"We have fun as a family," Min Gi says to me, after J is finally tucked in, tummy settled.
"He just wants to do everything you do."
Children imitate what they see. J growing up is shining a big-ol'-halogen spotlight on my life--especially my actions. He will do exactly what I do, no matter what words are coming out of my mouth. And you know what? I'm not super happy with what I'm seeing.
I realized in that moment what's been floating around my head in the last few years living in the U.S. that has been bothering me--I don't think I live fully aligned with my values (which, I'm happy to see, haven't changed since that post three years ago; which means I done a good job the first time 'round).
That's hard to do. How many people live completely in synch with their optimal values all the time? I'm finding it harder to do in the U.S. for many reasons, but mostly because 1) American consumerist culture is beyond overwhelming--I see Min Gi succumbing to it more and more and know that I, too, fall into bad habits in my own country, (nothing like a trip back to Korea to help put that in perspective) and 2) most of my values come from, but are different than, my family of origin, who have never in my adult life been so much a part of my daily life than they are now. Number one is more pervasive, but number two has the stronger emotional pull--and the increased challenges of intimacy. This closeness with my mom, my dad, my sister and her new daughter, and even the beginnings of a repair to my relationship with Brian are wonderful. But sometimes it is easy to forget the ways I've grown away from them (you're always a child to your parents, right?).
The stakes, though, have never been higher. If I allow myself to stop caring about values that really matter to me, to my family, and instead allow the dominant culture, both country and extended family, to dominate, J will be more influenced by those values. Because really, if I'm not doing anything differently, then I am, in fact, espousing those values.
So I need to stop. I need to stop the "secret" AM trips to the McDonald's drive-thru (and PM trips to Burger King drive-thru--I'm really just a disgusting human being, no?). I need to stop the Diet Coke addiction (which, thanks to Korea, I have gone cold turkey on and plan to keep that up upon my return to the U.S.). I need to stop making excuses for why I can't exercise or why I can't cook and need to eat out/order food. I need to stop spending money I don't have and avoiding dealing with paperwork because I'm not satisfied with my money situation. I need to stop prioritizing work to the point that I don't really see my husband for days on end. I need to stop reading things I don't really care about on the internet and start reading books again. I just need to stop. All of it.
And I need to fill my life back up with what I love and need. Family. Health. Writing. Work (Teaching AND Hotlining--I just have to face the reality that I love working on something that helps others). Reading.
My example needs to count for my son.