The Hesitant Mother

 

The world just celebrated Mother’s Day last Sunday and I enjoyed every bit of pampering I got from my husband and took pleasure in responding to every greeting that was sent to me via Facebook and text messaging. But let me confess one thing: I have not always enjoyed motherhood.

I was not ready when I had Josh. I was angry, depressed, hurt, scared – I was a lot of things but happy when I found out I was having a kid. Motherhood was something I had never envisioned for myself. My goals were to graduate with honors, get a masters degree, get a law degree, be a polyglot, and travel the world. I did not see myself saddled with domestic responsibilities.

One moment. It only took a moment for my life to take a 180-degree turn. As I saw the two strips turn bright pink, I cried knowing that things will never be the same again. The entire nine months went by in a haze of crying fits and bouts of morning sickness. I was miserable. Even more so when I gave birth to my son after 10 hours of labor. The minute Joshua was placed on my stomach, I tried hard to look for that spark of maternal instinct but there was none. I felt alienated from my own child.

I did the things that are expected of a mother – staying up late, anticipating bottle feedings and diaper feedings, working while studying to make sure he has milk and nappies – but I did them out of a sense of obligation, not love. I thought I was a horrible monster to not be as attached to my son as other mothers are to their own children. Looking back, wish I had been easier on myself.

My 2014 In Review

If the past year can be encapsulated in a single statement, it would be called “the year of major changes”. For so long I yearned to get out of my comfort zone and the chance or chances to do so finally cropped up in 2014.

January – Got accepted as a headhunter at TeleDevelopment. Took me three days to realize that no matter how good the pay is, my interests do not lie in human resource development.

February – Aaron and I celebrated our fifth year of being a couple, we also went out on out first Valentine’s dinner date together and swore it would be our last (that stuff is overrated!)

March – Threw our church wedding plans to the wind and decided to get married in a very simple civil ceremony with only two people in attendance. This, of course, prompted others to ask if I was pregnant. Like, seriously? We’ve been engaged since 2012 and some people still think we rushed into it?

April – Prepared a three-course meal for the family and no one was rushed to the hospital for food poisoning. Yes, this is a monumental occasion that deserves to be included in my 2014 highlights.

May – Changed careers by applying for and getting the Research and Advocacy Specialist role at Employers Confederation of the Philippines

June –  Learned that Josh got accelerated to prep. Hurray for natipid na tuition!

July – Work cancellation and class suspension meant days dedicated to series marathons

August – Was regularized early at work and given an increase whoo!

September – Went on my first travel abroad – Cambodia – to represent the employers sector at the NSSF Workshop on Good Practices and Implementation of Employment Injury Insurance and Health Insurance Schemes

October – Had my very first exposure to quantitative research with the Corporate Compensation Survey 2014

November – Finished my audit classes and formally enrolled in course work in graduate school

December – Organized an 80’s Christmas party for the office

2014 was a year of firsts for me and despite the nights of wondering what the heck I was doing with my life, the decision to get out of my comfort zone was definitely worth it. I’m looking forward to more positive changes this 2015!

Of Coffee Cups and Pyramids

The message came from a high school classmate I have not talked to in years. “Free ka ba ng Monday?” she typed. Thinking it was a message meant for another person I replied, “Wrong send ka yata?” She said she wasn’t mistaken, that the message was meant for me and that she wanted us to meet for coffee. Being burned one too many times by invitations such as this, I bluntly asked her “What for?” to which she answered, “May ipe-present kasi ako sa iyo baka magustuhan mo.

Just as I thought, another Multi-level marketing (MLM) pitch. I graciously turned down her invitation and resumed my office duties.

Two things can be taken from the paragraph above: One – I should not be opening my Facebook account while in the office and two – MLM is a pandemic that shows no signs of slowing down. I am pretty sure that one in three of my Facebook friends have been propositioned for a coffee meeting and perhaps some of them might have even been gullible enough to take the bait. I can’t blame them, these people seem pretty sincere when they’re asking you how you are and telling you how they are excited to see you after all these years. You might even enjoy the conversation, but then comes the sales pitch and you find yourself doing all sorts of diva hands just to reinforce that you are not interested. “But it’s a pretty foolproof way to earn money!” they argue. “I have not even been doing this for two months but I’m earning thousands of pesos per week.” For chrissakes do not, under any circumstances, give in to the get-rich scheme. If that person really has been earning tons of cash per week, then he/she should be inviting you to a steak dinner and not to measly cup of coffee with no refills. I do not blame the Juan de la Cruz who gets sucked in to MLM scams. Every one of us dreams of being able to pull in millions without so much as a sneeze. But you have to draw the line between dreams and reality.

Weeks ago, I was talking to a co-worker who said she has joined a lot of networking businesses. I almost fell out of my seat laughing when she said that one of the products she had to sell were special sanitary pads. Now I’m a person who hoards sanitary pads and I use three types per cycle so you can say I have no problems doling out cash for breathable covers and wide wings, but the product she mentioned was ridiculous. It claimed to regulate hormones, prevent pimples, and all sorts of stuff. Maybe it even prevents cancer, I can’t be sure as I was too busy laughing. On a more serious note though, the extent in which some people stretch themselves for multi-level marketing has gone borderline cult-like. My co-worker was lucky to have snapped out of it early enough but others are not so lucky. Here are people who do not care if they burn connections as long as they tell anyone and everyone on Facebook that their brand is the holy grail of health/weight-loss/skin-whitening/vagina-tightening products. They’ll even cite celebrities to back up their claims. Though I do not doubt that these celebrities use, and at some point, endorse their products I don’t think they do it as zealously as some of our Facebook friends. To be fair, the products these people are selling are quite good (hence, the expensive tag price), but the manner in which they are distributed is kind of shady if you ask me. Instead of focusing on selling the products, the heads of MLM schemes prioritize the recruitment of people who need to cash out for membership and training. Then, when they’re on the inside, they are also tasked to recruit other people who, depending on the program, may or may not contribute to the upline’s (recruiter’s) income. This system really perturbs me, what happens when they hit market saturation?

Is this really the way to earn money now? By being “exclusive distributors” and by building pyramids where only the people on top get to enjoy the riches? Should we dedicate an entire business program in colleges to study this format? Is it just a fad that will run its course or is it something we will all catch, one coffee cup at a time?

Uninspired

 

The combination of caffeine crash and cold medicines has led to my being a Debbie Downer this evening. It doesn’t help that I’m cramming a paper for my IR class now. Sorry, I can’t help it. I have just arrived at the shocking realization that going after your dreams is scarier than watching The Exorcist alone on a dark, stormy night.

I am seriously freaking out. I have a thousand and one questions, all of which can be condensed to a single query, “What if I’m not good enough?”. They call it the Impostor Syndrome, a psychological phenomenon in which a person doubts his/her own competence. Unless you have the confidence of Kanye West on amphetamines, every grad student will come across this experience. It’s no fun, especially if you are financing your way through masters. You come to a point where you wonder if you should just throw in the towel (and save money) or keep plowing through.

We have the term phobia to describe a person’s irrational fear of certain things, but do we have a word to describe the fear that we have for our dreams? Maybe we do, and it’s called insecurity. Just like love, our dreams can inspire or paralyze us. A few weeks back, I read an article on how you should not allow fear to be your motivator. Though I agree with the author, I think that it’s also very probable for a person’s ambitions to be mingled with fear. When you want something, you give up your time and a little bit of your sanity in pursuit of it and fear comes with the territory. When you have invested in something for quite sometime, you start to wonder if it’s all worth it… then worry what will happen if it isn’t.

To give up would be easy, justifiable even, but how will that make me feel? I have seen people who used to be good at what they do settle for a life of mediocrity and I think “If only he/she pushed him/herself more…”

So here’s to gritting my teeth and a couple more years of reading and writing. As my husband said, “Even if grad school doesn’t work out, you still have additional knowledge. Panalo ka pa rin.” Trite but true. Now let me go back to my paper and let me swear on my empty coffee cup that I shall never cram again.

First of Many

My son just confessed that he has a crush on someone. I don’t know how the topic came up. We were just watching episodes of 7th Heaven when I suddenly felt the urge to ask him if he liked someone in school. A sheepish smile broke across his face and my heart stopped a little. “What’s her name?” I asked. “Or his name”, I added for good measure. He replied that the girl’s name is Zayna… or maybe it’s spelled Xena as you know parents cannot be trusted with giving their kids uncomplicated names.

So kailan ko siya makikilala?” the nosy mother in me asked. “Punta ka ng school para makilala mo siya“, he answered. Poor boy, he doesn’t know what he is suggesting. He went on to say that we should keep it a secret and I agreed.

Some secret it was, he told Aaron and Mama five minutes after. I asked if he already shared his “secret” with any of his classmates and he nodded his head… there’s that coy smile again. Drat. He told Zayna/Xena herself. “Anak, wag ganun. Girls like it when you keep things cool.” I advised my son. Just then, my mother piped up, “Hindi, okay lang. If you like someone, you let that other person know.” I looked at Aaron to back me up but he was engrossed with his tuna carbonara that time.

Man, I wasn’t ready for this. I thought he’d start having crushes while he’s in grade school but the heart wants what it wants eh? Oh well, in a couple of years we’re going to have “the talk”, whether he’s ready for it or not.

Oh, and Zayna/Xena? We shall see each other soon.

Ten Signs You’re Getting Older

 

I just celebrated my 28th birthday and while everyone was reminding me that I am two years shy from hitting the big three-oh, I kept a demure smile and told them that I still feel 23.

At times though, certain things remind me that I’m not as youthful as I would like my cells to believe. In my opinion, the following items are experiences familiar to people inching towards their 30th year:

1. You can no longer pull all-nighters.

Remember when you crammed a semester’s worth of lessons into three hours of rapid studying and memorizing? Yeah, so do I. You probably had time to party after the exams. Try duplicating that while you’re making a presentation for your boss and see if you’re not asleep after the first hour of cramming.

2. You get exasperated at kids who don’t dress their age.

My eyeballs immediately roll at tweenies dressed like twenty-somethings, forgetting that at one point, I also tried to pull off the party girl look while waiting for puberty to hit.

3. Sunday is becoming your favorite day of the week

I used to hate Sundays because they herald the coming of busy Mondays yet now I appreciate the sense of laziness that comes with this day.

4. Fast food is something you avoid as you can immediately see its effects.

Don’t you just hate that you can no longer eat a burger without it showing on your gut?

5. You forego the hip and trendy club for something more relaxed.

Who cares if they are offering beer at 50% less? Well, I don’t drink so this never mattered to me… but yeah, I want to be in a place where I can actually hear the other person talk!

6. You take more chances…

…because you’ve seen people your age die and you realize you’re lucky to be alive, you should be making the most out of life.

7. You begin to realize that your parents have their own life stories.

I went through the whole “My-mother-does-not-understand-me-at-all” phase too but now I am beginning to see that my mother has her own history – her own reasons for being who she is, for thinking what she thinks, for saying what she says. I used to respect her (grudgingly) for being my mother but now I respect her as an individual.

8. Your role during the holidays has changed.

The feeling of  getting excited over Christmas Eve dinner and opening the presents are now distant memories of your childhood. You don’t know exactly when or how it happened but you suddenly became in charge of cooking dinner and shopping for presents.

9. You don’t feel the need to read every book that is trending on social media.

Who cares if the author is being touted as this decade’s Dan Brown. If it isn’t your genre, you pass up on buying it and letting it collect dust bunnies on your bookshelf.

10. There’s a particular thing you spend a lot of money on.

For others it’s shoes, for me it’s perfume. It’s not about being pasosyal, it’s merely realizing there is one thing in your life that you won’t make compromises with, even if it means shelling extra dough .

The Ugly Side of Love

 

She looks at you from across the room, your heart beats just a little bit faster while you recall the lovely afternoon you spent by the seaside. A slow smile spreads across your face as she mouths the words “I love you.” Right that moment, you feel everything is right in this world… and that there’s no way you’ll love like this again.

Seven months later, you’re cursing the day she was born. This, ladies and gentlemen is not a story of love gone bad. This is the true story of love, with all its fats and trimmings. If you’re sixteen and still optimistic about the idea, do yourself a favor and stop reading this; you’ll just be disillusioned. On second thought, maybe it will do you some good to stick around and learn a lesson or two. Brace yourself, oh innocent one, you’re in for the shock of your life.

Many definitions have been attributed to romantic love. We have the oft-repeated slam book phrase“Love is like a rosary, full of mysteries”, the highly-clinical “it is a feeling commenced in the hypothalamus”, the cynical “It is the best excuse to make a complete ass out of yourself” (oh wait, that’s my personal definition), and the one lifted out of Antoine de Saint Exupery’s book, “looking together in the same direction” (mostly used by men who want to sound smart while trying to get into your pants). I won’t even get into the details of the different levels of love by Plato because this is a blog, not Philo101. What am I trying to point out here? Your definition of love may not always be in congruence with that other people. For example, I know of a woman who is happy even though her husband has fathered children outside of the marriage. As long as she and her family are well-provided for, she is content with the idea that her husband is a loving and responsible man. What may seem like utter foolishness to you is sweet, tender love to others. Just like religion, it’s useless to argue about it. We each have our own ideas. Don’t think that this is the ugly part yet, I’m merely reintroducing the basics.

After establishing what love is for you, you decide, or maybe not (good for you!), to experience it for yourself. Perhaps the warning you got from your parents or your already-hitched friends weren’t enough, or maybe you’re into self-inflicted pain, I don’t know; but you still go ahead and plunge into the world of relationships. Excited, you can’t wait for that first hit of love. As is often the case, you take the first thing that remotely looks like love and take it for the real thing. Sex is usually the main culprit why you stick around for something fake even when your friends are telling you you have the cheapest taste in women or that you’re in need of new prescription for your eyeglasses. After a while, you get a hold of yourself again, and you call it quits. It hurts, and you make a big deal of showing it to other people. They, however, aren’t sure if you’re really in pain or bemoaning the fact that you won’t be getting laid until further notice.

But the the gods are good, and you find yourself falling again. With renewed vows to make it work this time, you pour all your energy into making sure your partner feels what you feel. Everything seems so beautiful. The sun is shining just a bit brighter. There is a spring in your step. You forgive people easily, even wishing them a good day as they mutter apologies for smashing your face with their bags while getting out of the MRT. You feel that the moon is casting a glow on your face just to mirror the radiance within.

You insufferable narcissistic twat. Not everything is about you, as you will learn in the succeeding months. You’re in for a very rude awakening.

I will let you in on a little secret that rom-coms conveniently leave out in the script: Love is a messy inconvenience. Yes, despite the headiness that you feel during the first few dates and the rush of excitement that comes after finding out you listen to the same bands, you will still come into the realization that love is ugly. If you can delay this as much as possible, well and good. But once you stumble upon this revelation, there is no turning back. All the things you once found attractive in your partner become the very things you will hate his/her guts for. Then comes the make or break part. You decide whether you can leave with these imperfections (because if you are anything like the deluded cretin writing this post, you would assume that all  the issues in your relationship are through no fault of your own), or you can decide to stay and wade through the muck.

Love is ugly and you know what makes it uglier? The fact that you would have to go through crap like this many times before finding someone who is willing to stick it out with you despite your own hideousness. And even if you are lucky enough to find that person, both of you will still go through repugnant things that will make you question your sanity.

Why am I telling you this, you ask? Because I feel like finishing a draft that I made three years ago, that’s why. Also because I feel it is my duty to remind humanity that except for Meryl Streep, nothing is perfect and everything needs work – including you, me, and relationships. So whether you are posting “Single Is Sexy” status updates to convince us (more like yourself) that you’re okay with being single or wearing one-half of a couple’s shirt (in which case, I am judging you), please be reminded that having a Valentine is more than someone give you three pieces of Ferrero. It takes utmost courage to plow through the ugliness of a relationship to finally see its beauty.

Intoxication

“Tell me I’m beautiful,” she told him while she played with the buttons of his shirt. He was always amused when she asked him to do this. It was as if she was not the confident woman that many men fawned over; it was as if she was a woman-child, unsure of herself and her power.

“You already know you are,” he said, unzipping her skirt and letting it fall to the floor. He kissed her as he worked on unbuttoning her blouse. “Yes,” she said breathlessly. “But I still want to hear it from you.”

He trailed kisses from her jawline to her collarbone and acquiesced. “You are beautiful,” he said in between kisses “and your mind makes you even more beautiful.” It was true, he found her attractive because of her passion for anything and everything intellectual, it was just a bonus that she also happened to be aesthetically pleasing. He could hardly believe his luck when she agreed to go to his place on the pre-text of checking his book collection. He knew she did not drink and hated the glass of light beer he ordered for her. In fact, she hardly even touched it which was probably a good idea as it assured him that she came to his flat unadulterated by liquor.

They were already naked and he reached behind her to turn off the lights. She turned them back on. “No,” she said rather firmly, “I want you to see me. And I want to see all of you.” They were hardly gym buffs and their penchant for rice has taken a toll on their bodies so he was rather perplexed by her request. All this faded away though, when she finally opened her body to him. He forgot all his questions, all his inhibitions about his beer gut, and all the rumors he heard in the office that soon, his boss will be giving him his walking papers. She was the only thing he could see, hear, and feel right now.

She felt him shudder and knew it was over. She looked at him with the same wide eyes she had looked at him before they had undressed each other and saw his expression change from ecstasy to exhaustion. His eyes remained shut for what seemed like forever. They finally opened and they were on the ceiling, the glass on the table. the clothes on the floor. They were on everything but her. She was not particularly surprised. He always found it uncomfortable to look at her and she never bothered to figure out why.

Slowly, she disentangled herself from him and put her clothes back on. He lay in bed, both mesmerized and disturbed at the way she methodically put every piece of clothing on. “Did you…” he need not have asked, she already knew what was on his mind. “Yes, I enjoyed myself.”

Kissing him lightly on the mouth, she bid him farewell. It was the last they would see of each other. He would always think of himself as one of the many men she ensorcelled but it could not have been farther from the truth.

He was her only indiscretion and that was already enough.

Amanecer

The sun peeked from the sky’s dark curtains and was getting ready to make its majestic entrance. In a few minutes her alarm would go off and she could choose to hit the snooze button or get up from her bed. Her eyelids fluttered and briefly, she fought the urge to go back to sleep.

Maybe today she would finally accomplish the things on her to-do list, or maybe not. Either way, she was getting up to face the day

Daybreak. In a few more minutes, sunlight would stream through her window and spill over her pillow. She opted not to be there when it happened. She chose to welcome the dawning of a new day outside.