a song for my baby about life and love

BEING A MOM, creativity, POEMS

16-06-29-21-30-40-746_decoI often say to my baby girl, “I love you! Mommy loves you so much, did you know that?”One day I thought that if she could speak, this is what she’d say, “What is remarkable about that? I am loved by you and dad and everyone else. The whole world loves me.”

Which is very true. She has only known love. She does not yet know what it is to not be loved. Although she will never be unloved by her mom and dad, she will feel it one day. She might even feel it from us one day. So I’ll make it my job to make sure she knows and feels loved all her life.

So, making up songs for my baby is a new talent I got after I had my baby.  This is one I wrote for her.

I love love love love you, I love love love love you
You’re my *Liliu BB 豬*, no one loves you like I do.
No matter what you say, no matter what you do,
I may not agree with you, but I’ll love you as always
In the same way
I did the day you were born.

The world is beautiful, and life is really hard.
You’ll be happy you’ll be sad, love is gonna break your heart.
There’s pain and there is growth, and I’ll be by your side
Holding you cheering you on, since the day that you were born
Baby you are loved
And that will never change.

And when mommy grows old, and you live far away
I’ll remember you just like
You were with me yesterday.
Though when that finally comes, I might ask you to go
Go and live your dream and life, just remember every night
Baby you are loved
And that will never change.

 

—-
*Liliu BB 豬* – is a nickname I have for her.

Happy mom turns into Ice Queen

BEING A MOM

Have you seen this movie, The Huntsman: Winter’s War? Freya, played by Emily Blunt, used to be happy, simple, innocent, and believed in love and goodness. Her older sister, an evil sorceress, tells her that her own powers shall awaken some day. And it did. Something happened one night that was so devastating to her that her hair turned white and she began to breathe ice. She became the Ice Queen on the night her newborn daughter was murdered. 

Having children of your own – it unleashes, or creates, in women a love and strength so primal and profound. The love with which we adore our baby even though she is the culprit of us getting no sleep is the same force that turns women into Momma Bears, lionesses and Ice Queens.

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the richest I’ve been…

BEING A MOM

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I like to take my time looking at my baby when she’s finally asleep in my arms in the evening. I push the hair back from her forehead and adore its roundness, the space between her eyebrows and everything else. She looks so calm and somehow very wise, like she knows exactly what she’s doing with her life. Often times I’m so happy I’m sad. The rest of our lives gets shorter by the day. Sitting in the dark watching my sleeping baby every night reminds me that I’m another day closer to the end, closer to losing her, closer to leaving her. I look up around the room and I realize that I’m also richer by the day. I have yet another day of precious memory, love and experience. I’m at my richest since I’ve become a mother. To lose everything means you have everything to lose.

I’m so glad that my baby is finally asleep. At the same time I also can’t wait to see her smile again. She wanted me just about the whole time I was in the kitchen making dinner. We have some catching up to do tomorrow.

Day 12: mom takes a break

14 Days of Love, BEING A MOM, travels

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In addition to a haircut, I scheduled for a half day of PTO to see the Seattle Art Fair. Initially, an 8-5 day at a hotel where I stay in bed the whole time, just sleep, read and do nothing would be great, but I haven’t found out how to do that! Husband, G, decided to join me after the Art Fair and took me out for a one-night trip to Bonneville, WA. We listened to the podcast Dear Sugar radio, we sang along to songs, and to feel like I was completely free from any responsibilities, that I didn’t even need to be on standby, made sitting in the car for hours like a treat. This was the first time I left my baby for a whole day and night! I expected myself to miss her in the evening, but guess what, I didn’t! I must have really really needed this break.

This was a simple lesson: It’s not required to wait for an ideal “long enough” stretch of time to take a trip. It doesn’t need to be perfect. What matters is what you do, how you feel, what you make of it while you’re there.

Trip highlights: Bridge of the Gods, where Cheryl Strayed (played by Reese Witherspoon) in the the movie Wild ended her months-long, alone-hike on the Pacific Crest Trail. We listened to Cheryl’s podcast Dear Sugar Radio on the way, it completes my introduction to G about her.

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Fried cheese and jalapenos at a Mexican restaurant, YUMM.

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Bonneville Lock and Dam

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Day 10: the courage and disclipline to nap

14 Days of Love, BEING A MOM, relationships

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Lately I’ve been letting my husband help more with baby duty. He’s always offered but I would try to cope alone as much as I could. I had a lot of help from family during my first month of being a mom. The help would come when I needed to eat or wash, or when my arms are about to fall off. Yet, when my baby is whisked out of my room, the first thing I often did was cry and wish my baby back. Oh why do I have be hungry! Why can’t my arms and back be made of steel! Why do I need sleep! Why did I want to brush my teeth? Motherhood for me demands probably the most self-care I ever needed to date, yet it also gave me this baby who is the only one I want to think and care about.

As months go by, the initial panic and overwhelm calms down, though the workload doesn’t, and we start to feel overworked and under-appreciated by each other. Finally I see how sometimes I start a fight with my husband not really because of anything so important it has to be discussed at the time, but because I’d waited days for my own nap time that never happened and the backlog of things I yet have to do, or could do. Under more favorable circumstances I might not have gotten hooked on that one tiny thing, a choice of word or a certain tone of voice. I may be steady enough to steer my own ship than be carried away by the currents of thoughts and emotions.

Such more favorable circumstances as “being well-rested enough” don’t come by easily. It can only come by if I let my husband – not help – but do his share. I’m still practising not to jump out of the bed to do something when it’s finally my nap time.

To be honest I think it’s to do with the fear of being “lazy” and “not-done”. People praise productivity and efficiency and I know I’m unskilled at either. People are impressed by those of us who gets a ton of things done. I’ve never heard anyone gush about how someone has such wisdom, confidence and freedom that they can resist the voices of society, insist on listening to their body and shove the world to one side so they can take a nap. They have so much optimism and faith in the world that it’s not going to stop spinning just because they have allowed themselves to lie down and check out for half an hour.

Day 7 – a squeeze

14 Days of Love, BEING A MOM

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Husband and I took his 8-year-old cousin, Lydia, out to play Pokemon Go one evening. Lydia and her parents live in Canada and they come and visit us once or twice a year. I was her best friend at one point (during these visits). I used to get goosegumps on my head when she read aloud, which is one of my most favorite sensations; and I had played really boring games with her because she found them incredibly funny. Since I’ve had a baby though I’ve been too busy to spend much time with her when she comes.

It was a chilly summer night, we went to our usual spot at Spider Central. She came out of her shell and babbled non-stop. “Do you love me? No you don’t love me! Oh yes you DO love me!” She kept saying to the pokemons in the game, very melodramatic. My husband was rather embarrassed. I realized that I missed her and I wanted to put an arm around her shoulder. Would she mind? Would she think anything of it? Is she too old for it? Am I too old for it? Does she love me? Does she not love me?

Now that I have this idea to put an arm around her shoulder, all I feel is the distance between us if I don’t. Would she notice it too? That I’ve become distant since I had a baby? If I don’t, it wouldn’t change anything in her world, would it? If I did, would it?

“Oh Lydia!” And I did. And I gave her a little squeeze.

14 Days of Love: Day 5 – Speaking Up

14 Days of Love, BEING A MOM

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At a family dinner, a 19-year-old young man was criticizing his 8-year-old cousin: “Why aren’t you eating more? Don’t pick out the lettuce. Why are you eating the lettuce on its own? You’re not supposed to do that!” No one else was saying anything and he got pretty angry. “Hey, when did you become the dinner police?” I joked.

If that kind of criticism came from the little girl’s aunt or uncle (not her mom), like it often did, I wouldn’t be surprised. But what does a college freshman guy care about a little girl picking at her food?

When I asked him later, he said “I don’t know.” Probably nothing, is what I think. “Is it possible that you’ve been criticized like that when you were little, and when your cousin was littler, that you’ve internalized it?”

I never spoke up in school, even if I knew all the answers. Even when it was the loud kids who were popular and the outspoken, opinionated kids who were seen as the smart ones. Now I’m not always certain if I have the answer, and I know that people, especially my older family members, might not agree with what I believe is right, given that people have different views, experiences and values. And I’m still terrified to say things that others, especially the loudest voices of the group, may not agree with. But now I am compelled to. Now I feel the need to.

Because if I’m silent on something that I don’t agree with, my daughter might think that I agree with it. Because some people talk loud and sound very certain, and they mock others who disagree, and they have smart comebacks that others don’t know how to argue with, so I want my daughter to know that this doesn’t mean what they’re saying is the truth, or the only truth. Because the voices of judgement, criticism, praise or encouragement all turn into our children’s internal voices and become the way they will talk not just to others, but to themselves too.

laughing is better

BEING A MOM, body image
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FreeImages.com/oui_cool2

I have an eight-month-old baby girl. One of the things that makes me panic and mad at the same time is when a close relative, someone who is very much in our daily life, calls the Baby “ugly” or any supposedly endearing versions of it. Granted, the word “ugly” in Cantonese isn’t as harsh sounding as it is in English and while I don’t like it, it really isn’t all that uncommon among the older generations. It serves as a form to keep kids looking well-mannered, I guess. This is how it is often used:

“Oh don’t make that face! How ugly looking!” (remember this is talking to an infant, not even a toddler)
“You’re smiling too wide it’s not pretty!”
“Oh that pouty face! Don’t make such an ugly face Baby! Smile! Look pretty!” (our beloved infant does not know to pout on purpose)
“Oh look at her semi-smile! You’re a sly little one!”

One time Baby pressed her face against the net of her playpen. It has the effect of someone pressing their face to glass, which is pretty funny! A grandparent walks in, this time with a little more urgency than affection in his voice, “Stop, Baby! That looks horrible! Sit, otherwise I won’t pick you up!”

When they say these things, they say it with love and they are poking fun at Baby. With that in mind, I try not to get hung up on their choice of words (actually, no, I do object very much to this disapproving and unconstructive choice of words!), but I cannot get over even the slightest frown or tone of disapproval, and the possible implications for her self-awareness and self-esteem if this sort of remarks continue. On a regular day, if I’m in good enough mood, I’ll laugh and say “I think she’s hilarious!” (new choice of word). If I’m tired and mad, I’ll say “What’s that got to do with it? Baby you’re just playing, aren’t you!” And if a long response is required one day, I’ll say:

“Children remember what we say! When she’s older and she’s having fun, she’s joking and laughing her head off, what if your voice comes into her head at that moment telling her “Don’t make that face! Don’t laugh like that! It makes your mouth so wide! So ugly and un-ladylike!” What if she stops laughing because of it?”

Dear Daughter, you are amazing as you are. Don’t listen to them, even if they’re adults.

teaching positive body image to ourselves and our girls

BEING A MOM, body image

If I’d been becoming more aware of how we are influenced by the media and the people around us, our mothers especially, then it’s becoming a mom myself that pushes me into action. There is lots to learn to cultivate a healthy body image. The best type of body image is perhaps one that won’t even be a topic, because we won’t be focusing, commenting or judging ourselves and each other based on our sizes and shapes any more.

This PE-TISH-ION by a ten year old girl is what I aspire to. How her mom, Glennon Doyle Melton, waded into the insecurities triggered by the glossy magazines aisle with her daughter, Tish, is also what I aspire to. It is a must-read for all women, girls and moms. Read her whole blog, it will make you cry and fill you up!

I hope this doesn’t get me into trouble, but I really want to share this one sentence from Glennon’s post:

And I said, “That’s why this feels bad to you. Because this is a lie. There’s nothing wrong with you, baby. There’s something wrong with THIS.”

http://momastery.com/blog/2016/05/16/pe-tish-ion/

 

My “Mom Tattoos”

BEING A MOM, body image

Recently I’ve been going to aerial yoga class. One of the coolest thing you can do as a beginner is to hang upside down. It is not easy but it’s fun. The studio isn’t hot, I barely sweat but get a super good stretch and I can go back to work straight after without a shower.

On my third visit, a lady’s shirt fell towards her chest when she hung upside down, baring a slender waist that was embellished with tattoos on both sides. They were beautiful and I thought the inverted yoga pose was the most beautiful way to showcase those tattoos. Twenty minutes in, as I hung myself upside down, I became conscious of what my shirt might be exposing. I had not thought about this before, but this time I remembered the kind of “tattoos” I recently acquired: my stretch marks.

Shame hit me like a train I never saw coming. Out of nowhere I imagined the instructor and the other yogis thinking to themselves, “Oh that lady has stretch marks! She has had a baby!” Which, if they really thought that, would be a factual and innocent remark but somehow I felt flawed and broken, a piece of damaged goods.

Excuse my language but: What the hell?!

In the ten months I’ve been pregnant and the few months I’ve been a mom, I’ve never for a moment felt shame about my stretch marks but perhaps it’s been lurking in the background all along. Like when I felt a bit concerned over how red the marks looked. When I skipped over the “How to prevent stretch marks” articles. And when a friend suggested I “Moisturize a lot if you still want to wear a bikini later!” They all pointed to the assumption that stretch marks are not good to have. Shame has been there all this time. I thought I ignored it and it doesn’t bother me, but in the end I was not immune to it.

At the end of my yoga session, I even questioned myself, “Am I really OK with stretch marks or was I just too lazy to bother with preventing them?”

I was not lazy. It was a choice. It was a choice to spend my time and energy on things other than stretch mark prevention. It was a choice to not buy into seeing stretch marks as ugly or something that needs to be prevented or fixed. That is not to say there is anything wrong with trying to prevent them, that is somebody else’s choice and that could be my choice with my next pregnancy. Stretch marks are not a sign of damage or laziness, nor must they be seen as a badge of maternal honor. It would, however, be to our benefit if we can learn to tell a loving story about the various scars and lines that life bestows on us, because there are no creams in the world that can stop them from happening.