Friday, May 24, 2013

A Taste of my Childhood

I took a time off from work for a whole week last week. We had to attend my cousin Rodney’s wedding, which was on a Wednesday. (I’m looking forward to writing a post about it, but I’m still waiting for the official wedding pictures! Zohan was ring bearer, and I was one of the bride’s maids.) Then came Sunday, I had to stand for my Nanay’s role as ninang in another wedding. Yes, you read that right, Nanay thought I could pass up as Ninang (and Kristan as Ninong). Shet.

So anyway, I decided to file a vacation leave for the entire week. We arrived in Batangas Tuesday night. And from that time on, until we return back to Makati, Zohan just had the grandest time!

I was so happy that he experienced, just for a little while, what my childhood in the province was like.

Here’s a picture of the little boy the night before the wedding. I cajoled him into wearing his outfit to see if it fits. So while playing with figurines of a boy playing basketball, he was clad in a suspender and a bowtie. How classy and cute!

For the rest of our short vacation, Zohan did things he couldn’t normally do in our condo. Like clean his vast play area with no shorts or diapers on! (We have not yet started potty training, but I thought his bum also deserved a break).

He was picking up kalamyas and throwing it up in the air like a ball. When I was a kid, I used to help Nanang pick up kalamyas. We’d arrange it neatly on a mat placed on the ground, patiently turn each and every kalamyas on the other side, until they are all dried out. Then Nanang will sell it for P20 a kilo, if I remember it right? Now, kalamyas has just become an object of fascination for my son.

Here’s Zohan and his obsession with walis at pamispis. 

Even in Manila, he’d always play with the broom every chance he gets. So here, we introduced walis tingting to add up to his toys. When we were kids, Rodney and I (okay, mostly Rodney!) would clean the sprawling surroundings with walis every morning. Rodney would do it day in and day out, before he goes to school. Very patient and hardworking kid, I tell you. Dutch, his wife, must have been so lucky. Anyway, I digress.

When he’s turned too stinky and dirty for our taking, he’d take his bath - outside the shower and inside a pail. He genuinely enjoyed his showers that he’d protest every time I had to take him out and dress him up.

Then I had his hair cut to what looked like a semi-mohawk. If Zohan could remember a thing about our vacation, he’d probably have a terrible memory of this hair cut. It was a struggle, as always. It left us both drenched in sweat and his eyes puffy with all the crying. I ended up paying the barber twice the price because I just couldn’t imagine how much patient he had to put up with to finish this ordeal with my son. Haha. But look, it’s all worth it, I think. He looked so refreshed!

I finally had the chance to cook, and since we had all the time in the world, I decided on kalderetang baka cooked in a low fire, through our traditional stove. I showed Zohan how to lit up the fire, and when he saw me putting up more woods, he instinctively did the same. There’s nothing like this in Manila, baby. Take your sweet time.

The kaldereta turned out to be really good, by the way! =) That’s according to my husband, so that’s not self-serving!

Of course, since we’re on vacation, we happily stayed idle most of the time and caught up on much needed sleep. He woke up to mornings being greeted by the crowing of the chicken. At one point, he opened his eyes, look up to me and suddenly said, “Koko”in an attempt to imitate the crowIt was his first time to utter those words, much to my surprise and delight. (He’s started being a talker lately, by the way.)

Rules were relaxed a bit and Zohan could eat chocolates first thing in the morning.

He also spent a lot of time lounging around with his Tatay in this old, perilous hammock that seemed to be hanging by a thread with their combined weight! Every now and then, he’d notice an ant and he’d crush it to death. Poor creature.

But what he truly enjoyed was helping his Tatay wash the car. He’d follow him every side he goes and play with the water hose. 

By the time they were done, he wouldn’t let go of the water hose that I had to forcefully take it away. And that, my friends, triggered the worst (and I mean THE worst) tantrum in the history of our parenting. That’s a matter for another post. Inevitably, I’ve graduated from the issue of breastfeeding and co-sleeping and other easier-to-deal-with stuff to tantrums and discipline. What a heartbreak.

We also went swimming in one of the nearby resorts in our place. The kids were over the moon! Ah, to be young and carefree again!

Zohan was the youngest in the brood, so as you can see, he was the apple of their eyes.

On Sunday, I left Zohan with my cousins while my husband and I attended another wedding. I was worried that he’d get anxious and cranky without his parents around, but I was delightfully proven wrong. My cousin brought him to our uncle’s house so he could play with the other kids, and there he had the most wonderful time! He played and played and ate and ate! Funny that he first hesitated to eat sinigwelas because it was his first time to see one, but upon seeing his cousins eat it with gusto, he ended up dipping it on salt like a pro! There were no tangible proof of how much fun he had because my cousins couldn’t take a decent picture of him as he was always on the run. Well, there's his stinky shirt anyway.

That night, we went back to Manila, recharged and refreshed! I wish we could have this kind of break more often. I know Zohan wouldn’t really remember what fun he had, but I sure was a happy mother seeing him have a little taste of what my childhood was like. 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Are you raising a mama's boy?

On election day, while the rest of you were probably feeling all nationalistic as your index finger gets inked, I was stationed at a far-flung area in Bulacan to render legal support for a candidate. I am not proud of what I did, having forgone my opportunity to make a change for this country. But as Nicole Kidman sang it in Moulin Rouge, "A girl has got to eat." (And so is her family!)
So in between attending to election protests, I was reading "For One More Day" by Mitch Albom, to ease my boredom and sadness (from sorely missing Zohan, who was left with the in-laws in the meantime).   
Halfway into the book and I came across this line: 
"You can be a mama's boy or a daddy's boy, but you can't be both. So you cling to the one you think you might lose." 
And the inspiration for this blogpost was born.
I'd like to think Zohan is a mama's boy. First thing he says when he opens his eyes is "Nana". When his Tatay comes home from work without me, Zohan will open the door and look for me. As soon as he realizes I'm not hiding somewhere, he's most likely to cry. And he clings to me like a baby kangaroo, especially since he's nursing from me.
I tagged him along to my very first shooting for a TV appearance!
But he's every inch a daddy's boy, too. He plays games enthusiastically with his Tatay and he erupts into contagious laughter every time. He prefers to do the silly things with his father, mimics the latter's every move, insists on wearing his Tatay's big office shoes. When he cries, no one cracks him up more than his father. At this early, Zohan is showing signs of looking up to his father, which is not bad. Not bad at all.
When Zohan was much younger
So you see, there's no certainty whether Zohan is a mama's boy or a daddy's boy. To be totally honest, I'd prefer him to be both, if that is even possible.
But being a daddy's boy does not create as much ripples as being a mama's boy. Perhaps because as a boy, his natural tendency is to cling to his mother (as it is with little girls who usually cling to their fathers). Opposites do attract.
This is probably the reason why if a man turns out to be good, the credit goes to the mother. As they say, if your man treats you like a princess, it is proof that he has been raised by a queen. (Pardon the cliche.) I take it to mean that men who have so much love and respect for their mothers will most likely turn out to be responsible and loving husbands and fathers as well. That makes it mama's boys the species to look for, right?
But some species of mama's boys aren't exactly the creme dela creme. I can bet my ass there's also those who aren't capable of standing up for their own family, heck even for their own selves, unless the beloved mama grants her elusive approval. This makes mama's boys look weak and coward. 

So where is Zohan headed to? I guess I go back to my theory that as parents, we can only love them and guide them, but in the end, they'll grow up to be their own person. We can only try to do the best we can. At the end of the day, our kid is bound to leave us to have a life of his own. And whether he became a mama's boy or a daddy's boy wouldn't matter as much; what's more important is whether he can look back at the way he was raised with fondness, gratitude and pride.
Taken during his first birthday party
For now, the better of me is convinced I should tuck away my bribes in the meantime.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Happy Changes

This year saw the most consistent decline in this blog's activity. It was not as if I had been around for years, but when I was starting, I was hell bent on posting regularly, reflecting on life and motherhood, improving my writing skills, and dreaming of earning a little from it all.

Then this year started, I eased into my new job description, and I became enormously busy.

But before you start to feel bad for me, do know that I've become busy with my family. Yes, it’s my husband and Zohan who's keeping my hands full. It was toxicity of the happy kind, that's why I didn't mind sending this blog into the backseat.

How did that happen? Well, a lot of changes occurred this year. An opportunity presented itself and I am now back to litigation - my first love, and now I'm convinced, my true love. I didn't have to transfer companies to do that. The universe just got kinder after I showed patience in enduring the rough start. My fortitude paid off, and now I'm back to court!

But let me tell you the more important change that happened (and please don't laugh): I wasn't given access to the internet during office hours, then work became too demanding that I didn’t even have the time to surf through my phone - yes, it was that simple. But it was a symbolism of some sort. Aside from the internet, I was likewise separated from the familiar faces I've been with and the practices I've been accustomed to. 

Initially, I thought it was a wrong decision to change career path. I mean - what would happen to my blog? Where would I draw my inspiration from? And how would I deal with the various changes in the workplace? Really, the questions are endless and my regrets infinite. (And by now, you must be raising your eyebrows.)

But I remained patient and steadfast. I read somewhere that success happens to people who are courageous enough to move out of their comfort zones. If happiness is to be the measure of success, then I'm certain I have become successful by moving to unchartered territories.

So now, I have become acquainted to limited access to the online world. I go to work at 8:00 in the morning, do the job that I like, then go home to my family at 5:30 PM. Well, there were some things that hasn't changed - like I'd still see my husband at the corner of a familiar street waiting for me with a silly face, and together, we'd walk home. But I really wouldn't mind if that one remained the same for a long time.

By 6:00 PM, we'd knock on our door and Zohan would welcome us with his shriek, "Nana!!!". He could say "Tata" but he doesn't say it very often. Hah!

From that time on, until bedtime, I'd be a hands-on mother. Zohan sure knew how to make up for the time we'd lost during the day because we would be inseparable until bed time. The only time he would not be clinging to me was when he'd play basketball with Tatay. It would then be my time to check my phone for messages, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram - a good 10 minutes or so. At bedtime, I would breastfeed him until he falls asleep, usually at around 10 to 10:30.

I still try to have a personal time, though. I'm now back to teaching, but my class is only once a week. Poor Zohan waits for me until I arrive home at 10:00 PM. Aside from teaching, I also try to attend to yoga class once a week. 

So you see, I am not always present online because life has showed me how my offline life is more important. From what I thought was a simple deprivation of internet privilege, it showed me that if I focus my time and attention to myself, to my work, my friends and family- I will feel happier and live simpler.

Maybe I couldn't strike a good balance yet between blogging my life and living the life I could blog about. I have high respect for bloggers who can manage their time to do both. So forgive the incessant absence while I find the magic mojo how they do it. Meanwhile, when there's no new post, just think that I'm happily busy being a mother and a wife.

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