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!)

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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. 

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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. 

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Malling

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Hanging out with my dad 

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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…

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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… 

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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. 

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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. 

 

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

 

photos are all mine

 

 

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A Whole New World

If you are wondering why I have been awfully quiet these past few weeks (and you don’t follow my Instagram and Facebook accounts) — well, the time has come. No, my Game of Thrones friends, I didn’t mean winter…

I was referring to my son’s College Move In Weekend… Though now that I think about it, the experience felt very much like a GoT episode — exciting, yet dreadful at the same time. Minus the gore, of course.

I digress. Anyway, so two weeks ago we brought the unico hijo to Singapore for College. After all the planning and the preparation and the psyching of one’s self (I am talking about myself here), when the actual day comes that you have to let go of your child’s hand and leave him to fend for himself… well, you are never really sure if you are ready or if your heart will not cave in when you see your child walking away from you.    

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Our customary “off to school” photo 

But then this is what parents do, right? We raise our children to be the best that they can be and we offer them the greatest opportunities possible. We allow them to experience things on their own, not always under our shadow, so they can grow. 

That Sunday afternoon as we were saying goodbye — he has already moved in to his residential college while his father and I were headed back to our hotel — my son’s last words to us were, Will you be okay?” 

I knew he was merely referring to the commute from the College back to the hotel, us being ‘tourists’ and all.  My head asked my heart the same question, though… Will I be okay? 

I know I will miss his presence in the house. I know I will have to get used to an empty bedroom across mine. I will miss our nightly chats over dinner. The house will seem bigger, quieter…

But when I think of the whole new exciting world that he is entering… When I think of the vast opportunities and meaningful experiences ahead of him, all the learnings that will make his life richer and will make him a much better person still, I am assured that there is no reason not to be okay. Everything will be well.

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No goodbyes, just see you later!

So yes, I will be okay. And so will he. 🙂 

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new world

His home for four years 

 

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photos are all mine 🙂 

 

 

 

In case you missed it…

college-graduation

Start of something new…

I wrote this piece for Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf’s online site brewyourbestyear.com just recently.  It’s something I wrote especially for this year’s graduating students. I thought of posting it here in my blog for the benefit of those who missed it. 

Read on and ponder… 

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Nuggets of Wisdom

Ahh, graduation.  It’s that time of year once again. A time to close another chapter of one’s life… a season ending.

It is during this time when parents listlessly ask, Where have the days gone? How did my child grow up so fast? Is he ready for the real world? While the students probably think to themselves, What is in store for me? What will life offer? Am I ready?

Don’t we sometimes wish that life comes with a guide book where we can find solutions to our problems or directions to follow so we can avoid getting into trouble or sticky and hurtful situations? Unfortunately, there’s no “Manual for an Easy and Perfect Life” available.

We learn from our own experiences.  We also learn from our peers. More so, we learn from our elders. We gain wisdom from the ones who went before us, simply because they have “been there” and yes, they have “done that.”

To the graduating students who are just about to go out into the real world, allow me to share some insights on life.  These are learnings that I have gathered through my years of having been there and having done that.  

Hopefully, these nuggets of wisdom can help guide you in this journey called real life…

Girlfriends

#Girlfriendsgoals

On Friendship

Friendships do not happen overnight. We all know that. It took days, maybe even months and years, for you to form a bond with your childhood, high school and college friends. I believe the same thing goes with people you will meet in the work place – or in the great ‘out there.’  Remember: Trust is earned.

Hold on to your old friends. You will meet new people. You will have new and exciting relationships. You may even not see your old friends for years.  Yet neither time nor distance can erase real friendships. Value the ones who were there when you were young, pure and innocent. They will remind you of who you really are, no pretensions needed, and they will love you just the same.

True friends are those who stick by you through thick or thin.

Not everyone can be your friend. So, you are Mr. or Ms. Congeniality… and yet there is someone who rubs you the wrong way. Or maybe you rub them the wrong way. It’s okay. You don’t have to be friends with everybody. But be nice.

brokenheart

People can sometimes break your heart…

On Dealing with People

People are not always appreciative so don’t expect them to be. You don’t have to please everybody.

You cannot expect everybody to always agree with you or think the way you do.  You don’t always have to agree with someone else’s opinion, but you can learn from the differences.  Besides, life will be boring if we all think the same way.

There will always be people who have a lot to say. The “know-it-alls.” They have something to say about you, about the government, about other people, about the weather. If you think and feel that what they say doesn’t do you any good, then by all means, shut them out. Constructive criticism is different from just plain criticism. Don’t let the negativity get to you.

Stay away from toxic, negative people.  They will suck the energy out of you. And check yourself, too. 

You cannot please everybody, help everybody, make everybody happy.  But being one person’s hero is enough.  Be that hero.

Happytobeme

I am the best Me

On Being the Best You

A person’s true character is revealed during difficult or trying times… not when things are good. The same applies to yourself, too.

You cannot buy breedingNor can you buy character.

Keep evolving. Is there a skill you want to learn? A hobby you want to begin? Then go for it. One is never too old to learn something new. You’ll be surprised at what you can actually accomplish if you just put your heart and mind to it. Don’t be afraid to surprise yourself.

Respect. Yourself. People. Their Belongings. Don’t be rude and self-absorbed. The amount of respect you expect from others is commensurate to the respect that you give.

It’s all about perspective.  When you feel like the world is closing in on you, step back a little.  Find a better view.  Breathe.  You may not be able to change the situation, but you can change your outlook.

Learn to forgive yourself. We all make mistakes. Sometimes we make small slip-ups, sometimes we do major tumbles and fall hard. When you do, don’t wallow nor condemn yourself. Own up to your faults, dust yourself off, then move on.

Learn to apologize. Know when to say sorry and know when to forgive. Be the bigger person.

Stick to your non-negotiables.  They define who you are.

Be kind.  A little kindness, a heartfelt smile, a generous act, selfless actions go a long way. Some people need to see light shining on them. Be that light.

In everything, give thanks.

Lastly, share yourself, share your wisdom. Share what you know. Allow others to learn from you.

As you get older you will realize that one of the best compliments that you will ever receive is when people say how proud and fortunate they are that you are in their lives and that you are indeed a blessing to them.

So, go and be that blessing. ❤ 

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All photos were grabbed — or borrowed — from google images. Thank you clipart, Sex and the City, and Sesame Street.

Write up originally published at CBTL’s brewyourbestyear.com. You may find the original link here. For more of my write-ups on this site, please click : Betsy Gacutan-Ochosa

 

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

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#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???

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photos are mine 😊

Stages and Seasons

It used to be our daily practice when my son was much, much younger… I would bring him to school in the morning, and then pick him up after class.

Just another regular school day…

Our drive to and from school gave us the chance to bond more. Morning travels were spent preparing him for the day… while I spend the afternoon ride home listening to how his school day went.

Morning car ride to school, elementary days

When he was very young, I would walk with him to his classroom and would only leave once I see that he’s all settled in. In time, I would just drop him off at the door of the building and will just watch as he walked the hallway to his classroom — or up to how far my eyes could reach him. 

I think he was in Grade 5 when he told me that I didn’t need to accompany him anymore even up to the gate… Though he said he still wanted me to be in the car with him so we can still chat on the way to school. 

Eventually, it would just be the driver who would bring him and pick him up.

Classroom. Hallway. School gate. Car.

Stages. Seasons.

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Last Thursday, my husband and I brought our son to the airport. He was to fly to another country for a College Weekend. As part of his college applications, he was invited by a university to visit the campus and for several interviews.

Car ride to the airport

It was his first trip abroad alone. 

Being a mother, I was overjoyed and excited for him. I was happy that he is getting all these opportunities. 

I was melancholic, too.

My heart was overflowing with joy and pride, yet at the same time it was melting and breaking, too. My son is not a baby anymore.

airport scene

Off to College Candidate Weekend!

It was a prelude to letting go.

Stages. Seasons.

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Immediately the morning after my son left, a good friend of mine, K, called up to check on me. She asked how I was, asked if I cried — or if I was still crying.

She knows I don’t cry easily… Yet she also knows that my heart breaks just the same. 

That same afternoon, I was at the mall running errands. Just as I was about to go home, I thought of what snack to buy for my son. He always comes home from school hungry and I make it a point that he has something to eat when he gets home.

And then I remembered he was out of the country. All I could do was to let out a huge sigh.

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Our children are not ours. Yes, we give them life, we raise them, we teach them… but we all know that time will come when we will have to let go and let them live their lives. Eventually they will have to spread their wings and live according to their purpose. And we allow them.

It is scary for us parents. Somehow don’t we all wish we can hold on to them, keep them near all time? Yet we also know that in order for them to grow, we have to let them go.

We just have to trust that we have taught them enough so they are able to stand on their own when the time comes.

We have to have faith in them, too.

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So spend as much time with your kids while they are young… while they are there. 

Like what I told my other friend who claims to be a ‘clingy parent’: Yes, be clingy. Cling as much and as hard as you can.

Because time flies. Life is fleeting. Our children grow up so fast. One day you are bringing them to nursery school, singing ABC’s in the car… Next day you are on the way to the airport to send them away for college. 

Stages and Seasons. Try not to miss the many good moments in between.

A few of our mommy and son dates

First day of Nursery School… First day of HS Senior Year

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“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”           Prov. 22:6 KJV

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photos are all mine 🙂