Going home

Today, I am flying home to Washington, DC after moving away about seven years ago. I went back for a quick weekend wedding in June and we went back as a family in 2008. It’s been a long time away, and as I’m on the flight I feel both anticipation and dread for the week that lies ahead. This isn’t a so called fun trip; my mom has breast cancer again after fifteen years and is having a single mastectomy on Wednesday. We’ve had a strained relationship and a very rocky road especially the past few years, but cancer changed everything for me. It’s a reason to forgive, let go of past difficulties, and offer unconditional love and support. She lives alone, and I feel it is the right thing to do to go there and help her as she goes through this unfortunate process. As a secondary focus and added bonus, I do look forward to reconnecting with friends and family in the area whom I haven’t seen in years.

It is odd and a little disconcerting to leave behind my husband, kids, and pets for so long, but I am thankful for their support and confident they can take care of everything for me while I’m gone. I know day to day that although I don’t work outside of the home, my job is busy, challenging, and stressful at times, I laughed this morning about how long the list of things I usually do and manage really is. All the tasks I take care of may seem like low level jobs, but they hold our family and household together. My husband works long hours and I’m not sure how focused he is on all my little jobs, so I gave him a long list or reminders this morning:

Please remember to:
1. Feed, walk twice a day, care for the dogs, and don’t let them run away.
2. Feed the fish as much as they will eat in five minutes twice a day. (I cleaned both fish tanks yesterday so they would be ok this week. Last time I went away he forgot to feed my fish).
3. Mail a bill on Monday that I already put in a stamped envelope.
4. Water the hydrangea shrubs every day. Water indoor plants when they are dry.
5. Make sure dogs are in the fenced run when outside because the puppy eats my plants and digs holes.
6. Take our son to Taekwondo Monday and for his belt test Friday(got his uniform ready for him last night).
7. Attend our son’s musical at school Thursday.
8. Take and pick up our daughter to and from school and to and from dance classes (m-Th &Sat). And make sure her dance bag is packed and that she put it in the car. She also needs something for dinner since she is there until 9 or 9:30 at night.
9. Make sure kids take their medications and vitamins every day.
10. Make sure kids have lunches or lunch money.
11. Take our daughter to the orthodontist Wednesday.
12. Take our son for allergy shots on Friday. Don’t forget to bring the epi-pen.
13. Pay any bills that come in the mail.
14. Check our son’s folder for checks from other parents in his class and file them away with the ones I’ve collected so far. (I’m class mom and am in charge of the class parties).
15. Trash goes out Saturday and Wednesday. Recycling goes out Wednesday.
16. Remind kids daily to do homework and chores.
17. Change the laundry often because it will stink if it stays in the washer too long.
18. Our son has a guitar lesson and baseball end of season party today.

He is going to have fun being both mom and dad this week and getting a closer look at my daily life as a stay home mom. I’m thankful for his help and support as well as for his mom because she will also be helping with the kids this week. I know they are in good hands.

As for me, the trip will be a practice in zen and a trip down memory lane. My mom still lives in the same house that I grew up in. We moved there in 1972. Of course, there are many memories from the past and I will choose to focus on the positive ones. I used to climb a big pine tree in the front yard and sit up high looking at the surroundings. I ran wild outside and rode bikes with friends until it got dark. We played kickball in the culdesac below us.

Life was so different back then.

As for the zen part, I’m determined to keep my inner peace and strength regardless of what goes on around me.

Thankfully, I got to see two great friends when I landed at the airport! I arrived from Texas right before another friend was departing for Florida. We stopped and visited over some chardonnay. Talk about serendipity! I love it when things work out like that.

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!

31 Day Music Challenge: Day 5 A Song that Reminds You of Someone

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8-vZlrBYLSU

“Every long lost dream led me to where you are.

Others who broke my heart,

they are like northern stars

pointing me on my way

into your loving arms.

This much I know is true,

that god blessed the broken road

that led me straight to you.” 

Bless the Broken Road” by Rascal Flatts reminds me of my husband.  Love these lyrics about the long and winding road of life and love.  Looking back, I wouldn’t change a thing because everything I did led me exactly to where I am now.  Even at the time if I thought it was a tough experience or the end of a road or relationship, I didn’t know where I would be now. Sometimes it’s true that when one door closes another one opens.

We met in 1998 after both having failed first marriages. I had just moved to Reno, NV (long story). I was thirty years old, a new teacher with my master’s degree, a single mom with a five-year old daughter.  He was a  25-year-old college student (started college at 24 years old) working at the gym.  We were in different places in our lives, but we met at the gym, and we fell in love.  We got married a year later and had two children together.  He finished his education and became a lawyer.  I’m so thankful that our paths crossed and hopeful for our future together.

The Broken Road

The Broken Road (Photo credit: aaronmcintyre)

See the whole music challenge list at DeBie Hive.

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!

Being a Mom

It’s nice to be needed. My son who is eight years old loves school but says it’s hard on him because he is away from me. I wonder how long that will last! He doesn’t like being upstairs alone and frequently showers in our bathroom and falls asleep in our bed because he doesn’t like being alone upstairs. When college-aged sister was home for the holidays, he slept in her queen sized bed with her. It’s a good problem to have that our house is big enough that being upstairs alone is an issue. I get it that he is old enough to be in his own bathroom and bedroom full-time. And my husband usually takes him upstairs to his own room after he falls asleep in our bed. But most of the time he comes back downstairs either to our bed or to one of the couches. When I ask him why he won’t stay in his bed all night he answers, “I don’t like being far away from you.” He’s good about keeping his room clean and doing chores and ‘mommy homework’ (math, reading and writing Mon-Thursday excluding holidays). In many ways, he is learning some responsibility and independence. But in this way, he is still my baby, the littlest kid whom blessed to have stayed home with until he started school at the age of six. These years while he still feels little enough to want to be near us will pass quickly, so I cherish them now with gratitude.
My twelve-year old daughter needed my help on her science project today. She did the plan on her own and got a 70%. I like to let her go on auto-pilot as much as possible with her work, but when her grades tell me she isn’t working to potential, I step in to help. And she accepts it. She knows having an educator for a mom has its rewards. The main advice I gave her was about measuring the data. You have to have a way to quantify the experiment. I helped her figure out what graphs to make, how to measure her leaps and jumps, and took videos of her experimenting with dance using different kinds of dance shoes. She also learned how to make a sandwich this week. I know that sounds silly, but apparently she didn’t know how to make one because I always make them for her. Don’t get me wrong, I couldn’t believe she said she don’t know how to make a sandwich (figuring it is so easy that of course she knew how to make one). I thought it was ridiculous that she wants to be mothered to that extent, yet she also thinks she is old enough and responsible enough to go to public places without adults. She does her own laundry and has chores so she can learn responsibility and independence. As I said, I also don’t micromanage her school work, and most of the time she gets As and Bs on auto-pilot. She is at that age when she wants me to bring her lunch from subway to school, but she doesn’t want me to stay while she eats it in the cafeteria. (On the other hand my son wishes I would join him for lunch every day)! She hugs me and asks for my help on her own time. When she needs me, I’m there, and I feel lucky.
Even my nineteen-year old daughter at college still needs me for this and that. Of course, she needs financial support, but I’m also there for her as a mom in many other ways, for emotional support and to lend guidance and advice about the many facets of her life as a college student. I haven’t been able to visit her since moving her into her freshman dorm. In fact, last year I was injured during family weekend, and she told me not to come for her sorority’s moms’ weekend because it wasn’t a big deal, just a brunch. I was also really busy last year working as a teacher. Well, it turned out she missed me when all the other moms were there, and I wasn’t. I promised her I would attend this year and just booked my flight and hotel reservation yesterday! I’m excited to visit her in her world and am proud to be her mom!
Little things like these remind me that while they aren’t so little, they still need me for different reasons. Or at least they want me to be there for them as their mother even though they might not technically need me.. I Being a mother changes over the years, but it is wonderful to be reminded of the fact that there are certain things that mothers can do for their kids that soften their worlds. And I am grateful for all of those little things that remind me what an important job being a mother really is. It’s not glamorous. The hours are grueling. It can be a thankless job. But I wouldn’t want any other job in the world!

30 Days of Truth: Day 11-Something People Always Seem to Compliment You On.

I get complimented for looking young. I frequently get carded to buy wine, and at restaurants with my husband I frequently get carded, but he doesn’t. And he is five years younger than I am!

I got carded for NyQuil one time. I swear to God. My oldest (teenage) daughter was with me at the time. They said I could be her big sister or auntie. Maybe they thought we were going to use it to get drunk? As long as I don’t lose my ID, I can prove that I’m more than double the legal drinking age!

I contribute this trait to my half-Korean genes. Thanks dad!

Daybook

FOR TODAY  August 4, 2012

Outside my window…it’s the sun if finally on its way down.  No clouds today.  It’s been so hot all week with temperatures above 100 pretty much every day.  Clear blue skies, another nice day in Texas if you can survive the heat.

I am thinking…about the big kids. Sierra just started her new job today. Brent is on a short break from boot camp. It’s so nice to be able to text with them. Happy for both of them that they are out there in the world pursuing their interests.
I am thankful…for our house, for my family, for my health.

In the kitchen…chicken, potatoes, salad, chardonnay, spaghetti-o’s (Thomas had a craving).

I am wearing…blue soffe shorts and a green Pensacola beach tank top.

I am creating…just wrote a blog post about how I fell in love with math.  Going to play some more guitar tonight.  Working on a few songs including this one.

I am going…to yoga class in the morning. It’s a great way to unwind and focus on the moment.

I am wondering…

I am reading…over my high school and college transcripts.  What a long strange trip it’s been!

I am hoping…to lose weight.  Gaining, not losing…:(

I am looking forward to…seeing Sierra at the end of the month to move her into her new apartment at college.  I didn’t get out there to see her at all last year, and I’m looking forward to being part of her world at school this year.  She’s working now and will be moving into an apartment with other girls.

I am learning…to be the best mom I can be.  It’s hard sometimes because I didn’t have the greatest family growing up.  Parents divorced and my mom had it rough raising me and my brother.  Learning to be a different mom than the one I grew up with.

Around the house…a few baskets of laundry patiently wait for me.  Other than that, things are pretty under control.  Our fence outside needs fixing in a bad way and our landscaping guy won’t return our messages, frustrating!

I am pondering…if I will ever be free from pain.

A favorite quote for today…”Wasn’t it beautiful when everyone believed in you, and you believed in everything?” Taylor Swift

One of my favorite things…hugs!

A few plans for the rest of the week…family day tomorrow (probably the gym and pool) and tutoring a few kids this week.

A peek into my day…

This Mom Loves Her Job

When I was little, I wanted to be a wife and mommy when I grew up. I think it’s because I grew up with a single mom and a mostly absent father (who came around just enough to tease me with his presence). Christmas and birthdays would come and go without hearing from dad. When I got upset, my mom explained that Koreans favor boys over girls. It was a helpless feeling, and it made me want to build my own family (including a dad) in which all kids felt equally loved.
Fast forward to today. I’m blessed with three of my own children and one stepson. We didn’t find and meet my stepson until he was seventeen, but I love him like he is one of my kids. I was a working mom with both girls, trying to make ends meet while I was a single mom and when Joe went to law school. I decided to stay home with my youngest until he was six and tried going back to work for two years. My middle child was in sixth grade this past year and was coming home alone and being by herself for hours after school. Growing up in VA and teaching there and NV, I’m used to sixth grade being elementary school. But here in Texas it is middle school. There are no after school programs for kids her age, so despite a bad feeling we decided to go with it and let her come home alone. I will spare you the details, but suffice it to say that it didn’t work out. She was too young to be unsupervised all that time. She got bored and lonely, and I worked very demanding hours. I was not able to give my attention to my kids the way I would have liked to.
Since I decided to stay home again full time, there is a whole new appreciation for what it means to be a mom full time. In some ways, middle school is just as important a time to be there for your kids as when they are infants and toddlers. Yes they are separating from parents and peers matter more in their immediate worlds. But I’ve noticed a bigger smile on their faces and how much of the time I had previously spent being ‘too busy’ to talk or play games or go outside.
I work hard to balance me time with kid time, and the kids are learning to give and take in that department. At the same time, I’m modeling self care and also making it a point to do more fun things together with them. We redid our schedule and chore charts for summer. We have structured learning time and relaxed fun times. We brainstormed a list of things to do together.
I’m pretty sure my bucket (of self esteem) might not have been filled to the brim before I became a mom. That’s my focus now, doing a better job of filling my kids’ buckets before they are loose in the world. Mean people are everywhere (even in the adult world) and life is never easy. With enough self-love we can learn to rise above whatever struggles might appear. Being a mom is the best and most important job I will ever have!