There are days when I understand why mothers walk out on their families. Get up, pack their bags and not look back.
My heart is not big enough to contain the love I have for my children but there are days when the crying and whining and demanding become too loud and too much and I have to stop and close my eyes and take deep, deep breaths. And in that moment I see myself in my mind’s eye getting up, packing my bags and walking out the door.
There are days when I understand why mothers smack their children to near-death. Lift one hand and slap slap slap them silly.
My heart aches with each heartbreak my son goes through and I would give anything to take the hurt but there are days when the stubbornness and tantrums and outright defiance get the better of me and I have to stop and clench my fists until they stop shaking with the desire to spank, smack, slap.
There are days when the 4-year-old complains about every little thing I ask him to do and the 4-month-old starts crying as soon as I put him down. Days when the house is dirty and filled with crying and whining, and my head throbs so hard I am sure it would explode. Days when I start running around as soon as I open my eyes trying to take care of two kids and trying to finish chores, and the only time in the day I get to sit is when I pee.
There are days when I can feel everything and everyone clawing clawing clawing at me from everywhere and the hardest thing to do is stay.
But there are also days when the little boy is extra sweet and the baby wakes up smiling. Days when the sun shines extra bright and a soft breeze blows through the house. Days when I have to pinch myself and ask how I got so lucky to have the life that I have.
And so on these days, the good ones, I find quiet moments to stand back and just watch, and remember, for when the bad days come.
Roque starts kindergarten in exactly 10 days. I am both excited and terrified. I’m not really worried about him not wanting to go to school, because I know that he enjoyed the one month of summer class we specifically enrolled him in so ‘real school’ won’t be too much of a shock to his system, but the idea of my baby being exposed to the world without me there to hold his hand and explain unfamiliar things to him is giving me all kinds of mixed emotions.
I know that he needs to learn to digest and cope with new experiences on his own. I know that only by being allowed to work things out for himself will he be able to know what he is capable of. I know that he needs to go out of his comfort zone so he can stretch and grow and transform. More importantly, I know that I’m not the first parent who has overthought this particular phase in their child’s life.
Still, despite all this knowing, I have yet to be completely okay with the idea that a month from now, I might not be the biggest influencer in my son’s life anymore.
I became a biological mother when Roque was born, but everything I now know about parenting day-to-day, we learned together.
I honestly believe that being a parent to my son has forced me to become a better, more empathic person. Pre-Roque, I’ve never really thought of myself as selfish, but, like most people who don’t have children are, I was. I’m not saying this is something childless people do on purpose, or that they are bad people because of it. It’s just that, by default, yourself is the primary person you think and take care of, so most of the time, your happiness and well-being are what you are concerned about.
Having a child and choosing to take care of that child compelled me to take a hard look at myself and my values. Raising a child necessitated for me a kind of soul searching like no other and with every new situation I am thrown out of my comfort zone yet again.
Do I insist that Roque hug and kiss relatives because polite society dictates it or do I teach him to listen to what his inner voice dictates about personal space? Do I teach Roque to be obedient and do what his teacher says or do I teach him to question and risk being labeled a difficult child? How do I explain to a 4-year-old that fighting is wrong but that he needs to fight back if somebody is being mean to him?
Do I even want to introduce the idea of meanness into his fresh, unsullied world? Is it smart not to?
Often I worry that my son will suffer the consequences of my being a newbie parent; that my making a wrong decision in his upbringing now will taint how he sees the world and interacts with people and makes decisions later in his adult life.
It’s a long term case study and, unfortunately, it would be impossible to erase the slate and start anew if the definitive results show I had fucked it up.
So far, the kid seems to be doing all right though, and I am always amazed at how intuitive and kind hearted and resilient he is. And how funny! Roque genuinely makes me laugh with the things he says and does, and I can only hope he survives childhood with this quirky sense of humor intact.
Almost four months ago, our family dynamic changed when Cortez arrived and Roque became a big brother, a role he enthusiastically embraced (sometimes too enthusiastically, haha!).
In ten days, his life is going to change again, and though I know that Roque doesn’t realize just how big this step is, I do, and I will do my best to be a good parent by stepping back and letting him go.
Hello, it’s been a while. I’ve popped out a whole new human being since I was here last, and we are now a family of four!
Roque is now 4 and starts Kindergarten in two weeks, Cortez is semi-brand new at 3 1/2 months, and Alvin and I are trying our best to remember what babies need and when they need them.
It’s amazing how much a person forgets in four years! When I was nine months pregnant and almost ready to pop, I frantically tried to recall all the things we had to prepare for the baby and all I could come up with were tie-sides, milk bottles, and mittens; I had to Google ‘newborn checklist’ and ‘what to bring to hospital for delivery’.
The first day Cortez was given a bath at the hospital, Alvin and I watched how it was done as if we had never bathed a newborn in our lives.
Having a second child feels very different from having the first. Yes, I’m more physically tired because there are two to take care of, but, somehow, it’s not as mentally exhausting because even if I had forgotten the little everyday details needed to care for an infant, I feel that I am a more capable mother now than I was four years ago.
When I was pregnant with Roque, one of my sisters and I gave birth within a few weeks of each other. The big difference was while it was my first pregnancy, it was her third. I remember Roque and I visiting her and her baby, and being amazed at how calm she was while her tiny daughter bawled her lungs out.
Now with Cortez, I get it.
When I had Roque, I spent the better part of my 2-month maternity leave trapped on the sofa, unable to even put him down to pee because I was too scared to wake him up. The slightest whimper sent chills down my spine and I ran as fast as I could to his side, afraid something was the matter. Before he left for work, Alvin would make and leave sandwiches for me because all I could manage come lunch time was a quick sprint to the refrigerator to get them.
While I certainly can’t claim to be supermom, I can safely say that with Cortez, I am a more relaxed one. Babies cry, that’s what they do, and I have learned to be okay with that. I am not as anal about feeding times and nappy changes and poop color, and these days, I only worry about ruining my kids’ lives a couple of times a week instead of every day.
I am also more optimistic about being able to blog again, which I really missed. I know this sounds strange because how could I possibly find time to write with two kids when I couldn’t with one? But I feel like a part of my brain that had been holding its breath for the last four years was finally given permission to exhale.
Cross fingers that my optimism holds and translates to actual paragraphs.
so. i went and got more leather, one of which alvin promptly claimed as his own.
since my husband only owns one bag which he uses everyday (one. bag. i still can’t get over how ridiculous this is and i live with this fact everyday.) and rarely shows interest in bags in general, i cannot, in good conscience, deny him this piece of leather.
he wanted something smaller than his messenger bag, but still big enough to fit an ipad mini, a small notebook and an assortment of things he totes around everyday. the bag took me two sessions to make; i finished the body first then added the straps, pockets and other little things later on.
i also used an old belt buckle to connect the ends of the straps; i couldn’t figure out how to attach it so alvin had to help. he also measured and cut the straps because i realized that that was the part i dislike doing the most, haha!
i’ve been in love with leather for a while now and have been wanting to try working with it, just to see if i can, because, you know, how hard could it be, right? (oh, how my raw fingertips are laughing!)
i attended a leather cuff crafting workshop a few months ago which came with basic leather tools, and i have been itching to get my hands on some nice leather ever since. i was finally able to go to marikina a couple of weeks ago, where, after rummaging through shelf after shelf piled high with rolled-up leather, i found a couple of interesting ones.
after days spent poring through various leather crafting video and blog tutorials, i held my breath, crossed my fingers and started cutting.
the dark blue leather became this:
and the light blue leather turned into this:
i was stumped for a few days because i didn’t have one long, continuous strip of leather for the strap, then i thought: rings!
there are still a lot of details and little things i want to polish but, all in all, i’m happy with how the two bags turned out. now, i need to go get more leather. 🙂
i am sleepy. but there’s nothing surprising about that, i am always sleepy. my normal state is somewhere between smothered in just enough cotton to still breathe and feel emotion and floating above everybody else just low enough to still catch the gist of whatever’s happening.
so far it’s worked for me: i don’t get too affected by everyday bs and therefore carry minimal baggage around. admittedly, there were times when i’ve wondered how it would be like to actually be one hundred percent present in every situation i was in, to feel happiness and sadness and anger without mental cloudiness.
i tried to get more sleep, i took vitamins, i pinched myself. sometimes it worked, most of the time it didn’t. life went on.
lately though, i’ve been feeling the urge to nudge my brain into full wakefulness again and so i decided to take on the sangobion challenge and see if it works. the tvc promised results in 15 days. we shall see.
and so the nanny has gone, leaving the kid with me and alvin. the universe’s version of saying haha, i suppose.
let me backtrack. sometime in july, the nanny came to me, saying she had to leave in september because her father was sick and her mother needed help during harvest season. i asked if she would be coming back. she said yes because she wanted to finish her als (alternative learning system) classes (she goes every saturday), which will end in november. i said okay.
then a couple of weeks later, she came again, saying she wouldn’t have to leave because her brother was going to go and stay home from august to january. i said okay.
august came. a-ko stayed with us for two weeks because she had her cataract surgery, which meant she stayed home with roque and the nanny on weekdays. at around this time, we noticed the nanny being on the phone more often than usual, and we learned from a-ko that she apparently had a new suitor, someone she met through facebook.
now, while i’m not one to meddle in someone’s lovelife unless invited to, i would understandably be concerned if you were on the phone most of the day everyday, because then when would you have time to take care of my kid? so alvin spoke to her about it. not harshly, if i may objectively say so, it was all kind of casual, while she was helping him get dinner ready.
then she got mad at a-ko for supposedly tattling on her. which got me mad because how dare she think that a-ko would put her feelings above my son’s safety. and so i spoke to her about it. as nicely and as motherly as i could.
a week later she said she’s decided to go home. she would be leaving at the end of the month, a week away. i asked if it was for good. she said she didn’t know. after i pressed her for a more definite answer, she admitted that no, she would not be coming back. i said okay.
a day later, a sunday morning, she came from her room, sat behind the sofa where i sat watching tv, said she got a call the night before from her sister, who told her that their father had suddenly died, then promptly burst into tears.
she left the following afternoon with all her belongings, a full month’s salary and a little extra from us to help with the funeral expenses. we brought her to where her brother was supposed to pick her up so they could make the trip home together.
fast forward a week. the nanny’s cousin used to work for alvin’s brother’s family and so are friends with the other help at their family’s compound. when they texted her to send their condolences for her uncle’s death, she messaged back, ‘who died?!’
and the whole story started to unfold. the nanny, all sixteen years of her, eloped. i think i was more confused than anything. confused about the need to lie about her father dying when we had already agreed on her leaving in a week’s time. then i became angry. we treated her well during the time she stayed with us. she never went hungry, we were loose with day-offs, her workload was light. i even washed the little ingrate’s clothes, dammit.
so the last couple of weeks have been spent coping. i bring roque with me to work, alvin and i split the chores when we get home. it’s been really tiring, but kind of liberating too, to not have a stranger in our home, to not have to think of anybody else’s welfare apart from my family’s, to be able to do and say anything in my own home without worrying about somebody else seeing or hearing.
i’ve never been comfortable with getting help, and this whole drama has made me even more wary. so we’re going to try it this way for a while and see if we can manage. i’ll work from home when i can, and roque will still spend a couple of days a week at his grandma’s which will give alvin and i time to catch our breath.
wish us luck.