Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Giving Thanks.

A colleague of mine inspired me to list the things I’m grateful for this Thanksgiving. Apparently, ‘tis the season. So here goes.

I am thankful for My Guy, who is my rock and my fountain of youth, and for Little Miss, who makes me realize that happiness is about the little things, like having daddy make blueberry pancakes as mommy and baby cuddle in bed on a Sunday morning.

I am thankful for my mom who made all kinds of sacrifices so I can have a life she never had, and for My Guy’s family, who continually showers us with their kindness and generosity. 

I am thankful for my pets, even though sometimes they wake the baby by barking at the neighbor or chasing each other around the house, toppling water glasses.

I am thankful for my friends, a few of whom I've known for 27 years, several I've known only a few months. But all essential in their own way.

I am thankful I have a job, even if it isn’t my dream job—although I’m not sure if there is one out there that will pay me just to wine and dine, shop for shoes and blog. Oh, wait. I think I’ve just inadvertently confessed my Paris Hilton aspirations. (Dammit!)

I am thankful for the shortcut that takes me to Little Miss’ daycare in eight minutes instead of 12, so I can be with her for those precious extra four minutes every day.

I am thankful for the Dunkin Donuts that’s strategically located next to the train station, where I get my coffee so I’m at least half awake by the time I get to work after a night of baby duty.

I am thankful for Google and Amazon.com, which have this knack for predicting what I need before I even know I need it.

I am thankful for words that enrich and immortalize, that can at once capture time and set free our imaginations.

I am thankful for--no, indebted to-- these extraordinary women: Jane Austen, George Elliot, Alice Walker, Zora Neale Hurston, Toni Morrison, Adrienne Rich, Ama Ata Aidoo and Jeannette Winterson, whose amazing works and inspiring life experiences compelled me to find and nurture the power of my own voice.

I am thankful for Joss Whedon’s short-lived TV series, Firefly, who had a hand in bringing My Guy and I together, which begot Little Miss, which begot this life I am truly grateful for, which begot this thanksgiving blog entry.

And last, but certainly not least, I am thankful to you, for taking the time to read this. Happy Thanksgiving.

Remembrance.

Ships at a distance have every man’s wish on board. For some they come in with the tide. For others they sail forever on the horizon, never out of sight, never landing until the Watcher turns his eyes away in resignation, his dreams mocked to death by Time. That is the life of men.

Now women forget all those things they don’t want to remember, and remember everything they don’t want to forget. The dream is the truth. Then they act and do things accordingly.
         
      from THEIR EYES WERE WATCHING GOD, by Zora Neale Hurston


Recently, when Little Miss was plagued by an ear infection, she had a high fever for days, and it reminded me of the time when I was down for the count, where my mom never left my side. Now, I may sound like I’m stereotyping but I know I’m not that far off the mark when I say that most Asian parents, at least ones from my mom’s generation, aren’t very big on PDA (no, not the mobile device, although they’re not into that either). Their idea of affection is to make sure we’re fed to the gills at every meal and to work 15-hour days just so they can afford us a life better than the one they had.

So imagine my surprise when my mom sat beside me in bed when I was eight or nine, suffering from a 104-degree fever, tenderly stroking and kissing my face, my hair, my arms, my hands, and singing me nursery rhymes she knew by heart from her schoolgirl days. Alas, the woman couldn’t carry a tune, but on that night, her voice flooded me with so much love that even in my feverish delirium, I didn’t want it to end. These moments of tenderness were so few and far between that an overt display of her affections for me that one time left an indelible mark on me that I would carry with me the rest of my life.

However, this is in stark contrast to the other not-so-warm-and-fuzzy memory of my mother, when I clearly recall a vision of her swiftly walking towards 10-year-old me when I was playing with my friends outside my school when I was supposed to be home, brandishing a rattan cane. Oh the horror! Nothing commands the obedience of a young child better than public humiliation, especially when it involves her friends. So when I saw my mom approaching me with the cane, I saw my 10 years flash before my eyes as well as the next 10 of my friends unmercifully taunting me, telling everyone about my day of shame. Now, before you go all DCFS on my mom, note that she is a product of a different time and culture, as am I, where corporal punishment was acceptable. While not my favorite memory, it was definitely one of the most memorable, for obvious reasons. Needless to say, I always got home from school on time after that.

Now that I’m at the wheels of the mamamobile, I realize that it is my turn to shape someone else’s memories.  As Little Miss’ blurry world comes into focus, and forms become words, and words into thoughts, it makes me wonder—how she will remember me? Perhaps the more important question, which will define my role in her life, is how do I want to be remembered?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Let Go.

So let go, jump in
oh well, whatcha waiting for
it's alright
'cause there's beauty in the breakdown;
so let go, just get in
oh, it's so amazing here
it's alright
'cause there's beauty in the breakdown.

                                   from Let Go by Frou Frou


When I was in my twenties (which wasn’t that long ago…really), procreating was not a priority. In fact, at one time, for three years to be exact, I was adamant against having kids. My stint as a restaurant manager pretty much took care of any ticking biological clocks where, day after day, I witnessed countless little monsters who paid no heed to the conviction-light, half-assed reprimands of their parents or nanny as they bobbed and weaved between busy servers carrying hot soup and stopped revolving doors on potential diners. For them, hilarity ensued; for me, it was a tiny slice of hell because, of course, should they slip and fall or be scalded by Tom Yum, it would be our fault.

When coughcough30cough came along, the baby alarm rang, and the turmoil began. I knew I wanted kids but at the same time, I was also confronted with all of the worst fears – I’d love this little being with my life but what if something happens to my baby? How will I, can I, go on? I’ll only want “what’s best for them” (gee, haven’t heard that before) but I have very set ideas on how to achieve that, including how they should behave, develop, etc. so of course there’s a big chance they will hate me—how do I wage a daily good vs evil battle and still nurture, teach, and raise them to become decent human beings?

Well, now that I have Little Miss, not only did it not answer my questions or quell my fears, it actually created a whole new brand of crazy for me. For example, just before our trip to Toronto (our first trip sans baby when she was six months old) I obsessed about what would happen to Little Miss should we board the one plane that took a nosedive into Lake Ontario from technical malfunction. Who would care for her? I couldn’t get on the plane until I had a living will created, as well as a “Dear Little Miss, if you’re reading this letter…” written. Dramatic. I know. I’m not usually easily given to hysterics but it helped me enjoy our weekend a little better, knowing there was a contingency plan for her. But how did I arrive here?

Oh right. I had a baby. But please, don’t think this is stereotypical of all moms. In my defense, it’s important to have a living will, but freaking out about it on the eve of my trip was not my best move. I continue to stress about the little things every day, naturally, but I realize now that it’s par for the course. While there’s no chance that my fears will dissipate, I’m just glad that they did not stop me from having her.

I have to remember that life is unpredictable and things will not always go my way, but it’s OK. Little Miss will fall, she will bleed, she will eat cat hair (and she has), and she will break my heart.

Sometimes, I just have to let go. It will be alright. Even amazing. ‘Cause there’s beauty in the breakdown.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Memory Foam.

Little Miss has been CIO’d, and she is finally sleeping like the proverbial baby (unlike the real ones out there). She still cries herself to sleep but only for five minutes and then she’s out – not a peep for the next 12 hours. It’s a Praise-the-Lord miracle.

Now that we’ve more or less conquered sleep, we’re on to bigger, better things, like weaning. Yes, the fun never stops. Some moms are of the “she’ll self-wean when she’s ready” camp, and that’s great and all, but with the way Little Miss has been tugging at my shirt and reaching in for the goodies in public, it doesn’t look like she’ll move on anytime soon. Unless I plan to wear a turtleneck 24/7, this is not going to work, seeing as I only have four turtlenecks, and there are seven days in a week.

Besides, I miss my boobs. No, they haven’t left town, but for now, they serve a purely utilitarian function. I miss them as, you know…play things. Plus, I can’t wait to retire the nursing (read: cumbersome, unattractive, granny-panty-equivalent) bras and go back to the ones that got me Little Miss in the first place.

On the flip side, the pros are far outweighed by this one con: I will lose our special mom-and-baby bonding time. An act so powerful in its tenderness, I cherish the moments spent with her laying in my arms, her eyes half-dazed, her hands still, and she’s completely content as she suckles both for nourishment and for comfort. I use this time to touch her face, caress her hair, sing her the six lullabies I know before moving on to the late 80s soft pop music because, somehow, my brains have only managed to retain those. Hey, at least it’s not 70’s disco.

I have to admit, I’m selfishly stalling the weaning process because I don’t want to lose the high I get from her nestling up to me. It’s just so rare, so precious. Like the Hope diamond. Only better, since I bet the diamond doesn’t wear the intoxicating scent of Johnson and Johnson’s baby lotion.

I know it’s asking for the impossible, but I hope she will remember these moments. Maybe not the minutiae but that somewhere in the deep recesses of her mind, there’s an indelible imprint, not unlike that of a memory foam mattress, that she will carry with her for the rest of her life. Even if she only feels the warmth that this memory conjures, it’s more than I could ask for.

As she turns one next week, I will prepare for her birthday party as well as for the last time I nurse her in the pale night light of her room. I will sing her the requisite six songs plus an 80s ballad, kiss her goodnight and bid this chapter of our lives farewell.

That night, I have a feeling, will be my turn to cry myself to sleep.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Three letters.

C.I.O. How do three seemingly innocuous letters generate so much contention and polarization? If you’re a parent with a child who has sleep issues, you’ve undoubtedly been introduced to the dreaded CIO (Cry It Out) method.

I have, back in my holier-than-thou, my-baby-sleeps-just-fine, blissful days, eschewed this idea and was rather vocal in my contempt for it. But now, I have to admit that I have succumbed to what I swore I’d never do as a parent—let my baby cry herself to sleep. That’s my confession number two of a guilty mom (see first post for number one).

Little Miss used to sleep like a champ (well, maybe a runner-up) but after a couple of teething episodes and a vacation that threw her routine out of whack, we’ve been going through a nightly performance of Cirque du Dormir (pardon my googled French, but you know what I mean) where she falls asleep while being nursed, then wakes up for no apparent reason an hour later and starts crying; we then go in to soothe her and she’ll fall back asleep but sometimes it takes 30 minutes and sometimes, two hours (!!) of this bedtime shuffle before she finally settles down the rest of the night.

It’s exhausting. And time-consuming. And frustrating. And tedious. And nerve-wracking. And hence the CIO.

When we started this, she threw a fit and screamed bloody murder for 1.5 hours. Oh. My. God. Not to mention Oh. My. Heart. I’m not sure who had it worse—Little Miss or me. But miraculously, I survived the first night (yes, yes, so did she, but let’s not lose focus here). And now, five days later, she’s down to 8.563 minutes of crying. Progress!

Meanwhile, my frayed nerves take comfort in chocolate (thank goodness for the Halloween haul - yes, we are eating Little Miss' candy but I don't feel that bad; she owes us this much). I also find solace in the fact that she may not remember this to complain to her someday therapist about me. By then, I’m pretty sure I would've provided plenty of other material she can work with.

(My dearest Little Miss, if you read this one day and your rock star therapist somehow manages to unearth your infant pangs and insecurities of being abandoned in your crib in the dark, please know this - it's your daddy's idea.)

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