Food for Thought

3 Things I Would Like to Improve About Myself

I am a work in progress and I hope to always be. Being content with my character would only mean I have become complacent. I genuinely enjoy self-improvement, even the hard parts!

In honor of a new year here are 3 things I would like to improve about myself:

1. Being Kind to Myself

I am really hard on myself — especially recently after becoming a mom and all the newfound *mom guilt*. Even the smallest and most insignificant mistake can set me off on a self-loathing tangent for hours. It is almost as if I expect myself to perfect at everything, everywhere, all the time. But this does not serve me in any way. I would never speak to Dan Kim, my son, or anyone I loved like that — so why is it okay to say these things to myself?

Telling myself I am stupid or untalented or ugly or worthless does not make me a better partner, mother, or friend.

I have decided to start small with a self-affirmation in the mirror each morning.

2. Exercise 4-5 Times A Week

When it comes to being active, I am either all or nothing. I have either not exercised for months at a time or am practicing martial arts and yoga or running religiously. Since giving birth and breastfeeding, I have not regained my normal energy levels. Never mind that raising a baby is exhausting! But no more excuses — exercise has always been a stress reliever for me and getting my mojo back has been long overdue. I may be the lightest I have ever been in terms of weight but I am the weakest I have ever been physically (except for my mom biceps — those are no joke!).

3. Be More Selfish

Don’t get me wrong — there are several aspects of my life that I need to be less selfish in but my time is not one of them. Because of the previously mentioned mom guilt and my endless responsibilities piling up on me, I have not taken enough time for myself to feel like me again. That includes alone time, girl time, and date night time, and just rest and relaxation overall.

Life is about balance. I am slowly accepting that being the best mom does not necessarily mean being a mom who is there every second of every day. That being the best partner does not mean having all the chores done, the meals cooked, or all of my relationship’s needs met before my own. I am working on giving to myself because the old adage is true: you can not pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself first.

Family

On Being an Only Child

I am an only child. My father is also an only child and my mother was raised as an only child — which also made me an only grandchild. Not only that, but I am an only child raised by divorced parents. Parents who separated when I was not even a year old. This has shaped, influenced, and decorated my personality, my relationships and overall — my entire life.

There was a brief time during early childhood that I wanted a sibling. Okay…but you would have to share all your toys and attention, my mom had explained to me when I asked her to give me a brother or sister. Apparently, I never brought it up again. This story makes me laugh for two reasons: one, because my mother is and has always been incredibly clever and two, because it is clear what my priorities were at a young age.

Growing up, it was difficult for me to relate to my peers. I had no siblings to play with and annoy, no cousins at Thanksgiving, and my parents’ friends were in their early 20’s and nowhere near having children of their own. Children were as abstract to me as Mandarin Chinese — I did not know what to say to them nor did I understand a word they said. Neighborhood kids would come to my front door asking me to “play outside” which at the time, might as well have been a death sentence. Typical of an only child, I had spent most of my time around adults having adult conversations. You would think this would have accelerated me developmentally but it actually slowed me down.

Every human being needs peers, if not friends, that are their own age. Because I had such a challenging experience in making friends, it would be years before I developed the tools to create trusting and enjoyable friendships. It is not a coincidence that even today, my friends are on average 4-6 years older than me. Sure, being an only child allowed me to easily communicate with teachers, strangers, authority figures, and later on — potential employers. But it prevented me from “fitting in” when I was little and I personally believe that that was what I needed most.

Throughout adolescence when I was surrounded by a solid circle of friends, I hardly noticed my being an only child. Relatives and family friends no longer expressed their pity towards me or proclaimed me as putting the “only” in “lonely”. I no longer ached for that empty role in my life. Especially when all I saw at my friends’ houses were sibling screaming marathons at worst and complete avoidance at best. I was even perhaps — grateful — to go home to my own room and not fight over the remote or my clothes with anyone.

The reality of being an only child hit hardest in my late teens and early 20’s. Grandparents started aging and becoming ill. Family relationships became estranged. Babies were born. I became a mother. My friendships were no longer as close-knit as they were before due to the natural process of growing up and apart. It was around this time that I noticed that a lot of my friends were strengthening their bonds with their siblings. Without the interruption of teenage hormones and Barbie real estate wars, they were now able to see each other as friends and pillars of support. Age gaps became negligible. Their differences became endearing rather than isolating. When a parent became ill or they got their heart broken or their apartment became mold infested– they called each other first. They slept on each other’s couches. They became each others “person”. That empty space in my life was never more noticeable.

I have no aunts or uncles to give to my son. No cousins. I have no sister to make my maid of honor. No brother to tease. No siblings to seek solace in when one of my parents or grandparents inevitably passes away. No one to share stories of childhood with. There is nothing that I can do about this nor will there ever be. I am now able to accept this because although these realities are tough pills to swallow — being an only child gave me many gifts. The gift of bonding with my parents in a way I never would have had I been forced to share them. Of cherishing one-on-one relationships. Of embracing alone time happily. And most importantly — the gift of owning my entire generation… it is completely up to me how my family’s legacy continues (which is both empowering and terrifying).

Before I chose to start a family, I promised myself that I would do everything in my power to make sure my child would never put the “only in lonely”. I would give them a brother to wrestle with or a sister to giggle with late into the night. These are absolute dreams of mine. Yes, I understand that not all siblings like each other. That not all siblings get along, or even stay in touch. That some brothers are assholes and some sisters are a shame to the term “sisterhood”. Although this makes me sad at a lost opportunity for a once in a lifetime bond, it inspires me to teach my children the importance of holding onto each other in life. Because, at least from an outside perspective, there is truly no better friend than the one you have had from the start.

Motherhood

10 Newborn Products That Will Get You Through The Fourth Trimester

If you are expecting — you are probably experiencing mild anxiety about all the things you have to buy in order to prepare for your baby’s arrival. The honest truth is that you really need very little for those first few months. The “fourth trimester” is challenging. You and your partner will be at your absolute physical, mental, and emotional worst all while being blissfully in love with your new tiny peanut.

Here are the 10 items I couldn’t live without during that time:

Continue reading “10 Newborn Products That Will Get You Through The Fourth Trimester”

Motherhood

Why Postpartum is a B!tch

They warned me about pregnancy. The swollen ankles. The incessant midnight cravings. The inability to sleep and bend over to tie my shoes.

They warned me about giving birth. The “ring of fire”. The contractions. The tearing.

But no one warned me about new motherhood’s ugly stepchild; postpartum. No, I don’t have postpartum depression and I have so much empathy for the new mamas who have to deal with that on top of everything else.

What’s everything else?

  • Baby blues.
  • No sleep AT ALL.
  • Wearing adult diapers.
  • Going #2 without your ass ripping apart.
  • Cracked and bleeding nipples.
  • Mastitis.
  • Mom guilt (lots of it!).
  • Worrying about keeping your baby alive.
  • Night sweats.
  • Hair loss.
  • Hemorrhoids.
  • Chubby new mom pooch.

And that’s just to name a few.

Two weeks after I gave birth, I knew something wasn’t right “down there”. The sutures were poking through the skin. It was discolored. It burned every time I peed. I ended up having to hop in the shower or bath every time I wanted to go pee to alleviate the sting for 2 weeks — you should’ve seen that month’s water bill.

I visited the emergency room twice and the clinic 5 times all within the span of 2 weeks. It took five physicians (two OB’s and three family medicine physicians) to discover that I was allergic to the vicryl sutures used after birth. My body was rejecting them.

At 9 weeks postpartum, I was rolled into the OR to remove the sutures and a considerable amount of tissue. When I was supposed to be gearing up to resume intimacy with my SO again, I was instead starting my recovery from scratch all over again.

My postpartum recovery has challenged me more than pregnancy and labor combined. I no longer feel like my body is my own. I no longer feel that my body is acting right. With pregnancy, you at least know that’s it going to end at some point. During postpartum, all your physical (and emotional) struggles seem like they’ll last forever. All while you’re trying to learn how to care for another beautiful and helpless human being.

TLDR; Pregnant women are doted on. New moms receive flowers and wine at the hospital after their babies are born. But those moms in postpartum are forgotten while they are enduring the most challenging phase of all. If you know a new mama; hit her up and remind her that she’s amazing.