Opening school year blues

With the first (almost) full week of classes officially done, I guess you can say we’re back into the swing of things.  From school supplies to new backpacks and the routine of waking up the now seventh grader in the house, I know that summer is over.

Every year we have a ton of paper to fill out, and I just finished doing this year’s batch last night.  It makes me wonder if it won’t be easier for them to just ask if anything in the student’s  information has changed, but I realize now that would mean for missed information and a nightmare keeping up with around a thousand students annually.  Why am I complaining?

Out school supplies now come from each teacher, and while it is easier because you get a shorter list (which doesn’t include crayons or markers anymore, thankfully!), it can be difficult when the major subjects require a separate ring binder each.  I was so reieved to see two ask for composition notebooks instead, and one even asked for just a section of a binder.  Children complaining about back ache is not a good sign and speaks of the load they carry on their still growing spines!  For my part, I try to use the lighter binders to help ease his load.

School opening bluesThis year, he’s taller and his shoulders are beginning to get broader.  A hint of a moustache is already showing on his upper lip.  His voice cracks when he talks excitedly and now gets pitchy.  At around 5 feet tall, his shoe size is a whopping 9 1/2 and still growing.  (The dad has big feet.). His hands are no longer smaller than mine and I can feel the difference those few times when he reaches out for mine to hold it in his.  Still, I see a hint of “my little boy” in his eyes and voice when he utters “I love you, Mama” ever so affectionately from out of the blue.  I am praying that he never outgrows that part of him.

So the homework routine has started and kickstarting the new school year has been a bit of a challenge but we’re getting there.  Even he is aware that it’s a totally different ball game, and it requires adjusting anew.  There’s the usual check in at the end of the day and the constant reminder to get his backpack ready for school the following morning.  I sound like a broken record reminding him about keeping his keys and his bus pass in his backpack at all times.  Phone always charged 100% ! Turn on the ringer when you get home (!!)  Put away  your socks… and the list goes on and on.

It’s a routine that I both love and cherish for the special bond that brings us even closer.  We have done homework via the phone, facetime, texting and of course, me in the kitchen counter, and him on the dining table.  He knows there’s always the kindle app when he needs a book, and I’m trying to get him used to figuring out homework before calling out to me.

He has grown up.  A lot has changed.  He’s the same that he’s not.  My “tween” is almost a man, but I’d really like to keep him where he’s at for as long as I possibly can,  before I have to start looking up at him when scolding him.

Here’s to another school year.. let’s see what lies ahead.

#ThingsToDoIn2015: The final scorecard

Blog graphicI’m going to do this update separate from my new list of #ThingsToDoIn2016 and will be as honest as I can be about where I landed.  No explanations, just a status report for my benefit.

1.  Read six books. – Read one.  I tried.  I do have the six I can start with in 2016.  #FeelingOptimistic.

2. Take a trip to visit old girlfriends from SPCP/SPCQC — on my own — so that’s either Boston or California. – Boston is definitely on my list.. at least once.

3. Do another craft fair and learn new techniques.  (Visit one, not sell in one.) – Hoping to do this in the Spring.

4. Take my little guy to ComicCon 2015.  (Epic fail!) 

5. Take at least one actual class beyond online.  (Yes, Elaine.)  Definitely in 2016. Whether it’s an actual sewing class with Peter U or a course at FIT or at the Lion Brand Store, I will.

6.  Watch at least 1 concert — hopefully Billy Joel’s at Madison Square Garden..

7.  Watch at least 1 play or musical on Broadway.  And I saw God… =)  – Act of God, actually! HAHA!  Happiness..  Done!  I am actually going to drop this for 2016 because I am already slated to watch a musicale this coming Saturday with my little guy.

8.  Go to the gym at least once a week — and maybe even earn a locker!  (Go 10x the previous month and you get YOUR OWN LOCKER the following month.) – With all the weight gained over the holidays, this is a MUST.

9. Lose another 10 lbs at least before April.  (Lost over 20 in 2014!) – Need to work on this seriously in 2016.

10. Tweet/Instagram at least one positive thought every week.  (I thought “everyday” would be too big a commitment to make.) – Very good with this one!

11.  Find a rehearsal studio and actually spend an hour just touching the piano keys again. – I have actually found the studio.. just haven’t found the time.  Hoping to do this first quarter of 2016.

12. Spend a Saturday a month, on my own, just roaming NYC or some other place nearby.  (Do something “only in New York”..) – This has been one of the easiest to do.

13. Leave one preloved book out in the open once a month for someone else to enjoy/read. – I must choose the books I will part with so that I can get this act of sharing books going.

14. Destash: Give 5 items away from my current stash (clothes, books, art supplies, postcards) every month. – I have started — sort of?  Well, I need to be more systematic about this to make this work.

15. Write one letter long-hand every month. – Did not get to do this every month but did my fair share of longhand letters.  Happy with the effort and the results but hope to do more in 2016.

I know it looks like I didn’t get anything accomplished given the updates regarding the 15 on my list, but I’m happy to have been able to focus on trying to get these things done.  From the very beginning, I have tried not to be too hard on myself in keeping to the list, but I think the lack of progress should goad me to be more focused on what I will set out to do in 2016.

As I wrote on my Facebook wall as the year ended:

” 2015 had its challenges but I’d rather look at the gifts it brought my way like the lessons I learned. Some friends find it weird that I am thankful for the bad things that happened or the people who caused me so much pain and sorrow, but it is because of them that I found the courage to stand up on my own and be brave. I am in a better place now and I am much happier. I end the year knowing I am at peace with who and where I am. I am thankful for the love of family and friends which kept me going. To those who were there even when it was awkward, when they didn’t know what to say but who never left my side or let go of my hand, to those people I least expected to reach out and offer their kind words and support — I wish you and the ones you love the best of 2016. I am not quite there yet– my journey has just begun– but I am happy to be finally on my way.. Happy new year from Angelo and I.”

And while I have always kept our photos private — being careful not to post personal photos here, here’s one that I think is safe enough to share with the whole world as we bid 2015 goodbye, and say hello to 2016.

 

Fotor_20160102172624068

As I get older

I’ve never had any issues with age. Even though it’s still months away, I tell people I’m 50. I guess it’s because I know time has been kind to me and I get a kick out of seeing people with a hint of surprise in their eyes when they hear the five-oh.  (Okay, I’m being vain.)  But last week saw me hopping from one doctor’s office to another, catching up with my annual check ups and still scheduling more appointments to make sure all the parts continue to work properly.

What I had thought would be a short quick hello to my baby guy (ob-gyne) turned out to be the usual long wait and battery of tests.  I was royally delayed getting back to work, and I missed my little guy’s call.  When I called back to tell him I had been at the doctor’s, I sensed some panic in his voice when he asked me why.. it was a little difficult doing the cliff notes version of “Mommy is approaching menopause and needs to make sure all her parts are still working in synch,” so I gave him an oversimplified excuse of having to go like he goes to see his pedia every year.

I almost made the joke that Mommy’s getting old and not all her parts are working as well as they used to, but the hint of worry in his voice made me hold back.  I don’t think he would have caught the humor in it.  Sometimes, we grownups can be rather sick with our jokes, and it hits the younger ones a different way.  More so the ones who think we will live forever, because they depend on us for nurturing and can’t yet live without us.  I remember when I was his age, I never even thought of my parents passing on to the other side.

Which brings to mind a story that a friend who recently turned 50 shared with me. The family was at a restaurant for his birthday dinner, and when the cake was taken out for him to blow, his 10-year-old son started to cry.  It was as if there was that sudden realization that his father was older and might not be around for long.(Although grey hair notwithstanding, he looks pretty good for his age.)  And I guess it hit the little boy so hard that he forgot his own grandpa was in his mid-seventies. That would give him another good quarter of a century with his pops at least if their genes held up… It was heartwarming and yet worrisome.  How do you assure your son that you still have quite a lot to give and that you don’t intend to conk out on him midway through to adulthood?

I’ve been having a lot of conversations with my little guy now that we are transitioning to a major life change as a family.  I have been blessed with his undying love and devotion, and his maturity has often caught me off guard during those moments when I thought I was supposed to be the stronger one.  He would hold my hand or hug me warmly, or just utter “I love you, Mama” from across the room or in the middle of doing homework.  Often, it was during those moments when my mind was wandering off thinking about where we are right now and where we are supposed to go as mother and son.  Those moments when I feel vulnerable and weak– and the universe hears and prompts my one-man cheering squad to holler and wake me out of my melancholy.

In that moment, he is my little boy.  I am the adult.  And yet I cannot deny that I see him maturing from day to day and I am reminded of how I, too, am getting older. I think about that and it’s as if someone hit the pause switch on the remote and my heart skips a beat and stops– just for half a second.  He is the greatest reminder of the passing of time.

I have embraced aging with grace because I have always had a forward-looking outlook in life.  I look back to the past for the lessons learned and the memories that prod me on, but I don’t try to relive it or cling to it because I know I can’t.  I know that no matter how we try, we cannot slow time.  Seeing him grow before my very eyes has only served to illustrate how time has flown by.  As he advances in age, so do I.

I have repeated time and again that I think “Dinna at 50” is the best Dinna yet. When friends who have lost touch ask me how I am, I always start off with “I am in a very good place.  I am happier.”  When I go home to Manila, friends look at me and say I don’t look like I aged.  I always say it’s the make up. LOL.

Like my friend’s son, I used to think of 50 as “OLD”.  It seems like my own Dad was forever in his 40s.   And now that I am almost 50, I feel it but it doesn’t give me pause when I think about life in general.

I embrace it and own it knowing there’s 50 years’ worth of experience tucked between the lines on my skin, or under the youthful looking yet no longer young face.  I have been fortunate to have had the chance to go after my heart’s desires and live my dreams.

Went to law school.

Passed the Bar.

Started a family.

Have a son.  (And yes, I have always wanted a son.)

Pursue my creative penchant.

Travel.

Write.

I haven’t quite ticked off everything on my list just yet, but I’m pretty happy with what I have so far.

I know I will see the Banawe Rice Terraces soon.

Or walk the beaches of Boracay and El Nido.  ( I have already seen Chocolate Hills of Bohol this year.). Visit Rome and one day, return a third time to the City of Lights.

Close the chapters that need to be concluded.

Start anew with my little guy.

Write my story.

Learn to play the cello.

Create.

Craft.

Travel.

Write some more.

Take care of me.

My bucket list, if it existed, would be made up of very small and not-so-grand to-dos. I am grateful that life has afforded me the breaks to realize the bigger dreams  I had my heart and soul set on, and though they didn’t always turn out  a happy ending, I can say I did it.  I let go of the ones that somehow got derailed or sidetracked or just completely failed — I think I have enough under my sleeve to be able to say I’ve lived a good life.  and I intend to keep living a good life, holding my little guy’s hand.  As Melody Gardot sings in “Lover Undercover”, I don’t need anything more than I’ve got.

I have a little scrapbook in my heart that has the pages of the bits and pieces of my life that make me smile.  Those that have brought pain or still bring a hint of it, I’ve torn off and thrown away.

I look at my little guy, I scroll through the selfies on my phone, I listen to the new music I have learned to like — and I know I’m in a very good place.. More so for someone about to turn 50.  I guess I’ve learned to ease my grip on the reins. Frustrations and disappointments, while forever there, are easier to handle — and no longer as heart breaking as they used to be for the younger me.  I’ve learned to let go and hold on only to the things that really matter and which are truly mine, as I get older.

Touchdown Manila

I’ve actually been here a couple of days, just taking things slow and trying to enjoy the down time.  While I was just here in April to attend a wedding, this time it was a spur of the moment decision we had made for Angelo to finally get his long-requested summer stay in Manila.  We had always timed our trips to coincide with the holidays, and that meant arriving for his vacation with a homework packet.  It was understandably a dampener to what would have been a period of fun and relaxation. 

The flight home.  For the first time, I flew our national carrier, Philippine Airlines — and while I had wanted to fly my usual airlines (KoreanAir, Cathay Pacific), I had to adjust to the travel arrangements Angelo already had because he had flown 5weeks before I did.  (Long story short, I didn’t get to choose this flight.)  I had flown PAL many times before domestically, and even as recent as last April when we all hied off to Cebu for that beautiful wedding where I stood as godmother.  I liked that trip, but this last one left much to be desired.

It helped that I had set my expectations low, so I wasn’t surprised that the plane seemed to be old and worn.  I have complete faith in the crews that fly PAL, so I told myself, as long as they get me to Manila, I’m fine.  And get me here, they did.  So I am grateful to the professionalism of the two crews who flew us first to Vancouver, and then the second crew who actually brought us home.

The food was typical PAL, and better than most served on American flights.  My two favorite airlines, though, are favorites, partly because of their inflight dining menu.  Give me the KoreanAir Bibimbap anytime!  (And they do give it at every meal.. which means a two-time serving on a long haul each way.)  I arrived okay — not starving — but we don’t fly for the gastronimic experience.

Yet, all was not lost, and this is the reason I decided to devote a good portion of this post to the flight.  Kudos to the crews that flew on PR127 from New York to Manila via Vancouver on July 31, 2015.  You are the saving grace of this airline.  I got efficient and courteous service (expected), and very generous help when requested.  So forget that the control panel on my armrest kept falling out (no, I did not get electrocuted and it WAS working even if hanging by the wires, literally.), and that there was this tiny screen hanging from certain vantage points on the plane.  Blame it on being spoiled by every other airline I’ve flown in recent years who had individual screens in front of me — whether I was flying state to state or overseas.  (Even Aer Lingus had this!)

Whether I went to the galley to request for a drink, or ask permission to open the porthole by the rear door to snap a picture, I got my answer with a smile.  Even my water was poured with such grace I couldn’t help but wonder if they had practiced that motion during training.  No matter that the menu offering had to be repeated to every person on every row, the question as to your meal of choice was asked with a smile, and without the smirk that made you feel like you were being stupid for asking him something about the meal.  (Meal service, apparently, is not a favorite chore among most flight attendants..)  I wanted to tell them all that they did a good job, but I was busy lugging my luggage down the very narrow passageways and trying to wish the pain in my behind away — grateful I was finally home.

NAIA Terminal 2 – hmmmmmm… All these years, I’ve flown in and out of the same international airport in Manila — and it was an experience I almost dread, but not because of the fact that the airport was really dated.   This particular airport is not a happy place for me except when I arrive — so I have mixed feelings about plopping down into unchartered territory, landing in Terminal 2.

First, there was the immigration line which was always a coin toss between having “long lines” and “VERY long lines”.  I guess I was lucky my flight didn’t arrive with everyone else, so while there was a wait, it wasn’t unbearably long.  A couple of years ago, I got caught during the automation switch of the Bureau of Immigration, and I had to agonize through a two-hour wait with Angelo in tow before we were cleared for the gate.  He was probably 2 or 4 then, so I was actually in line with a young boy on a stroller.  We inched slowly to the front and when I was finally there in front of the Immigration officer, I painfully watched him try to navigate the system.

So you can imagine my surprise when I landed with an older immigration officer who not only processed me with speedy efficiency –but he also rendered courteous and friendly service.  That I am actually raving about it here should prove how impressed I was.  I even sent a direct message to the current Commissioner to make sure that I got the praise recorded officially.. Thank you, Immigration officer Tabao.. Job well done!  We always hear about the “bad eggs” — it’s good to hear about the good ones from time to time..

I walked through the new arrival lanes to the baggage claim area which looked new and promising, until I found myself waiting for my luggage which didn’t come out until after an hour.  Thank God, Immigration sped me through — I had happy memories to keep me preoccupied while I twiddled my thumbs as I lay in wait for the carousel to start showing us bags.  I got to meet an OFW from Vancouver who was hoping his luggage would come out before his wife’s flight from Hong Kong arrived.  (I think he beat her arrival by a few minutes.)  I met a nun who was home for the first time in 15 years, but sadly, to attend her brother’s funeral.  We spoke to each other quite a bit and had a few laughs, and then I saw one of my bags appear and I excused myself.  (Second and third bags appeared almost a half hour later.)  I would’ve met more but my brother started pinging me he was near.. where will he get me?  I suddenly missed the lettered zone in the old airport.

I found the “Bays” and let him know where I was.  (very short spans, though.)  I got into his car and his first concern was whether or not I was hungry — and thanks to the Chicken Tocino from PAL, I was good.. I didn’t realize that the trek home to San Juan would take 3 — YES, THREE – hours.. so you can imagine, I was famished by the time I got home and gave everyone else a hug.  I knew I was back in Manila — traffic and all.

No matter what the hassles and how my behind kept reminding me throughout the trip how long a journey it was, I am always happy to be home with friends and family.  And as they say now, it’s always more fun in the Philippines!

Milestones and moving on

Milestones and moving on

I started writing this Saturday morning but never got to finish it until the whole day ended and moved on to Sunday.  It was a jampacked half of the weekend which didn’t turn out as bad as I was afraid it will be. My little guy just graduated from fifth grade (yay!) and had a graduation party at a bounce place.  It was quite the no-frills celebration which only required a reservation and invitations a couple of weeks ago. Unlike his first two parties at this bounce venue, I didn’t have to worry about giveaways or hitting the minimum this time around.  We hit it well before today but way after the deadline.  (Note to parents out there: Please put yourselves in the shoes of the parent waiting for you to confirm your child’s attendance.  It CAN be nerve-wracking thinking the party might turn out to be a dud so please meet the RSVP deadline promptly.)

I also had to get him ready for a long vacation in Manila.  Father and son go first and I pick him up on the tail end.  I’ve been to Manila this year so the trip isn’t really for me.  I just think it’s time we gave him what he’s always been asking for — a homework-free, longer stay with his cousins.  Forget that it isn’t summer in the Philippine right now, so they’re all going to school.  As long as he doesn’t get a homework packet like he normally does when we leave at Christmas time (because we take him out a week or so before school officially ends for the holidays), he can look forward to just bumming around and enjoying his parents’ land of birth.

He’s grown so much that I am good with having him away THAT long.  I think with all that’s been happening on this end, we can both use a little break and time to grow and shift gears.  And when he returns for middle school, we will both be ready to move on.

We’ve gone on so many trips and with only one guy tagging along, I think I’ve got packing down to a science.  The only difference is I won’t be there, but I’m not worried because after his Dad returns to New York after the first two weeks, he will be with my brother and his family, my sister and other brother and mom.  Being an only son, they are the family he looks to for his ‘brother’ and ‘sisters’.  There he is a younger sibling with an “Ate Julia” and “Kuya Angel” to two others.  (“Ate” and “Kuya” are terms of respect for older relations, the former being feminine, and the latter, masculine.)  I am hoping he can pick up some Tagalog, and I’m tasking my sister who used to be a teacher to teach him cursive.  (Don’t get me started on that one!)

Medication (mostly first aid) ready.  Ear thermometer which is as old as he is, packed with the extra plastic covers.  Ointments?  Butt cream?  (Ewe…. hey, we need to be ready for ANY eventuality..)  Wipes?  they can get them there.. Dramamine?  (His dad’s taking care of that.)  He’s refusing to bring his seasick bands which is him growing up, I guess.  (I will pack them anyway.)  Snacks?  I think I have that covered.

It doesn’t help that my little guy is the pickiest of eaters, but I’m hoping that his newfound curiosity about food will make him more adventurous.  He is asking more and more what it is that I am eating, although he isn’t quite as brave to try it as often as I wish he would.  But at least the curiosity is there.. baby steps, I tell myself.

Saying goodbye was not quite as run-of-the-mill like most of our partings.  I knew he was holding back the tears, but the big boy that he now is, he just kept the hugs short enough to make it meaningful without giving the tears a chance to make the appearance.  My boy is growing up indeed… sometimes it’s hard for a mother to keep up, but we eventually catch up.

The things that matter

Happy birthday to the one who lights up my world and warms my heart.. @angelogon2004 turns 11 today!  My life has never been the same since you came into my life, and I cherish every day that you continue to bless my life with you love.  I love you, Amal.Friday was a momentous occasion.  (Drumroll, please..)  My little tyke turned 11.. can you believe that?  It seems as though it was just yesterday that I was cradling him and complaining he was just sooooo heavy — and yet I couldn’t get enough of kissing him and breathing the air he breathed out.  Everything in my life was colored by his arrival.  It was love at first sight, and I’m still falling in love with him every day.  (Even when he starts rejecting me for a selfie… or when he starts giving me the look telling me he’s upset at Mom for being a mom.. )

Has it been THAT long?  I look at his frame and see him literally growing up.  He will soon be as tall and then taller than me.  His voice has always been low, but even that will become deeper.  I hold his hands in mine and I can’t help but notice how his grasp is filling up my hand even more as the days go by, those times that he STILL lets me hold his hand in mine.
Teaching this #LittleNewYorker, @angelogon2004 , how to ride the #subway on our way to #Manhattan because #ThisIsHowWeDoItInNewYork . #mynewyork #motherhood #motherandson #NYC #publictransportation #mta

It seems like it was only yesterday that he could hardly speak, but he would cling to me with a sense of urgency that made me feel like he was a literal extension of me.  And he started speaking and I heard those three magic words that made everything else matter so little.  As the years passed by, his presence remained constant and kept me anchored to the ground through the worst times and kept me tethered to my humility those times when I was just feeling over the moon.  Through the worst and the best, he was the one whose love mattered the most.

These days I would grab him and hug him as if it were the last time I was going to hold him — remembering that in my lowest of lows, it was his love that kept me going.

Mother’s Day has never been the same for me each year since he was born.  While I had always celebrated it as a daughter, it has taken on a new meaning since I started celebrating it as a mother myself.  Although the day’s focus should be the mother, it plays around motherhood in my eyes.

Today I celebrate it because I hold the heart of my son in my hands and I know it beats a fierce devotion and a tender love that keeps growing each day.  Motherhood, challenging though it may be, is its own reward.  In my heart I know I have done well.  I may not have the riches others possess, but I own something far more priceless.  I look at my son and I am rich beyond measure.  He is the reason today is, indeed, a happy Mother’s Day.
My little guy

Holiday reboot

I’ve been using the word “reboot” quite a lot lately.  Literally to refer to restarting things, do-overs, waking up.  Not too sure the latter works, but then it’s close enough.

Can you believe it’s 9 days to Christmas?  I haven’t quite finished my holiday shopping but the good thing is that I know what I want. Plus, there’s Amazon.  Can’t go wrong with that, more so if you have a 10-year-old who knows what a wishlist on the site is and how to browse for the toys he wants.  Who am I to refuse the little tyke who knows which buttons to push when he needs something from (gullible) Mama, more so when it’s an app upgrade — he calls me and asks me in the sweetest voice, “How’s my deeeeelight?”

To which I reply, “Which app is it this time and how much?”  And he would break into naughty laughter.  That laughter and voice which are music to my ears.  And I melt and relent.. always.  No matter how I try to hold out, I end up giving in.  I’m trying to practice saying no, though.

I’ve always believed that Christmas is about children, and being that I only have one, it’s all about him.  I try to be reasonable about how much I give him, though.  Fortunately, he has a sense of moderation which helps keep us both from going over the edge with these purchases.  Where other children would grab all four choices when you ask them to pick, he would thoughtfully decide and choose only one.  Picking more than that would need a lot of convincing and will again be met with much deliberation, making sure he makes the better choice.

I’m lucky in that regard.

I’m pulling a few surprises for him this Christmas, and I’m hoping I can get those presents he didn’t ask for but which I know will make his eyes light up when he unwraps it come Christmas eve.

Thinking of his excitement about the holiday keeps me on my toes and inspires me all the more to make this holiday special for him.  And making it special for him is not all that difficult, because he is so easy to please.

Last year’s holidays were saved by his cheer and his innocent joy.  I looked at him and everything was okay again, at least in that moment when I held him in my gaze, and I was reminded about how he means the world to me.  No one could ever touch me more, as the song goes.

This year, I’m doing a holiday reboot.  I didn’t come around as quickly as I had hoped to — part of me is still hung over from the darkness of 2013.  Part of me is wary to put too much effort on our celebration this year.  But it’s hard not to be affected by his cheer and enthusiasm.

I’m trying to look at the holidays with happier eyes — his eyes.  I’m trying to bring the cheer back, finding things to be merry about this holiday season.  I put up the artificial tree we’ve had from around the time he was born, and he gamely decorated it with his Dad.  He wants to put up the Christmas cards we receive on our top stairwell as we had done in previous years.  I’m trying to make it special again so I can help him make happy memories.  I want him to open his presents, and look at me with eyes beaming, and I would know I have done right by him as his “delight”, his one true love, forever his “light” and never his “dark”. I should be so lucky — but no, it isn’t luck.. the truth of it is, I have been truly blessed.

Blog graphics - my little guy and I for "Holiday Reboot"
 

Central Park and My Little Guy

Central Park on Veteran's Day 2014

I had vowed to come back this year to Central Park to document the scenes of fall.  I was here around this time last year, exploring its pathways and hidden gems — also with my little guy — one time Alan had friends in town.  I hate that I don’t get to visit as often, considering that its Midtown “edge” on 59th is actually near my “nest” in Manhattan.  Fifteen years a New Yorker and I have yet to explore beyond the 80s.  (Getting there.)

Central Park on Veteran's Day 2014

It wasn’t quite the scenery I had been lucky to capture in 2009, but it was as breathtaking nevertheless.  The leaves hadn’t quite all fallen, blanketing the grass with the gorgeous colors of fall.  Not yet.  So maybe I will come back next week when that would have happened.

The beautiful thing about autumn is how the colors can change from day to day and the landscape dramatically transforms overnight.  The color palette will be different in a day or two, and this whole scene will become a totally different canvas.

Central Park on Veteran's Day 2014

He loves exploring Central Park.  I used to keep him close by, holding his hand all the time.  These days, I have to keep up or I will get left behind.  Even in Manhattan, he looks around to check who can see when he cozies up to Mommy.  (My friends might see, he would say.)  He walks ahead of me now, sometimes way too far ahead, and I still worry.  (I had always admonished him to be within sight, and not too far ahead lest someone grab him and Mommy might end up a basket case..)
Central Park on Veteran's Day, Autumn 2014

The rock formations fascinate him no end, that’s why I wore my rugged boots to make sure that I could climb with him.  And climb we did!  (Three hours of this around the Park and by the time we reached the American Museum of Natural History by noon, I felt like I had done my workout for the day.)
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I sometimes find myself telling him to stop growing up too fast — as if that would slow the growth and keep him from getting smarter and taller… It’s a mom’s plea to the universe to just keep him a child a little longer — so I can still keep him close and cuddle him like a baby on my lap.  The taller he gets, the farther he can go away — and grow away — and as a mom, I want to keep him the way he is just a little longer.  He’s already up to my nose at 10 years old.  In another year or so, he will be as tall if not taller than me.

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His favorite spot is not any of the fountains or bridges or the numerous playgrounds that dot the expanse of the park.  It’s this rolling stream flowing through a natural jungle gym of rocks called The Gorge from which the Gill flows into the Ramble.

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He takes in everything with an insatiable curiosity — and no matter how many times we go and explore the park, it always has the appeal of a real adventure for him each and every time.
Central Park on Veteran's Day - Fall 2014
These days, it’s not as easy to make him pose for pictures anymore.  Remember when your little one would so readily strike a pose and smile when you whipped out your camera?  Even selfies take a little effort now — although the protests are not quite beyond mommy’s coaxing just yet.  I usually get a good shot or two out of every half dozen which isn’t so bad.  The threat of more pictures without a decent smile in the next one usually does it.  Soon, I will have to blackmail him or use motherly persuasion (translated: threats) to get him to agree to be photographed… (Selfie tip if using an iPhone – use your headset volume switch as a remote for your camera.  It does work!)

Central Park Veteran's Day - Fall 2014Lugging my DSLR-like camera, the blackberry and the iPhone, I still wish I had taken more pictures.  I just want to capture everything about him.. well, there’s always the next time my little guy and I go explore Central Park.

A love like no other

Everyone who knows me knows my world revolves around this little guy who has been the love of my life for the last 10 years. From the moment he came out into this world, my life was changed forever. Although I would discover later that it had changed even more than I had perceived, and it appears that his entry into my life had caused a drastic change in other parts of my world I didn’t even see, I would not trade his being a part of my life for anything else. No matter what challenges I have faced or am facing, knowing I have him in my life changes the face of the game.  I look at him and I know I’m in a good place.

I pride myself in teaching him to be outwardly affectionate and expressive of what he feels.  It’s not always easy and he is not the same way with everyone else, but that has given me precious rewards like a poster with scribblings of various declarations of love for his Mommy.
Love like no other

So forget that he missed out on a word or two — I get the point.  Unfortunately, my son didn’t inherit my penmanship but I’m not complaining.  And for my son to know my birth date and birth year shows my History professor-to-be has a knack for dates like I used to at his age.  (Dates and phone numbers were easy for me, just don’t make me do Math please.)
Love like no other

Naturally, the Dad was jealous as can be, but the boy told him there was only one poster board.  (We shall scramble for another.)

Love like no other

I like these little surprises he springs on me — for no reason at all, except that he thought of it one afternoon.  I wish I could frame the entire poster but it was half a sheet.  So I took snapshots instead and might frame one of these.  I have a knack for keeping his scribblings and projects — and even at just 10, he marvels at my memory box which contains a lock of his hair, his belly button stump, his first onesie, and all that stuff.   When I can, I incorporate his works into my art journal.

Precious words from the 10-year-old who lights up my world and warms my heart.  Forever, son. #motherhood #motherandson #dinnagon #angelogon #love #anak

A friend on Facebook commented the above was so eloquently said.  I couldn’t have phrased it better.  I am proud that my son’s heart has the eloquence to show what it feels — and I am heartened as that bodes well for him when he grows up.  That’s a precious gift that I hope I can continue to nurture.  One day, he will love others — and I want him to be able to express that love the same way he has expressed his love for his current “love of his life — his Mommy.”

Children come into our lives and we are never the same again.  After two miscarriages, I was almost ready to accept that I would not be given that precious gift until he came.  My pregnancy was very challenging with gestational diabetes and all, but when he came out into this world, I forgot about all those challenges and focused on this new life I gave birth to.

He is the reason I am still around, and hope to be around for years to come.  I look at him and I see that I have been blessed.  Forget about the heartaches and the disappointments — he makes it all worth it.  He alone makes the negative seem trivial compared to all the joy he exudes and the love he gives.  I reach out to touch him and I feel an overwhelming reassurance that everything will be okay.  I know his love is like no other.

 

Life Lessons

My little guyI took Monday morning off from work to join my 10-year-old in school because it was Student Organization elections.  He was running for Vice President which was one of the two positions alotted to fifth graders like him.  He had run for Secretary last year but had not made it past the class eliminations, and he took that loss with a grain of salt and said it was okay.

This year, he made it past the class eliminations and was one of 4 candidates (2 from each fifth grade class) vying for the position.  Of course, I was the proud mom.  I created flyers and posters which, unfortunately, we were not allowed to use.  (” Mrs. G, it’s not fair for us to allow your son to use professionally made posters — it puts the other kids to a disadvantage, ” I was told… no flyers either, because the other kids didn’t have any of them.)    The father was up in arms arguing that his son was ‘thinking out of the box’.  Me, I just stood back and enjoyed their enthusiasm for the school elections.  I’ve been through a couple of those in my day, and I was just the one pulling the outfit and the props together.  Father and son worked on the speech.

Election day was Monday, the 3rd.  Unfortunately for the Dad, he had to fly off to a conference in Vegas.  I hied down to the school, took my seat, whipped out my iPhone when his turn came and shot the video.  He was one of only 2 male candidates in a total slate of 16, looking dapper in his suit jacket.  I warned him not to flip his hair for the girls, something I was told elicits some giggles when he does.  (My son, the heart throb.)

When I came in, his buddies all waved at me and assured me they were voting for him.  Even the girls from the class.  Our biggest stumbling block is that one of the three girls he was competing against was one of the popular girls.  (Who, incidentally, was “his first” — girlfriend, that is — in kindergarten, until she smacked him in the face. LOL)  Well, popular girl won.

I got a call at the usual hour when he gets home, and my first mistake, I think, was that I asked, “Do I have a Vice President?”  Then silence.  And there was silence and sniffling for maybe the next 3 minutes.  I put on my mommy hat and went on to try and comfort my little guy.  I reminded him I had warned him about the possibility of losing, to which he always said he was finewith.  Disappointment can be such a heavy burden to bear, more so in a competitive exercise like an election.  Winning can be euphoric and intoxicating — I’ve been there.  But losing can cut through the heart, and I’ve been there, too.

I was at work, and he was home.  I didn’t know how to comfort this young heart as I heard it breaking.  He called again a few minutes later, and there was 5 minutes of silence — tears were flowing on the other end.  Nothing I said seemed to make a difference.  So I just let him cry.  It’s one of those moments when you wish you could whip out something from your magic hat and make everything alright.  I asked him if he wanted something special for dinner, but he just said he didn’t even have an appetite.  (Mom’s heart breaking again.)

I reminded him he had said he would be fine if he lost — but he told me between sobs that he thought there was a chance he would win, and he really thought he could.  In all honesty, I did, too.  But I’m the eternal optimist.  Hearing him crying on the other end of the line made me wonder, though, if I should have tempered my optimism with a little more caution against losing to help him deal with that possibility when it happened.

Sigh.

For all the tears shed, I am grateful for the lesson this whole exercise has taught him.  Sometimes we try to protect and shield our children from the evils and pains of the world — but there are lessons that they must learn on their own if they are to make it in the dog-eat-dog world out there.  Disappointment and loss are two things that are very hard to deal with even for us, grown ups.  Even in small doses, they can be tough on a 10-year-old’s heart.  But they must be dealt with, they must be experienced.  They have to be faced head on, because in life, there will be bigger disappointments and losses.

He’s okay now.  We even shot a video of him “serenading” me with Minnie Ripperton’s “Never Existed Before”.  He gamely sang falsetto (!) and danced as he performed knowing he was being filmed.  I was so surprised he knew most of the lyrics, but then, I shouldn’t be given I play that song over and over again as a pick-me-up song in the morning.

Another life lesson learned.  Taking off my mommy hat now to get to the city and go into my “other” job.