Precious Moments

The moment I found out that their College had a quarter break in September and my son had five days to spare, I immediately got him a plane ticket home. (And because he is favored, I was able to get the ticket at a really good price!)

1

My son’s home!!! 

We didn’t tell anyone that he was coming home, only my husband and I knew about it… but I scheduled a family dinner (with my parents, mother in law, siblings, brother-in-law, and nephews) at my sister’s house the day my unico was supposed to arrive. My sister thought I was getting depressed that’s why I was insistent on having dinner with the family.   Little did they know…

We told my son not to enter with us and to wait a few minutes outside the house so it will surprise them more when he enters. 

And so we were all mostly at the living room… my mom was saying it would have been nice if my son was around so we were complete, my dad kept asking me for updates on college activities… my nephews were just there hanging out with the adults, trying not to act bored…

On cue, my son knocked on the door — didn’t wait for anyone to open it — then entered and said, “Hi!” 

My older nephew let out a low, shocked, “HUH!!!” Followed by a high-pitched “What?!” from the younger one. My mom stared at his eldest grandchild for a good three minutes, not recognizing him, thinking we had another guest. Eventually she realized who she was staring at, stood up and hugged him tight. My dad asked me if I knew he was arriving — uhm, yes, father, I bought his ticket! 🙂  My sister who was slowly coming down from the stairs saw him and stared hard before realizing she wasn’t dreaming. 

It was a good surprise. It was nice night for a family reunion. 

3

Act surprised, Leandro!

Family is 

The days passed in a blur. 

My son had homework to do, papers to write and submit, so it was somewhat a working vacation for him. Yet whenever possible, we took the time to go out and do things together. 

7

Malling

8.1

Hanging out with my dad 

11

Buying groceries

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Eating some more… 😉 

He also spent a day at his old high school, visited his teachers and friends.

When at home, he would spend his hours reading or writing. We didn’t always have good, meaningful conversations because he had “stuff to do,” and there were plenty moments like this…

10

Spongebob, how cute are you??!

I didn’t really mind much. He was home… that’s all that mattered! 

Besides, I can always pester him like this… 

9

Me: Smile for mommy! Him: Why??! Me: Because I said so… 😉

It was a short break. Before we knew it, he had to fly back to Singapore. 

But then one thing I know for sure is that the moments spent together, no matter how fast — or how short — will always be precious.

Sooner or later he will be busier. He will be more settled in school or swamped with more activities, that staying at the dorm would seem like a better option than coming home. 

As our children grow older, they begin to need us less and less. And so we make the most of the moments when we can still hold them near. 

13

Off to the airport. Again.

We make the most of the moments we share and spend with our loved ones because ultimately these are the moments that matter, right? 

Hello and goodbye…

These are the moments that put a smile in our hearts and give meaning to our lives. 

 

14

This, to me, is the loneliest place on earth… 😦

 

photos are all mine

 

 

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Beautiful Minds

mother

We do have a number of things in common 

One Christmas season many, many years ago, my mom and I spent a morning sorting the Christmas gifts we bought, making sure we had all the gifts properly labeled and checking who else we missed buying a gift for.

We came across this big box, beautifully wrapped, yet unmarked. No name on the card, no secret marks, whatever. My mom wondered out loud whose it was supposed to be. I said I didn’t know… because truly, I didn’t recognize the box when I first saw it.

And so my mom fidgeted. She held on to the box, turned it around, surveyed it up and down, weighed how heavy it was, shook it over and over, hoping the sound that it makes will make her remember what was inside.

After a few minutes, I realized that it was supposed to be our Christmas gift for her. My sister was the one who bought and had it wrapped, that’s why I didn’t recognize the box right away. Casually I told my mom to just leave the gift alone. But before I could stop her, she tore off the gift wrapper and ripped the box open.

After taking a peek at what’s inside, she got more confused. In a daze, she muttered, “I don’t remember buying this…”

“Why don’t you just put it back?”  I said, trying to salvage whatever’s left of the surprise.

In a tone full of dread and with sheer panic in her eyes, my mom said, “My memory is failing me!!!”

At that point, I knew I had to confess. I told her that she wouldn’t remember nor recognize the gift because she did not buy it. I told her that the gift was supposed to be for her – but now she ruined the surprise.

I also told her that no, her memory was not failing her. Not yet, at least.  

She was probably, at that time, the same age as me now.

That line — My memory is failing me — became a running joke between us, though.

I have always prided myself with having a good memory.

I’m the type who can tell a story of something that happened ages ago and I can remember and relay the details like they just happened yesterday. Try doing something bad to me and most likely I will remember it for life (holding a grudge is another thing, though).

Lately, however, I seem to forget things quite easily. Small things, like passwords… or people’s names… or where I put things.

Like this afternoon, I realized I was losing an ID card. I knew I used it sometime in the not so distant past, but I just couldn’t recall when, where and why. I knew my husband had something to do with it… I insisted that I entrusted the ID to him. But I couldn’t remember why so I started doubting my memory.

Whenever this happens, me not remembering something, I can’t help but panic.

I’ll first try to rack my brains to remember the detail that I forgot… When racking my brains doesn’t work, I’ll freak out internally – all the more reason for my brains not to cooperate.  And then I will start feeling bad, and resignedly sigh, “My memory is failing me.”

But I am much too young to accept that. 😦

Just recently, I watched CNN’s Fareed Zakaria talk to neuroscientist Lisa Genova about Alzheimer’s disease — a progressive disease that destroys memory and other mental functions*– and how to prevent it.  It was a very informative segment.

According to Ms. Genova, one can have the disease for some time without it manifesting right away. She said we can actually help prevent the advancement of the disease. Having enough good sleep, exercising, having a heart healthy diet, are among the things that one can practice to stave off the disease. Basically, I believe she meant taking care of one’s body by having a good lifestyle.

One more thing she mentioned was learning new things.  It is more than just restoring knowledge that’s already there. She pointed out that learning new things make you build and connect new neural connections, or synapses. This, I deduced will help keep your brains from degenerating.

The human brain is a beautiful, complicated organ. Like the muscles in your body, the brain can be trained to improve its function. And for it to stay healthy, it requires great care, exercise and yes, stimulation.

One is never too old to learn something new. In a way, the more we use our brains, the more we keep it from getting old fast. Interesting, huh?

After watching that segment, I made a resolve to care for my brains and keep it as healthy as possible. I promised to be more mindful of things, make an effort to remember names and details.  I will read more and learn new words. I will also write more… and use the new words that I learned.

I will learn new things.  

Besides, a beautiful mind complements a beautiful face, right? ❤

***

PS…

I found the ID I was looking for. I racked my brains, retraced my steps, and proved my memory did not fail me. It was with the file that I gave to my husband. He couldn’t remember having it at all! So I blame him. 😉

 

*****

Credits and sources:

*Alzheimer’s disease definition from Mayo Clinic.

Fareed Zakaria is a journalist and author. He is the host of CNN’s Fareed Zakaria GPS. You may watch his segment on Alzheimer’s via CNN video.

The picture is mine 🙂

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!!

❤ ❤ ❤

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 ❤ 

❤ ❤ ❤

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 🙂

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. ❤️

image

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… 🙂