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.

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"
 

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.