My Lao Village: 20 People Who Helped Me Survive A(nother) Year of Parenting

Lao-Americans celebrate everything and I mean everything basically the same way: with Lao food, with alcohol, and with an entire community. If you’re an outsider, you would not be able to tell apart if the goat feast in the backyard is celebrating a Lao wedding, a Lao housewarming, a Lao funeral, or a birthday. No age of birthday is safe from such a drunken atmosphere, even little ones’ own days. I think the Lao have the right idea by celebrating a ‘village’ rather than focus on a single person. Many coo over the precious Bébé yet very few actually consider other people, especially one of whom whose hoo-hah was deeply affected by such existence, that all helped raise a child. Yes, sure “happy birthday” but can we give it up for everyone else?First birthday

20. Birthday Kid We sang her a song, baked her a cake, and made that day all about her. Lanoy gets her day and a shout-out because she is a sweet baby girl, who makes me proud every damn day to be her mama.

19. Mama I think it’s safe to say none of us would be here if it weren’t for a womb of steel and mighty loins doing the hefty work. So, I am giving myself a huge ass pat on the back and a strong ass cocktail.

18. Dada It takes two to tango-parenting? Here’s to Gym Hottie for kinda, sorta helping out in the year that was the first year of Double-Trouble Parenting. Kinda.

17. Big Bro I cannot be any more proud yet guilty of Humnoy being thrust into this role. He’s shown us how much he’s grown when he tries to soothe his sister or when he tackles her for touching his toy. Seriously, Dude’s getting huge.

16. Grandparents GH and I would like to give a major shoutout to my and his parents for being the best grandparents many, many, many miles away. Our kids might not recognize you on the street but they love all the love you send anyway.

15. Aunts, Uncles, and Other Obscure Family Tree Members I can’t tell you how many “aunts” and “uncles” I had growing up. Get this: my mom only has three yet only two non-estranged siblings but I have 30 times the amount of “cousins” through various family-friend connections. My real-real family are the greatest people I’ve ever known and the -Noys’ Aunts and Uncles: The Next Generation.

14. Neighbors Living in apartments, we get to be really close but not all our building mates are all who we (want to) interact with. The kids (Hum since little toddlerhood; La since birth!) have a strong connection with our apartment home community office girls. Yes, even Clingy McClingerson.

13. Ergobaby You have carried me through two kids and I don’t know how I could have been a mom to a toddler and a newborn if it weren’t for the carrier. It’s old and worn now (label fell off) but I got it in the perfect color: Black (aka Stain Disguise).

12. YMCA Daycare Confession: I haven’t been to the gym in months but it’s nice to know I can drop off the kids to go “work” “out” “in” “the” “gym.” The option is good for a mom mental health day. Me, in the gym in 50 years

11. Fast Food Worker Man, not only do you give me hot, weird-for-you food but you do so with a sympathetic ear. Speaking of ear, sorry for the shrieking children from the backseat but I gotta make sure we eat before grocery shopping. Never Go Grocery Shopping While Hungry.

10. Asian Wax Salon I love that they always try to convince me to cut Humnoy’s luscious locks every time I’m in with the kids, which is always because my lip and underarm hair grows like a muth. I also love that they accommodate my kids with lollipops and comfy chairs as I accommodate the shit out of that hair.

9. Random Old Ladies Thank you for commending how well-behaved my babies are as I’m trying to get the fuck out of the store before these well-behaved babies aren’t so behaved. Don’t tell these sweet little old ladies, but I bribe the shit out of my kids.

8. Grocery Bakery Does your grocer’s bakery give out freshly baked cookies as you’re shopping? Our favorite one does and this helps my bargaining leverage so I can have those well-behaved babies every old lady notices.

7. Little (Big) Kids How adorable is it when big(ger) kids try on the Mommy or Daddy role and try to take care of little kids? Our community has elementary-aged kids at our playground and they love the -Noys! I’ll just be over here Instagramming tweeting.

6. Supervisor Huge appreciation to you giving me a job that is flexible around my schedule and availability. Also, thanks so much for providing a justified (and paid) break from motherhood. That shit be so nice.

5. Public School Students I mean, if it weren’t for these kids, I wouldn’t have a job. After a day teaching though, I run with open arms to the Double-Trouble Team back at home. Hormones on a prison schedule makes toddler tantrums sound like a melodious chart-topping hit rather than a banshee.

4. Real-Life Strangers I don’t know you and you don’t know me but I really appreciate you not acting like you do on the Internet out here in real life. As long as you don’t helicopter my ass or harass my family, you can judge my parenting at a glance all you want.

3. Internet Strangers Huge, huge shoutout to the fake friends that I made online (<— hahaha, like I’m making paper dolls or some shit) and the trolls that proved to me that I do not need to feel validated in others like you do to be comfortable in my own skin and voice. Bye, Pholicia!

Bye Bitch Pocahontas funny gif photo ByeBitch.gif

2. Third-World Parents I used to turn to Facebook groups and online discussions but I now ask, “what would my grandmother do?” and I know the answer. Thanks for always being with me and the children long after you passed.

1. You Yes, you. Thank you for being there on the other side of this screen reading these words. Thank you for being interested in my culture, my family, and myself even when it’s not popular. Again, thanks for acting like you do on the Internet. Keep that shit up.

Happy birthday Parenting Survival Anniversary!

Who’s in your village?

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What Should I Do If I Leave The Worst Tip Possible? {POLL}

Good on ya, Gramps.

The day’s perk I looked most forward to was definitely hitting up Denny’s for my free Grand Slam Breakfast. I also realized my birthday fell on Denny’s “Kids Eat Free” day and I called, confirmed it was true that I could 1) Bring in valid ID to get a Free Grand Slam and 2) Kids eat free from 4-10. I was for sure going to be there with bells on from 4-10 pm. Of course, when I get there solo with two little kids, I notice the teeny tiny print that the Kids Promo is valid only through the purchase of an adult entree of $4 or more. So, that’s not what the dude said on the phone and it just gets more annoying for everyone.

I know Denny’s isn’t some hottie tottie palace of foodie haven but it’s still an eating establishment with good workers and honest patrons. I respect that and just made a plan to pay for the kids’ meals since I’m getting $8 of my bill free. After some notable horrendous service including asking for stupid crayons for the fourth time to appease the trampoline toddler in the booth and banshee baby in the chair, I finally made my way up to the server to request my check because the last time I saw her was plate delivery. The kids played, they ate, they were also ready to go. The check had the kids meals as free but the birthday meal charge. I hand the cashier my drivers license while redirecting a toddler and holding a 20-ton baby-child, who is a bolter.

Between the toddler whining for money to feed the stupid, stupid Claw Machine and a baby who wants to run into the Denny’s kitchen, I’m trying to listen to the cashier as he lectures me that my birthday comp usually should not cover the kids promo, which I admittedly knew since the fine print but am shocked anyway. He did me a solid by saying “this birthday” will be free but next year, I won’t be so lucky as I try to distract Humnoy from his favorite Disney character in the plush toy pit. I escort the kids out in the wind and rain and make it home safe. Phew. Birthday accomplished, I’d say! Kinda.

We bounce into our home and I get interrogated with “Did you tip the server?” by GH.

Oh.

Shit.

My kids and I enjoyed a free meal and I did not think to do the basic 20 15% and tip the staff, as shitty as they were! This may sound like I forgot on purpose but honestly forgot not on purpose! I felt so bad and insisted we need to go back and anonymously drop off some cash… but to whom? Which shift? Would they even welcome me back into there? I didn’t catch either of their names because I only saw them once at our table. I really have never done this and feel really, really bad and basically:

What’s your tipping rule?

Forget You: Why I’m Not Claiming To Be A Mom On My Birthday

I always get like this around this time of year. It is after the hustling holidays of Thanksgiving-Christmas-New Year trio and this day arrives before I, or anybody else, know it. Just a few short years ago, I dutifully had what’s called a “birth month” and celebrated drank my birthday the entire month. This time around, I get a forgetful husband and unknowing toddlers. This time around, I also hate birth days I usually love.

The awaited screams meant the world to me because it also meant that the inconspicuous 10 months came to life on the day my children were born. I had no clue what they would look like or even what pronoun one would be. I would meet the rest of my life on their first day. Labor and birth has always been very kind to me and I love the experiences each one afforded me. Actual parenthood is another story.

My birthday is just a day I want to forget I gave birth to other human beings. Is that harsh? Maybe. I want to be me and go and eat Denny’s alone. If the universe can do me a solid and make sure the baby can change all her diapers and catch all her poops. I would really like to put on makeup and my false eyelashes just because it’s my fucking birthday. I would really appreciate it if the toddler did not wake up his sister on purpose. I would like the dishes to run themselves or hell, go all Beauty and The Beast on me and make all the meals for the day. I just want to celebrate by doing absolutely nothing and remembering nobody’s birthday except maybe my mother’s because I came out of her vaj.

Today, I just want to wish myself a happy birthday and no one else.

What do you “selfishly” do on your birthday?

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Happy Birthday to a Very Good Dad

I never thought I’d be a wife to a man six years my senior and bear his children. To put it in perspective, I was born when he was probably in Kindergarten. I was starting middle school when he graduated high school. He will be in his 40s before Humnoy hits double-digit age. Joking aside, I would like to wish Gym Hottie a very happy day of birth!

Birthdays are a huge deal to me. GH didn’t think it was but I feel that a day someone you love was born is more exciting than any other holiday, celebration, or day because it’s the day to celebrate an individual. We celebrated on Saturday because I had an event to attend out of town. We ventured into downtown Seattle via the Light Rail, of course, and I noticed some stares from other train patrons on plenty of occasions. I wondered if my dress was too short (or inappropriate for Seattle weather). I realized it was Dada and Humnoy. The stares were adoring looks from reminiscing older couples directed at the sweet interactions between a man and his child. He was sitting on his father’s lap and it is so amazing how much love the man shows on his son, in private or public. This man has no kissing shame!

So, happy birthday, Dada and we hope you’re enjoying your birthday four hours apart today. Humnoy would love to give you a bunch of birthday kisses – “Ahhh Wah!”

Pictures from the day:

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What do you usually do to celebrate a loved one’s birthday?

Grandma’s YouTube Birthday Party

How does a 54-year-old Lao woman celebrate her birthday, you may wonder? Two words: pho and YouTube. As a selfless birthday gift to us, my mom made real pho. Therefore, I selflessly enjoyed real pho made by a real Lao mom. Speaking of which, I am contemplating if I need to revise my Terms of Agreement for my challenge. I’m out of town and won’t be back until Sunday evening, which concludes the “week.” Am I going to have to call in a week? Am I already copping out that quick? Will my Lao mom rad-ness slide back a few points?

I’ll struggle with this tomorrow when I’m having pho for breakfast, lunch and an early dinner. Wait. I shouldn’t be driving after pho because I always get pretty nap-happy afterwards. It must be that MSG that I covet oh-so much.

The non-ghetto version is so freakin' better.

It's like if MTV still had music videos and if they played Lao music.

Humnoy eating one of Grandma's Asian pears. How fitting.

Happy birthday, Grandmommy!

What do you always have to have on your birthday meal? Do you not care or always have a request?

Yes, Laotians Celebrate Birthdays But Not Like That

What, you didn’t grow up celebrating your birthday with cake and egg rolls? Lao people aren’t what you would call a celebratory people in the sense of RSVPs, gift wrap or cards. You know you’re at a Laotian child’s birthday party when it starts out with cake and ends with an all-night gambling session. See? We celebrate birthdays but just not like that.

My mom’s birthday is on October 15. Now, don’t call me a bad daughter off the bat but she is going to make real pho this weekend and I couldn’t be more delighted. What, you didn’t grow up with your parent making food on their own birthday?

Yes, she’ll make the pho but she gets to spend it with her favorite grandson and favorite daughter. What more could she ask for, really? She does constantly drop hints on a pair of diamond earrings.

“Oh, Humnoy. When you Mommy and Daddy gone to buy Grandma diamond earring, hah?”

Do you remember your childhood birthday parties? What was your favorite age for a birthday?