Archives for category: Imperfect Mom

I help Rae with some of her reading and writing.

Found these websites useful: – How to pronounce words using the Queen’s English – The Merriam Webster official website, for American pronunciations

Youtube – for showing her words that are better demonstrated than explained (like ‘wilting’ and ‘line drive’) – of course, please be selective!

“Mommy, I’m hungry.”

“Me too.”

These are the sweetest five words a mother can hear at 6.32 in the morning.

A mother who’s single-handedly battled – and conquered – the stomach bug in both her little girls AND husband the last six days.

It all started last Friday when Rae got her glasses.

Yes, Rae’s got glasses.


Doesn’t she look adorable?

So she got her glasses, and all was good.

At about 8pm that night, she threw up.

The first time.

At about 10pm, she emptied the rest of dinner, a dinner I can’t even remember, into the toilet.

“It’s the glasses,” I’d insisted.

The next day, she purged. And then vomitted some more.

“It’s not the glasses,” Lokes insisted.

Monday morning came. Lokes was sleeping in Sky’s bed because the kids were beside me. I was too tired to get up every five minutes. I opened my eyes. Sky coughed. And then she threw up. All over herself.

All over our bed.

All over.

“Okay, it’s not the glasses,” I resigned.

So we went to the doc’s at 8.50am on Monday and confirmed that it was the infamous Fall stomach bug that’s been going around. And there was nothing one could do but weather through it. And so, with a piece of paper in my hand called “Things to do when your child vomits or has diarrhoea”, I walked out of the paeditrician’s office, convinced that the world had gone mad, and this would be the longest day of my life.

I was wrong.

At 9pm Tuesday night, Lokes turned to me and asked, “Can grown-ups get this bug?”

I shrugged.

30 mins later, he sat on the toilet. An hour later, he went again. And again. And about 15 more times all through the night.

So Wednesday, yesterday, became the longest day of my life, with both Sky and Lokes perpetually at the potty they didn’t even bother putting on pants (of course, in Sky’s case, it’d become a matter of cost). Rae was all better but she was moody and quiet, not being able to eat or even talk like a human being, just grunting at me now and then as though the bug had slammed us all back to the Stone Ages.


Yes, I am having three wisdom teeth removed tomorrow. At 9.15am.

But my kids are now good. And so is Lokes.

Victory is sweet.

So how’s your week been?

57 diapers
28 changes (and washes) of pants, shirts, bedsheets, cushion covers, pillow covers, blankies
13 rolls of Bounty
7 boxes of wet wipes
4 sleepless nights and days
2 girls

1 exhausted mother

How fall has fallen.

My friend Eileen sent me this.


A friend of mine sent me a link to the Redmond chapter of Mothers & More today and I could not help but notice the tagline: The Network for Sequencing Women.

I had to Google ‘sequencing women’ because I thought it was an association for women in genetics. Of course, the first hit was a definition by Mothers & More itself.

Mothers & More represents women who – by choice or circumstance – alter their participation in the paid workplace over the course of their active parenting years. We recognize the needs of the growing number of mothers who move in and out of paid employment and/or opt for a variety of flexible work arrangements in order to balance successfully their work and family responsibilities. This fluid work pattern, which occurs over a number of years and at various stages of motherhood, is known as “sequencing”. The term sequencing was coined by Arlene Rossen Cardozo in her 1986 book, Sequencing.

Here are some actual definitions of the word ‘sequencing’:

  • Determination of the order of nucleotides (base sequences) in a DNA or RNA molecule or the order of amino acids in a protein
  • Reading, listening, expressing thoughts, describing events or contracting muscles in an orderly and meaningful manner
  • Sequencing controls the order and time delay for output voltage appearance as well as dropout when power supplies are turned on and/or of
  • Dividing information into smaller, numbered pieces, transmitting it, and reassembling it once it has been received
  • In human behavior, doing things in a logical, predictable order.

The last one had me chuckling. Note that this was the definition provided by the Alzheimer’s Association. So unless you have Alzheimer’s, you’d know that choosing to quit your job to be a full-time parent isn’t really logical nor predictable. Rather, most of the time, it starts out as a naive, idealistic choice. That’s because most of us imagine sunny days spent watching our kids play independently in the backyard. We imagine lazing back in our Adirondack chairs, our slim, golden bikin-clad bodies roasting gently in the summer sun, a tall, cool glass of lemonade (or a festive mojito) in one hand, laughing contentedly as our kids act all cute running through the high, fine spray of our sprinklers. The skies are always blue, the grass always green, diapers always changed, laundry always done, dinner always ready, pantries and fridges always stocked, carpets always vacuumed, glass always full and hormones and body in perpetual harmony.

Sequencing. Besides being a funny big word to mean a very simple thing, I question its need. Americans, I think, love coming up with (or blatantly borrowing) new terms to politically-correctly (is there such a word?) describe what they think are 21st-century circumstances when in fact, working class women in Asia have been weaving in and out of work and parenthood since…there were women. Back when Indonesian maids were mainly still in Indonesia, Malay and Chinese and Indian women worked in the fields or in the mines or as servants in the houses of rich families or help their husbands in their own little family businesses to put food on the table. If they got pregnant, they worked through the pregnancy, and when the baby (or often, babies) is/are born, they stayed home to care for their kids, along with grandma or grandpa or whoever, whichever older relative was living in the same house. Whenever these women felt they were up to it, they’d go back to work. Often, they were presented with only one of two hard choices: Stay at home and your kids will starve. Go to work and leave your kids to the elements. Do whatever it takes and try not think too much about it.

Were they sequencing? Yes. Did they need NOT to be judged and to be acknowledged for their efforts? Hell, yea. Did they care? No.

With all the books written about opting out and opting back in again and whether women stupid for wasting their opportunities and lives by quitting their jobs just to parent full-time, or if they’re selfish, irresponsible career-obsessed men-wannabes for wanting to chase their dreams of fame and fortune, it all comes down to one thing. Well, I think it does. And the thing is, what makes you happy? If you enjoy your work, and are the type of person who needs to stay busy and earn money to be fulfilled, then go for it. If you enjoy being there with your kids all day, even through the unpredictable bowel movements and illogical temper tantrums, then do it. If you like a mix of both, then open an Internet business. There is more to technology than Google and Solitaire, ladies. Open an eBay shop. Blog for money. Play poker. In my case, I opened a cooperative preschool because, well, I’m insane.

It can be as simple as that.

Because when it comes down to it, happy people make happy parents.

No need for some big, convoluted debate about who’s right and who’s right-er.

No need for therapy.

No need for fancy new-old words.

Half way through her ham and cheese sandwich today, Rae asks the inevitable.

“Mommy, where does ham come from?”

“Uh…um…er…the farm.”

“The farm? But what is it made of?”



“Yes…like, pork.”

“What is pork made of?”

I look away. I blink. I clear my throat.

“Pork is made…from a pig.”

Her little face freezes. A small piece of ham she’s chewing stops its passage into her mouth and hangs off it, slack. A second later, it falls out. Rae does not spit it out. She doesn’t cry. She simply lets the thing drop onto her plate, her eyes resting heavily on me, accusing, shaming, basically stunned in coagulating disbelief that I’d made her eat Babe the last five years or so.

“But pigs…are nice.”

“I know, baby. But they…are good for you.”

“But…that’s painful,” Rae’s eyes start to glisten.

“Well…the pigs are already dead…when they make the ham, baby,” I struggle to explain.

Unable to stomach her lunch – and my treachery – Rae pushes her sandwich away. I sigh pitifully, reflecting on the days ahead. What the heck do I know about cooking vegetarian? I’m already struggling with just…cooking.

I feel like the Meat Grinch.

I look over at Skyler, who’s attacking her slices of slaughtered animal with blissful ignorance. What I will not give for Rae to have that uncaring trust again, that whatever I’ve put on my children’s plates could not, should not, would not have involved bloodshed and carnage.

“Yummy!” Sky declares, chomping gleefully on a leg, as if to reinforce my silent gratitude.

Rae swipes her sleeve over her eyes and bravely picks up a cheese stick.

“And what’s CHEESE made of?” she asks, louder this time, her eyes steadily on mine. It’s as if she’s bracing herself for more ugly, horrific facts about nutrition. I gulp and catch myself. Haplessly turning my daughter into a vegetarian the last five seconds is one thing. I don’t think I can handle turning her into a vegan the next two seconds.

Choose. Your. Words.

“They’re made from milk. From cows. And cows don’t have to die to make cheese,” I answer as seriously as I can.

Rae eyes me warily. She slowly peels a string of cheese, and places it into her mouth. What seems like a century later, she chews. She keeps chewing. She swallows. I exhale.

“I love cows,” she says softly, looking at her string cheese as though it’s a gift from the divine (or should I say, bovine).

My thoughts turn to the 2lb pack of minced beef in my freezer.

And my husband’s shiny new grill.

Time to look up how to bake beef into bread.

Update: So far, Rae is only associating ham with carnage and death. Not pork, chicken or any other meat. And I’m not saying a word until she asks again.

“We have lights we wanna set up. We have music. We have a whole other suitcase packed.”

Good grief.

Now here’s something I found a little…over-the-top, for lack of a better description about some of today’s new (or maybe just New York) parents: A delivery room playlist.

The verdict is in, my non-American friends. If you’ve ever caught scenes on TV where women in labour scream for their music, it’s not just make-believe. Real people do that.

And I thought having a hospital room with its own waiting lounge, an adjoining bathroom, and TV was living the dream. God I’m jealous. All I can remember were the rhythmic thuds of Rae and Sky’s heartbeats, interspersed with a constant beeping of hospital equipment and the languid footsteps of nurses and doctors and interns strolling in and out of my ward, sticking their gloved fingers into my cervix and then declaring more waiting, and not to mention my own laboured breathing and groaning.

Music? What Music?

So what music were you listening  to when you were giving birth? What was YOUR going-into-labour iPod playlist?

You know, a list of songs you play on your iPod?

An iPod?

Never mind.

So the conversation went a little something like this.

“I find you’re too lenient with your kids.”

“Yea, I tend not to sweat the small stuff.”

“No I mean like manners…”

“What, you mean the Ps and Qs?”

“No, not so much Ps and Qs. Respect.”


“Like when kids do something bad, you have to acknowledge it. Nobody likes it when a kid misbehaves. I tell my kids that it’s because I love them very much that I punish them.”

I can’t, for the life of me, imagine what this woman is talking about.

As far as I can remember, neither Skyler nor Raeven has ever done anything wrong that I’ve not acknowledged or made them apologise for.

Not. One. Damn. Thing.

This woman is implying that MY KIDS HAVE NO MANNERS.

That they’ve done something bad and that I’ve NOT made them apologise. Some time before or in MARCH 2007, which was the last time I saw this woman and her family.

And that my TWO-year old does not know respect.

And that because I’m Chinese, I have to make sure I pass on my Chinese traits, that not everything American is good, and that everything I learn here in America, no matter how scientific it may be, counts as American and therefore cannot be trusted 100 per cent.

Which means I have to YELL and SCOLD and BEAT the hell out of my kids to SHOW them who’s boss.

I cannot tell you how fucking furious I am right now.

I confess. I am a proponent of using a fusion of ideals to raise my children. I am not 100 per cent pro-Western or 100 per cent pro-Asian. I take what I think makes sense and I think, compared to a lot of people who have never lived away from home, I am very, VERY lucky to be able to do that, to have such information available.

For instance, I think the American sense of individualism is a little overrated – and dangerous. I believe that children need to understand that they are a part of a family and a community, and that what they do or don’t do, affects their environment. As such, I believe in teaching my children responsibility from a very young age. That they cannot draw on walls and waste food and scream in a public place because it creates work for mommy, and wastage costs money, money that their father works very hard to earn, and that when you make it unpleasant for people to be around you, then you have nobody to blame but yourself when nobody responds.

I also believe that pain and violence – a long standing Asian disciplinary strategy still widely practised in many Asian countries today – is not ideal for dealing with children. I have in the past succumbed to meting out pain as punishment, and the feeling is horrible. I spent weeks wallowing in shame for slapping my child’s behind because I thought she needed to understand the gravity of her actions. It was not worth it.

But you know what? With all that I know or think I know, I know next to nothing about raising children. And still I think I’m doing a pretty darn good job because at the end of the day, when I hear words like, “Mommy, I love you and you’re the best Mommy in the world!”, I know that I have done right by the only two people who matter.

My unwillingness to discipline my kids the Asian way IN FRONT OF PEOPLE has nothing to do with my not being Asian enough. In fact, it’s about giving them face even when they’re not frigging dinosaurs.

And the last time I checked, that’s as Asian as rice.