20 things I learned from or during being a parent:
- Development is uneven, my 5 year old walked on all fours around the national park yesterday. I thought if I let her do it she would get it out of her system, I was surprised at how long she enjoyed walking on all fours. It made me wonder what the other people thought as we walked by, but somehow knowing she is in the middle of an autism evaluation made it okay to me. She has been walking since a little past age 1, but she missed some crawling and felt like going back. For me, I was an extremely entitled person in my early 20s and I am aware that my own development was uneven, though in a more discrete way.
- I can’t stand my own kids 24/7 forever, being a stay at home parent doesn’t mean you don’t need time apart, then if the whole world shuts down and you can’t really get decent time apart, I will be grumpy, it’s okay.
- Verbal abuse is all to easy to fall into. I of course never wanted to be verbally abusive, I started a bit in my second pregnancy and it took about 2 years to stop. It’s kind of amazing how what you would never say becomes what you said, becomes what you say, becomes what you think is okay. It’s easy to justify things after you do them that you could never justify before you do.
- The way you say something is more important that what you even say. I love my kids, but in some moments I don’t. When I’m getting head butted, ext. Everything I say at the time comes across as I hate you, it’s best to just take a moment of a few minutes. All the negativity passes in about 2 minutes for me, but pretty much all my life I’ve been afraid to take 2 minutes. It’s something I’ve heard about and never done. My mom yelled at you NOW, she never talked to you LATER. Now and later are a bit different. I just played dreidel for the first time, one of the four sides (נ, ג, ה, ש) is “nun” (נ) do nothing, it’s very unnatural, but kind of powerful. We often do nothing in life, but it’s not often we decide to actively do nothing.
- It’s impossible for me to be a good parent tired. We survive when I’m tired, other people may do well, but I don’t, life goes on but I don’t thrive that way, there isn’t coming back from two days with no sleep and one day with no sleep isn’t the same as a day with sleep. My cup is empty and I’m not magic.
- Everything gets repainted and resold. I thought my Ninja Turtles were a brand new concept, they are the Greek four humors. I thought my transformers were gone, they came back. People are so lazy to make up new things old things are forever recycled.
- The world of children and the world of adults are subtlety different. I didn’t notice myself moving into the world of children, because I don’t stay up late and watch regular movies, because I don’t make time for myself to read non parenting books because I’ve been trying to put out verbal abuse and disobedience fires for so long this year, because I don’t make time or space for myself. I had forgotten that there was a world outside of baby signing time, melt downs, fits, sibling rivalry, potty training, sleep training, reading, math, science, painting, music ext. I don’t lie to my kids about anything, not Santa, not tooth fairy, nothing, but there world still lacks thousands of units of bullshit from the adult world, it lacks a depth of jadedness, like an inflatable tank the US Army used to make itself look together it lacks substance behind what seems to be the same topic. It’s a bit hollow. My kids know about genocide, about racism, police corruption, but very lightly, they know it can and does happen, but that most people are good and stability reins on an average day. What I didn’t know was how much I mentally moved into that world with them. I leave a lot of myself behind in the conversations I have with my kids and I never make time to talk to my friends, I’m almost forgetting how to speak “adult” or what it was like living in that country.
- The world has always been crazy. It seems like things are tense now, but this is no dark ages, no black plague, it doesn’t take much history to get to a worse place, the American Great Depression was worse, the 60s Civil Rights Movement had bleach thrown in people’s eyes and police beating masses of people not a handful. The world has always been crazy, it was a huge lava chunk, the moon was a separate planet that came and collided with it, nearly everything alive has suddenly perished in mass extinctions many times, a meteor bigger than Everest hit Mexico. Romans hung people up on crosses and pulled out their intestines bit by bit to make people behave, those same Romans converted to Christianity and started Christmas in 336 AD. My father was raised Buddhist, but converted with his mom later and wonders why I don’t celebrate that holiday that has nothing to do with my faith nor preferences nor values.
- Boundaries are very important. People will take all your time, money and energy and not really care about your well being if you don’t learn “no thanks”. I like to pay myself last and then I find I don’t have anything left. It’s the I didn’t put my oxygen mask on first problem, but I haven’t fixed it all year. I’ve noticed the problem, but I haven’t really fixed it, each break I take (not many) is bailing a spoonful of water out of a sinking boat still.
- Priorities are more important than values. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: “Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.” The best boundaries are pointless when they protect the wrong things. Even though I haven’t been perfect the year was a win, only because I kept my priorities straight, that’s the only thing that made a difference between winning and loosing the year. I’m not stronger, I’m not better functioning, not smarter, but focusing on what matters mentally gave me the smallest edge to me of the past and made a big difference. Shifting my mind and attitude had a bigger change on my mental state than the pandemic, almost twice as much. Not that I wasn’t affected at all, but focusing on what I could change and what was out of my hands (despite the stupid commercials telling me my outings made an impact of who lives and dies) made the chaos and stupidity bearable and I focused on the chaos and stupidity of my own life.
- Most parenting advice is wrong just as the average prescription glasses don’t work for any given individual. When it doesn’t work it’s not only wrong, but kept in place can be damaging. That doesn’t mean never try, but when something doesn’t work you don’t have to keep it going as long as the person selling it says to do it…
- Failing is natural and fine, but parents sometimes instill fear to it that doesn’t need to be there. My son falls all over the place, gets up, runs again. My dad hates it, not because it causes my son pain, but because it makes him uncomfortable. Failure isn’t the opposite of success, it’s a necessary part of it, to fear failing becomes a fear of trying, a impediment to success a fear or really living at all. It was helpful watching it because now I know why I am afraid of each small decision and step, not only of failure but possible failure, which means fear of doing anything at all new or difficult. Possible failure is the only way forward.
- Fear is difficult to approach. Fear especially seems to shut of math skills, there is a slug borne killer parasite in my area that I’m afraid of, it pretty much is always fatal to kids and I have two kids, and the slugs come onto my porch. All I have to do is not let the kids eat them, but the fear is real since there is no treatment, if they do eat them, they will probably die due to unstoppable brain inflammation. Before I was sanitizing the potential slime, but the numbers of parasites in the slime is really low as compared to eating their bodies. So it makes me wonder is it worth it to play outside, is it worth it to grow veggies to eat? Everyone has their own fears, it’s kind of impossible to be rational about your own fears, but it’s easy to expect other people to be rational about their fears. I don’t have an answer about how to help my daughter or myself with fear, but I’m just noticing the magnitude that it shifts your reasoning abilities to be afraid.
- I moderately hate parenting. I 40% hate kids stuff, loud running steps in the house, theft of ear buds due to curiosity ext, repeated explanations that don’t make sense. I don’t hate all kid stuff, for some reason I’m fine with poop, farting, vomit, but I don’t like the “roaring,” “elephant trumpet impersonation” ext that fills most of my days. I didn’t know before I had kids I wouldn’t just start being all into annoying stuff like people said I would, I actually don’t like being bitten by my kids because they are “my kids”. I don’t uber hate kids either, I’m just a lot more honest than most parents about hating the stuff most of us hate.
- It’s okay to hate parenting. All feelings are valid, that’s how I feel, it’s valid, it won’t automatically mess up my kids, if it does, IT DOES, because I can’t turn my feelings on a dime to fit other people’s expectations and I shouldn’t have to if I could. Mom lives matter.
- No one makes your life matter except you. No one can hand you that because no one knows your values and needs other than you. People can try to help or try to keep you down, or keep you down trying to help or help by trying to keep you down, but some things no one can do FOR you.
- Weird isn’t always stupid or worse, it’s different. A lot of what we have always done was stupid or worse than now, but it’s all too new too fast. I don’t like these masks, but I didn’t really like spreading and receiving air borne germs either.
- Social distancing diminishes life quality. I’m not saying I wouldn’t do it, but I noticed a big drop in life quality. In the Blue Zones, a book about health social connection was shown by research to cause health and lack of it illness. We all lost something this year, maybe worth it, maybe not, but we all lost something vital and difficult to describe.
- One of the hardest things for me is admitting when something does not work. Bad things go on for a long time until I realize they are bad things, they may sound pretty, everyone else may like them, experts may recommend them, but eventually it becomes clear when something is bad in my life.
- I’m worn too thin as a human, as a mother, I’ve given up as a spouse, as a writer, because I’m too worn as a human being. This year I knew I needed more breaks, then what really happened was a lot less, nothing open I wanted to do, everyone who helps me stressed from the pandemic, my kids super needy in the middle of the stress of everyone around them. I wish it was a time people came together with dignity, where humanity prepared for the next one that possibly is deadlier and kills everyone, but instead we didn’t. So, the vaccines are made, who knows how long that will take to distribute, but it seems as if it didn’t bring us together much, instead my husband and many people just ignored any responsibility to stop spreading germs and other people tried to, but using methods that seem to have a hole in actual effectiveness. The pandemic has pushes me away from the people I love, I suppose I will always hate it for that, it has also tired me out.
I wrote this in the morning, I can’t remember if it was today or yesterday, but this afternoon I set a 1 hour timer and played cello for an hour. It was great, it was fantastic.
I’m just learning to play cello, but Youtube has really helpful videos. I broke my A string, the 1st string, but I still had C, G and D.
I was hoping to learn to play Bach’s Prelude, my favorite song this year, but at least I’ve picked up the cello now. Breaking the string was helpful too in a way, somehow it took the edge off using a new instrument, like the first dent of a car.
I’ll never forget the day I was in school and the orchestra musicians came to show the students the possible instruments, it was magical, I only liked the cello. I don’t know why. I had already a piano and I already liked the low notes, but I especially enjoy the cello. I like the bass already, that’s why it’s a bit easier to play cello, I have played beginning bass for quite awhile.
I’ve been inspired by Yo-Yo Ma when I heard his position about playing to express your soul not to play perfectly. It’s the opposite of how I was raised and that is probably the more important part of the exercise for me.
Holding the cello, it’s so magical for me, it just feels so right in a life where everything that society tells me should feel right doesn’t.
This 1 hour break I took today to learn cello was the first one I had this year that I can remember. It’s really hard to take a break, my daughter is really… high needs, so it’s not any one that wants to watch her for an hour, my son is pretty easy, but for me to take a break someone has to be watching my daughter, that’s the way she is.
My daughter is being screening for autism, the second meeting will be December 31st, I don’t know what to expect, I have always thought my daughter was uncomfortably on the line and perhaps the doctors think so to, because the first session they said absolutely nothing to say yes she is or no she isn’t…
No matter what they say, she will always be different, perhaps not autistic, perhaps autistic, but she is a dragon of a girl. I give her everything I have to give, but it’s not enough for her… someday I’ll turn her loose and I don’t know if the world will be enough for her either or if she will Elon Musk her way to Mars or somewhere farther and bigger. It hurts to fail, but it’s small comfort to know I’m doing my honest best.
One thing I’ve done wrong is not take breaks and do self care. I read about it, like a wood cutter chopping with a dull saw, who won’t take a break to sharpen the saw. The oxygen mask, you need to put your own mask on first… but I just don’t. This was the first 1 hour break I’ve taken all year long.
It was amazing.
I felt like a person.
I’m supposed to be a person, show my kids how to do that, do it just for me anyways.
But no one wants to do the work I usually do for an hour.
I know now since I took the hour off, my daughter called me, I told her about my timer and she got it. She didn’t like it, but she got it. My sister didn’t really like dealing with my misbehaving daughter for an hour, but she did, which was great. It was great.
I don’t want a special needs kid. I want an easy kid. I can’t just return my older kid, but I’m not the kind of person that sees it as a wonderful life lesson, I didn’t want that challenge in my life.
But here I am, it’s becoming clear that although I’m not the perfect parent, my older child is some kind of special and my life with her won’t be easy, it won’t be picture perfect, it may not even ever be remotely normal, we are fighting for a C grade when I’m used to an A.
It was so nice having a break today. It makes me want more.
I don’t know if I will be able to learn Prelude this year, it’s something some 8 year olds play, but I haven’t played cello before.
It’s a dream that has been stuck in my soul since I was 5 or 6. I can’t believe I never let it go.
I’ve miscarried many dreams, so many dreams, but this one I held it without choosing to.
I think someone asked us, which instrument we wanted to play, and I didn’t know I wouldn’t be able to, in the moment, it seemed like I could. The way they said it, it seemed like a small thing, for many people it is a small thing to have an instrument, have lessons, have a stable family.
But I didn’t always have a phone line, a home, dinner, let alone a cello.
I grew up sometimes poor, intermittently, because my mom was bipolar and a drug addict. We weren’t always poor, but often.
I think if all our priorities were clear and organized we could have paid to rent a cello, but that’s not what my parents felt like doing. They put me in choir instead of band, then my school refused to enter me late start, so I thought I would just never learn cello.
I’m 35 this year. It’s been 30 years. I never thought I would pick up an instrument at 35, if I did, I could imagine it mattering. But it does, at some level, it really does.
I started celebrating Kwanzaa last year, I love it. Each of the 7 days has a value, reflections, meditations, for me lost wisdom.
The first day of Kwanzaa’s principle is Umoja, unity, I think of my connection with the first mother in Africa and all of you, my distant cousins, and my very distant cousins the trees and all Earth life. I feel so much of my truths reflected in the connection we all share with our bloody and tumultuous past. I have a warrior spirit in a computer engineering world and it’s easy to forget why, forget the past.
The second day of Kwanzaa’s principle is Kujichagulia, self-determination, something I never knew about most my life.
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,– William Ernest Henley
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.
I’ve always kept my chin up, but yet gone where I was directed to go, it’s the first year I’ve ever actively been the captain of my soul. It’s new for me. Having Kwanzaa really helped me solidify that. I don’t have so much leadership skills, but I haven’t ever tried much either, I somehow didn’t even know how much I was living tied down by social expectations.
The third day of Kwanzaa’s principle is Ujima, collective work and responsibility, is what motherhood fulfills for me, it has never filled my whole mind and soul, I do it the best I can, but it’s not my everything and I don’t think it ever could be.
The fourth day of Kwanzaa’s principle is Ujamaa, cooperative economics, I don’t have a lot going related to that but I do know it’s the secret to success that many Asian families in the US leveraged and a reason behind a lot of successful individuals I know personally, it’s a hard world when you try to do everything alone.
The fifth day of Kwanzaa’s principle is Nia, that is the most difficult day for me. I don’t know my purpose in life and I like not knowing, but I feel so lost about my purpose I don’t know if purposes are a real thing or not. I hope they are.
The sixth day of Kwanzaa is Kuumba, creativity, I am from a family that makes things. My dad and his dad do wood working, my sister does jewelry, sewing, painting, drawing, crafting, sculpting, writing, poetry, I do some art (a lot less crafting), writing and music. We are very strong in “Kuumba” more than cooperative economics or purpose or faith, that’s the easy one for us. It’s also how I first started connecting spiritually to Kwanzaa. Creativity has kept me sane during life’s low points. When the music hits me I feel no pain is a real thing for me, dance through the pain is a real thing for me. When I first casually looked into Kwanzaa and I found Kuumba, something clicked and I knew it was the right spiritual journey for me at the time.
The seventh day of Kwanzaa is Imani, faith, that’s a hard day for me. I’m not religious, so I could still have faith in myself, but I don’t. I spent most of my life going to go to medical school, then didn’t, so I was trying to make money, and instead I made debt, I was trying to live a stable traditional life style when I had kids, and I failed to… so I don’t trust me. But maybe over time I’ll learn to have faith in myself, I know I “could” but somehow I can’t. Somehow I want proof from me before I trust me again, a lot of proof or at least something.
20 Things I’d Like to Do with My Life:
- I’d like to finish a good book, or at least a book (writing).
- I’d like to oil paint again. For fun, like Bob Ross.
- I’d like to make a lego “The Wave”.
- I’d like to make a lego “Great Wall”.
- I’d like to make a lego waterfall.
6. I’d like an entire year with no kids crying.
7. I’d like to have a pet rat when I have time to train it and put a chef hat on it and take a picture.
8. I’d like to go to Tree House Point in Seattle.
9. I’d like to play Moonlight Sonata on the piano.
10. I’d like to learn Bach’s Prelude on Cello.
11. I’d like to eat a steak dinner with my husband on Isla de Los Mujeres without being interrupted by my daughter.
12. I’d like to go back to Cuba.
13. I’d like to bonfire all the kid’s drawings my daughter instructed me to treasure forever.
14. I’d like to have a lychee shave ice with my grand kids, assuming I have grand kids someday.
15. I’d like to get two pies and eat them alone, blueberry and strawberry and a ton of coffee and no judgement.
16. I’d like to have my hair purple again.
17. I’d like to get another motorcycle when the kids are at least 18 already.
18. I’d like to go back to learning martial arts.
19. I’d like to go back to teaching martial arts.
20. I’d like to watch the clouds on a sunny day, without anyone asking me to get them water/food/juice/a movie ext.
So, it was a hard year, I’ve learned a lot, grown a lot, but not in a nice way, it was a heavy burden to bear the stress of the world and tell my kids what is happening without letting the panic vibe through. I loved the year because it was the first full year my son was alive, I hated the year because I didn’t get to Hawaii for the summer where I get help with my kids, I hated this year, because I tried so hard not to hate it. I loved it because it was full of wonderful things, beautiful moments, good people, yet I couldn’t adjust to the restrictions as fast as they were happening, I was always emotionally off balance and one step behind.
It totally sucked having young kids during the pandemic, you didn’t want them to miss the park, friends, birthdays, everything that is special during childhood… but they did. You didn’t have a break at all, it wasn’t fun adult movies with stressed kids stuck with you and education kind of went to hell. It was the worst parenting situation, worse than potty training, worse than childbirth, worse than sleep training.
If I could have had my kids before or after, I would have, I completely hated explaining to my 4 year old what was happening, hated telling her to keep her mask on for a 6 hour flight, hated every time she had to wear a mask, hated my mask, hated the fake news, the panic news, hated the election drama, the post election drama, hated swabbing my 4 year old for the COVID test for the flight, and again at the airport when we landed, hated her saying it hurt and not having a choice. I want to leave the hate in 2020, I hope I do.
I wish the vaccine was already available, going into 2021 it’s not clear if this gloomy stuff will linger on all 2021 or be over really soon. It’s very unclear still, though supplies seem okay, the economy surprisingly seems okay, in general things seem okay despite a lot of “talking heads”.
I tried so hard to be unaffected, and I failed, I tried to not give up on goals, and I failed, but I never lost my spirit of wanting to try and perhaps that’s what matters most.
Never give in. Never, never, never, never–in nothing, great or small, large or petty–never give in, except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.– Winston Churchill
I like to play a game with my daughter, The Sims 4, it’s like a computer doll house, we just loaded it today for the first time in almost a year. She got what she wanted, a dragon pet. We changed her hair to short like it is now. Her brother grew from a baby to a toddler, which he did do. I changed my hair shorter and more edgy. My husband and I parted states (though we are not having problems in marriage, it so my daughter can go to a better school and I can have help with my two young kids instead of no help). The chairs in the living room moved, my dad moved his desk to the living room, we all switched our rooms around by moving our beds (we made our beds and now we lie in them). Another thing is each person has a life aspiration, I changed mine from “Successful Lineage” to “Hope VS Order”.
It’s really reflective of the change in me this year, I don’t look at my kids like they need to learn everything just to outperform other kids, or even behave so I can enjoy them, I don’t look them like they have to “anything” anymore. I hope they get basic skills, I hope we can work as a functional team, but I defused from them, they aren’t me, I’m not them. I’m here to help them, but I’m also so in need of my own life however simple or short. I really need to let go of them to even be human for them, I’m kind of worn down from this year.
It was really fun watching my game me be tired feeding my game son at 4 AM, and even watching my game daughter keep making messes on purpose for fun, it’s fun thinking for a minute that the best I was able to do was reasonable and that it’s the whole system of 1 primary parent doing everything that’s broken, it was fun to feel okay about not doing better for a second, when most of the time I replay life in my head looking for a way that I could have done everything wonderful everyday.
I don’t fully know what “Hope VS Order” means on the Sims 4 game, but it kind of sums up the year for me. Hope, like the Black Lives Matter movement refusing to stay silent for forever because never is when the system really wanted to hear them and Order like a vaccine for COVID or maybe everyone just not freaking out about what is actually not that deadly of disease in historical context? One or the other would be nice, or both… in my personal life hope is of communicating in a loving way rather than a grumpy/abusive way and order is finding out what is driving my daughter’s excessive disobedience and treating what had become an intolerable amount of hitting, hurtful speech, stealing, lying ext ext.
I don’t fully know what hope vs order means for the game, for me, for the world, but I think Hope and Order is my goal going into next year. It’s so uncertain right now, if I can fly with my son who will be 2 and required to wear a mask, but not able to, it’s uncertain if the school for my daughter will open by next fall, if she will be accepted to go there, when my husband will buy a home, where he will buy a home, when if ever we will live together again, when or what I will do for work when the kids are bigger, what I’m supposed to do, if anything, with my life, it’s very uncertain still when things will be “back to normal”.
But I can hope to go to the fair and have cotton candy someday with the kids, with no God Damn Masks. I can hope my daughter can play within 6 feet of other kids at the park again, that the zoo will open and we can see the tigers with my son.
I can enjoy the idea of the world returning to “order” even though I don’t know when it will be or what it will be like. I always have wished for world peace this time of year when we sang “Dona nobis pacem” in choir. This year is similar in that the world is still at war in places, but we are also at war with public health, with internal policies, in my family, in my country, in the Earth, but hopefully not forever.
In the bottom of pandora’s box is some left over hope, I will eat that instead of cooking for the rest of the year and enjoy my second Kwanzaa in a peaceful way where for the first time I’m not overwhelmed by other people around me offering my Christmas more than I want it.
I don’t know if I’ll make it to Prelude, but I hope so, it would be a nice gift from the 2020 me to the 2021 me, a nice baton pass into the future.
May hope and order find you in the way you enjoy readers, thank you for inspiring me this year, Lovie and Thomas and Nomzamo and everyone, I don’t always comment, but often your posts help me push through the low moments. I especially like the one about the joy of water and the present moment. It’s been helpful to feel connected here on WordPress as in person friends were moved to an arms length and then 6 feet and then thousands of miles away, it’s an honor and a joy to know other people take the time to write what I say as imperfect as it is. Wishing you all some hope and order for this year, because there is some life in it still, I hope we find some further beauty in this chaotic year, a silver lining for each cloud, rainbow for each storm or phoenix for each dragon.