Friday, February 20, 2015

Happy [Lunar] New Year

Happy Lunar New Year! It's the year of the sheep (or ram)! My hubby is a sheep so tradition dictates that he should wear a red threaded bracelet to ward off bad luck. Who knew it being your year would merit the idea of bad luck? Of course, we don't play into the hype, but my mommy guilt is making me feel that we should do so more. Being the mother of an adopted Chinese son, I feel the desire (or pressure) to keep up on two fronts of the world. I want to celebrate his Chinese culture and tradition, but I can barely keep up with the holidays right in front of me!

I use to be much more domesticated. When we lived in China--even before adopting Silas--you'd find me hosting and decorating and baking and making. What a noble, mother, right? But looking back, I saw that mingled with some honest desires to make a home in my newfound motherhood was a dash of escape with a hint of pride. It seems that I've always enjoyed doing the opposite of the task at hand. Instead of going Chinese New Year crazy there, I went Christmas crazy there. I reckoned the gap or need was greater. Instead of being more "out there" in the culture, I'd shirk away into my safe home that was filled with Ikea furniture and whatever American craft scraps I could tote back or have mailed to me. I rolled my eyes at another dumpling dinner and longed for macaroni and cheese. 

Guess what I miss now. Oh, little wicked heart, ever discontented.

In a way, though, there is beauty in introducing others to different cultures and in making a safe home for your children. But I naturally assumed that I'd return to the states and retain some of those rich traditions here--both American and Chinese.

And we have to an extent. We speak Mandarin a lot in the home. (Poor Spanish has gone by the wayside, hmph!) We have homemade Chinese food more often than any non-Chinese folks I know, and I still resist much of the frozen veggie bags for fresher vegetables. (Although you'll find much crockpot pinning in my Pinterest page... it seems so alluring and foreign to me.) 

The truth is that I've chosen to fill what was my extra homemaking time with my career. Funny, I wouldn't call myself career-driven, I just want to paint and create... every spare minute I get! 

My sons may not see the red lanterns hanging in our dining room as I had envisioned for this 2015--our first Chinese new year together as four--but they're busy grasping simple traditions. Noel Piper calls them "everyday traditions" in her book; things like praying before meals, brushing our teeth, apologizing when someone gets hurt and offering options when we say "no."

And with that mini tradition-building + my incessant painting habits, that's all the time we've got. My constant hope is to better sort my time into working hours and family time; that my heart and mind would not be bouncing from one to the other as I get more concentrated time to work. Our children are small and I want to be home as we are constantly adapting to change. So, pockets of time will have to do for now.

I'm grateful that we are in a community of Chinese folks here that will guide us in celebrating the new year tonight with (you guessed it) dumplings! Silas will feel right at home with his extended family there. 

Maybe I'll find some lanterns and cut paper decorations in time for next year

Keep painting (and juggling),