As a mother, I know enough not to judge anybody else’s parenting or mothering skills or approach. I always say that we can only parent the way we know how, and in the way we know best. No one can teach you to become a good mother or parent. We all just do the best we can. And this is a story of how I did it, at least in all the past seven years. Last year, I embarked on this two-month journey on my own to find myself and thankfully, I did. I came home with the realisation that I must prepare my daughter for a life without me and I came home with a journal. In this journal, I write letters to her when I can, for her to read in the future when she is much older and hopefully, much wiser. Let me share with you what I wrote on the very first page…
So today is Mother’s Day and as in the past 5 years, I didn’t feel or do anything special. I remember last year’s Mother’s Day was extremely difficult. I was alone in my family’s condo in Taguig and afterwards I was walking around the mall in tears. I went to a waxing salon and they thought my tears were all because of the wax. I had to assure the lady that it wasn’t.
I sent Mother’s Day greetings to all my surrogate mothers, the “mothers” I have known, the “mothers” I still have, and the women in my life that were the closest to the mother I could ever have. I have never been very close to my own mother but she passed away in 2011 and the fact that I had no real mother to speak of, to celebrate Mother’s Day for, caused me a lot of pain.
And also because nobody celebrates Mother’s Day for me. Until Lia is old enough to know it, nobody will do special things for me on Mother’s Day.
But really, Mother’s Day is not only one day a year. Or twice a year depending on your nationality and where you are currently living (like my niece in Sydney).
Last year, I was feeling absolutely horrible, sad, lonely, and basically all those depressing adjectives, because not only was Mother’s Day passing by with nary a trace, the reason I can be and am called “Mother” was absent.
This year’s Mother’s Day is better simply because my daughter is with me. We don’t have to do anything special. I don’t have to receive anything. Every single day that I spend with Lia is Mother’s Day.
Everyday is Mother’s Day as long as I have her with me and that’s all that matters.
Through all of Lia and I’s many ups, and a significant enough number of downs, is a blossoming friendship. More than being mother and daughter, we are best friends.
The other night, as I was slaving away, like I have been the past two weeks, she and I were staying up late, me with my two laptops, many text books, pens, notebooks, and many paperwork, and she with her portable dvd player and two books she has “borrowed” from God knows where, I suddenly hear her in a very serious, commanding tone, “Mama, hug me.”
Startled, unsure of what I actually heard, the tone being commanding, my forehead creased in lines, I asked, “What?”
Bewildered at where this was coming from, I went over to her, where she promptly put her arms around me and held me quietly and tightly for about a full minute. I glanced at what she was watching, wondering if this sudden need to hug me or be hugged by me came from what she was watching, and saw that she has been watching an episode from her favorite Little Einsteins show and that there was absolutely nothing there that could have prompted this overwhelming show of emotion.
She proceeded to flip her book with one hand, while another arm was around my shoulders and we we’re like that, for about five minutes.
Ah, my darling sweet little girl… You’re the love of my life.
I keep saying this to all my no-kids friends, of which there are plentier than plenty, since I was almost the first of all my friends put together to get married: You will never know what it takes to be a parent until you become one.
“Your life will change when you have a kid” is an understatement. Though superficially, my life now seems not too different from the one I used to have pre-baby, that’s all it is, superficially.
The very first thing I learned when I had the baby was, it’s possible to love something so much that nothing else comes close, and you will do everything, anything to make your life and that thing you love so much, work. It’s even possible to forget all other loves you once had. That was how it was for me.
When I read this article, I cried, bitterly.
What Just Happened Moment One:
Our bags were packed, the grandma is already at home ready to take the babysitting duties for the next three days, and I’m saying goodbye to the little one.
Mama: “Lia, mama is leaving.”
Lia: “Mama, are you going to worp? (her K’s are P’s right now)”
Mama: “No, but mama is going far away.”
Lia: “I’m going with you.”
Mama: “No baby, you can’t go with Mama this time.”
Lia: “No? Mama, stay here….” (pulling me over to lay down on the bed with her)
Mama: “Mama has to go, but Mama will be back very soon. And Mama Helen will be here to take care of you.”
Lia to her grandma: “Mama Helen, I want teem (teem is milk).”
Lia then goes over to me, puts her face very close to mine, holds my face in both her hands, looks into my eyes and whispers: “Go mama, go. Take care. Have fun,” and kisses me.
Wow. What did just happen?
I’m still a bag-person through and through I suppose. The huge ones. I’m actually known for my brown knee-high boots and my huge bags that I lug along no matter how heavy or big for my frame. Ssshhhhh! Walang pakialamanan. 😛
I’ve always had this turtle-ish kind of attitude with regards to my things. I can’t be separated from my laptop, and now I can’t be separated from my folders with all my work-related and personal files, and more importantly, I can’t be separated from my 2-year old daughter. Or is it the other way around? Lia can’t be separated from me, with her proverbial, “Waiiiit, waiiiiit, waiiiiiiiit! Mama, waiiiiit!”
This situation finds me with more than just my usual huge backpack, but also with another backpack or bag for Lia – and that’s me packing light. Some days I have my Crumpler camera bag and my Travel Essentials Medicine Organizer bag too.
Since I found out that the mommy bag H’s friends gave me during Lia’s christening is already tattered and needs to be replaced, I have been scouting for mommy bags. My search led me to this, Manila Baby‘s bags!
Actually, Lia did all the “cooking” in the stores. She loves cooking – and that’s a good thing, she can do all the cooking for her Papa and Mama, since her Mama absolutely has no interest in cooking.
With my super duper friend Summer, all the way from our U.P. Rep undergrad days (and she was even my wedding coordinator back in 2006), we went to Quaipo to source out kitchen supplies and ended up with a pressure cooker, a tabletop oven and some pans. Since I could not afford the coffeemaker with espresso machine, we got coffee press instead. I’ll have to come back for that huge rice cooker because we could not carry anymore stuff.
I even bought a lot of rice lights, candles and candleholders for our Johnoy Danao event this Saturday. That was really fun!
Upon coming back to U.P. and Summer’s house where H was supposed to pick us up, Summer let me borrow her chafing dishes – for the reunion events we have scheduled at Wharf Galley this month. And, as an advanced birthday gift, she also gave me an electric griller! 😉
I couldn’t have been any more happier!
It’s almost one in the morning. I sit here typing away on my laptop on the bed while my daughter sleeps next to me. We spent three hours just playing on the bed tonight before she went to sleep. Since we got here, that has never happened before.
When I am here in Bicol, I get so busy that I do not get to spend a lot of time with Lia. I do not even get to sleep a lot or eat a lot for that matter. Everything seems urgent, every little thing seems important, everyone needs attention – and there is only one little me. I’m not complaining, I’m just saying how different my life here is from the life I live as a plain housewife, full-time mom, part-time photographer, part-time traveler, part-time web designer and all around procrastinator in Manila.
Here I have no concept of day and time. I get home at odd hours, sleep at odd hours, wake up at odd hours, and I can’t tell whether it’s a weekend or a weekday.
WARNING: This post is for and for mommies only. If you’re not a mom, stay away from this post. 🙂
I don’t really talk much about my daughter in my blog. Or if I do, I try to keep it to a minimum; but this post is all about mommyhood and if you’re not a mom, you will not be able to relate. If you are going to be a mom, reading might give you some insights. As for all the others, you have been warned.
Everything I am, everything I do is always an attempt at a balance. And when I have little successes like this one, I am allowed to be proud. Today I potty-trained my 15-month old child and I am one overly proud mom.
I have three reasons to be happy today.
1. I spent all day with my family. I played with Lia, read her books and magazines, danced with her, fed her lunch, had snacks of ice-cream and an orange together. I have been too busy the past weeks and my family has missed me a lot.
2. I am happy now at where I stand with regards to the blog. I will make a separate entry on it.
3. One of my surrogate families in El Nido, my Mama Rose, texted me this morning to tell me there is a beach front lot for sale.
As evidenced by the absence of blog posts the past week, I have been out of town and been generally busy.
Three days after Ryan and I’s trip to Calaguas Island and Bagasbas Beach in Camarines Norte, Lia and I boarded the ITI plane to El Nido, Palawan – Lia’s first trip ever to El Nido and mine’s after two whole years.
In El Nido, I visited close friends all over town, old haunts, hung out at the beach, did island hopping, reconnected with the school which was my home back in 2005 and 2006, saw my old students and attended the graduation of my then-2nd grade advisory class from grade school. It has been 4 years since I last taught at Potter’s Place School and my, how my students have changed – both physically, emotionally and perhaps, psychologically.
Right now I would be (or at least I hope so) in the island of Calaguas in Camarines Norte, having fun with friends and doing grown-up things, I suppose. No, I am not bloggin’ all the way from some remote island – this is a scheduled post.
I set this trip a few months ago thinking I would be able to bring Lia with me and not miss her a lot. I mean, not bring her with me to the island where we will be sleeping in tents, but I thought, maybe I could fly to Naga, leave Pili in the early morning of Saturday and get at the Vinzons port just in time for the arrival of the other beach bummers from Travel Factor and from then on, hook up with them to the island. The going back plan was leave Daet for Naga after lunch and be back to Pili in two to three hours. All things considered, I would only miss Lia for one night. But I had not factored in the event that I would have an actual job that has responsibilities and would not be able to fly out of the city whenever I wanted to.
Thus, the flying plan was scrapped and the bus plan came in. To be brutally truthful, I hate taking the bus. I cannot remember the last time I took a bus going to Bicol. I will not elaborate now as to why, but this much I will say, I never look forward to travelling overnight by bus. Just the thought of traveling by bus makes me think of not going..
.. but I guess (or at least I hope) I am now in the island and survived the bus trip. I am (probably) laughing and having so much fun with friends frolicking in the beach…
Only trouble is, I miss you, Lia love…
My dear little one,
I wish you are laughing here with us just like we did in Matukad Island in Caramoan.
And you are enjoying the sun on your face, the breeze blowing your hair, and the sand on your feet..
We will play in the sand and splash water all around us, and over our legs and even at our faces..
I promise to put as much sunscreen on you and all over you so that you do not get burned like you did here:
We can be castaways. You can stay naked all the time (isn’t that what you always want to be anyway?) and I will take care of you.
I miss you Lia and I wish you were here with us.
I forced myself to get out of the house, like totally. I forced myself to leave the house without Lia because I was stagnating at home and I did not feel like doing anything at all and I needed some inspiration or perhaps I needed to force myself to do something, anything, just so I can force myself to do the things I actually need to do.
Ahhh, so many things to do, so little concentration. There is enough time, there must be, the problem lies in my concentration. The ability to be efficient with whatever time I have in my hands. Sometimes I’ve got so many things in my mind, so many things I want to do yet I cannot find it in me to actually do it, that I end up just lingering in Facebook, or Twitter or Multiply, or forever checking my mail while the clock ticks away, and then I find myself at the end of the day with nothing to show for.
So today, I forced myself to bring myself to the nearest, most accessible, least energy required Starbucks and I’m now sitting at a table outside, typing away a blog that perhaps will not make sense in the end but will at least give me something to show for, and will provide an avenue for my fleeting, raucous thoughts.
I’m sitting here thinking to myself that I cannot afford this coffee I am drinking, thinking about my lifestyle and the lifestyles of other people and thinking that everything is all a matter of choice. Sometimes it appears I have a lot of money, for someone who doesn’t have a real job, with purchases such as this and that, and travel to so and so places, but as I’m sitting here, listening to unfamiliar wonderful music emanating from this coffee shop’s loudspeakers, I think about the last time I bought myself a pair of jeans, a pair of petty I just-bought-myself-this-pair-out-of-whim shoes, the last time I had a facial or how often I have been to a salon for a mani-pedi or a hair treatment, and the answer was its been a long time or few and far between. I live my life simply, as simple as I can and I like to think I work hard enough for any purchases or anything I ever get for myself.
Okay lang yan, masaya naman siya eh. Ansaya-saya!
No matter how much you prepare for it, parenting will blow your mind.
Your kids will challenge you, bring you to tears, crack you up, and make you forget what you urgently had to do. They’ll shatter the life you knew into a million pieces. Then they’ll put it back together, like a stained-glass window, into something infinitely more complicated and beautiful.
While every parent’s biggest surprises are different, there are common themes to the ways that kids revolutionize our lives…