Patience stifled when getting kids ready to go anywhere

via Daily Prompt: Stifle

Is it safe to assume that busy Monday mornings, or any other mornings, stifle patience for moms of young children?

This is true for me.

Getting out of the house to go anywhere feels like my days’ work is done. By the time everyone’s seat belt is buckled, I’m ready for a nap.

This was my situation earlier in the day. To my kids it might as well have been National Slow Motion Day: take as long as possible to do even the slightest thing. It seemed like a race of who could take the longest to get ready or bicker endlessly about who won an arbitrary race they made up on the spot.

When I asked them to get ready, Elliot continued to calmly color coordinate his marbles and Ellis, dressed only in her Doc McStuffin pull ups, kept tossing the contents of her dresser on the floor saying they were too “uncool.”

I wanted to scream. However, if I raised my voice the whole morning would’ve fallen apart. They detect the slightest difference in the tone of my voice and immediately accuse me of being mad. The source of trouble then shifts: it’s not about getting ready anymore – it’s about mommy being mean and mad. I imagine they want me to dance cheerfully around them singing in angelic glow for the tenth time, “why are you not brushing your teeth?”

Don’t they know this tough job is motivated by a labor of love? Don’t they know it’s not a lucrative or prestigious position? Don’t they realize this job offers no sick days, personal days, or vacation perks (unless the whole circus travels together)? Don’t they know this job leads to a myriad of health troubles, like migraines from two chirpy voices constantly chirping for attention, indigestion from eating too fast, blood pressure fluctuating wildly, insomnia from heavy coffee consumption, and very achy joints?

Before having kids of my own, I couldn’t fathom the complexity of this parenting job.

Once again I remind myself that this mom thing is a labor of love: a labor that I choose to love.

Variations found in hospital settings

via Photo Challenge: Variations on a Theme

A note prefacing this post: I wrote this post and realized that I have not fully followed instructions. It was supposed to be a picture of the same thing in several different ways. Instead I interpreted it as how one place could have different meanings to the person there. Readers, I wanted to let you know beforehand that it’s not a picture of the same thing presented in varied ways.

Various hospital spaces for 4-year-old Ellis at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, Palo Alto, California.

Since the evening she was born, Ellis and I have spent many days and nights at the hospital. This space triggers a mixed bag of emotions in me: initial response to news has centered around fear, confusion, panic, or complete meltdown; secondary emotions, after the news has settled, are those of resolve, determination, hope, faith, and relief. Those varied emotions, never neatly arriving, inundate me when something seems off with Ellis’ condition or when we anticipate an upcoming procedure.

Countless wanderings around various floors of the hospital made me realize that each space unconsciously sets the tone for my emotions.

Ground floor is not a preferred space for us: pre-op and operating rooms. This is where separation occurs before surgery. It mainly involves restless walking around the hospital while waiting to receive an update about the surgery’s progress.

First floor is a refreshing entrance to the hospital: depending on your reasons for coming, it can go either way.

To me, the cardiovascular ICU, CVICU, on the second floor amplifies feelings of dread, anxious waiting, obsessively starting at your child for reassurances that she is breathing. (this place makes me irrational and numb), and asking doctors how the recovery is going. This is the floor that triggers panic attacks and wobbly knees.

The best news to hear in the ICU is that your child is moving up to the third-floor recovery wing; the upstairs exudes a feeling of swifter recovery, hope, freedom, and renewed optimism that we may be going home soon.

It’s a wild emotional journey that never gets easier. This reality of mine has stretched and matured me beyond my years. It’s a strange place to be familiar with, but I feel blessed to have had overcome my darkest moments in this hospital alongside people who understand what it’s like to watch one’s kid bravely fight for their life.


Candid thoughts about writing a blog


I’ll be candid.

Writing a blog takes more time than I imagined. I love that this community of writers exist to share and interact with others. However, one lingering question I have is how long it takes other bloggers to write a post. In my situation, it takes me more than one sitting, with many distractions from little people, to finish an entry.

I remind myself that journal writing was time consuming too except that I was only writing for myself. Blogging is worth the trouble; real people read, comment, and encourage. This is where I feel my effort pays off.

Secretly I wanted to start blogging years ago: seven years to be exact. But all the hesitations, doubts, and fears held me back. I kept waiting for the perfect moment that never seemed to come.

In hindsight I realize my blob of fears was driven by how much I would feel comfortable being candid with old friends and with new friends I would make. Do you see a pattern here? When writing is involved, it takes me years to make changes.

Another candid bit about blogging: I constantly check my stats.

*sighing very deeply here

I wish I were immune to the distraction of checking those darn daily stats, but my obsessive compulsive personality obsesses over it. My practical and problem-solving oriented husband, much to his regret, once commented that I’m setting myself up for disappointment if my main motivation is for high stats. ouch! That’s not the main reason but I can’t wholly deny that it plays a role. Needless to say, he tried extra hard that afternoon to be nice and accommodating after uttering that insensitive comment.

I’ve had a few months of exploring topics I want to write about and assessing which ones resonate with me and the readers. It’ll take much longer to really learn how to navigate the features of WordPress, find my niche, and develop my writer’s voice.

Good things take time to grow. Must be patient, work hard, and not take myself so seriously.

Dinosaurs have become our household pets

Dinosaurs galore! They roam our house.

Plastic and plush dinosaurs, of all sizes and facial expressions, are loved by my kids. The plastic ones have frightening expressions with bloody claws and sharp teeth.  I understand that they need scary looking ones to play the villainous role, but it’s hard to understand their fascination with it, especially for someone like me who only played with dolls and stuffed animals.

When we browse the dinosaur aisle of toy shops, they pick the scariest looking dinosaur and say, “oh, isn’t it so cute?” When they say this, I look at them in disbelief as if they just arrived from another planet.  However, I wonder if these ferocious dinosaurs symbolize fears they have and if thinking they are cute is a way to minimize those fears.

On some days, the kids line up a bunch of herbivores to pretend that the herd is migrating from one room to another. This is laborious work because each dinosaur is moved by hand little by little over time to show that they are really traveling as a herd.

However, the migration is not always smooth: surprise attacks by carnivores or lost baby triceratops that need to be found. This job calls for the Parasaurolophus to sound their horns to notify the whole herd. They save the villain roles for me.

Sometimes kids’ playing is hard to understand but to them it makes all the sense in the world.

“Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.” 

–  Fred Rogers



Christmas eve dinosaur wedding hosted by Ellis and Elliot



Studying is for me…not for grades


Growing up in an immigrant family in California I hated hearing “you must study hard!” My parents insisted, more like commanded, doing well in school. They told me countless times that to secure a prosperous and stable future in America was to study hard. I didn’t really know what that future looked like, but I imagined it would be a future without language barriers or money troubles.

To make this vague future a reality, I’d sit for countless hours at my desk staring at textbooks, solving math problems that seemed to have no answers, and daily working with private tutors to help me with my homework. Studying wasn’t intrinsically motivating for me; it was something I had to do well to make my parents proud. I wish that all my efforts translated to good grades but it didn’t. I struggled, did not understand what I was doing, and panicked everyday in school. My studies were aimless.

It wasn’t until I met an encouraging English teacher in 11th grade that I slowly came out of my shell and cultivated confidence in myself. His class was structured differently and he focused on helping his students develop their own voice. I was thrilled that he did not drill the dreaded five paragraph essays.

Instead, he had us read Shakespeare, Steinbeck, and Faulkner. We had opportunities to explore different genres of literature and to apply it to out own lives: write and present acceptance speeches for pretend awards; write poetry about a favorite topic; write about personal experience and describe what we observed. Until I met him, I did not know that words could beautiful and useful.

His personal belief that I had potential fueled my desire and perseverance to do well in school. I wanted to study for my benefit and for what I could learn and gain from it. In a way, my newfound goal was synonymous with my parents except that it was self-willed and not externally imposed on me.

For years I wanted to go back and tell this amazing teacher of the positive influence he made in my life, but I never got the chance. I kept waiting to get one more degree to show him that I was succeeding academically. I thought it wasn’t enough and I had to prove myself more. By the time I was a doctoral student and I tried to find him, it was not possible.

All I know is that this special teacher turned my life around and showed me that studying is not about grades. It is about deepening the meaning of my life with what I learned. I am so glad he reached out to help an awkward teenager and to inspire me to rethink my life and studies.