New Chapters

It has been almost a month since my last blog entry.

A lot of things can happen in a month. Indeed, a lot of things have happened these past four weeks.

Milestone moments.

So, my unico hijo graduated from high school last May 30. He graduated with highest honors. He was one of the recipients of the Citizenship (Leadership) award, and he was also given the Scholastic and Academic Award. 

I was one proud mommy. I still am. 

I listened in awe as he delivered his Valedictory speech. That speech which he didn’t want to show us prior to graduation — mainly because he wanted it to be his own. I respected his decision because I knew that the writer in me would have ended up editing the speech here and there… And the mother in me would have added stuff that I thought was important. 

And so he held his own. He wrote his speech without any inputs from his parents… And he delivered it to the graduating class and the whole community with such grace and confidence. He talked about superheroes and about how one need not be a superhero to leave a mark in the world. He talked about his classmates and friends who in their own ways are mighty enough. He talked about the school and the community that shaped him to become the person the he is today.

As I observed the teachers, other parents, and the rest of the school community listening to his every word, I couldn’t help but think that yes, I must have done something good. Although I knew that the day was not about me… still, I couldn’t help but take pride in the fact that I helped raise this young man up. I had a hand in molding him into what and who he is now.

I also said a silent prayer of thanks to the Creator — for entrusting this child to me. I thanked Him for allowing me to experience this precious thing called Motherhood.

the graduate

With the Cup and the Cap that kept falling off — much to my dismay!!

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June 4 — the unico hijo turned 18.

Wow. 18 years. Time just flew by. He is now 18… I can no longer claim to be just 27 years old. Gosh.

I tried to think about how 18 years of being a mother has changed me. Aside from the additional 18lbs (or maybe even 20?) that I have gained through the years, surely there were other changes that took place.

For one I am no longer the clueless young mother that I was years back… I am now a clueless old mother. Haha, kidding. 

Motherhood doesn’t come with a handbook. One learns about parenting from other people — like your elders, or your peers. You also learn given the situations or circumstances that you face. You learn from your child. You learn from your mistakes, too. 

Ultimately you learn to trust your instincts and you make decisions based on what your heart tells you… because your heart will always opt for the good, wherever your child is concerned. 

Motherhood changed me. I learned things about myself, did things that I never thought I was capable of doing. I found that kind of strength that I never thought I had. I learned to make wise decisions. And more importantly, I learned to put someone else’s needs before mine.

Years back, when I decided to be a full-time, hand-on mom, I heard remarks that were enough to make one feel inferior. To some people, I became “just a mother.” Like my value as a person diminished somehow.

Now 18 years later, I’d still say that I wouldn’t have had it any other way.  

almon

Our first date after he turned 18 ❤ 

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The coming months will be pretty interesting because once my son is already in college, I will only be mothering from afar. So basically, I am starting a new chapter in my life, as well.

Whenever I read a book, I always look forward to starting new chapters. Each new chapter holds promise. If the previous one was bad, I look forward to the next one being good. If the previous chapter was good, I look forward to the next one being better.

As my son begins his new chapter, so will I begin mine.

Here’s to living God’s purpose, one life chapter at a time.

photo credits: pictures are all mine 🙂

525,600 minutes

Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes
Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Moments so dear…

Exactly two weeks from today, my precious unico hijo will be graduating from high school. 

Over the past weekend, I started listing down the things we should prepare for, things that he would be needing for college. Though he won’t be leaving until end of July, I just thought of planning and preparing early enough so we won’t forget anything.

Last night I found myself watching YouTube videos that featured his future college. I watched the ones made by current students (mostly entitled A Day in the Life…), I also viewed the promotional videos posted by the school itself. 

I thought of how he will have a lot of exciting opportunities, meet new, interesting people, learn a lot from this college experience. I know it will be quite an adventure for him. I am probably even more excited than him. I probably already know more about the school than he does. 

I slept feeling at peace, excited about the college we chose, and what the future holds for my son. 

This morning, my sister sent me an article she read online entitled Give Me the Strength… A Parent’s Prayer at Graduation. 

That article/prayer brought me back to the present. It brought me back to here and now….

To the realization that in two weeks time, my son and his classmates are graduating, spending one last day at their beloved high school. They will be saying goodbye to each other, to their teachers, to their younger friends.  They will be spending their last morning in that school, all together, perhaps for the one last time. And then they will say goodbye and part ways.

All they will be left with are memories — good, bad, ugly… It doesn’t matter, I am sure they will embrace each memory just the same.

I was a weepy mess after reading the article… also because I realized that as my son leaves high school and goes off to college, I will have to say goodbye, too. 

Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes
How do you measure – measure a year?

When my son first left to attend a College Weekend (you may read about it in the post Stages and Seasons), the house truly felt different. It was more quiet.

My son was never a noisy, rowdy individual. On ordinary days, he would just stay in his room to study, so I am pretty used to the house being quiet.  But it is a different kind of silence when you know that your child is just there in the other room. 

In Church that weekend, one of the Senior Pastors chatted with my husband and me. We got to talk about empty nesting and he gave us some words of advise, words of wisdom. He empathized with us, even shared their own experience as a family when their eldest son also graduated from high school and moved out of the house for college. 

Parents have to let go of their children at some point. And it hurts when we do so. What makes it more sad is the realization that as we end this season, we also have to accept that things will never be how they were before. We say good bye to our young child. 

We say good bye to the ordinary day to day life we spend with them. The ordinary and the mundane days spent with our young children that we normally take for granted. 

In daylights – in sunsets
In midnights – in cups of coffee
In inches – in miles
In laughter – in strife

In – five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes
How do you measure
A year in the life

But then, like what the Pastor reminded us, parenthood does not end when our children become adults. We just all enter a new season together

How about love?
How about love?
How about love?
Measure in love
Seasons of love
Seasons of love…

I am proud of the things my son has accomplished and of the person that he has become. But I also know that there is so much more in store for him and as good parents, we will have to give him the freedom to grow. 

We will always be his parents. I will always be his mother. Whenever he needs me, all he has to do is to holler and he will have my attention. Sometimes he doesn’t even need to holler, sometimes I already know he needs me even if he hasn’t said a word. That won’t change.

And I will continue to pray for him — for his health, his well-being, his happiness and success — whether he is here or in another country. Just like I do so every single day. 

We will embrace the change of seasons… and we will make new, happy memories.

New season. Different season. But a parent’s love remains. 

Measure, measure your life in love… Seasons of love.

Neither ordinary nor mundane 🙂 

❤ ❤ ❤

“Seasons of Love” lyrics from the musical Rent; “Give Me the Strength… A Parent’s Prayer at Graduation” from mylifetree.com; Photos are all mine.

My Instagrammable Life

I just finished reading Sophie Kinsella’s latest book, “My Not so Perfect Life.”

I have always liked reading Ms. Kinsella’s works (e.g. Undomestic Goddess, Can You Keep a Secret, The Shopaholic Series, to name a few) because the stories are light, funny, and the characters are pretty relatable. Her main characters could very well remind you of your best friend, your sister, or in most cases, yourself. A lot of times I catch myself thinking, “She’s just like me…” or “I could be her.”

My Not so Perfect Life (according to the blurb) is Part-Love Story, Part-Work Drama. One thing I found interesting, though, was how Katie, the female protagonist, portrayed her life on Instagram (living in an exciting city, doing cool stuff with marvelous friends), versus her reality — job issues, financial struggles, simple life, really small apartment.

It got me thinking… Haven’t we all, at some point in our social media obsessed lives, projected an alternate version of our reality?

(I will not spoil the book any further for the sake of my chick lit-loving friends, but it is a good and entertaining read. You won’t be sorry if you grab a copy.)

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Ahh, Instagram.

On any given day, we see something nice… or we go somewhere nice… or we think we look nice… And so we decide to take a photo — click, and then post. Then we add cute, interesting captions. We explain further by adding a number of #hashtags.

Then we wait for a hundred hearts (signifying that our follower friends liked the photo). Sometimes we feel bad when only a few people would “heart” the photo. Of course it hurts when you are not validated. (Personally, I am easy to please. I am happy with 10 likes. Anything beyond that to me is already a blessing — or a miracle.)

When you think about it, how much of our real lives is posted on Instagram? Or maybe the bettter question is… What stories do our IG accounts tell?

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Out of curiosity, I checked MY Instagram account.

If a total stranger will make a story about me based on my IG photos, what will he come up with…

From the 12 latest photos I posted, one will see: My latest selfie (with me all dolled up)… My bruised knees… Dining with my BFF… More selfies… A promo of my book… A collage of old photos with my son… A throwback photo with friends circa ’90s… And still more selfies…

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Basically from my IG, one will gather that 1) I have a book, 2) I have a son, 3) I was much thinner in the ’90s, and yeah 4) I am a selfie master — and I love myself so much.

My Instagram account pretty much depicts how self-absorbed I am. Yep, narcissism at its finest.

That’s my Instagrammable life. #ialwayswakeuplookinglikethis.

Alternate version or reality? 😉

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When we share photos on Instagram, we allow other people to take a glimpse of our lives.

It is easy to create a perfect, always exciting version of your life. Just carefully pick the photos you will post — Choose the ones that will tell the version you want your followers to see.

I bet our Instagram stories are all exciting.

Don’t be fooled, though. Things are not always as good as they are depicted on IG. That is why it is not wise to judge — nor envy– someone, based on what you see on Instagram.

I also believe that every photo has a backstory… And often times, it’s the backstory that is truly more interesting… and real.

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Example of Perception vs Reality / Alternate Version vs Backstory

latest selfie

image

#selfietime #chilling #memyselfandi

Perception created: She’s so chill… She’s so vain… She’s always made up…

Backstory (Reality): Photo was taken after four (4) hours of sitting through the College graduation rites of our helper. FOUR HOURS. But it was a momentous occasion, a celebration of someone’s educational achievement. I had to keep a smile on my face, even after four hours…

Plus I looked good that day. So, I just had to take a photo…

So, yes, maybe I am quite self-absorbed. Quite. 😉

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What is your Instagram story???

*****

photos are mine 😊

Happy place

The other weekend, my unico was fortunate enough to have been  invited to another College Weekend experience. Whereas last time he went to a University in Abu Dhabi, this time, he flew to Singapore.

It was an activity-filled weekend for him in another country. By himself, without nagging parents. What an adventure.

Unlike the first College Weekend that he had a month ago, this time I was not as anxious seeing him off. Perhaps it’s because Singapore is just four hours away, and he’ll be gone for just three days, anyway.

We dropped him off at the airport early Friday morning…

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Saying goodbye…

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Needless to say, I am already preparing myself mentally and emotionally for the time  when my son will leave for college for good.

It is inevitable. We have known this will happen… that he will study in another country. This has always been our plan for him, and his dream for himself. And given the opportunities that he has been blessed with, we know that this is also God’s great plan, as well.

But I guess no matter how much you prepare yourself, there will always be a feeling of loneliness that looms over, knowing that your child will be far away from you. As excited as I am with what the future holds for him, I still cannot help but be anxious, as well. Classic case of sepanx (separation anxiety).

The house was awfully quiet that weekend that he was away. Worse, I barely heard from him the whole time he was in Singapore!

At first I thought that maybe something was wrong with my phone’s signal, or with our internet connection at home. Eventually I realized — and got to accept– that he was busy. It was an eventful weekend… And he was having fun.

I also realized that it would have been more difficult for me if he kept texting and telling me that he was homesick, or that he was unhappy. I would rather that he was busy and enjoying… Even without us.

Letting go is not as hard when you know your child is excited, not unhappy, and is unafraid.

***

Alas, Sunday evening came.  We were back at the airport, this time to pick him up.

It was a rainy late Sunday evening, but the airport was still buzzing with activity. A lot of families were picking up their loved ones.

As our car was lined up in traffic along the Arrival area driveway, a thought came to me…

To people or families with loved ones abroad, THIS IS the happiest place on earth.

Because truly, nothing beats the joy and happiness one feels when you see your loved one coming out of that Arrival area.

Being reunited with someone you love = priceless. ❤️

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Okay, so he probably doesn’t look so happy… Let’s blame the hour and a half flight delay. It’s one thirty in the morning, so I’m cutting him some slack. 😉

❤️❤️❤️

Photos are all mine 😊

Hellos & Goodbyes

My mom’s sister and her family live in Virginia, USA. I remember when we were very young, their family would come and visit the Philippines every two years.

I also remember babysitting my two younger, adorable half-Italian, half-Filipino cousins E and GP, whenever they were here. From teaching them nursery rhymes when they were very little, to bringing them to arcade games… I would truly spoil them to their young hearts’ desires.

As we got older — when they turned teenagers, and I was already a young working woman,  I would always tag them along, bring them with me to my office. We would walk around the mall, hang out at Starbucks during my free time.  

We were always happy just hanging out. Most of the time, E and I will make fun of GP (because he is the youngest)… Or we would all make fun of everyone else — like other relatives, strangers, etc. Yes, we could all be pretty immature when we were together.

We saw each other grow up — grow old — well, every two years.  But I can say that we always made the most of their time here, however long or short their vacation may be.

Goodbyes were always, always difficult. 

I remember when I was much younger, I would lock myself inside my room and cry my eyes out the moment my cousins say goodbye. I would cry until I start feeling sick from crying. Maybe that was just part of my teenage drama, but I really hated goodbyes.

It was just so lonely and whenever they left, it felt like they also left a hole in my chest. Though I knew that they would be back in two years’ time, I still couldn’t help but feel bad.

Nobody likes saying goodbye. Nobody likes being left behind. 

In time though, I have come to realize that people do come and go. Life is a series of hellos and goodbyes… and hellos once again. I often say that friendship knows no distance.  I believe more so with love.

I have not seen my cousins in quite awhile. One has gotten married and is now residing in China with his lovely wife, while the other is in Virginia living la vida loca.

We may be living in different continents, but I know that the care, the love will always be there. Our shared history and stories bind us.  

I do miss them dearly, but I know that when we see each other next, it would be like no time has passed. We would hang out, have coffee, reminisce. They would still be my adorable little cousins and I will always be the cool — and gorgeous—  big sister that they never had. 

And we would still be talking and making fun of everybody else…. Because we are immature like that. 😉 

With GP then & now… 

I got older — he just stayed adorable. 

For some reason,  I couldn’t find a photo with E… But I am sure he knows that he has always been my first favorite… 😉 

Photo with baby GP from my treasure trove of memories. Photo with adult GP taken about three years ago… 🙂