I’ll Love You Forever

Ill Love You ForeverI was 17 and pregnant with my eldest son. Yep, I was a baby having a baby.  While I was pregnant, my ex-husband’s mother gave him this book, “I’ll Love You Forever.” Partly for her son, and partly for our new little one.  Back then, I was so bitter and emotionally bruised by my own upbringing that I didn’t quite understand the meaning of this book.  But, last week, my own son turned 17. 

Lord, oh, how the time has passed.

A couple nights ago, I could not sleep.  Thoughts ran through my mind about my 2 teenage boys:

Did I do a good job?

Did I do enough?

Did I give them enough?

Do they feel loved?

Do they know how much I love them?

Wishes…. Regrets…. Fears…

I wish I could give them more…

I wished I hadn’t made some of the decisions I made..

I hope they won’t have to struggle the way I did….

I hope they’ll always know I tried, even when I felt it was impossible. 

I hope they know I always tried to give them what I thought was best, sadly seeing sometimes it didn’t turn out that way.

I’m not even sure if these questions will ever be answered – or if I’d even want to know! But, as my eldest approaches his Junior year of high school, I’ll continue to reflect… I will undoubtedly love them forever….

Typecasting the Black Sheep

I feel like I’ve written this blog post before.  If I have, I apologize… or perhaps it’s a recurring circumstance in which I cannot escape. 

I’ve lived in Orlando for 15 years, born and raised in Seattle.  A long way from home.  What brought me here?  Well, I usually give 1 of 2 answers: To most, I give the generic “we had an awesome Disney World vacation and decided to stay” and for the chosen few (and you, my dear readers) I explain how I was a young mom who married her drug-dealing, illegal-alien, teenage-crush and needed a fresh new start.  In a nutshell.

Both stories are versions of the truth. The fact that I’ve moved across the county, away from family, a full support system, and stable life has defined me in ways I’d never dreamed of as an antsy teenager.  Never mind the daddy issues.  I will never deny that I am ‘one of them’.  But, there’s something to be said of the 15 years I’ve worked, sweated, strained, cried, and fought to get to where I am – a normal suburban mom.

Still.

Whenever, I visit home – Every time I visit Seattle.  I can’t escape my typecast: The Black Sheep

I try to see my family once a year, at first, it was OK.  I gave into my label.  I knew I made mistakes and work had to be done.  Of course, I was in my early twenties, so I was also very naive and yielding.

As years passed, I made steps in my career, got married, bought and built a stable home.  And today, 15 years later, my visit is still plagued with comments such as “your sister tells her sons not to end up like you” and “you’ve made so many bad choices, it’s impressive your boys are so good.”  To all of these remarks, I smile and nod.  I politely agree, “yes I don’t want them to end up like me.” Because, of course, that is how a good Asian daughter responds, right?

But, I just want to be normal – like I feel when I’m home – in Orlando.  I want my parents to hug and smile at me the way they do my sisters.  I don’t want them to have to question my decisions.  I want so badly for them to trust that I’m normal.  Despite the hard work, I’m here… Now.  I’m a normal suburban chic.  Just like my sisters.  Just like they intended to raise me.

Birth Control

Well, I have been on birth control for the past week. My next check will be on March 24th.  So I must wait.  So, while I’m on this birth control, I find it very appropriate to talk about my teenage boys.  Ahhh, the living “birth control” that my peers (some also parents) seem to laugh about.  Everyone seems to cringe when you talk about this stage of parenting. And I do a lot of cringing!

Having teenage boys is like having 2 toddlers, attention-wise.  My 2 teenage boys have very different styles:

  • The older one loves dub-step, keeps his room clean, loves to longboard (skateboards that are longer than the norm), and plays a guitar.
  • The younger brother loves hip hop, has a disastrous room, loves to play sports, and wants to be a deejay.

Just because they are different in styles & personality does not mean the challenges lie with one more than the other.  If it’s not their grades, it’s social networking, ever-increasing hormones, bullies, or peer pressure.  The list goes on.  We’ve had talks – about EVERYTHING.  More than once …a week, every week. Always, always… my attention stays on them.

And having lived on my own as a single mom for several years, I developed a little bit of a mean-streak.  I call it “wearing my emotions on my sleeve”, my family calls it “public outbursts”.

I’m not a big (muscular) person.  I’m rather petite.  My voice is a little mousy.  When I’m upset, I don’t think my tone or facial expression could even intimidate a puppy.  But I’m smart, and I’ll out-talk anyone who messes with me or my children (and sometimes my husband, but I have learned to let him be in charge in those situations).  Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t happen often and it takes a lot to trigger that Crazy-Mother-Alarm.

Lately, I’m learning that I have to be more mindful of my public outbursts in front of my boys.  This weekend was a particularly new challenge.  My younger son was invited to a party last night and he was pretty excited about it.  He bought himself a new shirt to wear.  He was texting his friend who was going to meet him there. Listening to hype-music as he was getting ready.

Any decent parent can relate when I say I NEVER let my kids go to anyone’s house if I have not met their parents.  So, we GPS’d the address and both walked up to the house so he can join the celebration.  Lo & behold, we were greeted by a make-shift security guard who demanded $3.  I asked, “who are you?” He replied, “Security.” Mind you, this kid must have been about 16 or 17 years old.   (Reminder: we’re at a house in the suburbs)  He proceeded to argue with my son about the $3, when I finally said, “you do realize his mom is standing right here, don’t you?”  Then he straightened up and said, “yes, ma’am.”  I was very appreciative.

The other *air-quotes* Security Guard went in to retrieve the Party Host so I could ask if his parents were home.  The Host came out, passed me, and hugged the girls who were patiently standing behind me.  (They must have known about the ‘cover charge’ as they stood behind us like it was a line at the club).  The Host looked like he was drunk or high – kind of stumbling as he talked with the young ladies.   The Guard reminded the Party Host that I was there, he straightened up and said, “hello ma’am”.   I asked if his parents were there and he replied that no adults were there.  Here’s the kicker: I asked, “where are your parents?” He replied, “on their honeymoon.” I suggest, “so, that’s why you are charging $3 for your party?” He smiles and proudly says, “yes.”  I looked at his droopy eyes, then noticed the solo cups on the table behind the Guards……

I did all but yank my son from this young boy’s parents’ front yard and throw my son in the car. After all, he’s twice as big as me.  I said, “let’s go” and he got in and closed his eyes.  I am sure he was embarrassed.  I was embarrassed for him.  Why?   Because as a mom, sometimes you get a 2-second window to decide if you’re going to be “Crazy-Mom” or “Sane-Level-Headed-Mom”.  For some reason, the latter never shows up to the party.  Not this one, at least.

On the way home, I told my son what could happen if the cops came and there were no adults there. I told him he can be as mad at me as he wanted.  He said he wasn’t mad.  He had permission to tell his friends that I was just being crazy.  He said it wasn’t necessary.  I asked him if he was OK.  He said he was fineHe said the friend he was going to go with ended up not going either.  Why?? Cause his mom didn’t trust the Host.  Somehow, that made my son and me feel better.

One party missed: that’s all it was.  He went to one the night before and has another to go to next week.

We ended the evening on a Redbox Movie Marathon complete with Steak N Shake burgers and milkshakes.

It’s all worth it, folks.  I wouldn’t trade these teenagers for the world.

Holiday Blahs

It’s been a while since I’ve posted…. I’ve truly neglected my blog.  But a lot has happened over the past year – some I just can’t begin to writhe about…. yes, I meant “writhe“…. others I would love to share (and I will make sure to update my Empty Nester’s Bucket List).

So, as far as the good stuff:

Over the summer we took a road trip to New Orleans. It was awesome, fun & exhausting… I MUST write about it before the year ends!

I got promoted in my job! Something I’ve wanted, but didn’t know how to do…

Started a Mary Kay business. Phew, owning a business is Hard Work but surely has it’s rewards!

As far as the writhing, here’s a brief synopsis:

No buns in the oven yet.

Lot’s of difficulties in our marriage – can I call it the Terrible Two’s?

And, ’tis the season for the Holiday Blahs…..

I know for sure I’m not the only one who experiences holiday blues.  And everyone has their own reason why…. this is my reason.  Not sure if I’ve written before that I moved across the country at the age of 19.  With my (ex)-husband, and 2 babies.  But, let me just go back in some history – after all, this is my blog, and I’ve committed to be entirely transparent in my writing. When I was about 6 or 7, I was in love with my Dad.  As any youngest daughter, I was completely fascinated with my dad, I wanted to be an engineer like him, “we” had a song (“It Might Be You” from Tootsie), “we” had a favorite restaurant (Arby’s)..the list goes on.  I was truly a Daddy’s Girl.  And to this day I can still remember as vividly as it was yesterday, my dad bringing me to the Seattle Center to walk around and pick up fall leaves… we put the leaves in a photo album (the kind where you peel off the top layer of plastic, then place the photos on the sticky side of the page).. that dreaded day.. my Daddy told me he was moving away and I was not going with him.  My parents were not getting divorced. And looking back, I’ve wondered if it was just the times that kept them together. The word “divorce” was still taboo. But, all I knew was that my Daddy was moving away. I recall the night my dad left, I ran under the kitchen table and cried my eyes out and my mom yelled at me to stop crying. It was the hardest time of my life. Months passed and the times my dad came home were for maybe an evening and I didn’t get to see him.  He spent the time with my mom..then left early the next morning. Not sure how long my dad was gone (2, 3, 4, 5 years??) Not sure… but it seemed like an eternity but he came back… and then he left again… and then he came back. My mom tried her best to take care of my sisters and me.  But I didn’t know any better, she wasn’t very affectionate, so I looked to my friends to “get away” from the home I loathed so much.  By then – my teenage years – I grew to push people away. Especially my dad.  And especially the people I loved the most.

A couple years after I graduated high school, my (ex) husband and I decided to move across the country. At that time, I was done with Seattle.  My family back home meant nothing to me… as I thought I meant nothing to them.  But, now, 15 years later, they mean everything to me… and I still mean nothing to them. I call, text, email, connect on Facebook.  But get little response. I try to send gifts, but get little response.  What I have done and said to push my family away …worked.  So, the holidays are the hardest for me.  It starts with my mom, nephew, & sisters’ birthdays all wrapped up into the fall season.  Then as the holidays roll around, I get to see pictures of their get-togethers and family events posted online.

While I get to enjoy my own family of 4, it is most difficult to get into the holiday spirit… Outwardly, I decorate the house, cook the big meals, take lots of pictures.. but inwardly, I want to sleep the winter away…  I pray to God who mends all broken people to heal me and my relationship with my family.

If you, too, have the holiday blues.. I pray that you find those who love you and hold them close.. and if you find no one – seek them.  Seek a church, a network of people, a meetup group, get connected.. WE will get through this..

Super Sonics Dancer Dreams

What are your dreams??

I’ve recently had a conversation with my 14-year old son… what do you want to be when you grow up?  His answer: a football player or music producer.  My first thought was, he’s getting too old to be “dreaming” .  What came out of my mouth was, “what is your ‘Plan B’?”

Now, what an awful thing to say, isn’t it?  “What is your Plan B??”  What a tarnished, grown-up, lousy response to a young, fresh-minded dreamer!

After all, I’ve had some pretty cool dreams in my school years..  In Elementary School, I remember watching my big sister with her High School Dance Team.  They were SO cool, with their big hair and sequined outfits dancing to Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation.  My best friend and I watched in admiration and plotted to be Dance Team Captains when we got into high school!  And we did…..  It was awesome!  WE had our own dance moves, our own style, outfits, and higher dreams to be Super Sonic Dancers!

In my Junior Year, I was all set for college.  I wanted to study Engineering (like my Dad).  Excited for my future, I had pretty good grades and was active in the community. And I was getting ready to start applying for scholarships…

Then, the summer going into my Senior Year, everything happened so quickly.  I reconnected with my first “crush” – in an October flurry, I found out I was pregnant. One thing after another, after another, and after another… dreams started turning into goals, goals started turning into to-do lists, to-do lists started turning into tasks… and tasks started turning into responsibilities…. know what I mean?

Now, 16 years later, obviously, I’m not a Super Sonics Dancer (here’s to hoping we get our team back, someday!) and I’m not an Engineer…. However, I did manage to put myself through college. I have a decent job, nice little home, family, and pets.  But, that vision and anticipation for what the future may hold has singed by … what can I say…. “LIFE”!

Graduation 2004 (Just Me and My Boys)

Graduation 2004 (Just Me and My Boys)

Will my son make big mistakes?  Will he have huge hurdles in obtaining his dreams?  No doubt, YES.  But, he’ll at least have the chances I never had to, at least, try.  Why let the obstacles I’ve encountered – though my own faulty decisions – affect my view of my children’s future?  It shouldn’t.

So, here’s to joining my son in his dream to become a football player, a music producer.. a TV star, a drummer, a break dancer (do they still have those?) whatever he wants to do!

And as for my own dreams… I am choosing right now to re-evaluate my vision.  Forget about that 5-year-plan! I just want to dream.. My dancing days are over, folks… no Orlando Magic Girl left in me… but, perhaps, instead of being a dancer, I can start that business I’ve always wanted.  Or own that “that’s my car” type of car, I’ve had my eye on.  Who cares what stage of life we’re in… we NEED to dream.  We need the anticipation of what the future holds..  and it’s there for all of us…  What do you want to be when you “grow up”? 

Facts of Life

Well, it’s 3:52am and I’m wide awake. Despite the long day ahead. Tomorrow we will be celebrating my younger son’s 14th birthday. Such a joyous occasion which I am very excited for, yet I lay in bed counting expenses in my head. How am I going to pay for it all? Don’t get me wrong, my salary is decent and I don’t spend extravegantly, but circumstances cause me to pinch a little bit, I mean a LOT more nowadays.

So, I lay in bed and calculate… literally… cake, food, drinks, games.. it adds up very quickly… now what can I eliminate? Not much.

So, naturally one’s mind would wander in the dark of night, with spouse peacefully sleeping away.  Did my parents deliberate as us 3 sisters grew up? When children are young you want to give them the world at their fingertips. But as they get older, you want to give them the future you never had.

So for now I’ll try to close my eyes and try to stop counting dollars and start counting sheep. Wishing my baby boy a very happy birthday and a much brighter future!

E.N. Bucket List #14: Road Trip

Ahhhh…. It has been another great weekend! Along with all the chaos and GPS recalculations, this weekend could not be more perfect.  My best friend graduated from college yesterday and it was a wonderful excuse to take a road trip.  For over a month, I have planned a no-rules weekend for my son, but who knew how much fun that would be for me!

For instance, the “no-rules” Bacon Sundae from Burger King.  Yep, I actually ate this entire sundae and it was AWESOME.  My son ate it like he was starved – it was gone in 2 minutes flat.  This was at a stop in Ocala.  I asked the cashier what city we were in and she had to ask her manager.  Hmmmm…. shouldn’t she know what city she works in?? But anyway, it might have been a delirious trance from the Almighty Bacon Sundae.

Burger King Bacon Sundae… it really does exist!

In Columbus, we got to see my friend graduate which I have to admit I was a little more emotional than the Graduate herself.  But we have known each other through the ups and the (very bottom) downs.  I was just so proud of her.  Ok stop me before I start crying again!

Graduation Ceremony, Columbus GA

After the graduation, we stopped by a mall in Atlanta to do a little shopping, then I took my son to Dave & Busters.  (GPS Tip: GPS addresses are not always accurate! If you don’t know the area very well, look up the location address on the internet first, then type the address into the device.) It took 3 tries and 40 minutes to get to the Dave & Busters that we realized was 3 miles away from our original location. Needless to say, I took a short nap while he played and came back to the car with this:

The rubber chicken? No….he brought that with him from home.  He won the light up green glasses, along with light up white glasses, and a pack of basketball cards at Dave & Busters.  We hung out the rest of the evening with my friend and her family, then headed home early this morning.

Since the rental car did not come with Satellite Radio, we plugged in his iPod: The Beatles Greatest Hits.  Friends, we listened to the Beatles during our WHOLE road trip.  (and yet I still can not explain the meaning of the Yellow Submarine)

A couple other highlights from our road trip:

We kept seeing these big wheat-looking plants all over the Georgia Interstate.  To me, they looked like huge allergy bushes. I googled “wheat bushes Georgia Interstate” and “grass bushes Georgia Interstate” and could not figure out what type of plant they are.  Definitely beautiful, but not too sure if I want to get too close to them and break out into a sneezing fit!

My son’s #1 goal was to find a Firework Stand and not just any stand would do.  If it’s connected to a Pecan Stand, he would not even waste his time, he envisioned a Firework warehouse.  And thank goodness, we found a store called Ceremonial Fireworks in a city called Micanopy (Mi-can-O-pee, he said it is NOT prounounced “my-canopy”).  In this picture, my son is happily holding his Waterproof Fireworks.  Might I add, he held these in his lap the rest of the way home, and excitedly blew up my leftover breakfast burrito in a metal bucket later in the evening….. Boys.

This trip was absolutely a treat for me!  And though hubby and my younger son could not come with us, they had a blast at my son’s football game then going to the Tampa Bay Bucs game (looking good, by the way).  Dad & son time was truly needed as well.

By the way, in preparation for my road trip with my elder son, I took the ‘Baby’ (my 13-year old) to Disney World’s Hollywood Studios last weekend.  So, I leave you with this:

Can You Find The Hidden Mickey?

Can you find the Hidden Mickey?  The cool thing about Disney World is that they hide Mickey Mouse profiles all over the parks & resorts.  This is at the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater at Hollywood Studios. (Hint: Relax your eyes and focus on the yellow tiles)  😉 Enjoy!

#14 of my Empty Nester Bucket List = Road Trip DONE!