You seem frustrated. How can I help?

As my due date gets ever closer, I start getting more and more questions about whether I feel “scared” or “ready” for the baby. Honestly, other than being a little nervous about the delivery itself (I mean, 10-14 hours of pain does not sound like fun), I am not really scared or anxious about the baby’s arrival itself. In fact, I can’t wait for the baby to come. It’s the same kind of feeling when we were waiting for DoggyDumpling to be 8 weeks old so we could go pick him up – I can’t wait to meet her!

What scares me far more than taking care of a newborn, or even a toddler, is taking care of an older child. It’s one thing to lose sleep over breastfeeding and diaper changes, it’s a whole other thing once they’re walking and talking and expressing their own opinions and arguing back and slamming doors. In truth, the idea of raising a teenager is the scariest of all.

I think I am much more terrified about actual “parenting” than just raising another being (e.g. providing food and shelter). I haven’t read a lot of parenting books or articles, but what I have read sometimes makes me go, “WTF?”

This article is a great example. Have a child crying for seemingly no reason? “I hear that you are very upset. I am here for you.” Have a child throwing a tantrum and it’s affecting their sibling? “I see that you are frustrated. Sister is frustrated, too. How can I help you?” Have a child that’s bouncing off the walls trying to get your attention? “You have a lot to say today. I am excited for all that you are learning.”

All of her “instead try” suggestions remind me of when I was working at the IT support desk of my university, and instead of yelling at the idiot on the other end of the line, I’d have to grit my teeth and say very sweetly, “I know you may have checked if the monitor was powered on before, but please check again. Oh, the cord that runs from the monitor to the wall is unplugged? That’s the power cord.”

Her suggested responses are how I imagine an emotionless robot would parent. “I am excited for all that you are learning.” Who talks like that?

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To having it all

One question I have been asked a lot since I became pregnant, especially from women, is whether I still plan to work after I give birth. To those who know me well, it should not come as a surprise that my response is automatically, “Of course I still plan to work.” It seems absurd to even ask me that question, because I can’t imagine (nor have I ever seen) anybody ask a man whose wife is about to give birth whether he plans to continue working after the baby is born. The truth is that most men who have young children, at least in my industry, have wives who stay at home, or work from home, and/or have an army of hired help (nannies, au pairs, maids, even cooks sometimes) to take the load off at home. A working mom could have all of that help as well, including a stay-at-home dad, but it’s not as common.

Although I fully plan to continue working after I have a baby, that doesn’t mean I haven’t given a lot of thought to the kind of work that I’ll be doing. Right now, my work involves a lot of travel, and I don’t know how I will feel about leaving the baby 3-4 days a week, every week. My firm has been really great about discussing other options with me, such as being staffed on local projects so I don’t have to travel, or working on internal (non-client-facing) projects if there aren’t client projects in Boston. I am confident that, at least in the first few months back to work, I can figure something out where I don’t have to travel, but in the long term, travel is a necessary part of my firm’s model. And even if travel wasn’t part of the equation, being a management consultant can be pretty demanding in terms of hours – it’s no coincidence that there aren’t a lot of women with children who stay in this field. So, I have considered the possibility that I may need to move “in-house” (get an industry job that has more regular hours). However, I have not come across any industry job that I find more interesting than my current job. Moreover, it can’t just be a job, it should be compatible with my overall career ambitions.

So the broader question is, what do I think of the family-career “trade-off”? Can women who have ambitious career goals still reach those goals if they have children? Can we “have it all”?

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Eating for two, or not

Since this is my first pregnancy, there was a lot I didn’t know when I first found out I was pregnant. Heck, there was very little I knew about pregnancy. And the little that I knew turned out to be mostly wrong.

The crazy thing about this is that we are all surrounded by people who have been through pregnancy, often multiple times. First of all, our moms. Maybe older siblings. And as we enter a certain age range, there are more people around us getting pregnant and having babies. But I’ve realized that it’s rarely talked about by or with people who are not themselves pregnant. Why don’t we talk about it? I’m a chatterbox, so my friends can’t stop me from talking about it, and none of them are pregnant, but I think it’s like anything else that you’d go through in life. We talk with friends who have new health issues that crop up, we talk with friends who are going through the wedding-planning process for the first (and hopefully only) time, why wouldn’t we talk about the pregnancy process? Why should all of this come as a surprise? Why should it be treated like a “need-to-know” only subject?

Case in point, my husband is five years my senior, so a lot more of his friends are in the “new parent” stage of life than mine. Yet, he knew almost nothing about pregnancy and raising a newborn. He has had at least three close friends around him have babies, and yet they rarely ever talk about it. When they catch up after the baby is born, a typical conversation goes something like this:

PapaDumpling: Hey, how’s it going? Haven’t seen you in a while!

New Parent Friend: Good, good. Been busy with the baby, you know.

PapaDumpling: How’s the little one?

New Parent Friend: Doing well. Growing fast!

That’s it.  Then they start talking about cars or video games, and the whole baby-making/raising thing never comes up again.

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What is a little soup dumpling?

“Little soup dumpling” is the literal translation of 小笼包 (xiao long bao), or more accurately, 小笼汤包 (xiao long tang bao). Soup dumplings are delicious Chinese steamed appetizers, consisting of a juicy pork filling in a thin flour wrapper. It is extremely popular in Shanghai and Taiwan, although it can now be found in almost any community that has a large population of East Asians. On English menus, it is often translated as “mini soup dumpling,” but I like the word “little” for the title of this blog.

Why have I chosen to call this blog Little Soup Dumpling?

  1. Because I really love xiao long bao.
  2. Because I am a foodie, and wanted a food-related name.
  3. Because it ties to my Chinese heritage and my husband’s Chinese heritage (he is Shanghainese).
  4. Because it sounds cute.

What is this blog about?

This blog will primarily be about myself and my family of little soup dumplings. I am MamaDumpling, mother to a fur-child (DoggyDumpling) and soon-to-be mother of a human-child (BabyDumpling #1). I shall refer to my husband as PapaDumpling, who may make an appearance on this blog from time to time.

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