Archives for category: Imperfect Mom

Two pages out of Raeven’s kindergarten memory book:

“I want 100 toys.”
“I want 100 boys.”
“I want 100 Barbies.”
“I don’t want 100 moms or crazy dads.”

“Raeven is worried
(picture of something resembling a green sand-person in the middle of swampy muddy crayon scribbles underneath).”
“Sometimes, I get worried when Mommy scolds me.”

I’m not sure what concerns me more; the damage I’ve irreparably done with my (occasional) screaming or the fact that she wants 100 boys.

Raeven graduates to 1st Grade!

There she is, my six-year old going on sixteen. Congratulations, baby doll!

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A few of my friends from way back when have asked me since I posted the two photos of myself in my recent posts, “Wow. Why the change?”

No, they’re not being rude. They know me, these guys. They know I’ve never been a vain person, because I believe that there’s only so much time and resources one has, and as such, image has never been one of my priorities. I prefer to go after other more, shall we say, meaningful pursuits, like how to enrich my mind or my writing, to be a better parent.

Don’t be mistaken. I like looking at beautiful people. Who doesn’t? I totally grasp the concept that appearances matter and the slightly narcissistic but totally primal desire to be admired, but I’ve been one of those fortunate ones who’ve always been able to slip through the cracks of this societal pressure, managing to get by without needing to constantly watch what I eat, spend a lot of money on product or fashion. An example of my good luck is that I married a man who was 150lbs overweight (“was” as in not anymore – no, I’m not divorced, he’s just lost over 130lbs so far). He fell in love with me even when I was a good 50lbs overweight.

So, I figured I could continue to get by.

And then I had a six-year old.

Living in a country where extremes like obesity and bulimia can co-exist so comfortably within a square mile of fast-food chains, yoga studios and everything in between telling you one moment to love the shape you’re in and the next that those 10lbs can come right off if you just drink some Oolong, is a little like being Alice. You don’t know the next moment if you should get bigger or smaller, or stay the same size. If it’s confusing for a grown-up, what more a child?

A month ago, Raeven told me she didn’t want to eat because she didn’t want to be as big as me. I know, brutal but cute at the same time. I told her that it was okay to eat, as long as we eat the right foods and exercise to keep us healthy.

“Do you exercise?” she’d asked.

“Of course,” I’d managed, without even blinking. The next day, I started walking three to four miles each day and went on the South Beach diet.

That was four weeks – and 6lbs – ago.

What I’m saying is that I am losing weight and trying to look good to set an example for my kids, because like it or not, we’re the sun and the moon to them. Like it or not, at this young age, they look to us for guidance and we’re the be all and end all of all standards in their world. If Daddy swears and hits, then it’s okay for me to swear and hit. If Mommy is fat and lazy, that’s good enough for me.

Those who’ve followed my weight-loss journeys (emphasis on the plural) have known that staying motivated is my biggest challenge. I’ve always told Lokes I fail because I just don’t care enough about how I look and put no stock into what total strangers think of me when they see me lumbering by, particularly when my health is still tip-top (I go for annuals and my doc reluctantly tells me it’s a miracle). So preaching to me that I have to be healthy for kids so I can get old enough to see them get married and give me grandkids, doesn’t really hack it either.

But what my children think of me, in the midst of all the noise about health and a healthy body image? Now that matters. It really does, because what they think of me shapes – pun intended – who they are.

That’s more power than I’m willing to screw with.

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New hairstyle

Today is proof that you can cut your hair twice in a day, and the cheaper one will do a better job.

What the hell was I thinking, agreeing to do this? That’s the problem with not thinking. Do not ever not think. Husbands do it all the time and we give them hell for it and now look at where it’s landed me. Not thinking is just baaaad.

We’re going to Disneyworld in a few days. It’ll take me all day to reach Orlando from Seattle with two kiddos, a flight with zero in-flight entertainment, a one-hour transit in Minneapolis, a laptop that claims a four-hour batt life only if you run, like, Notepad; one PSP to share between the three of us (thankfully the batt life trumps the laptop, now that’s a REAL gaming machine) and I just spent $50 on all sorts of “creative” implements that won’t get us kicked off the plane (hopefully).

Thank God we live in the age of Internet. I am totally a Cheat Sheet kind of gal and after Googling “flying with kids”, I am now the authority. I am ready. I am SO thinking:


Thinking that perhaps they should make families with children-only flights so I won’t have to battle all those dirty looks when Skyler decides to start a front-seat kicking contest.

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I’ve probably said it close to 57,000 times since last week but I can’t believe that the preschool – yes, the very same one I had helped found (by accident) – is now done with its first school year.

What have I learnt?

That you can find friends in the most unlikely places, surprisingly good ones, the ones who will tell you like it is and stick through hell and high water with you – and with whom you will go to the ends of the earth with because they are not just all talk and because even though they judge you, you know they’re just being honest and not malicious and come across, in the end, as the most valuable friends you can ever have. Yes, I’m talking about you, Sara. You rock!

That no matter how tough the going gets, it can get even tougher.

That you can be sure of one thing one minute, and of another the next, and it’s okay because you’re the one taking all the crap for it anyway.

That some of the most well-paid, highest-qualified people are also the laziest.

That kids don’t really care about how a preschool looks – parents do.

That such an endeavour – an accident though it was, since I didn’t really know what I was getting into – has been one of the most rewarding experiences in my life.

And I am secretly very proud of it.

Jennifer Tai: writer, mother, photographer and preschool founder. My work is done.

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Lokes sent me a video yesterday, another one in the Highly Important series of TEDtalks that Everyone Must Watch, where a mycologist named Paul Stamets shared with attendees six ways how mushrooms can save the world.

First of all, it was a VERY educational video. I had never heard of mycelium before, let alone how this amazing fungi is the “natural internet of the earth” and that – wait for it – it can break down petroleum products, eat away bacteria such as ecoli and basically cleanse the earth of all its toxins by natural process.

Secondly, it was truly inspiring and…a relief, really, to know that there IS a solution right here, literally, under our noses – fungi.

Sure, this guy owns all these patents to save the world and why shouldn’t he? He’s dedicated his whole life to fungi. If they do end up saving the world, I think Stamets should reap the benefits. Heck, he should be awarded sainthood!

Paul Stamets has a website called – whaddya know – where you can buy his books and learn more about how mycelium and the field of mycorestoration (a term Stamets concocted) can help save the earth.

Check it out

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Every Mother’s Day,
breakfasts in bed
handmade cards with handprints and hearts
flowers are bought and given
restaurants booked and meals eaten
ang pows from the elders
a day alone (a year)
to take a breather

“What do you want this year?”
the husband asks, with tired trepidation
“And don’t say nothing.”

Of course, then, the answer is,
“Whatever. I don’t care.”

This year, it’s not nothing.
I have an answer.

The answer is, I want to love being a mother
I want to wake up
and want to spend the day
cooking and cleaning
worrying and scolding
chauffeuring and doing laundry
breaking up fights
wiping bottoms and blowing noses

I want to want to talk in a silly voice
get excited about another piece of paper
with globs of green and purple
some on the carpet
and glue on the couch

I want to want to read stories
ten stories every night
and one more
and another
and one last one, pleaaase

I want to love to love
and love and love
my growing children
before I blink

and find them grown

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Come May 11, I’ll be commemorating my sixth year as a mom. What have I learnt?

That there’s no such thing as a “bad” kid.

That it’s possible to discipline your child without guilt.

That one can still be surprised by how different you and your child can be – and how alike.

That loving has nothing to do with liking.

That dads can be trained to do “mom things” (we already do lots of “dad things”).

Here’s to another year of inept parenting, obsessive self doubt and the indubitable wisdom of simply winging it.

Happy Mothers’ Day, TIM readers!

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