Friday, March 19, 2010

Shadow Boxing

They say once you have a baby, it will change your life. I must admit although I wanted children, I also rather liked my life, pre-baby. Maybe I'm mental, but my goal might just be a double-edged sword for I am fighting the inevitable all the way through. My goal is to be the best mom, but I don't want being a mom to define who I am. So far, I am indeed failing miserably.

This blog was originally not intended as a motherhood or baby blog, but looking through recent posts, it seems to have morphed into such. I'm also not sure how this blog site works, but as I browse through random blogs, I am directed to other mommy blogs. It makes me wonder if this is truly random, or have I already been boxed in as a "mommy blog"? I know that mommy bloggers are all the rage right now, so I am holding on to this hope that it's all just coincidence. My FaceBook status updates have also taken a hit, and I find myself being more cautious about what I write so that it is not too mommy-centric for my non-mother friends.

I'm hoping that it's because I'm currently on maternity leave, so I have nothing but time right now for my newborn. Maybe once I return to the working world, and socialize with upright humans that have a full set of teeth again, I will be better at my goal. Who am I kidding though? My life has changed, and I am amazed at the ease of which Diego fit right into the position. It's as if I was meant to have a child, and yet I am fighting with myself about how to deal with it.

Last month, I felt like I had woken up and had an instant family. Let me set the scene for you. Night time: driving home from a Tahoe snow trip with my husband and his 14 year old son, Mac, visiting us from Peru. Although Diego was not there, the "instant-family" vibe was. Driving in my Lexus SUV (not a mini-van but close enough) with the light glow of the new GPS system showing us how to get home from our family day trip, and a baby car seat in the back. I felt all I needed to complete the scene was one of those stick figure family window stickers (which I really want) and a DVD player playing cartoons. Trust me, the scene will be complete eventually.
It's not just the car though. The house too, has been "baby-tized". I tried really hard to only buy that which I needed for the baby, so that the house would not be overrun by baby things. Apparently, "that which the baby needed" is more than I first assumed. I slowly see myself fumbling towards rooms filled with hardened plastic toys decorated in all the primary colors. Not yet though.

I will still fight this futile fight all the way. I love Diego though. So I know I will lose.

Which reminds me of my favorite song by Fiona Apple, Shadow Boxer:

"You made me a shadowboxer, baby
I wanna be ready for what you do
I've been swinging all around me
'Cause I don't know when you're gonna
Make your move...

So Darling I just want to say
Just in case I don't make it through
I was onto every play
I just wanted you..."

Monday, March 8, 2010

Barbie and the Misfits

A few weeks ago I had a dinner with two of my grade school friends, one of which I hadn't been in contact with in over 15 years. The reunion was made possible because of the modern marvels of Facebook, the online social networking site. Bonnie had moved to Florida many years back, but she always held a special place in her heart for me and Kimi, the other grade school friend. Bonnie was back in the Bay Area on vacation.

As we reminisced, I realized what a different person I had become. I could barely remember a lot of the things that they brought up; things that they held near and dear. They were both so vocal about how much they loved "us" and how we were the only "real" friends both Kimi and Bonnie had. I smiled, wanting to reciprocate the affection and proclamation, but never really thought about it before.

I had many friends of all types throughout high school and grade school, and if I had to classify my clique with Kimi and Bonnie, I would call us the "misfits".

My "friend" adventures all started even before kindergarten, meeting my childhood best friend, Michelle, who happened to be my neighbor. Once kindergarten started, it was apparent that she was going to be the beautiful, and popular white girl, while I would be the far from popular skinny nerd. She made popular friends that somewhat accepted me, so I tried to make it work, but it just never felt right with the excess company around us. And let's not even talk about how mean the boys were.

A couple of her friends accepted me more than the others, but reflecting on the relationship, I now see that it was more of a tyrannical relationship. As long as I put up with their "sh!t", we had a good relationship. Or maybe it was my own fault, for never sticking up for myself. Nonetheless, there were some good times, though few and far between. I was never really myself 100% around Michelle & Co.

Meanwhile, apart from Michelle's popular clique, I met Kimi, the Barbie doll of junior high. She was exactly what you would imagine Barbie would be like if she were morphed into an actual human: blond, buxom, svelt, chipper, friendly. All the things I would never become. Her congeniality and harmlessness attracted me. That, coupled with the fact that we had a significant number of classes together made our friendship inevitable.

Right off the bat it was obvious that like Barbie, Kimi was living in her own oblivious world of innocence. She spoke her mind with no reservations, and I found some of the clueless things that would come out of her mouth to be hilarious. Being friends with her provided me free entertainment, exactly like watching an over-animated sitcom on the Disney channel. Unfortunately, I could tell by the look on others' faces, that they found Kimi's spunky personality more annoying than anything. This didn't bother me though; Kimi was my friend.

Kimi and I had two friends, at different times, that infiltrated our friendship of two. Bonnie was the first. A buxom, yet nerdy japanese girl with punk rock tendencies and a mouth like a sailor. You'd probably wonder how Kimi and Bonnie got along so well. Here's the likely answer: they had one thing in common, no reservations, they just spoke what was on their mind good or bad. Bonnie was into reading science fiction, and reminded me of this as we talked over our reunion dinner. She inspired me to pull out the science fiction series books that I bought because of her, and that I loved so much.

While looking for my dusty books, I came across one of my journals. I've always loved documenting my life, no matter how boring it was. For some reason, I stopped writing around the time that I met my future husband. I read an excerpt of my old journal. As I finished the entry, all I could think of was "damn, I was a good writer!" I had a point to my entries, and tied all the topics together so nicely for a finishing touch. I had to get that back! Maybe taking up reading again would help me in this cause?

I was a member of a few more friendship "cliques" after Kimi and Bonnie, including a clique of latinas, where I felt that I finally belonged at the time. The truth is that cultural similarities can only get you so far. There was still something missing though I still consider most of them "good" friends.

I've become aware that this reunion dinner of the "misfits" wasn't just to re-acquaint myself with Kimi and Bonnie. It was also for me to remember who I was back then; and I liked her. So it was that I decided, yes, Bonnie and Kimi were the most "real" friends that I had because they brought out the best of who I really was. We were the perfect misfitted clique: the buxom Barbie, Japanese punk rocker with a sailor's mouth, and me the introverted, happy-go-lucky Peruvian. Somehow in this crazy world, the combination fit, and these three misfits just fit together perfectly.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

"Moms" & "Dads"

I'm an "any way the wind blows" kind of person and so it's no surprise that I've been winging this whole motherhood thing. If you ask me what it feels like to be a mom, I can't really tell you yet because even now 6 weeks later, it still hasn't sunk in. I'm a natural nurturer, worrier, and helper and with Diego I feel that these traits, along with my extreme patience, have increased exponentially. So if that's what it feels like to be a mom, coupled with lack of sleep and sore arms, then I guess I do have an answer for you.
My sister told me that she asked her boyfriend Will if he thought she would be a good mom. He said that she would probably have a lot of rules. She admitted that she was bit offended with his response (this coming from the woman that banned me from eating fast food during my pregnancy, and who won't let Will play his video games unless she is asleep, resulting in 3:00 am video game sessions). Will explained that it's because I'm very casual and don't care. In my head I thought that maybe her original question hadn't been answered. What constitutes a "good" mom? Honestly, I think we'll both be good moms in our own special ways. As long as you care about you child and want only the best for them, the rest is just technique.
Not only have I been hashing out what kind of new mom I will be these past few weeks, but I've also played step-mom for a bit. Javier's 14 year old son, who lives in Peru, came to visit us for a few weeks. He's reached a rebellious age, and he is not getting along with his grandfather in Peru. Javier's original intention was to bring him here so he could see that the grass is not greener on the other side right now. Unfortunately, I think it backfired. Once Mac was actually here, it was a different story. Javier behaved as any parent separated from their child might act; he wanted to make up for lost time.

Unfortunately, he has also been putting in long work hours, which left me to be the one hanging out with Mac during the weekdays. Having a newborn made it difficult for me to be able to focus on the new teenager in the house. Since he is a skater, I took him to a couple of skate parks and drove him to the Haight in San Francisco to buy a new board. Mac is very mellow for a 14 year old skater and we got along fine. However, I keep an invisible line drawn because I am not his mother, so we are more like friends. Sometimes I wonder if he would like me to treat him more "motherly" but it would be awkward to outright ask. Though as Diego grows older, and Mac sees our interactions, the last thing I would want is for him to feel alienated. It's hard to gauge our relationship since we don't see each other much, but I imagine he needs nurturing since his mother only calls him about once a year.

Mac did what he could to plead his case to stay in the U.S. behind closed doors to Javier. If Javier was better off financially, I'm sure he would've entertained the idea. Mac painted a picture of turmoil in Peru which tugged at Javier's heart strings. Unfortunately, instead of helping, it caused Javier to grow angry with his own father. On the day that Mac flew back to Peru, after an emotional goodbye at the airport, Javier's guilt and helplessness as a father increased his anger towards his father for causing the turmoil. In his mind he had given his family everything, including a house, and yet it still wasn't enough to make a happy, peaceful family. While we were struggling here in the U.S., they were given everything, and yet they still couldn't get along.
Javier let his emotions rule while speaking to his father over the phone, and it did not go well. After hanging up, he felt really bad having spoken to his father the way that he did.
He entertained the idea of bringing Mac here next year once he finished high school. I would never say no to Javier regarding his son, but my initial thought was that I was just getting used to being the mother of a newborn, how would I deal with suddenly being a full-time step mom as well?
Things seemed to settle down now, and Javier apologized to his father. I believe that the initial plan to have Mac complete his University in Peru is still on, but continued drama can prove to change things again. Since I'm an "any way the wind blows" kind of person, I take things one day at a time. I can't really imagine if I'll be a full-time step mom a year from now, but then again, I couldn't really imagine being a new mom a year ago either. Time changes everything.