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.
i am in a contest with my son’s nanny. the contest is to see who can make him love her more and it has been ongoing for the past year. the reason i only bring it up now is because i feel i am finally winning.
i took it for granted when i got pregnant that i would work until i gave birth, go on maternity leave, then go back working. being a stay-at-home mom was never an option, both for financial reasons and to keep my sanity.
when we hired our nanny when roque was three months old, we had misgivings about her age (she was then 15-going-on-16), but when we saw how capable she was, we considered ourselves lucky. it’s been a year and she’s still with us, a feat considering all the nanny horror stories i’ve heard. understand that she’s not perfect and i do have moments of wanting to scream in frustration, but all told, she takes good care of roque and seems genuinely fond of him, and in a world full of viral videos of nannies hitting babies they’re supposed to take care of, that is more than enough.
on average, they spend ten hours a day together, and those aren’t just random hours, but the best part of each day. i only get to spend time with my son early in the morning and during the evening, when i am either rushing to get ready for work or tired from work.
logic tells me that all that time spent in each other’s company will, of course, foster closeness, but when i saw how they played and giggled together, and how she seemed to know exactly what he needed, my heart ached.
he kissed her cheek before he would mine.
because i cannot not work, i do everything i can to make the most of my time with him. roque would start calling out at around 5am and my body would automatically get up even as my mind desperately pleaded for it to stop and stay in bed. part asleep, part irritated, part resigned and plenty tired, i was also infinitely grateful that i am able to start my day with him.
we have our little routine: after his morning milk and diaper change, i would gather him in my arms and we would stand by the window and look out into the quiet of the early morning. we would spend endless minutes turning the light on and off, and he would smile proudly when he’s able to do it on his own, something that happens more and more often now. he would insist on leaving the bedroom and going to the bookshelf, where we would get his favorite book and look for the tiger yet again. his eyes would light up and he would smile and excitedly say ‘tiger!’ the moment he sees the vivid orange color of the animal that fascinates him so much.
when we go out as a family during weekends, alvin and i leave the nanny at home, opting to take care of roque on our own. we’ve received confused reactions about this decision, but we wanted roque to know that when mommy and dada are around, we take care of him.
now, he turns to us first when he needs something and when he has an interesting discovery he wants to share. we are his first choice as playmates. he kisses us for no reason, then smiles shyly when we express happiness at the show of affection.
i know that time-wise, i can never win over the nanny, but i am determined to make my few hours with my son count. i am determined to make him understand that being physically there is not the only way to show how much he is loved.
now, i know that this contest is probably just in my head. my nanny would probably just as soon leave if she could afford to, and it is unfortunate that she had to leave her home and work so far from it, but sometimes, a mother’s heart doesn’t process reason very well, and so i silently keep tally: one point for her, one point for me. no matter that i am the only one keeping count.
if i were to pinpoint when i began longing for a second child, i would have to say about a year ago. in the time between then and now, despite my attempts to stamp it out, the longing slowly turned into yearning; the ache to hold a second baby in my arms at times so strong i found it hard to breathe.
i wasn’t sure i wanted to be a mother in the first place and now here i am, wanting to be a mother of two. everybody i know must either be laughing their heads off or have fainted in shock.
all phases of motherhood are hard — from pregnancy to childbirth to child rearing, but these same phases also bring with them a certain kind of happiness i am incapable of explaining. the best way i can put it is like suddenly having access to a supply of love so abundant it can’t help but overflow and forge new paths to travel on.
universe, know that if one of those paths lead to a second child, i would be very grateful.
let me start with the disclaimer that i love my son. i love him with such intensity tears literally fill my eyes when i try to put what i feel into words because my heart is unable to contain the emotion.
i am grateful every day that i am his mother.
given that, today, mother’s day, i miss *not* being a mother.
i miss not being responsible for another life. i miss the luxury of dawdling over dinner with friends after work. i miss having adult conversations.
i miss watching movies with my husband. i miss eating a meal *with* him (no, being at the table at the same time while one of you feeds the kid does not count). i miss actually having sex when the urge hits.
i miss sleeping in. i miss sleeping through the night. i miss going to bed when i want to.
most of all, i miss not being so emotionally full all the time.
i miss not wanting to burst into tears every time i see a homeless child. i miss not wanting to commit murder each time i hear about an irresponsible parent. i miss not being consumed by paralysing fear when i think about not being able to provide for my son.
i miss not needing to hurry home because my heart hurts to be away from him. i miss not having my happiness hinge on hearing his delighted laughter.
i miss not needing to feel his weight on my arms, to breathe in his scent, to constantly reassure myself that he is real.
i love my son with such force it reduces me to a helpless ball. but i miss.
it wasn’t love at first sight between me and my baby. there was no recognition of my voice when he first heard it, no orchestra played when he was placed on my chest moments after he was born, no overwhelming feeling of happiness enveloped me when I first saw him.
the very first words I said while staring at the very red baby sprawled on my chest was: what am I supposed to do with it?
we went through months of not liking each other and adjusting to each other’s moods. we screamed at each other and cried together until we became friends and learned to laugh together.
now, my son’s face lights up the moment he sees me arrive home and he gets so excited he couldn’t crawl into my arms fast enough. I watch him maneuver through the various toys littered across his path, face determined, his sturdy arms and legs impatiently going over and around until he reaches me and I, at last, can bury my face in his neck after a long day at work.
I miss him every minute he’s not with me and I would spend the whole day just watching him crawl back and forth if I could.
seeing him grow stronger and more independent everyday, my heart already selfishly starts to ache for the time when he would not need me as much.
today marks the tenth month that I am a parent, and whenever asked within that time how parenthood was, I would always say without hesitation that it was horrible, because it was. It is. there is no way to sugarcoat it, nor do I want it sugarcoated.
life as you know it changes when you become a parent. things you take for granted, like peeing when you need to, suddenly becomes a treat. I’ve learned that being able to change perspectives at any given time is a very handy skill to have.
the relationship I enjoy with my son now is the result of months of frustration and hard work, not because of some intangible, unexplainable mother-son bond that advertising people are intent on selling.
sometimes we still don’t like each other, roque and I, but then I think about how far we’ve come from that first day we met, and I am convinced that it can only get better.
this is going to be an exciting journey.
the thing about an addiction, is that it never goes away. oh, there are stretches of time when it’s quiet, buried under the different layers of your consciousness, but it’s always, always there, waiting.
the quiet stretches sometimes last for months, and you get lulled into believing that you have it under control, that you have finally satiated its hunger. and so you start to take cautious peeks when you pass people on the streets, you absent-mindedly scan store windows, you confidently step into shops, thinking, no, it can’t get me anymore.
then you stumble upon one that won’t let you sleep. that you just can’t live without. that would give new life to *every piece of clothing* in your tired wardrobe. and you start the list in your head: it’s on sale! it’s cheaper than getting an entire closet full of clothes! i deserve it!!
it’s the last one that usually does it, because how can you not reward yourself when you’ve been working so hard and not getting enough sleep, and dammit, it’s on sale!
hello, my name is jona, and i am a bag addict.
i’ve been going through roque’s photos the past week, picking out which ones to print out. he’s four months old now and getting more and more active and interactive everyday, but i can’t help but be nostalgic for the days when he was small and soft and felt like a warm, cuddly puppy resting on my chest.
i remember when i would cradle him in my arms and his legs wouldn’t dangle down the sides, and how i would oh-so-carefully support the back of his head because his neck wasn’t strong enough to support it yet.
this last sunday, we bought a bigger car seat because he grew too big for the one we’ve been using, but i remember how that first car seat dwarfed him when we first strapped him in.
when i lay him down vertically now in his crib, half the length of his legs dangle down the side and i have to position him diagonally across the mattress to change his diaper or wipe him dry after his bath, but i remember the time when he seemed so small in a sea of yellow stripes.
i remember the first time he smiled his sleepy smile.
i remember the first time he laughed out loud.
these days, he turns over on his tummy five seconds almost-every time after we lay him on his back.
i know that his growing up is inevitable and i’m excited to see him teach himself how to crawl and stand and toddle and walk. still, while i look forward to the adventures we would have along the way, a part of me wants time to stop and this baby stage to last longer.
long enough for me to store moments and memories and cuddles. long enough for me to never forget the simple happiness of feeling him squirm in my arms, of hearing his delighted laughter when he plays with his daddy, of seeing him smile every morning when he sees me for the first time.