On Motherhood and all the love I never thought I could muster in my heart

My journey to motherhood wasn’t easy. I tried getting pregnant at age 35, after marrying at age 34. It wasn’t so much that I wanted to wait, but my then husband and I had agreed we would only try for a baby after (1) I was gainfully employed and (2), we had a place of our own.

It took us just under two years to get both done. Two miscarriages preceded my full pregnancy, so it was a roller coaster ride seeing it to fruition. When I finally made it past the first trimester, I did all I could to make sure this one made it through to delivery. I even refused an amniocentesis for fear that the pin prick puncture of the amniotic sac would lead to a miscarriage. And more importantly, we told our obstetrician even if we found out there was something wrong with our baby, we would still see it to full term.

Eighteen years ago today, I was induced to deliver and finally held my infant son in my arms after 15 minutes of active labor. After delivering a 9.5 lb., 21.5 inch baby, I became my obstetrician’s poster child for normal delivery. It wasn’t easy battling the gestational diabetes and all the other complications of a late pregnancy, but determination and prayers got me to the finish line with no issues.

The boy is now 18 years — a legal adult in some parts although New York pegs the age of majority as 21. He is a grown man now, almost a full head taller than me, with fingers longer by almost an inch when we hold our palms face to face.

He still calls out “I love you, Mum” from out of nowhere, and would sometimes knock at my door as I’m about to sleep and ask for a hug, bending down to rest his head on my chest. When I walk in the door at the end of the day, he calls out and asks if I need help, meeting me at the door of the stairs to carry my bags up the steps.

We’ve gotten into a somewhat funny dynamic of him calling me when he thinks I would be on the bus already, asking where I am at, and what time I will be home. I have kiddingly asked him if he’s my dad with the tone he takes..

There was one night I went out, and I found him dozing off in the living room when I came home at past 2am. I asked him why he didn’t go and sleep in his room, and he meekly said he was waiting for me.

While all is not perfect in our world— he is a teenager, after all — I’ve been lucky to have raised a caring and sensitive child who has respect for his elders. Sometimes I find him pushing the envelope, but when I push back, he knows better than to nudge again. More importantly, during those moments when he knows he was in the wrong or that he had offended me, he knows to say sorry and make things right.

Sometimes, I look at him when he’s deep into a game or as he strums his guitar, or as he eats the dinner I cooked with such gusto — and I can’t help but feel a sense of pride in seeing this human being in front of me. And the love I feel is just beyond words.

My world has always revolved around him — so much so that I chose to stay here in the US instead of going back home when my marriage fell apart. When we were finally uncoupled, the world I rebuilt had him at the center of it all. And he still is. It’s just that he is entering into a new phase of his life— stepping out into the real world and pursuing his dreams. And that impending departure has me reevaluating things and the way I see the future.

I’m trying not to hold on to him too tightly to pull him back— because I know I cannot do that. So as much as that is a day I fear, I know I love him enough to let him go and conquer the world on his own. And while I would give anything to be right there with him every step of the way, I know that the best I can really do is just be here, ready to help when he calls out for me.

I have always told him no matter what he chooses, I will find a way to get him there. And yes, even if that means he ventures farther out and further away from me, I will even hold his hand to show him the way.

One of the moms whose reflections on Mother’s Day today resonated with me reminded us that a mother’s love knows no end— and time and again I have known that to be true. It may be the toughest job in the world, and for all the heartaches and obstacles that came my way, I would do it all over again to have this light in my life. Without skipping a heartbeat, I would say yes to going through it all, all over again.

This Mother’s Day was his birthday. And like I tell him, his coming into my life was the best Mother’s Day gift — ever.

Motherhood

On Facebook, I wrote:

“Happy birthday to my one and only forever love, who came into my world 18 years ago. I am blessed every single day with your love and presence in my life. I am always here for you and will just be here ready to support you every step of the way. Know that mama loves you always— even when you talk to me like you’re my Dad, asking me what time I’m going to be home(!).

And don’t forget our acceptance speech when the time comes for you to go up that stage— a reminder that at age 17, I told you never to underestimate your abilities and say you will probably not do anything great enough. You have already surprised us at this young age, what more when you go out there to conquer the world. Happy birthday, Anak. Love you more… always.. in all ways.”

Travel Journal: Postcards from Austin

Through the years, one of the things I’ve always enjoyed doing has been to send postcards back home, addressed to my son. At first, it was more of the postcard collector in me, even if my focus has always been on getting the postcards mint and keeping them that way. But after I sent back the first few postcards, I found it to be a meaningful way to create a story of our travels and vacations. Others do scrapbooks, I do postcards.

His Dad and I had taken to writing postcards early on, with him sending me a postcard or two from wherever he went on business trips without me, or wherever we went on vacation. When our son came, I started addressing the postcards to him. It didn’t matter that he was too small to read them. I wanted to have them ready for when he was older, so he can continue the conversation in postcards.

So I always travel with a postcard mailing kit I keep in a handy holder – usually a hard plastic zip pouch. The important thing was that it was compact enough to fit in my purse, and sturdy enough to keep the postcards from getting banged up. I had:

  • Stamps on the ready in the denomination I would need it.  Unless I was traveling to an overseas destination, in which case I would get this upon my arrival.
  • Address labels with his name and our address on it – because I’ve been caught in a situation where I would buy the postcard and write on it at the same time and go look for a mailbox.  Having preprinted address labels for him and friends I meant to send postcards to made it so much easier.
  • Airmail or other stickers and pens – so I can whip them out when I got a break, while I was in the car, or later in the day when everyone was asleep and I could write on my postcards.
  • The postcards come last as I get those from the area we are visiting.

For our trip to Austin, I actually ordered some LouPaper postcards of Texas ahead which I decorated, addressed and wrote on, with the intention of sending them out to fellow postcard collectors from there . Upon arriving at the airport, I immediately scoured the magazine and souvenir stores for the all too familiar postcard racks, and grabbed a few. I try not to splurge here because I know they are usually pricier than the usual souvenir postcards found in tourist traps in my destination, but they also tend to be of a different line and quality. True enough, the postcards at the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport were not the same postcards I found in other stores. When I buy postcards, I try to buy at least 2 of each, with one to keep, and one to send home. If a particular postcard looked interesting and I remember a friend who might want one, I buy an extra or two.

By the time I landed at the hotel, I had a dozen or so postcards which I kept in my bag and took with me everywhere, hoping to do some postcard selfies along the way. (And we did manage to do this – but that’s for another blogpost.)

There have been vacations where I sent as little as 2 postcards, and as much as more than 20. It depends on whether or not there are enough postcards available, enough things to write about and the time to do it. But this trip was special because it’s only the second vacation my son and I have taken just by ourselves, and this was most special for the shared memories.

[1]

LouPaper Texas postcard

11/7/21: Love that we got to do this together despite the pandemic. It’s been so much fun making new memories with you. We haven’t done this in years! Love you! Mum

[2]

“I love you so much”, Artist: Amy Cook, est, 2010, over at Jo’s Hot Coffee, Austin, TX

Postcards sent from Austin

11/7/21: I read about this even before we got here, so it was nice to be able to find a postcard, and actually see it and post next to it with you. (Thank you, Dusty!) And yes, MAMA LOVES YOU SO MUCH. Always, in all ways. Mum

[3]

Greetings from Texas

Postcards sent from Austin

11/7/21: Thank you for patiently sitting through lunch with Pearson, Keoni and Caspian. You sat there and let us catch up, quietly letting Mama have her moment with them. I love that photo of you and Caspian walking back to the car. You are so good with kids… it’s because they know you have a kind heart. Love you always— Mum.

[4]

Mr. Rogers (mural), Artist: NIZ

Postcards sent from Austin

11/7/21: Another iconic mural we got to see in person.  That pedicab tour was well worth the money.  You and I sat through it speeding through the streets, narrow alleys and walkways of Austin.  I know you enjoyed it, too.  I am so glad we got the chance to take this trip together.  I wish we could go on more fun vacations – just you and I.  Love you!  Mum

[5]

Greetings from Texas, the Lone Star State

Postcards sent from Austin

11/7/21:  DID I EVER TELL YOU how lovely and heartwarming it feels when you put an arm around my shoulders and hold me close as we walk?  That has always been one of the best things that happened since you shot past me.  I remember you used to do that even when you weren’t quite so tall and It was awkward for you, but you still did it as we walked.  I hope you will never tire of doing that. Mama loves that.  Sometimes, I wish you wouldn’t grow up so fast, but this is one instance when it’s okay.  Love yout o pieces.. Mum

[6] Welcome to Texas

Postcards sent from Austin

11/7/21:  THANK YOU FOR ALL THE FAB PICTURES AND THE LOVELY MEMORIES… I know that you don’t always like it when I want to take pictures of us — but I can’t help it.  I was doing selfies with a real cam, not even a smartphone, way before selfies were a thing.  I somehow mastered focusing w/o seeing what the camera was covering.  So many nice pictures in this trip because you let me click away. LOVE THAT!  Mum

[7]  Hampton.com

Postcards sent from Austin

11/9/21:  I almost missed this postcard tucked into the information packet in the room.  We didn’t get to see much of Marble Falls but I think we did well on this vacation, making a lot of memories.  Loved having spent all this time with you.  Can’t wait for our next Mom-Son vacay.  Love always, Mum

I had actually acquired quite a hefty bunch of postcards from all over Austin and I’m quite happy with these 7 I sent back. So many memories tucked into each one. I can’t help but reread them as I scanned them, and I know I will be going back to these postcards in the next couple of weeks and more. Even now, as I am typing away, my heart is smiling.

Postcards from. Austin

Return to school dilemma

1D194D4D-0EE0-4B49-8BBD-46396D693D4ALabor day falls on the 7th of September this year. In years past, this would signal the beginning of the school year a few days after and came with a lot of excitement about school supplies, new schedules, outfits, etc. This year, there isn’t as much excitement as there is anxiety — more so on my part.

My soon-to-be junior in high school had picked a school which was quite a trek from where we live. It meant going into the city via Express Bus like I do, then a one stop subway ride and a 6 minute walk from the subway to school. All in all, if there was no traffic, he could make it to school in under an hour. He would take the subway and the local bus on the way home because the Express bus took longer, and meant catching his ride based on a schedule. We had gotten used to this the last two years.

When New York sheltered in place, we switched to remote learning. I gave the school some slack given the sudden adjustment from in-classroom learning to virtual, which, I can imagine, was quite the challenge to the faculty. It wasn’t a huge student population, but it also meant there was limited faculty presence. We made do with the system, and I tried to monitor his progress through the remainder of the school year. Although he did very well during this time, I couldn’t help but feel he was missing out on much of what should’ve been learned had there be in person instruction instead. But what can we do given the pandemic?

Over the summer, the school administration kept in touch and came up with a novel proposal regarding the return to school come fall. The Department of Education had given several models to follow and choose from, depending on the size of the school population and the physical space available that would accommodate social distancing. Add to that the optimum distribution of faculty between in-person and remote learning. We had two options essentially: one was to be fully remote, and the other, to do blended learning. The latter meant that he would spend part of the time in school, doing in person learning and part of the time, remotely.

The principal of my son’s school took great pains to explain what they thought was the best solution, given the above factors. “Blended learning” would have to be a half day in school every two weeks. That meant that for 9.5 days of the 10 day two week cycle, the students would be remote. This would enable the faculty to focus equally on the 7 students who would actually be physically present in the classroom at any given time, and the rest of the student body doing remote learning. That seemed like quite a lopsided proposition at first, but after it was explained that 10 of the 30 or so faculty would actually qualify to teach remote due to pre-existing conditions, etc., it didn’t make sense to force any of the other proposed models. If we were to follow the DOE directive, it looked like our school would fall into the twice a week weekly, with a third day in school every other week model. It was confusing for most parents — and there was an uproar and some really bewildered people on the ” virtual townhall” I participated in. There was just no way to make it simple enough for everyone to understand. But I found the school’s proposal acceptable.

It’s bad enough that I have to worry about his commute. Everyone knows that classrooms are breeding grounds for infectious diseases among the younger generation. – pandemic or not. Masks all day? I wouldn’t trust my boy to do that unless I was watching. Sanitizers? Okay, maybe that one, I can trust him to do. Even at home, he has always taken to washing his hands often.

So we signed a petition to the Department of Education, endorsing the proposal of the school. And then we were turned down.

Last week, the principal announced that we would do the 2 days one week and 3 days the next week model. It was also revealed that 55% of the students had opted for remote learning. The boy chimed in that most of his classmates who opted to return to school either lived close by or were coming in because of the free meals.

I didn’t need much convincing to switch sides and opt for fully remote learning. I called the boy’s father and had a discussion and we agreed.

As a parent, I have tried my best to protect him during this time of social distancing and COVID worries. I was rooting for the school’s proposal because I wouldn’t have had any problems spending for Uber both ways for that once-biweekly class. But to have him commuting in what is a usually tighter than tight route even just by one stop was a cause of anxiety.

He and I have been lucky to have been untouched (so far) by COVID. There was a false alarm earlier in the summer when his father got sick but tested negative, and then tested positive for antibodies. Thankfully, the boy tested negative.

I have been trying to limit his social interaction with his friends, while acknowledging that I cannot totally keep him locked up at home. He has a small group of friends he sees once a week, with a strict rule of staying outdoors and not going into anybody’s house. We are lucky to be surrounded by lots of open space courts and playgrounds, along with an abundance of parks and greenery. Most homes like ours have courtyards or backyards to practice social distancing in. But school would’ve been totally different matter.

I cannot say I was torn between prioritizing his education over his safety. This was a no-brainer for me. His safety was of primary concern. During this time when it seems like so much has changed and uncertainty continues to permeate our everyday lives, there is very little that we have retained control over. And this one, I could steer one way or the other.

It’s one of the big sacrifices that the pandemic has imposed upon us as parents — while I would want school to go back to normal, I know that even having him there physically doesn’t mean he will receive normal instruction. Teachers would also be wearing masks . Interaction would be limited. Half their time would be consumed by work geared towards the students who aren’t physically with them. It is a test of wills on both ends.

Just today, New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio announced that school opening will be delayed 10 days to September 21. Apparently, the teachers and principals are up in arms, threatening a strike as they are apprehensive about their safety and the ability of the government to help protect them in the current scenario. Many of our educators also feel that they aren’t prepared to head into the blended learning scenarios and fully remote learning option that many children and their families have taken. I can relate. Unlike the children they will teach, the opening of school will mean they will have to be in every day. The cadence of school attendance was offered to the students — but not to the teachers.

Many working parents have been thrown in a bind due to this postponement of the school opening, particularly those who were relying on a semblance of normalcy with the kids off to school. Some companies have actually slowly started going back to work, although many companies have declared they would return next year. Still, parents who don’t have the option to work from home or stay at home are now caught between a rock and a hard place.

I have been fortunate to have had the opportunity to work from home all this time. I will not complain about the difficulty of doing what I had been used to doing in the office in my dining room. I am fully connected. Most importantly, I am continuing to work full time. We will eventually return to work, and while that is a source of mild anxiety, it is something I can prepare myself for both mentally and physically.

We all have to make adjustments. While I believe I am getting the short end of the stick with the option of keeping my boy home to learn remotely or sending him out into a Covid-ridden world on his own to go back to school, I will take the lesser of two evils. I have my own anxiety about the fall and all the things that go with it in this new normal. I had always lived by the tenet that although there is much that we cannot control, we must be firm about those that we have a handle on.

I am hopeful that there will come a time — hopefully soon — when our kids will be able to go back to school and actually learn in a classroom setting. I just know that we aren’t quite there yet, so for now, I choose to keep him at home. We will just have to make the most of it.

Fourth of July in the time of Corona

1D194D4D-0EE0-4B49-8BBD-46396D693D4AThe Fourth of July holiday is one of the most celebrated holidays across religions and states and ethnic and moral persuasions in the US. We literally stop everyday life preparing for and celebrating freedom. It is an excuse to party and go on vacation and just have a good time. Not this year.

With most of the country seeing a surge in cases and deaths, there is not much to celebrate. Here in New York, I’d like to think we’ve been through the worst of it, but I say that with a bit of trepidation knowing the heavy hand of a resurgence can hit us anytime.

After months of working from home, I’ve learned to ease up and start working towards “normalizing”. But what exactly is that during this time when we are living life in such a different atmosphere?

For the first time in many years, the Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks display was cancelled. Many New Yorkers, and many Americans in general, contented themselves with local fireworks displays from home or the neighborhood. Nothing quite like the fireworks show of New Year’s Eve back in the Philippines, but loud and celebratory in a different kind of way. It was like America was saying we will celebrate freedom, corona virus or no corona virus — but know we cannot celebrate like we used to.

The subject of Freedom itself is being stretched in all directions in recent months. It’s like a renewed consciousness among a very diverse people who are reacquainting themselves with the notions of race and authority — in very varied ways. I will not get into that here. It is still a very raw subject matter, and I don’t feel I am in a place where I can discuss this for now. In time.

We in New York still feel the threat of the virus very strongly. And I am grateful for that, because I know we’re moving towards getting back to a semblance of normalcy, but with an abundance of caution. I am grateful to be given the option to work from home. I am also grateful that wearing masks is now mandated by stores and other establishments. It has sunk into our consciousness as part of the social norm. If you don’t wear a mask, you risk the ire of other New Yorkers who do, and you will be denied entry into all establishments that require it. That makes it more acceptable to go out and live everyday with less fear, but not without it.

I think fear is a good thing. It makes us take that extra step to ensure that we do not unduly expose ourselves to the risk of infection. The virus is very real and still ravaging parts of the country and the world as a whole. It has penetrated our every day lives in such a pervasive way, that we are rethinking how we go about business and life, in general, with sweeping strokes.

On Friday, my sixteen year old son asked permission to join a group of friends for a Fourth of July gathering where they had fireworks. It was in the neighborhood, and he asked for a just a few hours. My first impulse was to say no. But we have had to be cooped up the last couple of weeks, and I know he wants to see his friends. I have allowed him to go biking or play hoops with a small group of 3 friends from way back. I have instructed him not to go into anyone’s house, and to be sure he wears his mask. All of this is on an honor system, and I’ve reinforced the fact that he has to abide by the rules.

My ex husband has even driven him to a park to meet with three classmates from high school, giving them a few hours to hang out and then driving him back home.

As summer has arrived, my ex and I have agreed to limit these social interactions to one a week. So back to the party.

I immediately communicated my reservations to the ex, but also told him I don’t really want to have my son feeling like he was being deprived of the opportunity to enjoy the summer. With reservations, I told his Dad that maybe we should consider it. My son had name-dropped one of his childhood friends who was going, and I thought I would speak with the mom, whom I knew, just to set parameters. But I didn’t know the host.

I woke up the next morning with a very heavy heart and a resolve to not allow the boy to go. How can you maintain social distancing in a Fourth of July party? It was in a home, not in the park. Parties and such gatherings have been known to become breeding grounds for super spreading, which has led to many infections in other places. I just wasn’t ready to take the chance.

Fortunately for me, the ex felt the same way. For all our differences, parenting is one of the things we still usually agreed upon. We decided not to let him go.

Breaking the news to the boy wasn’t as easy, as he immediately responded with an emotional “Why?”. I tried to explain my reservations, and told him his father and I had agreed with no argument. We felt strongly about it and it wasn’t a risk we were willing to take. These are unusual times. On anormal Fourth of July, we would not think twice about letting him go, but we are far from normal.

He made no pains to hide the fact that he was deeply disappointed. But that was that.

I don’t want to be part of the problem — many people have gathered and broken social distancing rules. It makes me feel frustrated about the fact that relaxing the social distancing norms seem to be so widespread among those who feel they can, because they are being careful. In my mind, no matter how careful you may think you are being, the fact that you are increasing your exposure to infection is diluting your caution.

I still feel uneasy when I encounter people who aren’t wearing a mask, as I walk past them wearing mine. I have resorted to finding alternative walking routes with less traffic, giving up the path in the park during popular times when many joggers and other visitors forego the required mask. I know it’s an open air environment, but that does not mean the absence of the possibility of infection.

The local grocery requires masks and gloves now, and I felt bad that I went in earlier after my walk without the gloves. (Reminder to self: shove a pair in my pockets tomorrow.). I do walk with a small bottle of sanitizer which I either tuck in my leggings pocket or hold with my phone during my usual walk about. Signs are plastered to maintain distancing. Even the neighborhood bagel shops had social distancing in the lines that formed outside. This is the new normal.

So even as we celebrated a different way, we celebrated. We celebrated freedom, even with the constraints of our new normal. Happy Fourth, America!

Mother’s Day in the time of Corona in NYC

1D194D4D-0EE0-4B49-8BBD-46396D693D4A

I have one son. And he means the world to me. 17 years ago, he was born the Saturday before Mother’s Day, and I celebrated my first Mother’s Day all achy and tired but holding this precious little breathing human being in my arms. It was the best gift ever and continues to be the best gift ever every time this day comes along.

We usually celebrate with a fancy dinner, just the two of us — and I always look forward to the card he gives me, whether store bought or handmade. This year, I think I’ll give him a pass but I wouldn’t mind one even if delayed.

He has always had a gift for words. I loved the scribbling, and the attempts at art. I look at him and I am filled with a different kind of bliss beyond words.

These days he sleeps until noon, or a little later — when I let him. Online learning has been on a modular basis, so he can log on and watch videos and receive homework with a deadline for submission. He and his friends meet “online” playing video games after dinner, staying up until the wee hours. Iused to get concerned with the unhealthy sleeping hours, but I’ve learned to live with it and just define limits. He can stay up as late as he wants, as long as he wakes up by noon and eats breakfast or brunch, and does his daily attendance and any work required from school. I have learned to pick my battles and respect that he, too, is dealing with this whole new normal and I have to help him do it in a way that works for him, not just for me.

So we had dinner with just us again, but this time at home. No surprise flowers or cards. Or maybe I might get a surprise yet. Just being with him here is gift enough. Having him for a son makes it all worth it. Having him, period. That’s what makes this day special.

I already video chatted with my own mom as Mother’s Day hit Manila 12 hours earlier. In the midst of their own quarantine, only my sister is with my Mom, so we pulled in my brothers. The physical therapist is living in the hospital, social distancing to ensure the he doesn’t bring any possible infection home. The other brother is with his family in another part of town.

Like most families these days, we communicate via video chat, sometimes as a family or just separately. I try to check in with them daily, even if mom is hard of hearing. She sees me, I see her, and we say hello or goodnight — it reassures me as much as it must reassure her that we are okay on both sides of the world.

The cemeteries opened to allow those who want to visit their moms a chance to pay their respects. It’s a bittersweet day because there are many mothers, both young and old, who perished in the current pandemic. Some of them may not have even had the chance to have a proper funeral. These days, even the business of laying our dead to rest has become complicated by the fears of contamination.

And so we all celebrate a different way, but we celebrate all the same.

Happy Mother’s Day..

Celebrating the ones we love

I’m getting ready to turn in as I write this. It’s actually Friday evening, but technically Saturday. I’ve been writing in my head since I put the last of the dishes away to dry and I lugged my phone and iPad to my room. Refreshed and changed, I’m ready to go to sleep, but I’m afraid the words running through my head will make it difficult. So I write.

My now 16 year old had a birthday dinner for two with his favorite gal. While my ex and I had agreed to celebrate his birthday together, there was no neutral ground to celebrate in with the restaurants closed, and what’s worse, he had been battling the flu. He thankfully tested negative for corona which was a relief, because he and the son have been hanging out while he started becoming symptomatic. I couldn’t deny him that as a parent, so when I got news he was running a temperature, I was worried. A doctor visit and a subsequent ER trip after, I had to,put my foot down lest the boy catch what the father had. I was relieved when the Dad relented. They will celebrate after he recovers.

I’ve always been big on birthdays. Last year, we went to a fancy steakhouse in Manhattan. The boy knows and loves his steaks. I picked one close to the ex knowing his usual longer hours at work would mean it would be easier for us to get there from where I work, and that was convenient because he told us as we sat to dinner that there was an emergency at work and so he could only spare an hour. When we were married, that would have been cause for a discussion, but things like that remind me why we are now uncoupled.

We ordered, had our meal, was served the birthday dessert, then I told him he could go ahead. The boy wanted to stay. So my son and I stayed and enjoyed the dessert and the ambience. Even if we had already taken pictures with us three in the shot, we asked the waiter to take more of just the two of us,

In the basement where the restrooms were, there was a sitting room which lent itself to quite the backdrop for more pictures. Then we walked out together and took more pictures before we picked up our ride home.

This year, I didn’t insist on pictures. He hadn’t shaved and the hair has grown out of bounds. And he didn’t want to. I didn’t let the lockdown stop us from celebrating with a tomahawk steak dinner. The boy loves it with rice and corn on the side. I whipped up some roasted potatoes, sautéed some mushrooms in garlic and I boiled two ears of corn for me. The Pinot noir was a perfect pairing.

Before we sat down to dinner, the ex dropped off a cake. He asked that I take a video of the blowing of the candle. I told the boy to call his father so they could do the cake virtually — better than a video! I was surprised that he texted me to give his son a hug for him.

That gave me pause. It dawned on me that he was feeling the separation deeply, from my son — not from me. I found that strange. Even when we were married, he would miss the birthday celebrations in school and I would take time off to serve cake and goodie bags even if the celebrant didn’t like cake. Where I felt strongly about celebrating birthdays on the day of, he always considered celebrations fluid and not pegged on dates. So if he missed the birthday cake in school, there was the weekend to make up for it.

And remembering last year and the emergency at work that made him rush off after an hour to celebrate his son brought me back to my senses. They can celebrate when he is better. That’s how celebrations worked for him all this time.. why should this one be different.

As for me and my son, we had quite the steak treat. The tomahawk required searing, broiling in the oven and basting on the stove again — and it was worth all that and more.. the steak lover gave it his seal of approval. I will write about that more tomorrow.. my bed beckons.. and it’s Saturday..

Tomahawk steak dinner

I am tired and a bit buzzed and smiling for the memories of tonight’s birthday celebration. Despite the limitations of staying home because of he Corona virus, we managed to pull off a memorable birthday dinner to celebrate. I am grateful.

Happy birthday, dearest Angelo. I love you to the moon and back.. always, in all ways.

Monday Musings on a Tuesday: Those precious long weekends

Monday musings in paper and inkHow was your weekend? I started writing this yesterday, the end of my long weekend, and of course it got lost in the nuances of closing out what would be our last holiday for a while.  We don’t have another holiday coming soon until Thanksgiving, so this is it for a bit.

Like most holiday weekends, I found myself catching up with housework and things I normally don’t get enough time to do on the regular break from the workweek.  I indulged in much needed longer mornings, stretching out and just laying still even when my mind was already wide awake.  Still, I found myself getting out of bed earlier than normal, but I did go about my mornings at a more leisurely pace.

Motherhood.  I got to spend Saturday being Mom — going with my teen to get his hair done.  (And I must stop there lest I end up getting a disapproving look again when he finds out I gave out too much information here.)  And Sunday was momhood again, shopping in the city.  No, not for me, but for the teen (again), what with the school opening just around the corner.  I can’t help but marvel at how much he has grown.  I have captioned our latest picture together as “Mom is indeed shrinking.. ”

And September is here.  And just like that, we are almost at the end of the year.  I have become more attuned with the passing of time.  So I no longer ask where it has gone — I just know it slipped through my fingers like grains of sand.  I’m three quarters done with 2019 and I must say I feel good about where I am.  There is a quiet stillness in my heart amidst the hustle and bustle of my everyday life.  It helps to keep me focused and calm when the excitement gets too much.  I can take a step back, close my eyes, and just find my center again by disappearing into that place within.  Some would say it’s escapism.  I think not.  It’s just me, dealing with life and keeping up.

Decisions.  Summer saw me taking a trip home to Manila, with a stop at one of my other happy places — Sydney.  It was tight and literally short and sweet — but that’s about the only real vacation I take every year.  I don’t go anywhere local, save for an occasional staycation with my favorite date in the city.  This year, we didn’t do anything of the sort.  And even looking back, I don’t really go anywhere else besides home, and places I visit in conjunction with those trips to be with family.  Right now, I’m trying to decide on whether or not I will take another such trip at the end of the year — or more precisely, the beginning of the year.  I am almost 75% sure to go, but there is that part of me that is holding back and vacillating between saying yes and no.

I said I leave it to fate.  And fate keeps nudging me to go as doors have opened.  So I guess I ought to seriously start planning this one.

Writing those letters.  I have the stationery and I have pens aplenty.  I have a list of people I will write and some, I have actually been writing in a journal of sorts.  I haven’t had much luck with those journals but I keep trying, and those letters I hope, will find themselves on their way soon.  I even have the stamps already!  It’s just one of those things which I don’t want to do on the fly.  I want to be able to sit down and take pen and paper and write.  Like really write.

At the start of the year, I had hoped to write at least one letter a month.  I’m 8 letters behind.  I know it shouldn’t be so difficult so I know that at the end of the year, I will be able to count 12 letters sent — and maybe even more.

So that’s my Monday on a Tuesday.  I try.

 

 

 

Special presents

So the presents have been sent and exchanged. What special gifts did you get?

As a Starbucks mug collector, the two new mugs that my little guy bought for me are meaningful additions that will have a special place in my collection.

I don’t normally buy mugs unless it’s a new issue or when I chance upon one in my travels, but I spied this gold printed mug at the Starbucks branch I frequent near work. For someone who once received a $200 offer for a Christmas mug I had bought ages ago, I’ve learned to watched out for special holidays issues. It was a regular New York design but in gold print. I bought one and brought it home. The barristas apologized that they didn’t have a small bag, so I had put the boxed mug in my tote and then took it out when I got home.

My little guy comes and sees the box and his face drops. He had apparently bought me one as a Christmas present after being torn between the gold printed mug and the blue “Been There” series. Long story short, I returned my purchase and kept his.

The weekend before my Christmas Eve, he was spending the weekend in Washington DC to watch an NBA game. I had specifically asked that he look and see if he can get me a mug from one of the rest stops along the way. I told him I would pay for it.

I somehow missed his call to give me a choice as there were several available. By the time I returned his call, they were back on the road and he had already gotten the mug — and he refused my offer to pay for it. He said it was another present from him. Two mugs from my baby!

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I love the stories behind my mugs, but love the mugs that come from people close to my heart all the more. It adds a special value to the addition — even if only in terms of memories and emotion. Thank you, my dear son!

Sometimes, friends or colleagues who know I collect the mugs surprise me. When people visiting from other places ask me what present or pasalubong I would prefer, I always ask for a Starbucks mug. More so from places not yet represented in my collection. Sometimes though, it’s the giver who makes the mug special, no matter that the mug is a duplicate of something I already have.

It can only get better

I tried starting a blog post before the week began, talking about how I was trying to pump a lot of optimism into my upcoming week. It had been a rather chaotic one. I like “busy,” but sometimes it doesn’t work too well with other distractions. Still, I capped the previous week with some much needed “me” time last Friday which was the best part of those 7 days. (Note to self: you should do this more often.)

And we’re at Wednesday. I try to write more but I really need a major push forward there.

Work was hectic as can be, and while I don’t think we’re getting a reprieve for what’s left of the week. I hit the ground running and energized. Maybe it was the quiet weekend with my not so little guy. I took the time to breathe, stayed up late on Saturday with a new earring design I couldn’t stop making (!), and slept til noon the following day to give my body a chance to bounce back.

And Friday came again.

There are times when you really just need to pull away from the fray and sit quietly in a corner.  It was one of those days, and I focused on happy and positive thoughts, and some happy time over lunch.  I needed to recharge. I needed to lift my spirits up and find those feel good moments to make up for the bad ones. I had dessert. Without guilt.

Dessert from Ortzi
Gone are the days when I would be chided for even considering one. Part of me hasn’t quite gotten used to the idea that it IS okay to indulge once in a while…I still ask if I can get dessert. (And I’m trying to get rid of that habit..)

Focus on the good things and then tuck the negative away, and embrace the thought that it can only get better. Take care of you!

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.