Archive for Relationships

10 Fun Activities for Grandparents + Kids

Check out my latest Boston Mamas post, “10 Fun Activities for Grandparents + Kids.”

Grandparents + Kids - Intergenerational bonds

Many of us have plans to bring our kids to visit their grandparents sometime during the summer. Sometimes it can be challenging to bridge the generation gap and figure out what to do together, particularly if the two generations haven’t had much face time, whether due to distance or other factors. In this post, I offer 10 activities to help break the ice and help grandparents and kids enjoy quality time together and develop strong intergenerational bonds. Read the rest of the article on Boston Mamas.

12 Great Gifts for New Moms

Check out my latest Boston Mamas post, “12 Great Gifts for New Moms.”

These days it seems that baby announcements from friends roll in about one per week and I spend my weekends cuddling squishy newborn after squishy newborn (no complaints here!). I’ve realized that often we focus on gifts for the new baby and sometimes forget the person who has been through the most — the new mama! In today’s Boston Mamas post, I share some of my favorite gift ideas for new moms…

Read the rest of the article on Boston Mamas: 12 Great Gifts for New Moms.

 

8 Ways to Make Mom Friends

Check out my latest Boston Mamas post, “8 Ways to Make Mom Friends.”

As a new working mom, one thing I struggled with was meeting other local moms with kids my son’s age. I either had local friends who weren’t moms or mom friends who weren’t local. I felt it was important that my little guy form childhood friendships and that I connect with local moms who shared similar interests. Unfortunately, my work schedule made it impossible for me to participate in weekday, daytime mommy & me classes and local playgroups. Over time, I found ways to forge friendships and offer some tips over on Boston Mamas.

Read the rest of the article on Boston Mamas.

How to Encourage Shared Responsibility at Home

Hope everyone’s new year is off to a really great start!

Please check out my latest post on Boston Mamas, How to Encourage Shared Responsibility at Home.

When In-Laws Become Grandparents

My latest Boston Mamas article “When In-Laws Become Grandparents“ was posted today.

When you have kids, not only do you become a parent, but your in-laws become grandparents — sometimes overzealous ones who suddenly want a lot of contact. This can be fantastic when you are blessed with wonderful in-laws, but I know many people who are not so fortunate — the most common complaint being that the frequent visitation requests become burdensome (e.g., time to tidy the house, make food, explain how to handle things, etc.) rather than fun or helpful. Today I wanted to share 6 things to keep in mind to help you adjust your perspective as everyone tries to sort out their new roles…

Read the rest of the article on Boston Mamas.

Diffusing Parenting Style Tension

My latest Boston Mamas article “Diffusing Parenting Style Tension“ was posted today.

It’s not surprising that many families — mine included — wrestle with tension due to different parenting styles. After all, many factors (e.g., personality, culture, education, how we were raised) contribute to our unique perspectives, and it’s unrealistic to expect that couples will agree on every parenting decision, whether it’s related to sleep training, discipline, nutrition, or something else.

However, while these differences are common, it’s important to work on finding a happy (or mostly happy) medium. Because frequent and heated conflict is tough on the couple and the kids (they tune into everything those kids!).

Read the rest of the article on Boston Mamas.

Ridding my life of guilt and regret

Finish each day Emerson quote

 

I wish I could be one of those people who lives life without any regrets, who makes decisions in a carefree manner and never looks back. I know several people who live life this way (or at least claim to) and I envy that they are able to do this. But I’m most definitely not one of those people. I labor over most decisions, big and small, and even after spending hours deliberating and carefully weighing the pros and cons, I often still look back afterwards and wish I could change the choices I’ve made.

After some introspection, I’ve realized that a recurring theme in my adult life has been grappling with regret and guilt. (Psychologists will probably tell you that these are actually two very distinct things, but in my mind they always go hand-in-hand and I honestly don’t think much about the distinction between them.) The interesting thing is that I have not actually done anything in life that is particularly regrettable. Sure, we’ve all made mistakes here and there, but in general I know that I am a good person, a normal law-abiding citizen who has not committed any serious moral transgressions.

My regret and guilt center around things in my past that range from only somewhat significant issues to admittedly completely insignificant issues. I tend to perseverate on these issues for days, sometimes even weeks. I think about them when I’m out on a long run, when I’m driving to work, when I’m in the shower, when I’m trying to fall asleep.

I regret saying so many things I shouldn’t have said. 

I regret behaving so selfishly during my college years.

Every time I am reminded of Cornell’s suicide rate, I regret not reaching out to that grown man who I saw alone and bawling during finals.

I regret not finishing my Ph.D. despite having a 4.0 GPA and being awarded the program’s coveted multi-year assistantship.

I regret that my parents spent so much money on a wedding dress that I only wore for a few hours.

I regret that I planned a daytime wedding instead of an evening wedding when there was absolutely no reason to do so.

I regret that on my trip to Hong Kong, I didn’t visit the mountain where my father grew up. Who knows if I’ll ever get another chance to go back.

I regret getting induced. I sometimes think that my son’s birth story wouldn’t have ended in a c-section if I had just let nature take its course instead of succumbing to pressure from my doctor.

I regret that I didn’t feed my newborn son formula sooner. I realize now that he was practically starving those first few days in the hospital before my breastmilk came in.

There are so many more thoughts of regret and guilt that run through my head, and some of my regrets are still so palpable that it would actually bother me to put them into words. I think you get the point though. I realize that in the grand scheme of things, most of these are not very serious regrets. I understand that there are many people in this world who have concerns far more significant than mine. Regardless, these regrets are real to me and some of them occupy my thoughts on a daily basis for weeks at a time.

I have not always been this way. I was a really happy-go-lucky kid and even teen, all the way up through my college years (just ask my college roommate). I made decisions on a whim, often at the last minute, and rarely looked back. Sometimes I wonder how my personality could be so different now. Perhaps it’s because I was more selfish back then and I didn’t care as much about how my actions affected others, or perhaps it’s because the decisions I made were never about anything serious so there were no long-term consequences. People rarely regret choosing soccer camp over track camp or enrolling in AP Bio over AP English.

Regardless of how or why I have become this way, I’ve come to realize that these guilty feelings are not only unproductive, but they are preventing me from enjoying the present and appreciating the many wonderful things in my life. At times, I wonder if becoming consumed by these regrets could even be causing me psychological damage. So, I’ve decided that it’s really time to get things under control.

The following are strategies I’ve identified to alleviate myself of the regret and guilt. I’ve found them to be really helpful and thought that perhaps these strategies might be helpful to my fellow chronic regretters out there.

-          Talk it out. Sharing your concerns with a sister or trusted friend can have enormous psychological benefits. Sometimes just putting your feelings into words can be healing.

-          Apologize. If your regret centers around something that you did or said to another person, apologize to that person. You may find that they aren’t even thinking about the incident anymore or have forgotten about it entirely.

-          Confidence in you. Have confidence in your past decisions and realize that you did what you did for a reason, even if that reason isn’t apparent to you right now.

-          Fuhgeddaboudit. If you can’t do anything to change the situation anymore, realize that it’s pointless to regret it. Guilt does not serve any purpose other than to make you terribly unhappy. Remind yourself that focusing too much on this past decision or situation is preventing you from enjoying life in the present.

-          Make a change. If you CAN still do something to change the situation, stop wasting time feeling guilty and instead use that time to work on changing the things that are troubling you. You might not be able to change what happened in the past, but you might still be able to change the final outcome.

-          Learn from the past. Use your regrets as learning experiences that will motivate you to do better in the future.

-          Put things in perspective. Reflect on how serious your “problem” really is in the grand scheme of things. If you find that it’s really not that big of a deal after all, then be grateful that this is your biggest concern and that you are not faced with more serious problems.

Do you have any regrets in life, big or small? Do you ever find yourself thinking about them weeks, months, or years after the fact?

 

Maintaining Friendships During Motherhood

My first article for Boston Mamas titled, “Maintaining Friendships During Motherhood“ was posted today.

My best girlfriends from high school and college have been there for me through so many of the ups and downs of life that I never anticipated that my recent transition into motherhood would have the potential to jeopardize these friendships. But like many new moms, I have found it challenging to maintain these relationships — especially with friends who don’t have children — while juggling my everyday responsibilities at home and at work…

Read the rest of the article on Boston Mamas.

A Cornell Legend Comes True

Cornelliana legend says that about 60% of Cornell students marry other Cornellians (although according to Uncle Ezra, in reality, the number is closer to 8%). During Orientation Week at Cornell, I remember reading about this legend in the Student Handbook, but the thought never occurred to me that I might meet my future husband there.

I had met Jack briefly at a friend’s apartment one random Friday night during my junior year, but honestly didn’t think much of the encounter. You meet a lot of people everyday in college, especially when you go to a school as big as Cornell.

A few days later, I was driving through campus during a terrible (but fairly typical) Ithaca snowstorm. Who knows why I thought it was a good idea to drive through campus in my little Passat during white-out conditions! I obviously lacked good judgment during my college years.

As I tried to drive up a hill near the Engineering Quad, my car got stuck in the snow. I tried every trick I knew to get my car to move, but it simply would not budge. There I was stuck in the middle of the road with not a single person in sight. How was that even possible at a school that big in the middle of the afternoon?

Of course, the cell phone that my Dad had given me just for emergency situations like this had a dead battery. And the only person I would’ve called, my housemate, Josh, wouldn’t be done with his shift at the Statler (Hotel School) until the wee hours of the morning anyhow. I sat in my car thinking that someone HAD to come along eventually and hoping another car wouldn’t plow into me while I waited. There was literally not a single person in sight in any direction. Just as I was about to break out into hives and have a full-on panic attack, I spotted a person walking towards me. I remember wondering if I’d be bold enough to ask a stranger for help and then thinking, Wait… I think I know this guy!” It was Jack.

After I awkwardly flagged him down, he got my car unstuck with so little effort it made me feel foolish. I forget where I was going that day, but I never got there. Jack safely drove me back to my apartment, and we’ve been best friends ever since. Five years of marriage and one beautiful baby boy later, I now know that there are some upsides to those grueling Ithaca winters.

In retrospect, it’s pretty remarkable that of the nearly 20,000 people in Cornell’s student population, Jack was the one person walking through that part of campus that afternoon. I’d like to think it was fate. Either that or he was stalking me…

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

A Different Kind of Mommy Guilt


“A
mother is a person who, seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie.” -Tenneva Jordan

When I was a kid, maybe about 12, I remember coming across this quote in the newspaper, probably the Globe, thinking that the mother described was just like my mom. I remember cutting it out to show her because I couldn’t believe that someone had so perfectly captured her essence in words, her approach to raising my sister and I, and the role she has assumed in our family. Selfless provider. Loving. Caring. Self-sacrificing. All without a second thought or a single complaint.

Even from a young age, I recognized that my mom is an exceptional mother. After reading the quote, however, I wondered if perhaps all mothers were as self-sacrificing as mine, but over the years, as I’ve gotten to know other people’s mothers I’m certain that not everyone is lucky enough to have the kind of mom that I have. Not even close.

I have always had a really close relationship with my mom. As an immigrant from Hong Kong, with her own family far away, she has worked so diligently and sacrificed so much to give us happy childhood memories and the types of life experiences that most people only dream of. A working mom with a demanding career, she somehow always found time to be at my soccer games, take me to piano lessons, and help me with my chemistry homework late at night.

She has always been there to support us, absorbing our troubles, anxieties, and disappointments like a sponge. I can’t tell you how many times she’s sat at the foot of my bed with a warm washcloth to wipe away my tears. She has instilled confidence in us when we’ve questioned ourselves, assuaged our fears and anxieties, found the silver lining in disappointing news, and eased us through difficult life transitions. And she did all of these things even when we were at times less-than-perfect children, when we threw tantrums, when we behaved like self-absorbed teenagers, when we let our tempers get the best of us. The term “unconditional love” does not even begin to describe it.

In my 31 years, I’ve only ever seen my Mom lose her temper about three times, if that. As a mom myself, I understand now more than ever how incredible that is. Even when we were at our worst, and would selfishly take our frustrations out on her, she would never get angry. She used to gently remind us, “Just remember, you’ll be sorry when I’m gone…” The words worked like magic. The painful realization that she might someday not be around was enough to stop us from misbehaving. That’s all she had to say, and we would behave like angels from that point on.

These days, I’ve managed to keep the fist-pounding, arm-flailing tantrums to a minimum. But even now, ashamed as I am to admit it, I do lose my temper occasionally and she bears the brunt of it.

Last weekend, at a family Chinese New Year Dinner, I yelled at my mother which in retrospect I recognize was for no good reason. I was holding baby CJ, who was fussing and flailing, on my lap while I was trying to enjoy a bite to eat along with everyone else. As I brought the food up to my mouth, the baby quickly turned his head towards it and his pudgy little face came a little too close for comfort to my fork. I pulled it away in time. But my mom, sitting next to me, gasped one of those loud, heart-stopping, alarming-to-a-baby gasps. And after a brief delay, in classic social referencing style, he started crying.

Without thinking, I snapped at her, “Can you NOT do that?”

It wasn’t technically “yelling” and probably does not seem like a big deal to most of you, but I felt horrible afterwards, especially after seeing how defeated she looked. She doesn’t have to say, “You’ll be sorry when I’m gone…” anymore because those words are now engrained in me and the thought almost automatic. As soon as the words left my mouth, I regretted it and was consumed by guilt for a long time afterwards. For the rest of the evening, I kept thinking about it and talking about it to my husband. He couldn’t understand why I couldn’t just apologize and let it go.

After replaying the incident in my head, I realize that I snapped at her because I felt her gasp was a criticism of what I had done and I knew she was right. I used poor judgment trying to multitask while holding the baby. I was annoyed with myself for creating the potentially dangerous situation. In my harried, sleep-deprived state, I took it out on my mother who was only expressing concern.

Of course, I called her twice afterwards to say that I was sorry. And of course, she told me it was okay, that she used to snap at her mom, too, but that her mom always knew she loved her. This anecdote just made me feel ten times more guilty. Her mom is no longer around and my mom can’t tell her she’s sorry anymore.

After some introspection, I’ve realized that my guilt over this interaction stems from my underlying anxieties about the future. As we get older and our parents age, we begin to realize that our parents will not be around forever. When I was younger, I used to wish in some ways that I would die before my parents so that I wouldn’t have to live without them. But being sandwiched between my role as a daughter and a mother now certainly changes how I think about that. Nonetheless, I am nearly paralyzed with fear when I think about the inevitable truth that someday my parents will be gone. I sit here with glassy eyes, a sunken heart, and a knot in my stomach from just typing out those words.