Mom Code

Yesterday I was out for an early birthday lunch and while standing with my co-worker waiting for our food, I noticed a mom with two little boys. They were adorable and I felt a pang of guilt as I waited for my food, kid-free and not harried. I felt guilty that I wasn’t home with my own kids. 

The oldest little boy was around 2 and somehow kicked off his Snoopy shoe. Without even thinking twice, I ran over to help him. His mom was carrying the other boy on her chest and I remember far too well how impossible it is to lean down to help your other child while wearing a baby. I told the little boy to sit down and then put his shoe back on. The mother thanked me and I went back to waiting for my food.

The whole thing took less than 30 seconds but my co-worker was surprised at my actions. “Is that some sort of mom code?” he asked. “I saw the little boy lose his shoe but it never would have dawned on me to help.” 

And it never would have dawned on me not to. 

I’ve never thought of it that way – that there’s a mom code and in helping each other, even strangers, we are acknowledging that we’re all in it together. It makes me wish there were other invisible signals we could send each other – to the depressed person, the grieving person, the anxious person, the nervous person – that would say “please help me today. I don’t know how to say it out loud, but I could really use a hand.”

Just like mom code, but for other things, too. 

So if you’re reading this and need help today, I’m here. Send me a signal, whatever signal you’d like. 

5 Times I Wish I Could Speak Baby

  1. While changing diapers. It’s not like we haven’t done it before, kid. Do you want to go to sleep with a dirty diaper? No. Stop kicking me. 
  2. While traveling in a double stroller. Please stop kicking your brother. Please stop yelling. Please stop. I thought walks were supposed to put you to sleep. 
  3. While dining in a restaurant. No, you don’t need all the crayons. Share them with your brother. Share at least one. If you share one for two minutes you can have chocolate milk. 
  4. While traveling in the car. You threw all of the toys I gave you 20 seconds ago onto the floor and I can’t retrieve them while driving. Please stop screaming. Please stop eating your brother’s toe. 
  5. While eating breakfast. I cannot make pancakes, fill a bottle, pour cereal and heat up breakfast links at the same time. Here, have some chocolate chips. Peace and quiet for 30 seconds while Mommy drinks her coffee is worth the impending sugar high. 

You Can’t Do Everything & That’s Okay

Another day, another doctor. That’s life with chronic pain. But today’s visit with a new doctor changed my life. 

She can’t know how her words affected me, but after asking about my job and commute and family obligations, she said something so simple and so obvious: “you are burning the candle at both ends. You need to give yourself permission to not do everything.”

But I’m trying to lose weight and take care of my kids and do my job and spend time with my husband…

“I think you look good just the way you are.”

Mind blown. 

Every time I go to a doctor’s appointment I wait for the lecture about my weight. And it’s never happened. But this doctor knew exactly what to say to make it click for me. It’s not about the numbers on the scale, but about how healthy I am both physically and mentally,  and I cannot expect myself to be healthy emotionally if I keep beating myself up over the numbers of the scale. I exercise. I eat healthfully, most of the time. I’m trying to make time for myself. 

And I need to stop and acknowledge that I can’t do everything and that’s okay. Right now, I don’t read. I listen to podcasts and music on my long commute instead of books. And that’s okay. My house isn’t spotless and sometimes the boys have cereal for both breakfast and dinner. And that’s okay. I will never iron my clothes or organize my underwear drawer. And that’s okay. 

Dinner can wait. Breathe in, breathe out. Rock your baby longer, smell the last hint of baby in his hair. 

Dinner can wait. Breathe in, breathe out. 

You Can’t Make This Stuff Up

Future President talks nonstop on the way home, and usually I nod or ask questions, but tonight I didn’t have any words in response to his bold proclamation:  “You know who my favorite mommy or daddy is? Daddy. He plays Playmobil with me, he sings to me, he does everything with me. Well, mostly everything.”

I couldn’t think of a response that was neither rude or shocked, so I said nothing. A few seconds later, he pipes up: “Well, this is awkward.”

You don’t say. 

One Day as a SAHM

Called in sick today because my whole family has a stomach virus, the same one I had last week. I guess you can call me “typhoid Mari.” 

This meant that while my kids were mostly on the mend after puking earlier in the week, both grandmas were down with the bug. So today I had the hardest job in the world: SAHM. I’m not kidding. Staying home with kids is no joke. 

So we didn’t stay home all day: we were at Costco before it opened. And here’s a secret – they usually open the doors before the advertised opening, sometimes as much as 15 minutes before. And when your kids wake up at 6, you can make it to Starbucks, Costco and Target and fit in a couple loads of laundry, all before 11. 

When I am home, I feel compelled to do housework, so I washed sheets, vacuumed and cleaned bathrooms. We bought a birthday present and card for a party more than a week away and went to swimming lessons. A lot was accomplished, including breaking up more than one fight over the same two cars that both kids insist on playing with, even though there are a bazillion more all over the older one’s bedroom floor. 

I also ate way more than I usually do during a work day, consumed more caffeine than I normally do and managed to spend way more than planned at both Costco and Target. It’s a good thing I’m not home during the week on a regular basis or we’d be broke and I’d be overdosing on fish crackers. 

To all my SAHM friends, I salute you! 

Top 5 Things You Should Never Say to a Pregnant Woman

1. But you’re so big already!

2. Have you seen your belly? You could balance a cup on it!

3. Did your belly explode overnight?

4. Are you okay? You look really tired.

5. I thought you were a lot further along than that!

All of these things have been said to me in the past month.

If you see a pregnant lady, instead of commenting on the size of her belly or touching her stomach, how about saying something nice or saying nothing at all. Better yet, treat her like you normally would: with respect.

I post my pregnancy-related insults of the day on Facebook to a select group – moms and pregnant women only and the stories I hear about what people have said to them make me so mad. At this point in my pregnancy, 32 weeks and 6 days, I am thankful to still be pregnant. But I don’t want to hear what other people think, especially if it’s negative. Pregnancy is hard enough. I almost cried when a woman said, “But you’re so big already!” I know I am. Don’t people realize pregnant women are hyper aware of their size? I know exactly how much weight I’ve gained and how hard it is to turn over in bed and how uncomfortable I am all the time. I don’t have the time or energy to explain to these rude people that I am more than grateful to still be pregnant and that my baby is a normal size, which is a blessing considering all of the scares we’ve had.

The next time you see a pregnant woman, do me a favor. Tell her she’s beautiful and doing a great job.

What Friendship Looks Like

When I moved away from Hong Kong in 1997, one of the hardest things to do was say goodbye to the city of my childhood and the friends that lived in it. I only attended high school for 2 years in Hong Kong, but made friends with many wonderful people there, including three women that I bonded with immediately: April, Marianne and Tamara.

Yesterday I met up with Marianne for the first time in 15 years.

“This is so weird,” were the first words out of both our mouths. It is weird, right? Fifteen years is a long, long time. College, marriage, babies. It all happened in these last 15 years. But guess what? We’re still friends.

We caught up for a couple of hours, learning about the others’ life. Where we went after Hong Kong. Finding husbands that “got” us, even though they didn’t grow up overseas themselves. Kids. Parenting. Jobs.

Whatever you believe about an afterlife, I’m hoping it includes many moments like this with friends I won’t ever get to reunite with on earth.