Dear Ethan and Maya,
I returned to work this month. And unbelievably, you have a mother who doesn’t think she suffered enough from those sleepless nights when you were still babies, and has voluntarily chosen to work at 5:30AM. The original reason of this decision was I wanted to have some free time to collect myself after work before fighting the crazy evening battles. Like I could have full two hours to let out that herd of bison that had been constipating since last time you let me stay in the washroom for more than three minutes, which I have a hard time recalling. That afternoon when I went to the grocery store alone, I felt like I was drunk with freedom behind that shopping cart because I WAS REALLY SHOPPING. Not standing in the middle of an aisle with one hand putting back all the grocery items that her son shoves off the shelves and the other one feeding three kinds of snack to her daughter.
I was flooded with ideas about how to enjoy this free moment. I had to concentrate driving after work because it would have been so easy to just keep driving and escape to the Palm Springs where I could drink Pina Colada and chill by the pool.
But one week into this hiatus, I started to miss doing all those gruelling houseworks. Half of my brain was mostly consumed at all times with the thought of chores that need to be done. I rushed home right after I got off from work. Within that tiny window before I picked you up from the daycare, Ethan, I would have the laundry done, bathroom washed, floor vacuumed, and food prepared. In the time it takes the muffins to bake, I could wallpaper the living room and landscape the backyard. People find it absurd that I am able to get up at this godly hour and work my ass off until dawn. I feel absurd about myself too. Maybe the nesting instinct is still around, but in fact I do enjoy it! I love to see everyone of you coming back home with everything well organized and delicious warm meal ready. Sometimes your father hates this about me – my constant need to get something done. Like he never understands why his mother is always busy with completely nothing around the house. Because he’s not a mother, I am. I realize that “free time” is one of the many luxuries people give up when they decide to procreate, which you cannot truly appreciate but have to remind yourself to suck it.
And I think I enjoy all this is because this makes me believe I am a good mother, which I’ve always had a hard time believing. The other day while I was driving you home from the daycare, Ethan, at the point where I had to come to a sudden stop when some moron just cut me off out of nowhere, you dropped an F-bomb way before I was done loading mine behind my throat. I ALMOST PASSED OUT. Not only because you know this word, but you know how to use it in context! The rest of the trip was I being completely silent fearing how soon you would get kicked out of the school, just for the fact that you have a mother who teaches you nothing but cursing and being mean.
Maya, I think you may start your period soon, because the last few weeks you have been nothing but a bipolar baby. I have to keep asking you to pick a mood and stick with it, because I feel like I’m dodging bullets. Suddenly your obsession for food has become an obsession of “putting food into your mouth, coating it with drool, taking it out, throwing it against the wall, then smearing it onto my hair”. When I decide to not let you touch anything but feed you myself, you refuse to eat. And then you will nag for food because you want to eat. Or you just want to take that piece of very greasy penne to grease your face, hand, hair, EVERYWHERE. If I take it away from you, just like the other day when I STOLE the keys from your hand, your mouth falls at the ends gushing out that storm of cries. And your recent favorite is to throw your full body on the floor (very cute and funny by the way) and pound your arms and legs in anger, just because I audaciously TAKE SOMETHING AWAY FROM YOU. But the best part is, babies have that short attention span thing going on. So once the wailing starts in I can hand you ANOTHER object that has the potential to be taken away but is currently not in the state of being taking away, like tampon. And BOY does that shut you up.
This month you’ve become more verbal. Anytime when you see something you have to name it. You say “na na” to a banana, “pop pop” to Corn Pop, “mum mum” whenever you are in the kitchen, which is ALL THE TIME. Sometimes you call me “ba ba” or “ma ma”, which really gets me wonder if you are calling me or your grandma. You do say a lot of “mommy”, but only under the circumstances when you want me to get something for you, mostly food. At first, I was pretty thrilled that at least you call me Mommy, I would do anything for you. But yesterday your grandma called me and told me you kept saying Mommy at her house, most of the time you were pointing at something out of your reach, like the microwave, the cookies box on the kitchen counter, and that slab of ribs that your grandma was preparing for dinner.
Ethan, in fact, you’ve become more verbal too. Or I should say more expressive. Last week on the ride home after daycare, I told you we were going to have your favorite pasta for dinner, after you confirmed that I cooked it with all your most wanted ingredients, you exhaled a contented “SCRUMPTIOUS!” Yesterday when we were in the bathroom (See? THIS is why I need my free time, cause I can’t even use the bathroom PRIVATELY),
You: What are you doing, mommy?
Me: I’m pee pee in the potty.
You: Why are you pee pee in the potty?
Me: Because I don’t want to wet my pants just like Ethan. I DON”T WANT ALL WET. I DON”T WANT A LITTLE BIT WET.
You: Why you don’t want all wet?
Me: Because I am not a baby anymore. Big boy pee pee in the potty, not in the pants.
You: You are a big boy, mommy? Wow, BEAUTIFUL!
I am glad that I didn’t really wet anywhere in the bathroom. Cause it was THIS hard to resist to laugh.
Kids, I have to say you have taken me to enjoy every festivals now. Before you came along, Christmas to me was just a couple days off when I could sleep in and regret how I spent the entire holiday sleeping in. When I drove across the neighborhood, all I used to do was to tease about those gaudy Christmas light displays, especially ones involving giant inflatables of cartoon characters that have nothing to do with Christmas, like a 15-foot tall SpongeBob. But now we are eager to drive across that house even it may take 10 minutes longer to get home, because we want you to see that. Just today we had a family Christmas dinner, I witnessed you both explode with excitement only when you saw everyone open their presents. That feeling was way more electrifying than I received mine. And THIS is what I will remember.
Let us have more Merry Christmases, kids.