Tuesday, October 25, 2016

My Personal Momsanity Scale

My son just recently got over an illness and it's been a wretched past week for our family. I can only say 'illness' instead of being more specific because no one ever came up with a definitive diagnosis. He was seen by two doctors and just like me, all we can label are the symptoms for which he received medication. 

It started with a headache, followed by high fever. Then he sounded a bit more congested but no remarkable drainage nor coughing. He also had a slight sore throat and slight ear inflammation, but not enough to be a full-blown ear infection. He tested negative for both strep and mono. He has had his flu shot and the doctors seemed convinced it wasn't the flu. 

He started with Amoxicillin but after two days of not making any difference, he was switched over to Azithromycin (3-day dose). That finally made a difference. Fever went away and he started feeling better slowly.

When he was seen by the first doctor at a walk-in/urgent care facility, he was shown a picture card with emojis to identify how he was feeling. Was he feeling a slight discomfort, or was it agonizing pain? While this was going on, the only thought bubble I had at the time was that pediatricians should have a similar scale for parents. Why not also show me a card that will express to you just how much my child's illness has driven me to the edge of insanity?! Perhaps it might give you a more holistic picture of the severity of the situation.

Here's my suggestion for an effective diagnostic tool:

Perhaps I should just print this out myself and carry it around in my purse. Better yet, how about I make a shirt out of this and just casually point to an emoji whenever random strangers start wondering why I'm behaving so oddly?

Said shirt would have come in handy in church when I sorta kinda made a minor, negligible scene. (I know that sounds like an oxymoron but let me just invoke momsanity at the moment and blame it all on the fact that I'm perpetually on emoji #3). 

We got to church quite early and found ourselves waiting for about 10 minutes before Mass started. While waiting, I saw Noah messing with his shoe. He saw a streak on his midsole and was trying to rub it with his bare hands! 

With horror, I instinctively uttered, "Duuuuudddde!", without realizing how much it echoed in the church. When I lifted my eyes after glaring at my son for a moment, I saw at least three people from the other aisle staring at me. 

If only I was wearing a momsanity scale shirt! I can't even begin to tell you how close I was to actually explaining to those people, "Seriously, he just got over a week-long illness and I'm just doing my best to not let the germs gain such easy access. And while we're at it, would you mind not shaking our hands if you have the slightest inkling that you might be coming down with something..thank you very much...God bless you...

There are a lot of things that drive me insane as a parent. There are days when I sometimes feel like I can't exhale and the shadow of a nervous breakdown follows me around, just waiting for me to stop and give in. For me, the strongest insanity-inducing challenge is when my son has an illness, especially one that I can't easily explain or one that lingers. I'm sure a lot of parents will agree with me on that. That said, I now wonder if there should be a 6th emoji that needs to be included, one that shows a mother's face willing to make any deal with God, willing to give anything at all, just to make her child safe and well. For me, reaching that point signals that I'm completely overwhelmed and that my insanity and stress are off the charts. It's definitely the point when Mom, not child, is the one needing medication.

Friday, October 14, 2016

The Day Donald Trump Made Me Grow Up

I had just met up with a good friend at the mall and we said our goodbyes at the bus stop. I knew I had about a 30-minute commute ahead and didn't want to be so late going home. I boarded the bus and was happy that there were a lot of open seats for me to choose from. I walked towards a completely empty row and slid towards the window. I loved window seats. 

Not long after, at the next stop, a few more passengers boarded and as I looked up, an older man stood by the empty seat to my left and smiled at me. I politely smiled back as he took his seat beside me. I was glad it was an older man, someone who looked decent, dressed fairly well and didn't look like anyone who would mug me. Heck, he could be my father, although I could tell he was probably at least 5 years older than my dad. 

It didn't take long for the man to start making small talk with me, only his idea of small talk was undeniably making me feel uneasy. He asked where I worked, what I did. He asked where I was going, where I lived. I don't remember if it was the mere conversation that made me feel uncomfortable, his tone, or if it was the way he was looking at me. He was smiling, he looked harmless, gentle and had a fatherly air about him. And yet somehow I found his hand on mine and even took the liberty of stroking it. He said he immediately noticed me when he boarded the bus and couldn't help thinking how beautiful I was. He said I had the face and smile of an angel. The fatherly and safe feeling didn't linger much too long. It dissipated as soon as I felt his unwelcome hand on my arm as he started to tell me that he's a widower and wants to have his secretary call me for him sometime. He made it a point to tell me he was wealthy, although I wanted to tell him at that point, "Yes and I'm smart too and am wondering why a rich guy like you takes this sort of public transportation". He asked if I had a boyfriend and instinctively I said yes even though it was a lie. I wanted to make it clear I was not interested and that at that moment all I was praying for was to be ejected from my seat. My stop just couldn't come quick enough. Eventually it did and I must have left so fast, so awkwardly that I honestly don't remember how I made it to the bus exit from my window seat. 

This happened to me 20 years ago in the Philippines. I was in my early 20's and thought I knew everything I needed to know. 

My parents made it a point to teach me and my siblings to be always aware of our surroundings. We were taught to keep a close eye on our belongings so that we can avoid getting pickpocketed. What I was not prepared for was how to deal with creeps and potential sexual predators.  

All week long, the breaking news was that of a presidential candidate bragging about sexual assault. This person wants to be the most powerful leader in the world and yet does not have any shred of decency in his being and shows not a hint of a firm moral compass. He sexualizes females every chance he gets and believes he is entitled to them just because of who he is. It is beyond sickening.

The memory of this nightmarish bus ride surfaced as I listened to this candidate flaunt his disgusting behavior and belief that he can always get away with most anything, including the putrid words that come out of his mouth as he objectifies women. I don't enjoy remembering what happened to me, let alone speak of it, but it must be done. Things like these need to be brought out. Perhaps there is value in taking these memories out of the shadows no matter how shameful or even painful they might be. What happened to me is but a small fraction of other assaults and abuses experienced by other women but it doesn't make the sense of violation and the shame in feeling that I should have acted differently any less intense, any less life-altering.

You see, what I realized with my experience was that I was taught a lot of things and mostly it had to do with being 'nice', being 'ladylike'. I was taught to be friendly, to be polite, to be respectful especially of older people. That man on the bus was an older man. I thought I needed to be respectful. I thought I needed to remain nice. I thought I was not supposed to make a scene. I thought I needed to smile and still speak politely even though I wanted to scream, say 'STOP' or just be honest and admit that it was making me uncomfortable and that none of it was okay.

I was not equipped. The definition of the situation, the character involved, the impression I was given, coupled with the socialization I received as to what it meant to be 'proper' all confused me. I just didn't know better. 

That woman in her 20s drowned in a sense of helplessness. But not anymore. This one in her 40s knows better. This one in her 40s can now parent her own child and teach the intricacies of what it means to value others without ever sacrificing one's self; to handle with grace the delicate balance between propriety and self-assertion. This one can and will speak up for herself. This one can and will draw clearer boundaries, will refuse unwanted and unsolicited attention, and will fight back. This one now believes there is no shame in defending oneself, no shame in appearing and sounding rude to someone, anyone, who doesn't know how to respect other people, especially females. 

I will definitely speak up. I may no longer have my day with that man on the bus but I'm sure I can still have my voice heard. And I want to make sure that voice is echoed by the vote I will cast next month. It is a voice that can't be drowned out as it fights back against indecency, a disgusting sense of entitlement and misogyny. It is never too late for me, or any of us, to be heard. 

Friday, October 7, 2016

What Matters Most in Death

My father-in-law died two weeks ago. He has been ill for quite a while until finally on September 22nd, his body gave up. My husband and I, with our son, spent the entire last week in Illinois in order to be with family as we honor the memory of our beloved Big Daddy. 

We had to be around for the wake and the memorial service. Apart from those, as Filipino Catholics, there was also a funeral mass, as well as the nine day novena. Starting from the first night my father-in-law died, family and close friends gathered at my sister-in-law's home to say the Novena for the Dead for nine consecutive days. People not only prayed together but also brought food and gathered to comfort each other during this difficult time. 

I have to admit that I'm not one who's big on traditions. I was not raised in that way and it probably did not help that I have a very practical mother and a highly logical father. We questioned a lot of Filipino-Catholic traditions and superstitions that didn't make sense and were encouraged to focus more on faith and spirituality rather than religiosity and custom. Bear in mind that I'm also a Sociologist and so there were a lot of moments when I found myself depersonalizing the experience and feeling, involuntarily, like an outside observer rather than immersing myself in the highly emotional event. 

I found myself researching why a novena has to be said. Why nine days? I wondered if purgatory is indeed real although we are taught as Catholics that it is. I wondered if praying for the dead really made any difference to their souls. Is there a soul? What really happens to it? I believe we are all energy. Where does that energy go? Can it linger? Can it come back and in what form? Do we really meet others who have died before us when we die or is this merely something we conjure to bring us comfort?

There are no real answers that can convince me 100 percent at this time. It's all a matter of what I am comfortable believing. And the point is, it doesn't matter much, if at all, what I believe. What matters is this...

...That these rituals are not for the dead but for the living. We participate in them not to make the soul of the dead feel good about themselves. It is to affirm to us the kind of human being that person was and that indeed they will be missed as they vacate a certain role in our own lives. 

We go through the rituals to ease the transition somehow. The act of interacting with friends and family when a loved one dies, the act of participating in conversations and being forced to talk about what happened, how it happened and all the details, serve as catharsis for those left behind. The repetition of stories cement the reality that indeed the person is gone, while it also helps cement the precious memories left behind to be cherished. 

I had to be clear within myself that I was there primarily to support family left behind by Big Daddy. It didn't matter whether I believed the same things everyone else believed in. What mattered was the wishes of my mother-in-law, this strong widow left behind by her partner of 52 years. Her husband's death has shattered her to pieces. Hopefully, the prayers and most of all, the overwhelming show of support and love by relatives and friends can help mend her broken heart and fuel her spirit. That's what matters.

...That eulogies are spoken to highlight how the person lived and not how he died. And that is the only real point, isn't it? No person giving a eulogy will belabor the details surrounding one's death. What people spend precious time on are the pertinent events that defined the dead person's life. In this case, more than 300 people will remember Big Daddy as a great cook, a real family man who sacrificed a lot to create a comfortable life for his family; a hard worker; a patriarch who spoke very little but remained respected by his younger siblings and the whole clan. To me, he will always be the man my husband warned me about the first time I was going to meet him. AJ told me not to be scared of him even though he may sound angry. "He just has a loud voice and might seem scary to you", AJ said to me moments before I was about to step into their house so he can introduce me to his parents. But when I finally did meet him, I was confused. I realized there was no such scary man I was warned about. Big Daddy smiled so pleasantly, spoke gently to me and seemed genuinely happy to meet me, although it was the first time. He made me feel comfortable and very welcome and that will always be a memory I will treasure.

When we die, not all of us will have hundreds of people mourning us. Some of us might, while some of us will only have a handful. But as long as we are certain we knew how to love and was able to touch the life of even just one human being we are leaving behind, then we can leave in peace. 

Death never defined a human being. Life does. What matters is not how we leave, but how we live and love. Death only takes away possibilities. Hopefully when it's time for any of us to face death, we can be at peace knowing that we've taken full advantage of every possibility there was for love. That's what matters most. 

Friday, September 23, 2016

Is it Strange That I'm This in Love With My Child?

I am severely obsessed with my child. 

There, I've put it out in the open and I admit that I'm quite on the defensive. As someone who's active in the blogging and online world, I'm keenly aware of the fact that it's far more popular to complain about one's children, write about how difficult it is to raise these young creatures and celebrate the hours they spend away from us. Believe me, I understand all that. I have written a few of those too and don't judge any parent who misses those carefree childless days. 

But I also admit that every time I see social media posts by parents or memes celebrating back to school, the fact that their kids will finally be out of the house again, or read rants portraying their children as uncontrollable, devious monsters that just suck the life out of them, I feel a little guilty because a part of me can't relate.

Sure, I honestly savor time alone when there's no one for me to fuss over and I can concentrate on chores and my writing. It's always good for any parent to have breathing spaces during the day when we can feel the relief of not having anyone else to care for or worry about in our midst. But in the grand scheme of things, I really don't mind having my son around me and to be perfectly honest, I even love it. I understand that I can only say this because I don't work outside the home and I only have one child. There is no employer to worry about when my child has to stay home due to illness or school holidays. And there is no one for him to be incessantly noisy with, no annoying and insanity-inducing fights for me to settle. These are blessings I never take for granted. 

I honestly can't say if I'd feel any less intense had my circumstances been any different. If I had more than one child. If I didn't have any fertility issues. If my child isn't deemed a miracle on top of a miracle being an IVF baby. If my child were any different from how he turned out to be. If I were employed and had the distraction of another career. Would I be any less in love, any less obsessed? Because right now, he is my world. In my eyes, he is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. He has the most mesmerizing eyes I have ever looked into, the face that lights up any dark moment. His are the arms I can't resist when he pulls me close at night, refusing to let me go and accept that tucking him in doesn't mean that I stay by his side for 10 minutes or so. When he comes home from school and walks through the door, I hug him tight and tell him I missed him. And yes, I mean every word of it and feel happy to have him back in my arms and smell the sun and sweat on his hair and skin. When I kiss him goodbye in the morning, I bless him, say a prayer and kiss his head with the hope that our embrace will carry me through my day. During the day, I smile at his photos spread throughout the house as I walk past them. At night when he's fast asleep, I find myself looking at some of his photos on my phone and utter to my husband, "Isn't he just beautiful?", and then simultaneously feel joy and sadness, ambushed by a sense of panic as I realize how fast he's growing, how the moments are just slipping through my tightly clenched fingers. I know this might all sound crazy but there are countless days and nights when I really feel like my chest can burst open with the love it can't contain for this child. This boy holds my heart and I suspect it will be so forever. 

I am not blind to my son's imperfections. I'm not one of those parents who thinks their child can do no wrong. I love him immensely but I also parent him fiercely. I don't baby him, though I know he will forever be my baby. 

This is how I love. This is just how I am. When someone truly gets into my heart, they stay there forever. When someone cuts through my soul, loving in half measures ceases to make sense. I don't find fulfillment in lukewarm or halfhearted. It's just who I am, and parenthood, if nothing else, brings out the best lovers in all of us. 

Friday, September 9, 2016

Watching Grief

Photo by Francesca Borchardt

He lies quietly on his hospital bed placed in the middle of the family room. The sound from the television serves as perpetual background noise. Is he watching, understanding the show that's on? I don't know for sure. His wife, children and grandchildren are all around in different areas of the house. There is subdued chatter everywhere. Again, more background noise. 

My father-in-law's first stroke happened in 2008. Since then, he has been in and out of the hospital, in and out of therapy, up and down, a roller coaster ride. The family, of course, has also been with him on this ride. A period of panic, and then calm, complacency, perhaps even denial. This is how life has been for the past several years but this time, there seems to be something definitively different. His inability to move on his own and care for himself, his imprisonment in that hospital bed, the undeniable fragility of his thinning limbs have forced everyone around him to confront the inevitable. Nobody knows when it will happen and everyone can't seem to fully exhale. 'Have you accepted it?" seems to be the most common question from any outsider looking in, and there can only be one logical response: "I think I have, to the degree that my humanity allows". The subtext to this of course is that the mind can process what it sees and knows what needs to be done, even though the heart remains fraught with hanging questions, unfinished conversations and the heavy presence of unending grief hiding in the shadows. 

He is crying. Everyone takes notice that quiet tears are flowing down his face.

Could he be in pain? He says no. 

Could he be sad? Is his heart breaking at the thought of leaving his wife and children behind? Is he grieving for unfulfilled dreams, plans he now doesn't seem to have enough time left for? Is he thinking about regrets?

Could these be tears of joy? Is he reminiscing about the first sight of each of his six precious children? Is he suddenly feeling the ghost sensation of the very first kiss he shared with his wife when they first fell in love? Are these tears brought by all the fun family vacations and parties celebrated through the decades? Are all the beautiful memories now too much to take in all at once?

Or could this be fear? Is he uncertain of what lies beyond and feels confused about how this will all end? Is he afraid of what would happen next? Or is he more afraid of what might become of his wife and her shattered heart?

She is right beside him, holding his hand and telling him, "I will be fine. Don't worry about me". She musters all her strength until she couldn't anymore and decides to leave his side to break down in the other room. Her daughter stands with her and helps muffle her wailing by holding her tight. They both need this release. And they both know this is only one among many that will follow. 

I know this too. I have had to hold my own son as he tries to process the change that he is witnessing and sensing around him. He has broken down in the dark one night as I was tucking him in. He feels it all but can't fully understand, let alone label the sense of grief coursing through him, as if breaking open his chest. When the time comes and all the goodbyes have been said, the grief will visit him again. As his mother, I need to help him understand that it is best to make friends with this grief. It will pop by when he least expects it. He can't shut his door because it will always find its way in. If he at least makes friends with it, he will know that grief is stubborn. It respects no timelines or deadlines. It may frequent you less as years go by but it will be there. Its only request is that you respect the space you share with it. Just be in it, with it and let it move through you, or even consume you. Just believe in your heart that from the ashes you will rise again...and again. Grief is not greedy that it will want to take your life and happiness with it. Only you can make that choice. 

And so each of us in the family grieves slowly as we brace ourselves for the inevitable. My father-in-law, or Big Daddy as we call him, is with us still. And even after his fragile shell gives up, I am certain we will find comfort in him living on simply because he has touched each of our lives and loved us as best as he knew how. This love is imperfect but one can't deny the perfection it created in the form of his family's devotion. Now I realize that more than just watching grief these past few days, I've also been privileged enough to witness that grief always manifests itself with Love. I find not only comfort in this, but most of all, peace. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Beneath the Veins

Image: Flickr CC

When I was a little girl, I would hold my mother's arm and just stare at it. I was always fascinated with her fair skin and how it showed all the blue-greenish veins underneath. To me they looked pretty. They felt familiar, something I always just associated with Mom. There was even a point when I would refer to my Mom's scent as 'the vein smell'. I honestly thought it was those veins that gave her that signature, comforting smell. 

Now, in my 40's, I look at the back side of my own arms and see similar veins. I now understand what veins are, what they hold and how they run throughout our bodies sustaining us, 'feeding' the heart. I also now understand that even though I saw my mother's veins a lot, I never fully knew the secrets they held. 

As I look at my veins showing, I know that no one else knows what courses through them, especially not my son. He sees me and sees only his mother. He doesn't know what those veins have been through, or the intensity of the blood flowing through. He doesn't see the hidden anger or hurts, regrets, passion; nor for what or for whom those veins have throbbed in the past and why. 

They don't need to know. My son doesn't need to know. The truth is, I think for most of us, there is a resistance to confronting the full humanity of our parents especially our mother's. We see them in a certain light and it is dictated upon by necessity more than reality. The mother-child relationship is one of the most intimate relationships we would ever experience, and yet it doesn't follow that it's necessarily the most transparent. We often see our mothers as mothers, and then as a partner to our fathers. But not many of us are brave enough to peel away the surface layers to see more into who they are, where they've been, who they've loved, hated, disappointed; who have broken them, who they continue to bleed for, what they continue to hope for and what they silently cry for in their sleep. It gives us comfort to simply see our mothers as strong, with veins steady and fortified by contentment and a sense of wholeness. 

I stare at my own veins and marvel at them. I know what lies beneath. I know the depth of what they feel and what every drop of deep red carries with it. I know the essence of the stain they will make if you cut them open. But no other soul fully knows, especially not my child. And perhaps he doesn't need to. Perhaps it's enough for now that he is also fascinated with them and finds them comforting. It's enough he sees the blue-greenish tint and not the deep stained mysteries that flow within. Those are meant to be kept between my veins and my heart. 

Thursday, August 18, 2016

My Parent Sanity Saver Tool

I got the idea from watching this YouTube video and after almost two weeks of using it, I can honestly say I am loving this system! Hopefully, it can save some of you in the same way it has definitely saved, and continues to save me.

It's my Parent School Binder and I honestly don't know where I've been all these years that I never thought of doing this. For an organization freak like myself, it's almost unbelievable that it took me this long to put something like this together. Unlike the system in the above YouTube video though, I can guarantee that my folder is much cheaper. Most of the materials I used are from the Dollar Tree, save for the tabs, labels and sheet protectors. I already had those on hand and didn't need to buy any more. 

So for those who are not familiar with this system, it's a binder that any parent can put together so that all school-related documents are in one easy-to-find place. In past school years, I've either had several folders filed separately somewhere in my office and I've had to go to different locations to locate whatever was needed. Now they're in one centralized location, with this bright-colored, happy lime green binder keeping them together neatly organized. 

You can absolutely tailor this according to your needs and insert additional sections for each additional child. I only have one so let me show you how I've organized mine.

First of all, I was lucky to have found a Dollar Tree pencil case in the same design as the binder. I clipped that in the front. It's convenient to include this especially if you consider bringing this binder to school for Parent Orientation or Parent-Teacher Conferences. 

Now for the main contents, I created 4 Main Sections:


Under CALENDAR, I first inserted a monthly calendar which I also found at the Dollar Tree. It came with a hard plastic folder-like backing (also in green!) and a clear plastic front which makes it really convenient. 

Then I had a sheet protector each for the School District Calendar, as well as the Lunch Menu for the month. Finally, I included a folder and labeled it School Events for whatever flyers we may need to keep for events we're attending. 

The second main section, DOCUMENTS, has 5 tabs under it: Forms, Policies, Report Cards, Permission Slips/ Receipts and Excuse Slips

On our school's website, they have printable forms for notifying the teacher about early dismissal, absences, as well as application for out-of-town trips during the school year. Such documents will be filed under 'Forms'. 

The 'Policies' folder includes both documentation of school-wide (left side of folder, e.g. School Handbook, Illness Policy, log in information for school website, etc.), as well as homeroom-specific  rules and regulations (right side of folder, e.g. Guidelines shared by teacher during parent orientation, etc.). 

The 'Report Cards' and 'Permission Slips' folders are self-explanatory. 

However, I also included 'Receipts' with the 'Permission Slips' section. This refers to any school-related document you want to keep a copy of as proof of payment. Examples of this would be payments made for school portrait packages, receipts from school merchandise bought, or proof of payment to PTO/PTA activities.

Finally, the 'Excuse Slips' folder will contain my personal copy of doctors' notes whenever my child misses school.

The third main section, STUDY MATERIALS, includes any review materials or study guides either sent home by teachers or ones we find or create ourselves. 


The fourth and last main section, BLANK SHEETS, just has a few college ruled sheets of paper (150 sheets for $1 at the Dollar Tree) for whenever I may need them. 

Excluding the sheet protectors and post-it tabs that I already had, I only spent a total of $8 at the Dollar Tree for the rest of the supplies I needed to put together this Parent School Binder. The cost will of course depend on how detailed you want your folder to be, as well as the number of students you have in your family. 

To sum it up, here's an outline of the different sections of my binder: 

     -monthly calendar for the year
     -school district calendar
     -lunch menu
     -school events folder

     -forms folder 
     -policies folder
     -report cards
     -permission slips/receipts
     -excuse slips / doctors' notes



I hope this helps! Here's to a great, more organized school year ahead!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

What Lies Beyond the Impatience

"So, did you work before being a stay at home mom?"

"Yes, I had an office job at an online university, but in the Philippines I actually used to teach!"

Every time I have such a conversation with acquaintances or new friends, there's a part of me that always wants to rush through the answer so that I can further qualify. Actually, whenever I answer in that way, I always want to kick myself for not coming up with a clearer response. It's because a lot of the times when people hear the words "I used to teach", they respond with "Oh! So you must be really good with kids!" My candid response is always an uncomfortable, "Umm, no, not really. I taught in university, college kids, not little ones. I just don't have the patience for teaching young kids."

To be really honest, I feel like my son is the only child who can stand me. If we break that down, it's easy to see that that's only true because (A) he doesn't have a choice, and (B) he's had rigorous training since birth. 

I'm not exactly a tiger mom in the strictest sense but I will never deny that I have really high expectations of my son. I believe in structure, strict enforcement of rules and discipline. I am very affectionate with him, undeniably protective, but can also be quite harsh and short-tempered. There are days when I wonder if I should seriously consider attending anger-management programs. 

Just the other night, after the second day of school, I snapped. It wasn't exactly a zero to sixty situation although I can tell that it shocked my son when I blew up. I even shocked myself but he had it coming. 

We've long established that he needs to go upstairs by 8 p.m. This has been our routine for at least 5 years now. He also knows that he needs to put in at least 30 minutes of reading time before bedtime which is at 9 p.m. Between going upstairs and reading, he's expected to shower, brush his teeth and just settle down.

While eating dinner he asked if he'd have time to play on the Xbox. I said I very much doubt it and explained to him why. I went over our routine and clarified how each block of time will be spent before bedtime comes and that he needs ample sleep so he can wake up rested at 7 am and not be late for the bus. Besides, I added, he has consumed all his electronics allowance for that day. 

While having dessert he asked the same thing again. I answered and gave him the same information but this time even more thoroughly than the first time.

After dinner, at around 7:55 p.m., as we were both cleaning up in the kitchen he asked me...AGAIN...this time even saying, "Are you SURE I don't have time to play on the Xbox?". That was the final straw.

I screamed!

I don't remember word per word what I said but I remember feeling as if my head was going to explode. I remember my chest tightening until all the frustration got spewed through my mouth. I also remember the rage when I shouted, "DO YOU HONESTLY THINK THAT ASKING ME THE SAME QUESTION A HUNDRED TIMES WILL CHANGE MY ANSWER?! NO IS NO!!"

He froze in front of me, only for a short while but long enough for me to see his shock and fear. I was probably just as surprised as he was, surprised at how sudden my tone and demeanor changed just like that. It was faster than any of Bruce Banner's transformations that we've ever seen.

I hate repeating myself. If there is anything I absolutely loathe, despise, abhor with a passion, it's when I have to repeat myself because I'm not being heard. It's one thing to keep explaining to someone who simply does not have the mental capacity to fully understand, but it's another when I'm left saying the same thing over and over simply because either my response is being rejected or just not heard. 


This is a part of me I'm not proud of. Some of you might try to make me feel better by saying that perhaps I was having a bad day; or it happens even to the best parents among us. But I'll tell it like it is...

It's an adult meltdown. And there are days when I'm humble enough to admit that I'm having too much of it. 

And just like any toddler who screams, cries or throws a tantrum, it's not as simple as just being overly tired but also a deep hunger to be heard. It's my need to be validated. When I'm doing my best to explain something, searching for the most appropriate words in a language that is not even my first, not my native tongue, I expect full attention and expect to be understood. When I feel that I'm already sacrificing so much, doing my best to adapt and accommodate, the least one can do is to make me feel seen and treat me like I do matter. As it is, I feel that I speak excellent English and definitely don't speak with an accent that my American born and raised son struggles with. I don't think some people realize that sometimes I still translate in my head from Filipino to English. It's not always easy, especially when I'm tired or highly emotional. But I still do my best. I really don't have much choice if I want to be understood by others, especially by my family. I do my best with them, hence I expect the most validation from them, especially from my son. 

We associate Patience with the ability to wait. But more importantly, it speaks of having tolerance, and exhibiting self-restraint and a sense of equanimity. Patience is to have the capacity to graciously wait for others to catch up to our expectations.

Tweet: Patience is to have the capacity to graciously wait for others to catch up to our expectations.
"Patience is to have the capacity to graciously wait for others
to catch up to our expectations."

I am not the most patient person. When it comes to my parenting, I would say that I repeatedly fail at it. I just hope that more than my family simply being patient with me and my failings, they will also have the tenacity to try to see beyond the surface and hear beyond the angry cries.