Motherhood: We Are All Just Pretending

Surviving motherhood one sarcastic remark at a time.

new year, not-so-new me

So we’ve arrived here in the year 2020. What kind of outrageous, unrealistic resolutions did you all come up with? I’m trying something new this year. I’m not making any. Well, that’s not true. I have some in mind but I’ve come to realize (and accept) that a new year does not literally mean a new me. Why do we do that to ourselves? “I’m gonna eat healthier. I’m gonna work out more (or start working out). I’m not gonna waste money.” All those liessss!! Who are we kidding ourselves? Just because the year has changed, doesn’t mean we have. So I made some realistic resolutions for myself. Things that I believe (truly) that I will be able to adapt into my lifestyle and stick to.

My 2020:

  • learn to mono-task – remember back when being able to multitask was impressive and better yet, productive? I have always been a multitasker because I don’t like wasting my time. In high school, it would be something like doing homework while chatting on MSN Messenger. Then as an adult, I would clean the house while watching Netflix and have multiple chats going on through WhatsApp. But nowadays, with “multitasking,” we aren’t really putting our full attention to anything and we end up being only partially present. For example, almost every time I go to a restaurant, I see groups of friends at a table, supposedly spending time and catching up, but every single one of them will be on their phones and chatting with someone else who isn’t even there. What’s the point of getting together if you’re not really spending the time to be with them? I’ve done this myself, and I’m ashamed. I haven’t done it at a dinner table with friends per se, but with my kids while they play. And while they are still little (two and three), they can tell when I am listening vs just hearing them. I get it. It’s so easy to pick up your phone and just scroll mindlessly. But it’s also very sad that we cannot even afford to be without distraction. When was the last time you sat alone at a bus stop or at a cafe and was just present? We don’t know how to be bored anymore because the thought is too scary. To me, it seems like mono-tasking has replaced multitasking as a skill now.
  • support local – a friend of mine who started his business in Japan posted something on Facebook that said something along the lines of: when you buy from a small business, you are not helping the CEO buy a fifth vacation home, you are helping a little girl get ballet lessons or a little boy get a jersey. You’re helping someone feed their family and meet basic needs. So with that in mind, I am (and have already started) cutting big corporations out of my budget. You won’t find me buying Starbucks every other day. I will look to support more local small businesses.
  • be present – further to the first point about mono-tasking, I need to learn to put my phone down. I am aware that this is my biggest social flaw. This is the one habit I need to undo, and it’s not something I know will happen overnight but I will get there one day (I hope!). I use my phone as an excuse to take photos and videos of my kids, but that is just the root of the snowball effect. I’ve been thinking maybe I should start using my digital camera again so I don’t get distracted by all the magical things my phone does to lure me. These days, I have to remind myself daily that childhood is a very limited time. It’s enough to make me sit and enjoy (when there are no tantrums) just being present.

That’s it y’all! No crazy resolutions for me this year. I am not making any plans to “be healthier” and “eat less carbs and sugar.” I know myself well enough that I don’t have that much self-discipline and I would just be setting myself up for disappointment and failure. So back to the basics it is. Re-learn how to give undivided attention to something, be present (ie. stop trying to capture every moment and be in the moment), and put down my phone when necessary (which is most of the time).

Wish me luck!

[from the archives] christmas eve 2018

December 24, 2018

Tonight I’m alone with the kids. It’s not the first time, obviously. I do it most nights on my own, being married to someone in the restaurant industry. I tried my best today. I did my best not to get upset at them. I tried extra hard not to yell. But I’ve had this throbbing headache all day, the kind that pills can’t fix. I am still trying to catch up on sleep. And I am alone. Both kids have been sleep trained, but both kids have also experienced sleep regression multiple times. So I am back to square one sitting next to each of them until they fall asleep. I spent 45 min trying to get B to sleep, while S was left to entertain herself. She would come into the room every few minutes to let me know what she was doing. Every time she did that, B would sit up. I gave up and decided to try and get S to sleep first since she skipped her nap. So out came B with me. I tucked S in and told her I would come back and check on her after B fell sleep. I left her room and put B back in the crib. No less than 2 minutes later, S burst into tears and I had to leave the room. Then B burst out crying. And then P (cat) added to the mix and meowed. Two kids crying in two rooms and there’s just one of me. All my efforts of the day doing my best to keep calm have long left me. I started crying alongside my kids. I’ve been doing this for 15 months now. I know tonight won’t be the last night this happens. I will probably cry alongside them many more times before things get easier. I always read about how when things get tough, you should take a moment to just breathe and calm yourself down. Tonight, that didn’t work for me. I couldn’t pretend to have it together and calm the kids down. Instead I had a breakdown myself when they needed me most. I wonder if they will remember seeing me fall apart when they are older. I don’t want them to remember me this way.

nostalgia

A few days ago, my brother sent me some videos of our younger years. It was from a set of tapes recorded from a video camera my dad used to carry around with him. If you grew up anytime before 2000, you would know that back then, we didn’t take pictures everyday and record everyday things. Film was reserved for special moments.

Even though the clip he sent me was 15-20 seconds long, so many emotions went through me in a flash. For one, I heard my dad laugh. I haven’t heard his voice or his laughter in so many years… well before we lost him about five years ago. I think of him often but I haven’t thought about the sound of his laughter since I last heard it.

I felt nostalgic as I saw snippets of my old home, the only one I knew growing up. I wasn’t too fond of my home when I was little because I was envious of my friends who had bigger, brighter homes. But when I think back to my childhood, there were so many happy memories in that house. I loved that house. God I miss that house.

I also saw these moments in a different light. Whenever I saw these videos as a young child, I would just focus on what my brothers and I were doing. Now, when I see these videos, I see them through my dad’s eyes; how he saw us, his family, his life. How he chose to record those very intimate moments that were ordinary, but so very special to him.

I think of my kids now, and how already at the age of two and three, there are tens of thousands of pictures and videos of them. Taking several photos everyday, capturing every little moment that may or may not be worth remembering in the future. We always seem to be scared of missing out on the memories (#FOMO) so we focus hard on creating and recreating them. Maybe a little too hard. Imagine in 20 years time, what will my kids do with all the hundreds and thousands (dare I say millions?) of photos and videos of them? They won’t have the time or patience to go through every single one. But more importantly, the way we spend our energy on capturing the right moment, whether for instagram, facebook, or for blogging causes us to miss the entire moment. Why do we constantly look at our own lives through the lens of a camera? For who?

The new year is around the corner. Maybe it’s time for me (and you) to re-assess what’s really important and (maybe) put our phones down a little more. Because at the end of your life, you probably won’t be scanning through all your photos on your death bed. You’re going to want to just be with the ones you love. So do it while you still can. Give your kids the attention that your parents gave you, without all of the phones in their faces and with made up “moments” that are post-worthy. Be present.

i wonder…

When I was a kid, I thought that crying was something only children did. I never really saw the adults in my life cry, except that one time when my dad’s good friend suddenly passed. I was taught growing up that only weak people cry, so I hated that I cried a lot as a kid, and even as a teenager (those hormones are no joke). But I figured once I entered my 20s and 30s, I would be an “adult” and learn to control my emotions better. HAHA.

Enter parenthood. Add two toddlers and mix it with sleepless nights, 16 hour “shifts” babysitting noncompliant toddlers with limited vocabulary and who lack emotional control, minimal adult interactions, and an endless mix of nursery songs. How do you think that ends? And then I start to wonder…

I wonder if my mom had meltdowns from the overwhelming amount of duties motherhood demanded of her. I wonder if my parents discussed all the ways they would juggle three kids and work and a mortgage, or if they just winged it like I do.

I wonder if I made my mom cry over something heartless I said because I was upset.

I wonder when it is we really feel like we have become good parents and not feel like we have been pretending to know what we are doing 24/7. I wonder why we put that perfect photo up on instagram (spoiler alert: behind every good kid photo are a few dozen terrible ones trying to capture the moment and we try so hard to capture it that we end up missing out in real life) to make the world think that we DO have our shit together and we DO know what we’re doing when we really don’t.

So many things you wonder when you are in the shoes your parents once were…

hello.

hi fellow mamas. soon-to-be mamas. wish-i-were-a mamas. when-is-it-going-to-get-better mamas. give-me-another-glass-of-wine mamas. all of you. hi. i created this blog a few years ago when i became a new mom. i wanted to record my journey of motherhood, like many new moms. only i never made it. my very first post is still sitting as a “draft” and that was from december 2017. two years ago! since then, i moved countries, became a mama all over again and did the whole “two under two” nightmare. fyi, i would not recommend it. everyone says “it’ll be a lot better when they’re older” and i’m still waiting for things to “be a lot better.” so yeah, it still sucks. i’ve been sleep-deprived and angry almost four years. MOTHERHOOD IS NO JOKE. it will turn you into the shittiest version of yourself so that you can sulk in that shit and feel bad for yourself long enough to realize, hey, i don’t have time to feel bad for myself. i have to make dinner for the little monsters who won’t eat any of the good healthy food i make anyway.

am i ranting? sorry. that’s what happens when you become a mom. there are endless things to rant about. it becomes a game between you and your partner of who has suffered more in the day, and between you and your fellow mama friends of who has the more traumatizing story.

here’s the good thing. i’m just kidding. sort of. you see, i live off sarcasm. it’s my saving grace. i use it to stop me from doing things that are not allowed in today’s world of parenting like spanking, and swearing at your child and so on. if you choose to follow along in my journey, you’ll get to know me and see that most of the comments i make are sarcastic. please don’t report me to the parent police. i’m a good mom i swear. and yes, i do swear. lots. that’s also my saving grace.

i think i’m just rambling now. that’s a side effect of insomnia. you’ll see when you become a mom yourself. i just wanted to say hi and let you know that you are not alone in your suffering. motherhood can be a really lonely place. i’m here to help you relieve your stress. let’s suffer together 🙂 -a.a.