prosthetic limbs so he is sometimes carried around like a baby.

Nick sports a huge smile like he just can’t contain all his joy and has that twinkle in his eye as he speaks. He plays soccer, surfs, golfs, and is more active than most of us able-bodied folks. He just recently married the love of his life (gorgeous, of course), and is expecting his first child (a boy) in just a few weeks (I think).

I started reading up on his organization, Life Without Limbs, and was truly inspired to overcome my own deep-seated self-doubts and negativity that sometimes have their way with me. This guy was born without LIMBS yet he is able to THRIVE and live life to its fullest.

As I basked in this moment of Church right at my cluttered desk, my boys arrived with our warm, fatty meal in honor of TGIF. Kevin set up the Korean sahng (table) on the floor, where we eat our dinner.

As I reached for more Beef Chow Fun, Yang Chow Fried Rice, and Walnut Shrimp, I realized I had to get up yet again to grab water and napkins from the kitchen.

I growled, “Man, we can’t be eating on the floor no more! Do you know how hard it is on me, to get up to grab stuff? You know I have a bad back…and a long-ass torso!”

It’s the Thuggish Ruggish…

“Excuse me?  Hi.  I received an email this morning that my book had arrived.  But it’s not there.”

The man behind the desk looks up from surfing the ‘Net to say, “You sure it’s not on the reserve shelf?”

“I already checked under my last name and library card number but it isn’t there.”

After he checked two other spots, he apologized and said he didn’t know what to tell me.  The book was just missing.

My theory for my missing copy of “Toilet Training Without Tears” was that one of the many local parents of toddlers saw my copy set aside in the reserve section and swiped it for their own pee pee, poo poo needs, all the while knowing that it was pre-ordered for a Ms. Lee and her clearly marked library card number (last four digits). 

My vengeful nature flared up.  I was tempted to retaliate by swiping the pre-ordered copy of “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” that was hovering next to the other book I had requested.  It could be easily mistaken as an accidental borrowing as the other patron’s last name was also LEE. 

I’m proud to say I didn’t follow-through with such an immoral act, as tempting as it was. 

I AM a mom after all.  I have to set an example.

Library Beef.  That was how a fraction of my Friday unfolded, with my two boys waiting for me patiently in my tall-ass double stroller.

What happened to my street cred (shout out to Slauson Swapmeet, Crenshaw Blvd)?  My hard core South Central upbringing where people would retaliate for more major offenses like, say, KILLING THEIR LOVED ONES, not for borrowing one’s pre-ordered How-To book?  Did my thuggish ruggish bone get replaced with sorry shelving woes?  card catalog catastrophes? 

(Truth be told, Library Beef is quite in alignment with my nuanced flava of street cred, i.e. my doing homework diligently Joy Luck Club style in the back of my Korean parents’ Chinese takeout store in a neighborhood where drive-by shootings were as expected as the mail).

Such a fruitful week in terms of playdates and other activities but by today, (thankGodit’s)Friday, I am wiped out.  Too wiped out to write about the mundane details of my day other than Library Beef, like about how Micah wanted to pick out his own clothes (blue shirt and black pants), how Ellis has become real quirky wanting to nurse only in strange and uncomfy positions, like lying upside down next to me on the bed, at which point, Micah will join us in the high, King-sized bed jumping up and down with all his might, squealing with delight, not caring that he’s giving me small heart attacks because he could fall onto Ellis, the frame, or the wooden floors while I am helplessly latched onto / occupied;

how it has become a bigger production to get out of the house now that Micah has such strong 25+ month-old opinions about what he’d rather be doing than getting bundled up and strapped into the stroller, and how Ellis pooped so much after skipping a day, that it went up his back and onto the shoulder blades, while they were supposed to have already been strapped into the stroller. 

Later on in the day, after taking apart all the dried-up blue PlayDoh all over crazy messy living room, Micah told me he has to pee, by which he meant, he had already peed into his training briefs, into his sweatpants, and onto some part of the living room.

One of those days I get real grouchy towards the husband for simply providing for us via a desk job where he can run out to buy some premium olive oil without two kids and a Transformer-looking stroller in tow.  Punk!

Tomorrow is Saturday.  I’mma drive up real slow to the library…

(after stopping by the charming French bakery)

and find out what happened to my book (thumping chest, adjusting bandana).

Wisdom from “The Bachelor” aka “I Just Know My Wife Is In This Room”

Happy New Year! 2013. Year of the Sssnake. Hard to follow the dopest year around, Year of the Dragon, but perhaps this is the year, the snake can redeem hisself from the Garden of Eden associations.

Since I may not be able to write a more thought-out post until later, I’ll just get something down to get into the practice of posting more often. I had so many deep thoughts during the holidays but sho’ ’nuff, since I didn’t jot them down, they may be lost for good.

Whether I’m five years old or 36, I have to tattle when I witness bad or unbelievable behavior. It is a compulsion. I was a precocious kid, not a cool one.

When Micah was around five months old, our little family was roaming around Roosevelt Field Mall. A mama of twin infants started chatting with me and said, “Wow, another one on the way already,” pointing to my “bump” (upper stomach fatty fats).

I was not even a little bit pregnant. She was embarrassed so I actually made her feel better by saying, “Yeah, I guess my stomach can give off a pregnant look” but I just had to vent immediately to someone who would be just as indignant as I was at this woman’s comment. I nearly ran into one of my favorite baby stores, Janie and Jack, and vented to an employee there while Kevin strolled off with Micah to change his diaper.

Homegirl said, “Wait, I’m confused. You’re NOT pregnant?”

Double Ouch!

Kevin walked in on my asking her, “Wait, so you thought I was pregnant too!?” He said, “Jihee-yah! I knew it. I knew you were gonna go off and tattle so you can get a satisfactory response from someone out there. That’s what you get for tattling and fishing for compliments.”

I was mortified and wanted to hide myself in the clearance rack, under the basket of miscellaneous items (hats, ties, socks) but my stomach would probably protrude and a customer might congratulate me on the twins I was carrying. But I have to confess…STILL tempted to find someone else to tattle to. Someone who might say, “Clearly, you don’t look pregnant.” But even I have a little bit of shame. Not much but a seed-sized amount of shame.

Today, I wanted to tattle on a woman I’ve interacted with at least 16 times with our toddlers yet she NEVER says hullo or even looks at my boy or his mama like we human, while I’ve tried so hard to continue to be my warm and gushing, kid-loving self.

Sure, this must be my own deeper issue, something about how not greeting or even acknowledging my walking into a room makes me feel invisible or small or unworthy (oh, starting to remember some of my deep thoughts at the end of 2012 now…some fetal position profundity), but I think non-greeting is SUCH a huge pet peeve of mine, I treat it as a form of immorality.

Extremists will be out there picketing abortion clinics with me across the street with a sign painted, “SAY HULLO!”

Kevin came home to my tale of No Greeting at 17th meeting with Nongreeter:

K: “Jihee-yah, do you know what today is?”

Me: “Of course. Season Premiere of The Bachelor.”

K: “Have you not learned a thing from your faithful viewing of all previous seasons?”

Me: “Of course I have. But remind me in your own words.”

K: “The girl who tattles and causes unnecessary drama? It NEVER works out for them. That girl never gets picked!”

Who would’ve thought that this vapid show would be teeming with such rich life lessons? Life lessons that I cannot apply overnight but life lessons, nonetheless, to guide me throughout this new year.

And I will not hoard them. I will share them with you. (“The Bachelor” also scoffs at greed, those who already had a one-on-one date AND secured a rose should NOT hoard quality time.)

I Miss You, Me

The guy next to me at the smoovie store at my gym is supposedly 7’3″ but he seems more like 8 feet tall because I looked like a toddler by his side at the cash register. So, that sentence was my way of casually sliding in the fact that I finally went to the gym today after a long hiatus. So long that it was mimicking a retirement. I haven’t been since…well, the point is I went tonight.

I had even purposely let the membership expire because I didn’t want to pay up if I wasn’t going to go regularly during my second pregnancy. But I just HAD to go tonight to check in. To see wassup out in the world away from my living room, away from my double stroller. I had fire in my eyes so I knew I was gonna go no matter what. Usually, to just get out the door, into the building’s hallway, past our doorman and neighbors coming home from work, through the other side of Queens Blvd just a handful of blocks away, especially in the winter, triggers all kinds of psychological obstacles but there was no stopping me tonight.

I have been feeling down lately. To be more accurate, both up and down, then down and up. Probably exacerbated by postpartum hormones but also the very natural ebb-and-flow as an at-home mama.

Moments of, “I am the most fulfilled, blessed woman on the planet as I now have TWO morsels to nibble on. This is better than ANY meaningless office job as a lawyer that I had to struggle through each day. Thank you Jesus,” but interspersed with, “I feel like crap. Who am I other than mamamamamama? I am an all-you-can-eat-buffet for my new bundle of joy when not engaging my toddler. Even during my ‘down’ time at night when the kiddies are sleep, it’s more mama duty follow-up on the laptop like arranging playdates, researching stepstools and preschools, or email-consulting with my fashion-forward girlfriends back home about different shades of red for a perfect winter jacket for my Micah.”

Though it is natural to feel like all I am is mama especially as I am currently in the thick of it all (newborn plus toddler plus winter gloom plus hating on my post-baby body), I wanted to do something about feeling cranky and lost at times. Though I am FAR from being a Martha Stewart mama, I am still so SPENT from doing only mama duties. Started feeling really imbalanced as a human being. Craved using the other side of my brain. Everything I lived and breathed was mama-related. Of course when I mention that to my own mama from another generation and culture, she be like, “AND? Of course, you are mama, mama, mama. As you should be. You blessed.”

In some ways, I can’t help but agree with her as I am old school in many ways, but I don’t want to feel guilty about admitting that while mamahood is beyond amazing and rewarding, I just want to carve out a little nugget for myself. To recharge and regroup. I may not be able to figure out a five-year plan or ten-year plan for incorporating a livelihood into my full-time mama life but I can carve out more me time, to invest that into being a better mama and wifey at home.

So after a Monday full of:

fingerpainting (to curb his requests for tv and computer),

battling Micah to please wash his hands after fingerpainting,

battling him once again as he ran away smirking with his diaper full of grown-man poo,

feeding Ellis any time he fussed,

finally getting to eat my breakfast for lunch while wearing Ellis in an Ergo because he realized that being stuck on mama was the way to go at ten weeks old,

vacuuming Micah’s tiny Play-Doh and lunch crumbs scattered about the playmats,

picking up after toys strewn all over the living room so that I won’t trip over them as I walked around with Ellis still stuck on my now sweaty chest,

enjoying a playdate full of toddler noises (x 3) when our beloved little twin friends came over to help our afternoon go by faster…

I sat on the couch to nurse once again. I started caressing Ellis’ explosively fat cheeks when Micah came to join us, snuggling on my right side. A picture of love and tranquility…

until my usually too-gentle-with-his-friends little rascal started to pull out my hair from my half-ponytail. Pulling it HARD, strand after strand, while beaming at me and beaming even brighter when I pleaded with him to stop. He thought it was hilarious. Then Ellis started strumming my tri-rolls, the fatty fats on my torso as he nursed, like he was saying, “Oh, mama! We have the same body! Tri-rolls rule! I love you, you squishy thang!”

Once Kevin walked in the door, I was ready to bounce in my fingerpainted pajama/lounging/workout/going out elastic-waisted pants and a very unforgiving t-shirt perfect for showcasing my tri-rolls.

Sure, when I got to the gym, I realized I was too hungry after nursing to do a full workout, but at least I got there. I read my US Weekly on the elliptical machine and only 20 minutes later, I was in line buying a chocolate shake for dinner. I belatedly realized that “Performance Shake” was probably meant for bodybuilders who wanted to gain mass (doh!) but some natural peanut butter and whey protein wasn’t gonna kill me. And so what if I got hungry after my meal REPLACEMENT drink and had to eat a gang of cheese on Fire-Roasted Tomato Triscuits?

What I’m gonna take with me tonight is that instead of giving into the nightly temptation to NOT step away and do something, anything, just for me, myself and I, even if it means walking around the block to talk to a girlfriend on the phone or going across the street to CVS to look at nail polish colors or Christmas wreaths or fill an overpriced antibiotics prescription, the key is to be ALL BY MYSELF. To step away. To unwind. To exhale the stale living room air and inhale some wintermint air. To remember that the world does not stop just because mama duties call, that this is just a season in my life.

Once these seasons pass, it would be beneficial to remember who I am since the boys won’t need me as much (sniff, sniff) and I can’t hover over them forever. I need these little “me” moments to balance me out and even revamp myself once the time comes.

If I do step away just a little bit, say every other day once Kevin walks through the door, I think I’d have more energy and peace for my daily duties. For playing hide-and-go-seek 11 times in a row with a toddler who never even bothers to hide and refuses to let me use the computer during the day. For switching sides every few hours as I sleep for a newborn who has started snacking on me throughout the night.

Champagne wishes and caviar dreams have been replaced with longing to go buy milk and grapes all by myself please.