Tuesday, September 29, 2015

This whole not-having-two-incomes is a bit stressful. Financially, we're fine; we can still live comfortably. However, we seem to keep finding things that need to be fixed around the house, so it would be awesome if we had two incomes again.

(We'll be bleeding a bit even after I start, but I plan to work my ass off and put my business in the black as soon as I can.)

It has been tempting to shop because my house is suddenly (mostly) empty. A lot of space has opened up that we didn't have to consider before. I feel like we've just moved into a new house. I can't imagine how much money people have to spend after they purchase an enormous house. Ours is a modest size, and I don't know how to fill the space. My dad also built the addition in a strange way, so the master suite is in the back of the house over the kitchen. As much as I would love to move to that room, it is inconvenient (far from everything, including the children; too many stairs; poor WiFi; strange bathroom; too warm). For now it will remain empty; I won't even use it for storage.

We also have to consider childcare in the coming months. When I return to work, I will need someone to care for the children so I can work normal hours. We are currently considering an au pair. I prefer to have a Korean au pair to maintain some continuity with my children's bilingualism and culture (food, especially). I also like the idea of being a host family. I'm not sure that my husband is on board with the idea as it does cost quite a few pennies to hire an au pair. In the end, though, we will need someone. There are certainly financial benefits of an au pair (no "nanny tax") in additional to the cultural benefits, but I wonder about the adjustment period and how stressful (or not) it may be for the children. I've done the research and am convinced that an au pair is the best route, but I'll have to convince my husband.

In a couple days, I will finally be free...

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Life's irony

The events of the last several weeks (in my life and the world) have made me realize something.

It is much easier to make someone believe a lie than it is to convince him of the truth.

A lie will persist regardless of any "reasonable doubt." The truth, on the other hand, requires absolute and undeniable proof to be deemed valid. With the immeasurable free time* I have had recently, I find that these conditions apply to almost any issue today. For example:

- the disproved link between autism and vaccinations
- the effect of greenhouse gases on climate change
- Donald Trump and everything he believes
- every misleading interpretation of the Bible regarding love, sex, and marriage
- my parents

Friday, September 11, 2015

Grace and gratitude

There are many "thankless" jobs in this world, and there are just as many people who assume those jobs because they enjoy the responsibilities they entail.

When I chose to be a teacher, I certainly didn't think, "Wow, I can't wait for all the awesome thank-you notes I'll receive!" I chose to be a teacher because I wanted to be a part of children's lives, to teach them how to be good citizens, to open their eyes to the world around them. I knew I would be overworked and underpaid, but being able to teach (and learn) was the only satisfaction I craved. Even in my years of teaching, I never once sought praise or commendation for anything I did. I didn't seek the limelight. I only wanted people to acknowledge that the work I did was important and necessary.

When I became a parent, I certainly didn't think, "Wow, I can't wait for my kids to shower me with thanks and praise when they're older!" I became a parent because I wanted to bring up two caring, responsible, and productive citizens who could take part in the world and leave their own marks somewhere. Being a parent entails sacrifices big and small, and I don't expect to be repaid for those sacrifices in any way other than to see my children happy and healthy. I expect them to take care of each other, to be kind to others, and to be grateful for all they receive (and to give back in kind). The money I invest in them is an investment in their futures, not in my own security.

Somewhere along the way, or perhaps this has always been the case, my parents forgot (or didn't care to consider) that parenting is about gracefully accepting that your children are human beings with separate lives. As in the animal kingdom, humans will leave the nest to forge their own lives apart from their parents. The time, money, and energy that parents put into raising their children are investments with no concrete or guaranteed returns. How you invest that time, money, and energy determines the kind and frequency of your returns. My parents have decided (and I knew this long ago) that they deserve my time, money, and energy as restitution.



They lack grace.

And they lack gratitude for the time, money, and energy I have repaid for no other reason than the extreme guilt they use to manipulate me. I am nothing more than an indentured servant who continues to fail to live up to expectations or meet demands.

When my children are ready to support themselves, I know it will be difficult for me to let them go, but I also recognize that letting go is a necessary and fundamental part of human existence. Up until that point I will have invested heavily to nurture, guide, and protect them, and if I have done those things well, with the appropriate amounts of love, then I can bank on their continued thoughtfulness as they and I age. Looking into the future, I will not require them to support me financially because I have taken the necessary steps to ensure my own stability and security. I will not require them to demure to my expectations, manipulate them with guilt, or love them unequally.

Even within the constructs of Korean social expectations, my parents are gems. They are unable to balance in their minds the fantasy of absolute filial piety and the reality of their own deeds. They make demands but no concessions. They have mastered the art of public farce and have convinced everyone outside these walls of their perfection and intelligence. They are determined to see me fail if only to derive satisfaction from watching me crawl back.

Though I am determined to be a better parent, I catch myself thinking, speaking, or acting in a way reminiscent of my own parents, and I chastise myself for being thoughtless. I may not be the domestic goddess as my mother envisions herself, but I take care of my children, I keep the house mostly tidy, I feed them well, and I ensure their safety and well-being. I am as good a mother as I can and need to be. I don't want my children to see me angry, or sad, or humiliated. I want them to see me happy, and satisfied, and excited.

And so, if this means my parents pack up and leave (as they have so gracefully threatened), then so be it. There will be an adjustment period--oh, whatever shall I do when I don't have to walk on eggshells? There will be some additional financial responsibilities (I suppose I would need a nanny to help me), but everything is manageable and within my means. For too long, I have allowed my parents to believe (and rightly so) that I am dependent on them, but it's about time they learned how dependent they have been on me for 30 years.

Saturday, September 05, 2015

Biting my tongue. Swallowing my pride. Walking on eggshells. Bottling it all up.

I am going to explode, and it won't be pretty.

I have a few words to describe my lovely parents.

They are manipulative and duplicitous.

They are gossiping hens.

They are self-absorbed.

They are disingenuous.

They are petulant children.

They are entitled egoists.

They are so obsessed with reaping the benefits of the sacrifices they made that they are blind to their failings.

They make threats to get what they want, and they pout when they feel slighted.

They have the audacity to say they don't need me. Someone should kindly remind them that I gave up my dream of buying a house to buy theirs, a house a detest. Someone should also remunerate all of the financial burdens from which I have unburdened them. Someone should also remind them that taking things from me falls under the heading of "things I need from you." Someone should also point out that using my car everyday and never filling the tank count as "things I need from you."

They have resisted relinquishing full ownership of this house to me and Husband because (see all reasons above).

I have spent 30 years bending to their will and being the good little girl who suppresses her own will to serve her parents.

I am done.

Fuck you.

Saturday, April 19, 2014


God, or whoever, grant me...

The serenity to accept the things I cannot change:

  • Other people. I want, at some point, to stop feeling resentment about what people do or do not do. I cannot change who people are any more than I can change the color of my eyes, but it does not prevent me from silently looking for change. Telling a person to change will not make them change. I want to learn to accept people as they are and hope less for change and more for understanding. Ultimately, I want only to know that my feelings and my desire to see change in others are valid. At the same time, I know that wanting that validation is part of wanting other people to change, which is a paradox I cannot overcome. I want to find some kind of compromise of the two that I can accept without resentment.

The courage to change the things I can:
  • Myself. I've allowed myself to be consumed by my feelings about my circumstances (life, love, work) and not given myself any time for reflection and growth. This is, in part, a consequence of "other people" (see above) but also my inability to value myself. I have spent so little of my life doing things for myself; my goals have always been driven by "other people." I cannot make other people recognize my need for "me time," but I will make time in my day--even if only for five minutes--to do something only for me. (Right now, even my attempts to take undisturbed showers are vain. A tiny person will inevitably make his presence known.)
  • Superficial things. This summer, I will make a short list of home improvements that I can realistically accomplish, alone or with minimal assistance. Among the items will be repainting the bedrooms (particularly mine because I have come to understand that the pink is not a good color), hanging more pictures of us, and consolidating my "teacher stuff" in the basement.

And the wisdom to know the difference.
I recognize that my power to work miracles is limited. I am not delusional. However, I know that no matter how hard I try to change my own perception and feelings of other people and things, that tiny speck of hope for change will linger somewhere deep down. I think my ultimate goal is just to get myself to a place where I find myself "in a funk" less often because I accept that certain things cannot be changed and I have the courage to live fully and completely and love myself.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Not sure if CNN is being rhetorical, ironic, or serious:

Should the U.S. be more like Mexico? Only if that means the entire country will look like Cancun.

Why don't Arabs like the U.S.? Is the answer to this question not obvious?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

This is Anneli holding a peony.