Confessions of A Pastor's Wife

We all define ourselves through titles. Titles like who we are in relation to our families, i.e. father, son, mother, daughter, husband and wife. We define ourselves by our profession, banker, teacher, manager, doctor lawyer. We define ourselves by our race Asian American, African American, Jewish, Italian, WASP, ... and the list goes on. But what happens when one title, one aspect of who you are eclipses every other title, every other aspect? What happens when people judge you, interact with you, talk about you, only in relation to this one aspect? I know what I am struggling with is a universal emotion and though it relates to my title specifically I'm sure many others with the same title or same problem can relate.

I am a mother, a wife, a Christian, and a Pastor's wife. I am a lot of other things too but that last title defines me to the rest of the world me more than any other part of who I am. Don't get me wrong, the fact I married a pastor is a BIG part of who I am. The fact that I chose to serve the church and be a part of the church as my full time calling is a HUGE part of who I am. Do I have any regret? Absolutely not. I know I am beyond blessed to live this life and be a pastor's wife. But it's not all of who I am. I know I don't talk about being a pastor's wife much on this blog and I think its because on a day to day basis that is all I am to people. I think in some ways this blog has helped me to express myself, to show the world that there is more to me than this title. That I have thoughts, faults, insecurities, fears, struggles, and a sense of humor, parts of me that I know would never see the light of day or beyond the four walls of my home, if it weren't for this blog.

Moving to Kaneohe has been great. I have been falling in love with the congregation and the community. I want to build friendships with other women and others in our community. At church we'll have a great time talking to people our age, other couples with kids, but when I extend an invitation to have a play date or hang out, I immediately sense hesitation in their voice. I realize it's because they see me as the pastor's wife. They might be thinking,

"The pastor's wife is asking us to 'hang out'. What are we gonna do sit around and sing hymns and pontificate about this weeks sermon?? Is she trying to ring us into becoming a member of the church?? I have to put on my 'church face' outside of church??"

I don't know what they are thinking exactly, but I know their hesitation stems from the fact that I'm not just another mother in the same life stage, that wants to hang out... I'm the pastor's wife, a different species. I can't want to just hang out, talk story, and have a good time. Though I am very fulfilled in the company my husband provides me, there is a part of me that wants to connect with other women, especially other mothers.

I've been wondering why this bothers me so much. I keep telling myself "

Why are you surprised?? Didn't you know what you signed up for when you entered ministry and then married a pastor??

" I know this shouldn't be news to me. I know in the big picture its a small price to pay, but it still distresses me and I think it boils down to three reasons.

For one I'm an extrovert. Being around people has always revived me, energized me, and it has always been refreshing. But like poison to a plant the connections I try to make are tainted, affected, and withered by this title. People tend to see me with rose colored glasses, they assume nice things about me, because of my title, but that is all they are willing to see. To me it becomes a rose colored glass box.

The friendships that I need and want as the extrovert God designed me to be, the connections I need as a human being, are unable to penetrate through that glass.

Also, it bothers me because people assume I am extending an invitation because I have some pretense related to the church. People assume I am connecting with them because I want something from them. What could it be? Volunteers maybe? or more people at our service? I can't be connecting with them because I genuinely want to get to know them and build a meaningful friendship.  The fact that people automatically assume this about me is especially hurtful.

Lastly, it mothers because I am a mother. As a mother you always wonder how your identity will affect your children. I want my son and daughter to make friends and connections with other kids in the community as well. I wonder will they be put in the same rose colored glass box? Will people define them, judge them, and interact with them based on the fact they are pastors kids? Will they find themselves isolated and separated in some ways from their peers?

As hurtful and discouraging as some of these recent interactions have been, I am all the more resolved to not give up. I want to keep trying, keep persisting in putting myself out there, hoping to crack the rose colored glass. The image, at first will be distorted, and people may be pleasantly surprised and/or disappointed that there is more to me than this title, but that is the only way people will see me with clarity. I am resolved to make friendships, show people that I care, be there for them when they need me. God never gave up on me so I don't want to give up on them. Looking back in my life there are certain relationships that I didn't give up on. I wish I can say there were more, but it was only a few. In these relationships I would not let up, despite the good the bad and the ugly. I knew they were worth fighting for. I feel that same determination inside me. If I try, enough seeds will be planted and relationships will grow. If I try enough, the glass will be broken and people will see that I bleed, heal, and connect like anyone else.

On a lighter note. I need to stop putting them in one cart....

Being Grateful: Star Wars and Beaches

This past week I have been cranky. Usually I start out on the weekend on full steam and then by midweek I run on empty. I'm pretty sure it all boils down to lack of sleep. I am normally a pretty even keeled person, usually I have a happy disposition, but when I lack sleep, I slowly creep over to the dark side. I am but a lightsaber swing away from "giving in to my anger" and joining Palpatine and the Death Star (Sorry for the random star wars reference I never know where my caffeine rush will take me).

Is it just me or did every Korean kid growing up in the 80's watch Star Wars, Rambo, and Rocky with their parents?

 Everything gets on my nerves. I slowly start seeing the world through Darth Vadar's mask (ok last one). Luckily my husband is extremely patient with me. Like the gravitational push and pull of the moon on the tide, our five years of marriage has eventually brought us to a decent balance of our daily responsibilities. He does a lot for me and our kids. When I am cranky I have no one to blame but myself =T

This past week we took a mid week break. We broke out of our normal routine and went out for dinner and had dessert (We Never. Ever. Buy dessert at a restaurant). Then we went to the beach and played in the sand, didn't worry too much when Kaitlyn started to consume the sand, and danced with our kids with the ocean as our audience. It was absolutely delightful. I've come to see how great it is to take a step back and see how big the world is and how small I am.

To remember God as a creator and not as my personal self help couch.

To remember how blessed we are and how much we take for granted.

To remember to be thankful for all His gifts and the chance to live a life of gratitude.

From here Kaitlyn begins to eat sand...

Check out Daechoong Mama's Facebook page for the rest of the pics!

A Mother's Worst Fear

As much as the life of a mother is full of joy, it is always laced with a modicum of fear.

Before having kids your worst fear is something happening to you or your family but it's never hovering over your head, you just think "I hope that never happens." However, when you have a child, it's like fear becomes a permanent part of your conscious. Almost to the point where I look back and I barely think I knew what fear was until I became a parent.

I would put fears as a parent into two categories, chronic and acute. Chronic fears are the long term fears that are forever over your head as a parent. These fears are about your child's education, health, and their spiritual and emotional well being. Then there are the acute fears. These fears are related to situations, like when your child gets hurt, sick, or when you think your child is in harms way.

My worst fear is someone taking my child. I think part of it is because I live Hawaii where drug related crimes are prevalent. Some one I know almost had their child abducted by a drug addict. I'm always very aware of my surroundings when I take my children out.

Which brings me to an incident that happened this past Tuesday..

Another daechoong moment, I let my son dress himself which means theres a 99.9% chance he would wear his swim suit.

We went to the mall because it was really hot and humid that day. Hawaii was suppose to have been hit by a tropical storm but it ended up fizzling out and leaving us with incredibly moist air. We went to a little indoor play area for kids. The rubber playground complete with extra padded carpet was ideal for that day. Only it was majorly crowded with kids. With all the moms off to the side looking at their iPhones and the kids running around wild and jumping on top of each other, it looked like  scene from The Lord of the Flies. While my son joined the bedlam, I was getting my daughter to try to walk. After awhile the mosh pit got to be a bit much, so I had my son put on his shoes, while I attempted to put my daughter back in her stroller. My son was next to me trying to figure out how to get candy out of the gumball machine, then I noticed Kaitlyn's strap was stuck. I turned around for 5 seconds to fix it and when I turned around, lo and behold.

Joey was gone.

He was gone. No where to be found. I frantically looked in the play area but I didn't see his bright blue swim suit, he wasn't there. I looked in the perimeter, not there. Then immediately i think, "Someone took him!" I frantically yell.


Bill Cosby was unto something when he said "Always end the name of your child with a vowel. So that when you yell the name will carry." Well said.

At that moment, like a pack to a wolf's howl, all the moms looked up from their iPhones, while their kids went along with the mosh pitting, just another mom screaming I guess.

From about half the mall away I hear my son yelling "Mom I'm here! Come get Ice Cream!!" He was in an ice cream truck ride.

Same truck. Taken a few months back.

I ran to him, my eyes wide with rage. He sees me and smiles and hands me an invisible ice cream. "Here mommy eat chocolate."

On the inside I was thinking....



I grabbed his wrist, took him to the bathroom to give him a spanking but wouldn't you know it, it was filled with other moms and kids sooo.... that didn't happen. I raced them back into our car and started lecturing my son. I replayed the scene in my head over and over again. He was gone for only a few minutes but it felt like the end of my life.

Driving back home I calm down and suddenly memories of my parents swirled around in my head. My parents were pretty protective of me and my brother. Every person we interacted with, they had to know who they were.  My parents were suspicious of people, all people. I always chalked it up to ignorance and I resented them for it. It's because they grew up in a highly competitive dangerous society recovering from the ravages of war. It's because they are Korean and they have to worry about everything. Its because they don't see what a safe country America is. Now I see that it was me who was ignorant. My parents feared for us because they were parents period.

Though my son drives me crazy I know I love him more than life, that if anything were to happen to him I don't know what I would do.

On a lighter note... More evenings at the beach!

Epic Meltdowns: Mother and Child

For all the experienced (post terrible 2-3's) mothers out there, I have a question for you. What is up with all the epic meltdowns? How much longer does this phase last? Some advice as to how to deal would be great.

I know I am one post short of renaming this blog "Trials of Raising a 3 Year Old Boy," but this is certainly what has been consuming my mommy days. This past week wasn't too bad but the last few weeks have been meltdown-tantrum central at our house.

I know what the root of the problem for the most part, lack of sleep. My son on many occasions will wake up at 6am, will be bouncing off the walls all day with boundless energy, and sans a nap will still not sleep until 10pm! O and we try. Some days we throw the book at him, everything from corporal punishment to bribery and manipulation. In the end, my son is still wide awake and we are exhausted. Then after 3PM he starts his meltdowns. Everything from the weather, to the sound of his sister's voice will tip the scales. Screaming, crying, whining. It doesn't matter if we are in public either.

A couple weeks ago, I decided to take him to a "happy place" like the Hawaii Children's Discover Center. We have a membership there and my son loves it, I often take him hoping to tire him out for a nap. The only thing is, the place closes at 3PM on Saturdays, the "Danger Zone". When we are about to leave he pulls out all the stops. The Children's Museum, the happy place, complete with balloons and rainbows becomes an ironic backdrop to this screeching meltdown. This  time he had his meltdown right in front of the entrance. It was so ridiculous I took pictures.

Look at people ignoring the crying boy, it is a happy place afterall...

Lets just say everyone saw me drag a kicking crying screaming child, with one arm, while carrying my one year old daughter with the other, out the door.

This happens at pretty much any place he finds amusing. By afternoon, right around nap time, we will try to leave and there he goes again. I think my son purposely picks the most visible and highly populated places  to start his meltdown show. Maybe he thinks that I will crumble under the embarrassment. Don't be fooled, 3 year old's are smart.

Like this time for example. He had his meltdown right between Ala Moana Mall (the largest outdoor mall in the country) and Nordstrom.

As you can see, I'm not the only one amused.

Refusing to budge even though I say that I'm leaving.

 While carrying my daughter I had to drag a crying boy at the mall, through the parking lot

Honestly, these meltdowns alone don't bother me much. I find them funny sometimes and often think it's cute. I am usually able to remember that they are only this young for a short time. However I'm starting to realize what my buttons are, and I'm realizing that I am just as prone to meltdowns myself. My meltdowns are when, days go by of him waking up early and sleeping late without a nap. Over the course of a few days of this, exhaustion sets in, and I am ready for meltdown central myself. 

Take last Tuesday for example. Just another day after a few consecutive days of him waking up early and refusing to nap. 10+ times he came out of his room refusing to nap. Suffice it to say I was tired. I started to say childish things like "Joey, why do you do this to mommy? You only think about yourself!" As if a 3 year old could possibly empathize with his 31 year old mother. Then, in the afternoon we had a major plumbing problem. The bathrooms were flooded with toilet water, and our sink was clogged. My husband and the plumber were running around the property trying to figure out the problem. I decided to take our kids to the playground. While holding our daughter, my son was playfully running around, then I noticed he started to wobble. O no... don't tell me.

He pooped in his pants.

Not just any poop, an epic poop, to the point where itwas running down his legs and collected in his Crocs. So here I am, holding my one year old, no plumbing in our house, and a 3 year old laden with poop. 

I literally wanted to drop kick him.

Don't get me wrong. I love him more than life, but exhaustion plus this scenario was a recipe for a mother meltdown of rage. However God, in His divine wisdom, intervened. I firmly believe, He divinely appointed our next door neighbors, a loving middle aged Hawaiian couple, to be at the playground at the same time. The wife saw what happened and tenderly touched my shoulder.  The creases around her bright eyes gave away a full happy life, as oppose to old age.   Her concern and empathy made evident through her comforting smile, "I'm sorry mom, we've all been there." She took Kaitlyn into her arms so I could tend to my son. I got a hold of myself, grabbed my son and pretty much gave him a bath at the park bathroom and washed his clothes, underwear and Crocs. We still had to stay at the playground because the plumbing situation was not yet resolved. Luckily no one looked twice at my son running around in his underwear. I heart the country. 

Afterwards the couple walked us back to our house. She said she had 6 kids and now has 22 grandchildren. "Its tough sometimes, just can do what you can do." She said. 

We got home, had dinner at Zippys, then my son finally passed out at 10PM. Watching him sleeping I was reminded. Thankfully I evaded a major meltdown.  I realized in many ways, as an adult, I'm just as childish. I learned that I see so much of myself in him, in the same way I see so much of my mother in me. Do I have a right to go nuts on him when I'm just as prone to do the same thing as an adult? Hopefully I can keep it all in perspective for the next time around and avoid another epic meltdown.

on a happier note. Other highlights from last week:

Evenings at the Park!


Nice sunsets

Ode to Finn

Last night I heard the shocking news. THat Cory Monteith was found dead at a hotel in Vancouver. My husband mentioned it in passing.

"Hey that 'Glee' guy died." I stopped in my tracks in shock.

"Who?? What!?!?" I race to his laptop to see a picture of Cory Monteith. I thought it must surely be an internet hoax or something. Let me look at a reputable website... like the New York Times... Lo and behold it was all true.

I'm still processing it all. Oddly enough, as his goofy awkward adorable character on Glee would sing "Don't Stop Believing"... I can't believe it.

I got into Glee starting season 2. After tasting the goodness of the 1st episode I was hungry for more. I watched all of season 1 and becoming a faithful Gleek anticipated every episode of season 2 with bated breath. I loved the music, I loved each of the characters, and I loved Finn Hudson. He was what I wished the popular football jocks were like when I was in high school. I wished that any high school boy I knew had the moral compass, sensitivity, talent all wrapped in the approachable goofy awkwardness he had. I loved the music. I grew up loving musicals. I grew up watching Sound of Music, My Fair Lady, Singing in the Rain, and anything Barbara Streisand. I always wondered when we would see music come back to television. In Glee, music made its grand entrance to TV and pop culture. I loved having my son watch the show with me at times and sing with me. "Last Christmas" (I know the irony keeps coming) was his favorite song. My son would stand on the coffee table and shake his hands in uncontainable joy. Though some people would criticize his singing, I loved his voice and felt he captured with every song.

But the thing that makes the whole thing even more sad for me was this interview with Ellen. I remember watching this a couple years ago and I often think about this interview. My 30's was just around the corner, my son was about a year old and I was going through a 1/3 life crisis I guess. I loved being a mom but knew it would be hard to start anything new, while growing a family. In this interview he talks about working at Walmart as a greeter and meeting someone that had been a greeter at Walmart for 15 years and wondering... "Is this what I want to do with my life?" I don't know but that truly resonated with me. Seeing this guy who was my age, finally finding what he wants to do with his life, made me hopeful and made me love Glee all the more. In a sense it was as if his character Finn wasn't much different from Cory, only we knew that Cory did find himself and what he loved to do. Now, its a different story. This interview is different.

Its a reminder that life is short and tenuous. That when opportunities come we need to seize them, hold them tight and as best as we can, not let go. That I need to cherish the blessings I have now as a wife, as a mother, as a friend because tomorrow is never guaranteed.

We will miss you Cory.

Daechoong Social Consequence

 Definition of Daechoong

(1) : Unassumingly carrying out an act in a way that is just getting by (2) : Accomplishing a task while most of the time overlooking the details.

My daechoong-ness has at times served me well. It allows me to be adaptable, take risks, and see the bigger picture without stressing over the details too much. Often though, my daechoong-ness causes me to brazenly over estimate myself. I get an idea and all I see is the big picture, the end result, so I dive in not realizing I was way in over my head. In the past I have had social consequences to my daechoong-ness, being late, not fufilling promises, disapointing others. I'd like to say over the years that I've gotten better through my loving and patient friends, family, and community but still learning. Now, I'm starting to see how my daechoong social consequence or DSC, might affect my kids.

Today was one DSC day.

I attempted to cut my son's hair.

It was bad, o so very bad. And I feel bad, not only because he looks like a 18th century friar, but because I promised to not be that type of mom... like my mom.

My mom is amazing, very intelligent, kind, very adaptable but I remember this aspect of my mom would drive me CRAZY. She would say she would do something like it was no sweat, only to have whatever she would say she would do... go terribly wrong and often my brother and I would suffer social consequences.

DSC Hair Cuts

Like the time she tried to cut my brother's hair (ahem). He was in the 3rd or 4th grade. My mom bought a clipper set and said, like it was no big deal, that she would do it after dinner. My brother was very apprehensive but being the nice obedient boy he was,  he timidly followed her into the bathroom. I was up in my room and about 30 minutes went by and I heard my brother screaming, shouting, crying. I ran out thinking that my mom had nicked his ear with the clipper... until I saw the hair... O my it was bad. Visible groves, like she started clipping areas and then forgot, the top middle of his hair randomly was shorter than the rest.  My normally kind sweet brother was convulsing, angry, traumatized. He had to grow it all out and it took awhile, he walked around with hair looking like a neglected chia pet. After that day he never. Never. Ever. let her cut his hair again. He was so angry and traumatized at the experience my mom surprisingly never attempted again from what I remember.

DSC Wallpaper

When my brother and I were living in upstate NY as elementary school kids, my brother's room was a yucky pale orange color. One day my mom promised to take us somewhere and we were suppose to meet other people. My brother and I eagerly waited to get out of the house but my mom first said, I'm going to wallpaper David's room. My brother and I looked at each other. We didn't know much at the time but wallpapering a room seemed like it would take a lot of time and effort. Not something that could be done quickly. My mom reassured us it will be done in no time. She got the roll of wallpaper, and grabbed a bowl of water and started putting water all over the wall. By this time my brother and I were confused,

"Umma.. What are you doing?!?!?"

She said, as she often did, "Don't worry Umma knows everything!"

Then she started unrolling the wall paper and sticking it unto the wall only to have it fall. My brother and I stood watching, our mouths agape. My mom getting frustrated.

"Why it not stick!?!"

She just assumed that there was adhesive behind the wallpaper that, once wet, would cause it to stick. Till this day I have no idea why. My brother's room walls were wet, wall paper everywhere, and we did not get to go to Carvel or wherever it was. When our friends asked why we weren't there "Well cause you know.. we had to clean up the water and the paper..nevermind."

DSC Bookbags

I remember during Christmas time when I was in 6th grade and my brother was in 4th grade we both desperately wanted JanSport bookbags (90's y'all). One day after my brother and I came home from school she announced she had finally bought us each JanSport bookbags. My brother and I jumped in glee.

"Are you sure Umma? Real JanSport??"

"Of course, I know that." She says confidently. She opens the bag and I get the red one, my brother grabs the blue. We hug them.

"Thank you Umma" my mom glowing, proud. Then we look at it closely..

"BonSport?!?!?! Umma, this isn't JanSport, its BonSport!?!?!"

My mom surprised but not wanting to admit her epic fail says, "Nobody see don't worry"... I hated those lines as a kid. So I took my BonSport bookbag to middle school, the playing field of cruelty, emotional instability, and insecurity.. and sure enough kids noticed.

DSC Clothes

When my mom would get us ready for school as kids, and laundry wasn't done, she would just pick something out of the hamper.

"Wear this."
"Umma I can't there's a big spaghetti stain on the front!"
"Don't worry! Nobody see!"
Because there was nothing else to wear, I would wear the shirt only to have every White kid throughout the day, with a clean dress or ironed crisp shirt say in disgust "Uhh, you have a huge stain on your shirt.."

DSC Boots

When I was in 6th grade I needed boots for the winter. My mom would always buy something on sale at Burlington Coat Factory and was always supremely confident of her fashion sense. She bought a pair of pointy toed  boots topped with 3 inches of black fuzzy fur. The funny thing is now a days those boots would have looked good, maybe my mom was ahead of her time. But this was in the mid 90s way before the pointy shoe era. It was all Doc Martens, and military boots. No one wore pointed shoes, not to mention ones with fur.

Sure enough I wore them to middle school, the land of never ending name calling, and everyone called me "Eskimo", the whole winter. I remember kids pointing at my boots and laughing. I went home and told my mom..
"They're just jealous!" She said, another common response.

So I promised myself... and my future children that I would not do the same. I would know my limits so that my children would not suffer the social consequences of my daechoongness but today I failed miserably.

I had watched a couple YouTube tutorials on cutting and hair and I got so excited at the thought of saving money and not going through another terrible barber or hair salon experience. The last time the lady cut his ear and she made him look like we had just adopted him from mainland China. So I grabbed a pair of scissors and a comb, had him stand in the shower and wow it is tough cutting hair.

You have to be all exact and stuff...

He was a great sport though. Now I am so glad... SO GLAD, that he is still young and won't hold it against me. So glad he won't remember this day. So happy that for now his outward appearance has no correlation with his self esteem. Even if kids made fun of him now for his hair I don't think he would understand. For now he is happy and still loves his mom.  I felt so bad that I took him to Jamba Juice afterwards and hopefully that's all he'll ever remember of this experience "Mommy is cool she bought me Jamba Juice!" (Thumbs up!) Today was a good wakeup call. I need to heed my past experiences and all the more cherish the fact that he doesn't count my flaws against me=)

Still a happy kid.