More Than Serving Tea


The Last First. #flymysweet

I am grateful for the folks who are genuinely surprised to find out that I have a child headed to college next fall. I married young, and got pregnant a few years later. And, I have some awesome genes on my side. But I try to keep up with the kids, and when we started on the college search journey I started documenting things on Instagram with the hashtag #flymysweet. I can’t believe we are already here.

My firstborn child and favorite daughter started her senior year in high school last week. (She’s my only daughter, by the way, but I heard somewhere a secret to parenting is to make each child think she/he is your favorite. Our 2nd born is my favorite older son, and my youngest is my favorite last child.)

We have begun the road of “this is the last…” Last week was the last first day of high school, and tonight is the last first home football game of the season. She is the co-captain of the varsity dance team. She looks cool driving my minivan to and from school. She is on track to finish all of her college applications before the November 1 Common App deadline. She decided she wanted to take 8 dance classes, work a part-time job, be a student, be part of the youth group, and sleep & eat. Not necessarily in that order. I’m proud. Proud of her choices. Proud of her ability to explain her choices and advocate for herself when her parents don’t want her to drop that AP Gov class. Proud that she is starting to come in to her own.

It’s breathtaking, really.

But lest you think I’m a helicopter parent who has hovered around her since she forcefully made her way out into the world or a lawnmower parent who has cleared the path clearly and tidily for her, you are wrong.

This isn’t about her.

It’s about me.

Learning to let go. To trust the work I’ve done as a parent. To trust she has not only heard but really listened to the things we have told her, whispered to her, yelled at her, prayed for her. To trust God in a way I’ve understood intellectually, but find much more difficult in the flesh and blood sort of way. I’ve told myself over and over that this isn’t about me, that her dancing, performing, laughing, succeeding, failing, loving, losing isn’t about me.

But I have been so very wrong, and arrogant, and naive. 

Most days I still feel as incapable and confused as I did when they handed all 6 lbs., 11 oz. of her to me like I was so supposed to know what to do. As if the football hold would be instinctive despite the fact that I had never actually held a football in my life. As if a few hours with her would kick start that instinct to know the difference between a hungry cry and a sleepy cry and a “I pooped all the way up my back” cry.

It’s about our entire family learning to launch our first one out into the world as part of “us” but on her own. 

It’s breathtaking. Thank you God. Thank you for granting me the privilege for watching the last firsts.

#flymysweet

 

Advertisements

The 40s Are Not the New 30s. I’m Looking Forward.

No, this is not a serious case of denial. I’ve had some time to work this thing out.

No regrets. That’s essentially what my Mom wrote to me in my birthday card to me this year. Written to me in Korean (yes, Mom and Dad, I am thankful that you made me do all of those Korean worksheets!), my Mom shared the wisdom of one who has been down this same path. She encouraged me to live life without regret.

Until I was about 20 years old I couldn’t wait until I was “older”. Elementary and junior high teachers asked me and my classmates, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” which lead to daydreams and funny diary entries.

In high school I spent most of my time wishing I was in college.

In college I had a lot of fun. A lot of drama, but a lot of fun. So I guess there were a few years of enjoying the present…with a watchful and sometimes impatient eye to what the future would hold.

My 20s were full of transition. College to career and then another career. Dorms to an apartment with three amazing roommates to an apartment all alone to our first apartment, second apartment and then first home. Singleness to marriage to motherhood to mourning.

My 30s felt a bit like a test run. I tried healthier habits. I tried to figure out a bit more about myself and my baggage and my legacy. I got a decent dose of what it meant to be a dutiful Korean daughter and Korean daughter-in-law and tried to learn a bit more about being a wife and mother. I tasted bitterness and sorrow, and I swallowed a few doses of each.

I made some choices to move forward and pledge allegiance and embrace both my identity and declare citizenship. I came to understand the darker, more anxious moments of my days needed more than an hour of cardio to give me a boost and stabilize things.

But that was literally yesterday. My 30s were wonderful and amazing and painful, but I don’t want to buy into the lie that tells us women that we’ve peaked in the decade prior. My memories may be gilded but my life isn’t.

Sure, today has enough troubles of its own, but I’m ready to look forward to today and each today after that.

Here’s to the 40s! Thank you 30s for preparing me for this next season!


Christian Legal Society vs. Martinez

On Monday, April 19th, the 9 justices of the U.S Supreme Court are scheduled to hear arguments in the case of the Christian Legal Society vs. Martinez.  InterVarsity is among a large number of organizations who have filed 34 amicus (friend of the court) briefs in this case.  The justices’ decision will majorly impact campus ministry.

That’s why 17 other organizations and 13 state attorney generals have urged the justices to make a ruling that protects the rights of religious groups to set their own membership and leadership requirements. The ruling will either allow these groups to operate the same as all other campus organizations, or it will allow state colleges and universities to deny recognition to Christian groups on their campuses.

Please pray for this critical ruling!

Here is an interview by journalist Tim O’Brien with Leo Martinez, dean and acting chancellor of the Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco and the defendant in this case, and Greg Baylor, attorney for the Christian Legal Society.

I’m not a lawyer (even though my Mom still wishes I would go to law school) but I scanned through a few of the amicus briefs for both sides of the case. This case begins with the Christian Legal Society but the impact of the case would be felt by religious organizations with further implications on all organizations. The Christian Legal Society wants its voting membership and leaders to be Christians and abide by certain standards. That’s just Christians wanting to force their religion on everyone, you say. Well,  if the U.S. Supreme Court rules in favor of Martinez and stop Christians from forcing their brand of religion on everyone it will, in effect, be telling Muslim, Jewish and all other religious organizations that they no longer have to be recognized by public colleges and universities.

It’s easy to pick on Christians. Some of us in God’s name have done horrible, awful things that have nothing to do with God. Admittedly we can often make it pretty easy to pick on us. But imagine if an Asian American student group at a public university or college, a group with no religious affiliation, denied a White supremacist a leadership role because she/he was a White supremacist. Inclusivity can only go so far, and this is where this case gets dicey. Where and how will we define freedom and public and justice?

So even if you don’t pray, this is worth thinking and reading about…

Here’s an update on the case…looks like there are many, many more questions that need to be asked before the justices will be able to rule.


If You Only Had Four Years Left With Her

My daughter and I went shopping last night for her 8th grade graduation/confirmation dress. She was looking for fun, colorful and sparkly, and I was looking for my little girl.

I felt a bit scatter-brained, trying to focus on dress-shopping. Instead my mind kept racing ahead to high school and high school graduation, and then I found myself thinking about the next four years differently. Yes, academics and extracurriculars came to mind. And friends, boyfriends, and all the drama that comes along with high school came to mind. And college prep, exams, essays and application fees came to mind.

But what I kept going back to was that I might only have four years left.

When I left home for my freshman year at Northwestern, I had no idea that I would never really live at home again. I guess I thought that coming home for a few weeks in the summer meant living at home, but I didn’t factor in the internships, summer jobs and college friends who lived all over the country would change my time at home. And then I suppose I always kept the option of moving back home if there was a job change, etc. I never thought I would go from my first apartment and job to marriage and my first home. I always thought I’d go back home, I guess.

When I graduated I essentially moved from my apartment on campus to an apartment in Green Bay, WI. Some of my things stayed at my parents’ home for years, but eventually all of my personal belongings made their way in boxes and bags and large vehicles to wherever I was living. All three kids have read or been read to from my copy of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. My daughter’s jewelry and makeup sit atop my childhood dresser. Her books and magazines are on my old desk.

As far as I’m concerned, the job of parenting won’t end. In Asian culture, your parents continue to play a strong, active role in your adult life until you or your parents die. In America, you’re an adult and on your own at 18. At least, that’s how I remember the difference. In my Asian American existence, the influence of parents and ultimately of culture is somewhere in the tension of the two sometimes polar opposite views.

Which is why I keep thinking about the next four years, wanting to be a combination of guide/cheerleader/coach/drill sergeant having had a driver’s seat view of the transition from high school to college with parents who did their very best but didn’t know the systems or even what to expect. We picked colleges based on reputation. I did one college visit alone – my interview at NU. We talked about the future, but I guess we never talked about home.

So I’m thinking about home, and how my daughter will always be welcome here in this house, my home, but sooner than either of us may think or know or want this may not be her home. I’m thinking about how to love my daughter, to delight in her and her drama, and to simultaneously trust God and steward the gift of parenting well because we may only have four years left to fold laundry together while watching some guilty pleasure on tv, harvest tomatoes and lettuce, wash cars and paint walls, raid my closet when I’m out of town and be home together in this way.

She tried on a nice pink dress that looked better on her than it did on the hanger, but it wasn’t the dress. I half-jokingly suggested she wear one of the flower girl/junior bridesmaid dresses she wore a few years ago, and she looked at me with that look. She’s not a little girl anymore, but we have four years together at home and at all the places we will be together and apart to discover the young woman she is becoming.