DECADES OF “FOR BETTER AND FOR WORSE”

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During Imelda and Abelardo’s wedding. June 30, 1966.

Today, at a time when the most convenient solution to virtually every marital woe is separation — and when the concept of forever is alarmingly taken lightly —, witnessing a marriage that spans five decades is a welcome breath of fresh air.

Imelda Pulongbarit and Abelardo Banzil just recently celebrated their golden wedding anniversary. Theirs, however, was not the butterflies-in-the-stomach kind of romance. Far from it.

Imelda had another favored suitor when Abel pursued her. After barely two weeks of courtship, Abel, who at 27 was nine years Imelda’s senior, unexpectedly showed up with his parents on the doorstep of the Pulongbarits to ask for Imelda’s hand in marriage. It was a whirlwind arrangement that eventually ended up at the altar. Since both came from poor families, they had nothing to offer their guests during the reception but rice porridge. Also, Imelda was made to wear a wedding gown that she did not know she had to return to its rightful owner right after the ceremony.

That happened on the fateful day of June 30, 1966.

A year after the wedding, the couple was blessed with a beautiful pink bundle of joy. Another two years down the line and baby girl #2 was born. This fruitful  pattern persisted until, by the year 1980, their brood had ballooned to eight – six girls and two boys.

Imelda had always been hardworking and enterprising. Despite being armed with just a grade school diploma, she was already earning her own money and helping her parents in raising her younger siblings even before she got married. She used to do domestic work for the more affluent families in the small, sleepy town of Bagac, Bataan where she grew up. Later on, she worked as a storekeeper, and when she managed to borrow enough money, she invested in her very own grocery store at the town’s public market. When the kids started coming along, though, she decided to give up her store to get a vegetable stall.  It was more labor-intensive (she had to travel to the province’s capital at the crack of dawn each day to buy fresh vegetables in bulk), but it was also more lucrative. Abelardo, meanwhile, was a 6×6 truck driver then. However, their joint income was never enough to cover the burgeoning expenses of bringing up their growing children.

So, in 1981, Abelardo packed his bags to try his luck in Saudi Arabia. There, where he would find himself working for almost 21 years, he served as a family driver for a kind, old Muslim couple.

Their marriage was far from perfect. Just a year after their wedding, Imelda wanted to leave her husband. Though she already learned to love him, she found it hard to accept his vices and indiscretions. Thanks to her parents and parents-in-law, she was made to stay. When Abelardo was working in the Middle East, Imelda also had to struggle with loneliness. She was in her prime and she tremendously missed her husband, but that did not sway her to give in to temptations and abandon her fidelity to her husband, and her faith in and obedience to God. The hardest challenge, though, and the most painful experience that she had to endure happened in 1982, when their eldest son, who was a second-grader then, drowned. She was tormented with grief over her loss, but she could not allow herself to mourn for long. Abelardo’s contract restrained him from coming home just yet, so Imelda had to be strong for her seven other children.

In 1989, she made an extremely difficult decision. She left her kids, who by then, were mostly in high school and college already, to join her husband in Saudi.

For the next nine years, she would start each day by kneeling before her make-shift altar to offer an earnest prayer for them. During that time, when the only way of communicating back home was through snail mail, she had no idea how they were doing on a daily basis. Were they eating right and on time? Were their clothes not drenched in sweat or soaked by rainwater? Were they studying hard? Were their friends of good influence to them? Were they looking after each other? There was not a day that passed that she did not cry for her children.

In 1992, at the age of 44, she learned that she was pregnant. It was unexpected and would pose an additional complication to their already complicated life, but they nevertheless welcomed the news as another divine blessing.

Her employer wanted to adopt the baby. They also urged her to convert to Islam, bribing her with a promise of a better life. But Imelda would not hear any of it. She went home to deliver the baby. When the infant was barely three months old, Imelda had to leave her in the care of her third child who just graduated from college, to go back to her work in Saudi. That was another decision that cut deep into her heart.

Years of sacrifice after, they started to reap the fruits of their concerted hard work as a family.

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the Banzils’ wall of pride

Their eldest, Asuncion, graduated with a degree in Education; Lorena with a degree in Computer Engineering and an MBA in Business Administration; Amelia with a degree in Commerce; Alicia in Nursing; Emma in Industrial Engineering and in Nursing; Aileen in ECE; Abelardo Jr. in Electrical Engineering; and Tin in Travel Management. Seven of them are already married and are living comfortable lives, while the youngest is having the time of her life exploring the world as a flight attendant.

Their life as a couple is a bottomless pit of lessons that they strive to pass on to their children and their children’s children.

They inculcated in them early on the values of education, of love for one another, of humility and kindness to other people, of hard work, perseverance and determination, of patience and hope, of fidelity to the wedding vows, and most importantly, of the unwavering faith in the Lord.

Today, the couple is enjoying their retirement in their ancestral home in the province. But parenthood knows no end. When any one of their children or grandchildren needs their tender, loving care, they could just easily walk down the street where their two daughters live, or jump into their car and drive off to Rizal or Cavite, or board a plane and fly to US or Canada or Qatar. Yes, their kids are scattered around the globe, but no amount of distance could stop these two from doing what they do best – parenting.

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the golden wedding anniversary cake

 

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Imelda  and Abelardo with all their children

 

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Imelda and Abelardo with all  their grandchildren

 

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Imelda and Abelardo. 50 years and  counting.
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THE THREE-YEAR-OLD MIGHTY WARRIOR

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Friends, meet Gabby. This beautiful, adorable, energetic boy is the son of a friend and UP batch mate, Dr. Eileen Alvarez-Flameño. In an effort to share and spread God’s message of hope and the immense power of collective prayers, she asked me to write this incredible story about this incredible fighter.

I’m sure, I already wrote this before but, obviously, a reminder needs to be made.

One small act, or one seemingly harmless word, or one innocent mistake on our part as parents, has the potential to either make or break our child.

Sadly, it takes a tragedy for some of us to realize this—a little too late, sometimes, for the damage has already been done.

It’s Gabby’s first school year and, for weeks now, he’s been excited every single day to see his teacher and his classmates for his daily dose of fun activities—as excited as his parents are for their son’s incessant stories for when they get home.

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June 22, Wednesday, a day that is about to irrevocably change the family’s life, is one of such days.

It starts out innocently enough. Gabby has to be in school at 7:45 in the morning, so the Flameños’ household is abuzz early. As an only child, Gab is the proverbial apple of his parents’ eyes. Eileen was already 40 when she gave birth to Gab, so she and her husband, Allen, consider their baby God’s most precious blessing. Their worlds naturally revolve around him.

At 9:45 a.m. on that fateful day, just two hours after he brought his son to the playschool, Allen is back to fetch Gab. They are already cruising along the Balagtas highway when he realizes that he forgot to strap Gab in, who is settled at the front passenger seat, just beside him. Without bothering to pull over, he reaches for the seatbelt, and that, in that infinitesimal moment, is when everything happens in a flash.

The next thing he knows, their vehicle has rammed into a delivery truck parked at the side of the road, with the right side taking the full brunt of the impact. When he sees the still, bloodied, helpless body of his baby lying beside him, he is gripped with a terror so intense and palpable that it is almost paralyzing. He wants to weep, he wants to throw up, he wants to surrender to the sweet temptation of oblivion, he wants to pinch himself awake from that nightmare, but no, his mind and instinct would not let his emotions take over.

He tries to lift Gab, but the boy wouldn’t budge. His son’s right leg is sandwiched between his seat and the door, and the door couldn’t be opened because it is jammed against the other vehicle.

With the help of some bystanders and another truck, they are able to pull open the door and pull Gab out of the car. The boy is then transported to the ER of the nearest polymedic hospital.

That is where Eileen first laid her eyes on the pitiful state of her little boy.

Gab is only three years old, his three-year-old body frail and fragile, and he is lying there — unconscious, bloodied, helpless. Eileen weeps like she has never wept before, and with her husband, she prays profusely and in earnest. Yes, they can draw strength from each other, but at that moment, what they need more is assurance — assurance that their son would not be taken away from them so soon. And only the Almighty Father can provide them that.

They decide to bring Gab to the Pacific Global Medical Center, the nearest tertiary hospital from Bulacan. The initial diagnosis is grim: brain injury secondary to trauma. But the CT Scan findings are even grimmer: total fracture of the right leg, and hydroma (accumulation of fluid) on the left subdural side of the brain.

For the next crucial days, Gab has to stay at the ICU. His operation (draining of fluid for his brain and open reduction for his right leg) has been scheduled in two days.

Eileen comes from an extremely religious family, and in this tragedy that befalls their beloved “bunso” (Gab is the youngest of all the Alvarez grandchildren), it is their faith that they cling tightly to. They ask all the priests, nuns, seminarians and church people they know to hold novenas and to ask special petitions during mass for Gab. They relentlessly ask family and friends—in person, through phone, or via social media—to continue joining them in knocking at Heaven’s doors for the improvement of Gab’s condition. They religiously pray the rosary and even visit various churches to humbly offer their plea.

Three hours before Gab’s scheduled surgery, a miracle happens.

The surgeon wants to defer the operation because, based on the result of the latest CT Scan, there appears to be a misalignment of bones in Gab’s neck area. He wants an MRI done on Gab first for more conclusive findings. But since the hospital does not have an MRI machine, and because the family also wants to seek a second opinion, they decide to transfer Gab to another hospital. They end up in St. Luke’s Medical Center (Global City), where Gab is immediately intubated and hooked to a ventilator. The MRI result reveals that Gab has not sustained any cervical and spinal injuries, and while the Arterial Blood Gas test shows that there is indeed a retention of carbon dioxide in the boy’s blood, the orthopaedic surgeon maintains that an operation is not necessary at this point. That happens on June 25, the same day that Gab opens his eyes and moves his left foot and left hand for the first time. See, miracles happen indeed!

He stays at the ICU for three more days until he is transferred to a regular room on June 29.

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Each new day brings with it small but steady improvements in Gab’s condition. On July 05, with both his eyes open and clear, he gives his very first smile! That is definitely a sight to behold, and for his parents and the other relatives who stayed with the family all throughout the ordeal, a well-deserved reward for the many sleepless nights that they have had to endure.

Gab is now back in the familiar and reassuring surroundings of their home. Yes, a lot still needs to be done to bring him back to his old, jolly, playful and bubbly self, but his family is optimistic that they are already past the worst of the storm; all the trials that are yet to come their way are mere drizzles compared to what they have already gone through.

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Finally, in spite of everything, Eileen and her family still consider themselves blessed beyond measure.

God has remained faithful to them by sending His love through the people who have been part of their struggle — Gab’s indefatigable prayer warriors, the doctors who rendered their professional services free of charge, the people who magnanimously extended financial assistance, and the bystanders who unhesitatingly helped in pulling Gab out of the car right after the accident.

They are also grateful for the valuable lessons they learned along the way.

They recognize that negative thoughts and emotions should not be entertained during crises. Instead of finger-pointing, doubting God’s plan, and wallowing in guilt, anxiety and depression, the Alvarezes and the Flameños quietly draw strength and inspiration from each other and from their unwavering faith in God’s perfect love. They are assured that when they lift all their troubles to the Lord, they, in turn, would be lifted.

They also realize how fragile and precarious and unpredictable life could be, that they should value every precious moment spent with loved ones.

They learn the depth of the love parents could have for their child—the great lengths they are willing to go to—to shelter him from further pain and harm. It’s the kind of love that sends them to their knees to beg that they instead be allowed to carry all of Gab’s pains for him, because no parent deserves to witness the suffering of his child. It is an experience one will never wish even to his most hated enemy.

OF TEENS AND RAGING HORMONES

I’m sure that all parents of children who have already reached puberty would agree with me when I say that all our parental concerns and fears are encapsulated in just two seemingly innocent words. Raging Hormones. When the adult hormones (Estrogen for girls and Testosterone for boys) kick in, that’s when serious problems normally start to emerge.

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Having three teens under one roof could easily be every parent’s worst nightmare!

Overnight, our sweet, agreeable, predictable and bubbly angels could turn into strangers that are sullen and angry, depressed and rebellious, irrational and emotionally imbalance, aggressive and combative, impulsive and competitive, hostile and volatile, and strong-willed. The dreadful things that we only used to hear from other parents, or read about in family-centered books and magazines, or watch in teen-oriented TV dramas and movies are now menacingly looming before us – threatening to destroy the tranquility in our homes, to wreak havoc to our relationships, and to disturb our otherwise peaceful lives.

Like monsters lurking in the dark, ever ready to pounce on our vulnerable adolescent kids, there are various temptations constantly all around them.

In their intense need to belong, they may give in to their peers’ prodding and pressure to try drugs, smoking, drinking, or gang affiliation. In their hunger for parental attention, they may aim to flunk in school or, in worse cases, they may try to run away from home or even to commit suicide. In their want to test their limitations and recently-discovered freedom, they may attempt to perpetrate petty crimes and to perform ridiculous or even life-threatening antics. In their quest for love and companionship, they may turn to intense teenage romance and premarital sex.

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Emar with his girlfriend, Eira

When our eldest son, Emar, turned twelve, my husband and I were assailed with worries.

“What if we fail as parents?”

“What if the challenges of puberty and adolescence prove to be too much for us?”

“How tightly should we hold on to him and how loosely should we let him go?”

“If those crises that could turn even the smartest or most spiritual or most experienced parents into pathetic failures, beset us, how should we react?”

We knew that one small error on our part could either make or break our child. That’s how emotionally fragile adolescents are.

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MD with his girlfriend, Joyce

A year after, it was MD’s turn. We thought that, by then, we would be more prepared than the first time.

We thought wrong.

The same fears and doubts attacked us, perhaps even stronger than before, because with two adolescents in our midst, the challenges (and, yes, the raging hormones!) had been doubled. Our initial realization when they were much younger that each of them was unique and, thus, required a unique kind of care and discipline technique, was further reinforced. There’s simply no fool-proof and one-size-fits-all recourse or rule in dealing with them. So, it was like starting all over again.

And then, in a blink of an eye, our youngest, Lala, joined the pack.

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Lala with her prom date and soon-to-be boyfriend, Yego

Frayed nerves, frazzled tempers and seething emotions notwithstanding, we just rushed headlong. Without so much as breaking our stride, we let our parental instincts take over.

Thank goodness, all our kids have not strayed too far away from that invisible line that separates the acceptable from the unacceptable, the norm from the delinquent, the proper from the improper, and the typical from the atypical. As far as we know, they have not fallen prey to the influence or sweet allure of drug addiction, alcohol, nicotine, and gang connection. Not one ever tried to run away or to commit suicide or to execute a crime. Neither did anyone of them become a perpetual flunker in school.

But our work is not yet done (I don’t think it will ever be!), for a great challenge is now upon us.

All our three kids are already romantically involved!

Emar was a high school junior when he got all tangled up in matters of the heart; MD, a few months before his high school graduation; and Lala, when she was a college sophomore.

With the two boys, my reaction was the same. I went through the whole gamut of emotions — Initially, I was furious, then disappointed. Next came the hurt and the feeling of betrayal, followed by a strong resolve to put a stop to whatever it was they think they were having (I know, I know. “You’ve been their age once; you should know how it is.” was the line I was made to endure then—once too often.) Finally, after a long process of alternately playing shrink and mental patient to myself, I got it. The more I would try to pull them apart, the stronger and more solid their relationship would become. So, I threw in the towel. That was when acceptance (albeit, hesitantly made) came in.

Over the years, though, as I grew to know the girls more — and it had become apparent to me that theirs were not a simple case of a passing fancy —, the acceptance became genuine.

Emar and his girlfriend, Eira, would soon be celebrating their 5th anniversary, while MD and Joyce are now together for 3-1/2 years. Yes, they still have their petty quarrels but they always manage to find their ways back to their respective partners’ welcoming arms.

With Lala and her boyfriend, Yego, it had been entirely different as far as my reaction to their budding relationship was concerned.

I don’t know why, but I was able to skip all the negative emotions that I experienced with my two boys. It was acceptance right away — genuine, instant, unadulterated acceptance.

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Our three babies with their respective “Babes”

My husband’s (and Lala’s grandfathers’) reaction, however, was a completely different story. He had been in denial right from the very start — and had since gotten stuck there as of this writing. Perhaps, it has something to do with the alpha thing and their inherent territorial characteristic—I honestly don’t know. (He has to delve deep into his own psyche and articulate his emotions first before he can make me understand.) Generally, though, the parents’ apprehension when their teens start dating is centered around these following reasons:

  1. They are convinced that their children are still too young to emotionally handle a relationship. Ask them what they think is the ideal age for their kids to get romantically involved, and you’d probably get the vague (and extremely subjective) answer, “…when they are already mature enough.”
  1. They believe, with the absolute certainty that the sun rises in the east, that a romantic relationship is a distraction to their kids’ focus on their quest to conquer the world.
  1. They are not yet ready to talk with their kids about such formidable topics as wet dreams, erection, libido and, goodness, safe sex! Probably, they will never ever be.
  1. They are afraid to contemplate the possibility of their kids being part of the growing statistics of cases of teenage pregnancy. The mere thought could actually induce severe migraine or, worse, heart attack.
  1. They are afraid that their kids’ partners have traveled straight from hell and are sent here by the devil himself to ruin their family’s peaceful existence. Their nightmare personified!
  1. They are absolutely certain that when romance messes with their kids’ lives, the latter’s relationship with them may no longer be as open and amiable as before. After all, no daughter in history has been known to confide to her father, “Dad, I’m delayed. You might be a grandfather sooner than you think.”
  1. They are not ready to see their children getting hurt (and to welcome the possibility of them spending the rest of their lives in jail for murdering the person who caused such pain and heartache to their precious children).
  1. The mother is not ready to give up her position as the most important woman in her son’s life, in the same way that the father is unable to relinquish his title as the most important man in his daughter’s life.

In our case, there is one more reason why the news of any one of our kids starting to date caused us countless sleepless nights and wrinkles.

You see, my husband, Roel, married his first girlfriend (Whoever does that, right?!!!). And our children, especially the two boys, hugely adore and idolize their father that they are determined to follow in his footsteps. Roel also married young – two months shy of his 21st birthday. Our eldest would turn 21 in November. Now, you do the math. We already did. Waaaah!

A MOTHER’S WORST FEAR

I don’t think you can find a mother who doesn’t want the best for her children. We may have different ways of showing it, but the driving force behind all of our efforts remains the same – our deep love and concern for our kids.

It’s almost Mothers’ Day. And just a day after that is the Election Day.

We will choose new leaders for our country. And just like with motherhood, we may have different, or even opposing, standards in picking our candidates. But the reason behind this entire political exercise is the same – our deep love and concern, this time, for our country.

As a mother to three beautiful babies, I have had high hopes for this coming election.

I was holding on to my belief that the Filipino electorate has, over the years, grown mature and discerning. That we have learned our precious lessons from the past. That we would take our right to suffrage (which is also a civic duty and responsibility) more seriously. That we would realize that the single vote we would cast has the potential to either make or break our country. That the repercussions of our choices could affect, not just the present generation, but also the generations that will follow.

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Photo credit: http://i.huffpost.com/

However, considering the various surveys’ most recent results, which, for me, are extremely disappointing, I am now growing increasingly alarmed and agitated. Not for my sake, but for my children’s sake. And for the sake of the millions of Filipino children that will most heavily take the brunt of our electoral choices.

I fear that each time they see or hear about a political candidate cussing, name-calling, using other foul and vulgar words, blatantly disrespecting people in authority, and degrading women, senior citizens, people with disability, members of the lgbt community, our kasambahay, and even stray dogs, the children will get confused about the value of respect and compassion.

I fear that each time they see or hear about a political candidate talking about killing alleged criminals and dumping their bodies in Manila Bay, the children will get confused about the value of law, justice and of life itself.

I fear that each time they see or hear about a political candidate hailing the late dictator as a hero, the children will get confused about the value of truth and the accuracy of history.

I fear that each time they see or hear about a political candidate insisting that he will not apologize for making a bad joke about rape, the children will get confused about the value of humility.

I fear that each time they see or hear about a candidate saying, “Sasampalin ko ‘yan ‘pag nagkita kami!” when criticized, the children will get confused about the value of freely expressing oneself without fear of retribution.

I fear that each time they see or hear about a political candidate claiming that it’s okay to be in row 4 or to copy from a classmate or even to get a failing grade, the children will get confused about the value of education.

I fear that each time they see or hear about a political candidate admitting that his wife left him due to his extra-marital affairs, or that he is now involved with more than one woman, the children will get confused about the value of love and fidelity, and the sanctity of marriage.

I fear that each time they see or hear about a political candidate openly kissing women-supporters, the children will get confused about the value of decency.

I fear that each time they see or hear about a political candidate turning a blind eye to all the violence, bullying and mob reaction that he himself incites among his legion of apologists and defenders, the children will get confused about the value of guaranteed safety.

I fear that each time they see or hear about a political candidate declaring that he will shut up about the issue of the West Philippine Sea for the entire duration of his presidency if China will offer to build vital transportation facilities and other infrastructure in the country, the children will get confused about the value of nationalistic pride.

I fear that each time they see or hear about a political candidate flipflopping his statements about his decision to run for president or cursing the Pope or having bank accounts not declared on his SALN, the children will get confused about the value of honesty, sincerity and integrity.

Ang sabi nga, sa mata ng mga bata, ang mali ay nagiging tama kapag ginagawa ng mga matatanda.

And so, even if we, the parents, have been patiently and relentlessly inculcating in our impressionable kids the ethics and positive values that our own parents have passed on to us, I fear that their constant exposure to these examples of immorality and indecency through various media would adversely affect them. Ultimately, the very fiber of what makes us who and what we are as a nation would be greatly compromised.

Therefore, as a mother, I hope and pray that all our candidates would clean up their acts. They should all set sterling examples for the youth and be part of the universal struggle to make the world a better place for them.

A LIFETIME’S WORTH OF LESSONS

“Sometimes, I open my mouth and my mother comes out.”

I guess that just like most growing-up daughters, I had a love-hate relationship with my mother when I was younger.  I thought that she was out to ruin my life when I was a teen. When I was a college gal, I thought that I no longer needed her guidance; that I already knew everything there was to know about life. When I was a young adult, I thought that she was holding me back from fulfilling my dreams. And when I decided to marry young, I thought that she was not being as supportive of my choice and decision as she should be.

However, when I became a mother myself at the age of 22, things changed.

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My mother with all her daughters and daughters-in-law

Before, I used to wonder why my mother would cry at the slightest provocation. Motherhood made me realize that childbirth has left me with hyper-active tear ducts, and worse, that having kids marked me with an emotional wound so raw that could permanently make me vulnerable.

I used to wonder why she worried so much and would make a fuss over seemingly harmless and inconsequential matters. Now, I cannot read or listen to the news without agonizing over the thought “What if that had been my child?” Every house fire, every mugging, every kidnapping, every rape, every calamity makes my heart skip a beat.

I used to wonder why the sight of starving children or of children caught in a cross fire during an airstrike or of abused children or of children abandoned by their own parents would send her to her little corner to whisper a short prayer. Now, I cannot bear looking at those same images without grieving for those innocent souls and for the bright futures that they should otherwise be enjoying.

I used to wonder why a simple statement, “Nanay, napingot po kami ni Teacher kanina” could instantly put her in a combative mood. Now, a mosquito that committed the grave mistake of landing on my child’s face could be at the receiving end of my legendary wrath.

I used to wonder why she would leave her classroom of fifty students to run to our house only to check if my temperature had gone down. Now, an urgent call of “Mommy!” could cause me to drop anything without a moment’s hesitation.

I used to wonder why she could have the nerve to simultaneously send two kids in college when we were barely scraping by on the meager combined salaries of two government-employed parents. Now, my husband and I have three college children with only one wage earner in the family.

I used to wonder why she would always tell my father, “Mali yata ang sinabi natin sa anak mo kanina.” Now, I have come to realize that however tough and aggressive and authoritative I may be when dealing with the other aspects of my life, there’s always that part of me that doubts my competence as a mother.

I used to wonder why she would have opted to stay in our small, sleepy town and do the donkey work to feed six hungry mouths when she could have easily embraced her city life after college and lived there more comfortably. (That was, definitely, the smarter thing to do.) Now, I cannot bring myself to think of a life without my children. All the sacrifices I had and would have to make for my family are just a drop in the bucket compared to all the joy and satisfaction that motherhood brings me.

I used to wonder why she would not quit and just pack her bags when the going would get tough. Now, I realize that my children’s welfare and well-being will always far outweigh my personal needs and wants.

Over the years, motherhood has further brought me and my Nanay closer with each other. Being able to understand the woman in my childhood has completely healed all the wounds of my past. Amazingly, I often catch myself delivering the same lines, assuming the same stances, and wearing the same facial expressions that I notice my mother was using while raising us. I just hope that, with the lessons I learned and still continue to learn from being her daughter — the lessons that I would always carry around with me –, I could be to my own brood even half as the nurturing, fearless, compassionate and devoted mother that she is to me and my siblings. Then and only then could I finally declare that I have done a helluva job of mothering my kids. 🙂

P.S. Here’s something I just chanced upon the web.  This is a funny take on the lessons we all learn from our mothers. Enjoy!

 

Things My Mother Taught Me

  1. My mother taught me TO APPRECIATE A JOB WELL DONE.

“If you’re going to kill each other, do it outside. I just finished cleaning.”

  1. My mother taught me RELIGION.

“You better pray that will come out of the carpet.”

  1. My mother taught me about TIME TRAVEL.

“If you don’t straighten up, I’m going to knock you into the middle of next week!”

  1. My mother taught me LOGIC.

“Because I said so, that’s why.”

  1. My mother taught me MORE LOGIC.

“If you fall out of that swing and break your neck, you’re not going to the store with me.”

  1. My mother taught me FORESIGHT.

“Make sure you wear clean underwear, in case you get into an accident.”

  1. My mother taught me IRONY.

“Keep crying, and I’ll give you something to cry about.”

  1. My mother taught me about the science of OSMOSIS.

“Shut your mouth and eat your supper.”

  1. My mother taught me about CONTORTIONISM.

“Will you look at that dirt on the back of your neck!”

  1. My mother taught me about STAMINA.

“You’ll sit there until all that spinach is gone.”

  1. My mother taught me about WEATHER.

“This room of yours looks as if a tornado went through it.”

  1. My mother taught me about HYPOCRISY.

“If I told you once, I’ve told you a million times. Don’t exaggerate!”

  1. My mother taught me the CIRCLE OF LIFE.

“I brought you into this world, and I can take you out.”

  1. My mother taught me about BEHAVIOR MODIFICATION.

“Stop acting like your father!”

  1. My mother taught me about ENVY.

“There are millions of less fortunate children in this world who don’t have wonderful parents like you do.”

  1. My mother taught me about ANTICIPATION.

“Just wait until we get home.”

  1. My mother taught me about RECEIVING.

“You are going to get it when you get home!”

  1. My mother taught me MEDICAL SCIENCE.

“If you don’t stop crossing your eyes, they are going to freeze that way.”

  1. My mother taught me ESP.

“Put your sweater on; don’t you think I know when you are cold?”

  1. My mother taught me HUMOR.

“When that lawn mower cuts off your toes, don’t come running to me.”

  1. My mother taught me HOW TO BECOME AN ADULT.

“If you don’t eat your vegetables, you’ll never grow up.”

  1. My mother taught me GENETICS.

“You’re just like your father.”

  1. My mother taught me about my ROOTS.

“Shut that door behind you. Do you think you were born in a barn?”

  1. My mother taught me WISDOM.

“When you get to be my age, you’ll understand.”

  1. And my favorite: My mother taught me about JUSTICE.

“One day you’ll have kids, and I hope they turn out just like you!”

A MOTHER’S CHRISTMAS WISH LIST

Exactly like the kid that I used to be 30-odd years ago, I am always excited to welcome the Christmas season. It is, after all, supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, right? Nothing could ever come close to its potential to unleash the kids in all of us.

Contrary to popular belief and practice, Christmas should not be just for children. If Santa Claus would just put his thinking cap on and seriously consider the pitiful plight of mothers all over the world (My letter of protest for Santa would have to be for another post.), he would surely have a change of heart and make us, NOT the children, the lucky recipients of his benevolence and indulgence come Christmas Eve.

But since Santa Claus has limited powers at his disposal, we’ll also try to appeal to the genies, the fairy godmothers, the Tooth fairy, and the gods and goddesses who will care to listen to our most fervent longings, cravings and desires. With their collective powers and commands over all the elements of the universe, I’m pretty sure that no wish would be too grand nor preposterous to be granted.

pessoa-cansada
Photo credit: utilagradavel.com

The following is an ordinary mom’s Christmas wish list. Should you have more to add (I bet, you have!), feel free to leave a comment below and I’ll immediately include them to this very “reasonable” list.

  1. Santa’s little workers to be appointed to do a general cleaning of our houses.
  1. Chef Gordon Ramsay and his crew to prepare a gastronomic feast for our Noche Buena and Media Noche.
  1. To regain our pre-motherhood looks and figures – no unwanted fats, gray hairs (or receding hairlines) and wrinkles. No defective eyesight, faulty memories and need for any medication, either.
  1. To be fully immersed in a series of wanton shopping sprees, with the credit card company imposing a billing moratorium on all our holiday purchases.
  1. To hop from one country to the next without having to worry over visa requirements.
  1. The entire world to be one big wi-fi zone.
  1. The streets to be free from stressful traffic. If this proves to be a task too tall even for our power-wielders, then a whole assortment of boredom-smashing activities should do. A zipline, a giant television screen, an entertaining show by world-renowned artists – they take their pick.
  1. A big, fat bank account that, despite numerous withdrawals, would still maintain its original opening balance.
  1. Our husbands to be extra-attentive and sensitive to our needs and wants. A romantic dinner date and a bouquet of red roses thrown in wouldn’t hurt.
  1. A chance to unwind big-time – a visit to the spa and the salon for some pampering, over-coffee tête-à-tête with a friend, some “me” time with the sea, sun and sand, a date with a good book, and a movie marathon with an unlimited supply of popcorn and ice-cold drinks. Not necessarily in that order, of course.
  1. An extensive array of sweets and goodies for moms with a sweet tooth like me.
  1. A sip (okay, a few sips) of vintage French wine at the end of the day.
  1. Adam Sandler’s Click remote control which has a pause button for good times, fast forward for bad times, and rewind to revisit the past.
  1. For all the children to go back to being our cuddly, sweet, adorable and cute babies. Let them stay that way forever. If growing up can’t really be avoided, though, let them skip that despicable stage called adolescence.
  1. World peace.