10 years ago

10 years ago, Cliff and I climbed Kilimanjaro together. After that, we went on a safari with some friends. Then Cliff had to go back to work, so I met up with yet some other friends and did an Eastern Europe tour to cover Budapest, Progue, and Vienna.

Vienna is a beautiful city. Although not my all-time favorite, I am very much looking forward to being there for Cliff’s first time in Europe. As much as I whine about being away from work during a busy time, and leaving the kids behind (which I’m still freaking out about), I know I will enjoy some “us” time with just Cliff.

Vienna-2Vienna

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Flying the coop

freak out

For the last 8 years, we have never really left the kids overnight.

Let me clarify. We have left the kids with my parents in Taiwan for 4 nights last year, and Cliff and I went on a cycling trip. But we were never more than a 3-hour drive away from them. So while that was a huge step for us, it felt like we were close by enough that we can be there right away if needed.

The rest of the time, the kids have either had both of us there, or one of us there, every single night. This is partly because we just don’t have any family members to help if we wanted to get away, and partly because no other opportunities have come up for it.

Next week though, I have to attend our firm’s AGM in Vienna for a whole week. No big deal, I’ve been away this long before at conferences. The twist is, this year, all the spouses are invited to the AGM. I’ve been to Vienna and a few other cities in Europe before, but Cliff has never been. So we had a choice. Either Cliff stays home with the kids while I go to Vienna, or he comes with me and we leave the kids at home. After much discussion, we are now going to Vienna together, and his mom has agreed to watch the kids for us.

I tend to get into a lot of details describing my freak-out when I’m freaking out over something. Like this trip. Leaving the kids for this many days, being in a totally opposite \time zone, and being this far away for the first time–I’m not ready for this.

Let’s be honest, I think the kids will miss me, but they’ll be fine. They will have school everyday, they have their swimming lessons, they will be sleeping in their own bed, and they will be with someone who loves them to the moon and back.

Me, however, will be royally freaking out. I will not be coming home to them every night, I will not get to snuggle and kiss them goodnight, or nag them to pick up the damn Lego. The scariest part is, I will turn around and see Cliff–the only other soul on earth who I trust the kids with–right there with me, without the kids in tow! My little brain can’t even process what this is going to feel like!!!!

Itti is probably reading this and rolling her eyes. Yes, I’m sure “it’ll be fine”. And maybe it will be fine. But right now it does not feel fine. Right now it feels scary. Unfamiliar. Risky. Stupid even. There is absolutely no logic in how I am feeling.

We leave in a few days. I will report back if I survive this.

Adulthood

adult mem

When I was a kid, my mom told me I had no idea how hard it is to be an adult and I needed to be grateful that I was a kid. I remember thinking, yeah right. Adults get to decide when they go to bed, what they wear, what they eat, and how to spend the unlimited amount of money that they keep getting each month. And there I was, just a kid, with someone else always telling me it’s bedtime, I must wear this, I must eat my vegetables, and my allowance never covered every mechanical pencils my heart desired.

After some years of practice of being an adult, I have to say, my mom is right. Being an adult is hard.

I’m not whining about my life being hard. In fact, I am very grateful for how awesome my life is. What I still couldn’t come to grasp with is the responsibilities I have.

The responsibilities came when Josh and Savanna showed up. But honestly, it was pretty easy when they were little. I was pretty good at making sure they are fed, their diapers are changed, and they had somewhat of a sleep schedule. Luckily for me, they are healthy little humans, so I managed just fine.

Now they are bigger. They now have their opinions about things, and their little heads are always trying to make sense of the world around them. They ask a lot of questions, and they observe everything I say and do. How do I explain the swear words they learn from kids at school? How do I explain I use those exact same swear words regularly myself? How do I explain savings, investments, and not spending all your allowance on shitty toys? How do I explain that the adults in their lives aren’t perfect?

At work, it’s pretty easy for me to work hard and do extra things to get ahead. I was raised to keep my head down and work my ass off. As a young practitioner, I always had one of the highest billable hours, and faithfully worked weekends and evenings. I’m happy to be responsible to get files out the door because I can do what it takes.

Then I became responsible for other people, even when I have no control over their ambitions and work ethics. So what happens when they don’t hand in the file by the deadline? What happens when they seem to park their brains at home and give me half-ass files to review? What happens when they sleep in and miss meetings, or take time off without approval?

It’s probably to my detriment that I’m on social media at all. Seeing everyone else on social media with clean houses, well dressed and athletic children, successful careers–I wonder if I’m the only adult who isn’t very good at being an adult. I try very hard to put that thought out of my mind. It’s just that some days I really wonder, am I the only one who is just winging this?