It’s a two-way thing

For the longest time, my cats were my babies. So I’m used to talking to them without getting a response or reaction. Although Ella does talk back and can understand a few commands like ‘come here’ and ‘let’s eat’ to name a few. But Ella is Ella, and she’s not your average domesticated cat - she’s highly intelligent and she can figure things out easily. Well, things that concern her anyway like a closed door, the catnip drawer, a trip to the vet, and her food dish.

It was a similar case with Lizzy until recently. I would read a book to her and she would listen quite attentively but I had no way of knowing whether they made sense to her or not. I’d narrate to her most of the things we do - from the mundane to the complicated with the hopes that she can somehow understand. I’d tell her not to touch my plate because it’s hot yet I still put it out of her reach just because I anticipate her touching it regardless of my warning. I’d sign to her in an attempt to bridge the gap of our communication just so I can better cater to her needs.

I’m used to doing all those things without getting a response. So you can imagine how I felt the first time she asked for a drink and signed ‘water’ to me. I thought I was dreaming but it never stopped since then. Now she can tell me if she is “all done”, wants water or wants to be held by signing. When she wants to walk around the house, she actually brings her shoes to me. I think it finally dawned on me that she understands more than I give her credit for when she obeyed when I said:
Come here.
Go get your soccer ball.
Let’s go and change your diaper.
Don’t touch that.
Go get your shoes.

It is easy to get caught up with the developments of your child. I know that. I constantly remind myself not to make a big deal out of these milestones but I almost always fail. How can I not? I mean, how can I not beam with pride and love when she’s sitting on my lap while I read a book to her and her first reaction when seeing a dog in the picture is to say “woof, woof!” or “wack, wack!” for a duck? Tell me, would you not be ecstatic to see your child happily and eagerly wait for you to settle her down and lie side by side with each other to read Brown Bear, Brown Bear? And when she sees the brown bear on the first page, can you really control the overwhelming joy you feel at the sight of your child wiggling her little body in delight? Maybe you can, but not me.

These are my recent joys. The joys of communication. It’s a two-way thing you see.

The heart of a mother

I saw Lizzy miss the railing on the deck as she was trying to balance herself from an abrupt shift of position. As it was, she hit the railing face first as her hand extended out in what was a miscalculated attempt at steadying herself. I held my breath as I await the gut wrenching scream of a hurt child. I could feel my stomach churn, my face grimmace in unfathomable worry as I called out to her mustering a calm voice so as not to make her panic all the more. I gathered her in my arms, gave her a kiss on her now red and slightly swollen side of the forehead and held her tighter all the more. Meanwhile, my child did not cry. In fact, she seemed unscathed and she just graciously accepted the not-so-usual-tight-of-a-hug that I gave. I drew a deep breath and whispered a prayer “Oh, dear Lord, how many times must my heart skip a beat in this lifetime?”

Too many to keep track of, I daresay.

We moved her to a toddler carseat today. She looked so grown up as she sat there, finally facing forward instead of the rear facing infant carseat that she occupied these last eleven months. I can now watch her in my rearview mirror and I saw a little lady sitting comfortably in her big girl seat enjoying the view. I suddenly remembered the day we brought her home, I couldn’t quite believe it was possible for a human being to be that tiny and yet here she is now looking more and more like a little girl. Who is this child? My heart was full of emotion.

As she struggled to climb down our bed, I watched protectively by the side to catch her when she falls. The first part of going down was a success but she failed to plant both of her feet firm to the floor that she ended up bumping her head. It is always the head. Why must it be so? My heart skipped a beat, yet again.

I witnessed a mother with a child in her arms running up to a crowd awaiting the Fourth of July fireworks, yelling for help - asking if there was an EMT in our midst. I could hear her loud and clear “he’s not responding! He’s not responding!” My heart must have skipped not one but two beats that time.

A man rushed to her aid, took the child and did the Heimlich maneuver for babies. The child was choking. I watched intently glued to my chair desperately pleading to God to spare the life of the little one. I lost my view of the incident once on-lookers swarmed the area. Minutes passed and they emerged, the boy now conscious and resting on his mother’s shoulder, clinging ever so tightly like a baby koala. They were escorted to the ambulance and I sighed a sigh of relief.

I get it now. My heart will always skip beats here and there, swell with unknown deep emotion, and even break into little pieces but that’s ok. Because this heart? My heart? It is a mother’s heart. And no matter how many times it breaks, or skip beats, it will always be restored by the Father who holds it.

My first mothers’ day, 2013

First Time Mom

When Lizzy was a few days old, I remember trying to calm her at 3 am. I did what the baby book said to do when baby cries but no amount of nursing, rocking, diaper changing, clothes changing, singing, shushing, swaddling, and position switching can pacify my wailing child who sounded like a hurt banshee. Imagine the thought: banshee and hurt. Helplessness crept into me as I sat on the floor in utter defeat, in the hallway, crying as my baby cried. I had absolutely no clue what to do so I prayed. I prayed that Lizzy will forgive me for being such an incompetent mom. And that I will be able to forgive myself for sucking at parenthood.

Before Liz was born, I was very idealistic. I had in my mind a grand picture of what parenthood would be like for me. I had high hopes and expectations for myself but they all came crushing down that vivid night when I cannot console my own child. My heart was crushed and broken. I had no business in being a mom.

My thoughts turned to my mom. I wondered how I was when I was a child. How did my mother endure the sleepless nights and the worry-filled days? How many booboos has she kissed? More importantly, how many buckets of tears has she cried because of me, because of us? I love my mom. But I have never loved her more than when I became a mom myself.

And what of my mothering skills? God is gracious. I see in Lizzy’s toothless smiles His redeeming grace. When Lizzy wraps her arms around me, I feel a love so pure I’m reminded of the cross. When Lizzy crawls away from me to get a toy and stops halfway to look back at me and smiles, my heart melts. I still feel incompetent sometimes but when I watch her sleep peacefully, my self doubt vanishes and is replaced with sheer joy. The one that tells me, it’s ok and you are doing just fine. So even if half the time I don’t know what I’m doing, I still get up each morning eager to play the mom role because I get cuddles and laughter and kisses and hugs. And a sense of fulfillment that cannot be bought. I may not always be good at this but one of these days, I will get it right. And until then, I will continue to live and love my organized chaos that is motherhood.

Happy Mothers’ Day to all the amazing moms I know especially to my amazing mom. :)

Lizzy has well over two thousand pictures in her nine months of existence (as of yet). Because moments are fleeting and our minds can sometimes fail us, I take a lot of pictures of Lizzy to remind me of her toothless smiles; of her wobbly legs when standing; of her unique crawling and many more of her antics that make motherhood so rewarding.

Eight-month perspective

In life we make choices. Constantly. With Lizzy, I make a conscious effort to choose wisely.

I could be complaining that Lizzy is a very vocal girl. I’m not even kidding. Half the time, I feel like she could cry up a storm or heavens forbid, wake up our neighbors from their deep slumber. On some days, I pray no passer-by should be unfortunate enough to hear her screams lest they might think I’m abusing my child and call Child Services on me. Even when she is happy, she is usually loud and expressive.

Instead of complaining, I try to put things in perspective and choose to be grateful. I thank God that my child is able to cry and communicate her wants and needs by means of crying (I admit, I have to constantly remind myself this especially when the screams have reached an octave higher or two) because there are children around the world who are not able to cry. Her loud cry is a good indication of healthy lungs. I’m happy that her lungs are healthy and functioning well.

When my daughter becomes extra needy, by the way, that’s a daily occurrence in my house, I have to check myself and appreciate the fact that my daughter wants me, for now at least. When she becomes a teenager, this will become a different story altogether. For the moment, I am savoring the tight hugs a.k.a. clingy hug when I put her down because she doesn’t want to let go.

Her crib is a battle field and nap times are when battles or wars (depending on the gravity of the situation) occur. I get exasperated, mind you, when my tiny tyrant becomes defiant about taking naps. I do not let her get away with it of course, but I also make it a point to rejoice in the development of her own little self and personality. And quite frankly, it’s amusing to engage in such an activity with her.

My child is nowhere near perfect nor an angel. Actually, she is exhausting to be around. But exhaustingly fun too. She has the energy of the energizer bunny and she is learning now to carry a tune. When she giggles, her eyes light up and she becomes very charming. Her toothless smiles followed by a happy squeal is a redeeming arsenal she uses quite often. When she laughs, she wrinkles up her nose and pants like an over excited puppy. How can I become grumpy with such a sight before me? Or better yet, how can you complain when she gently touches your cheek with her tiny hands, looks at you with wonder and plants a slobbering kiss on your lips? I cherish these moments because they are ever so fleeting but oh so rewarding. She may exasperate me on a daily basis, and I might get frustrated here and there but I’m still very grateful and I choose to be grateful. I’m grateful because I have a healthy child, for a chance to be a parent, and for knowing what a mother’s love really is.

Pull herself up and stand
Walk with assistance
Clap hands
Loves watching birds fly around
Fascinated with anything red or bright colors

St. Patrick’s day 2013

7 months of learning

Don’t you sometimes wish your child came with a manual? I do. Sometimes. Lately, most of the time to be honest. Elizabeth a.k.a .Lizzy is now seven months old. Seven months of growing pains and lessons learned. Seven months of sometimes feeling lost and groping in the dark. Seven months of combined joy and fatigue, of high pitched cries and low baritone growls, of giggles and laughter, and in some instances of sleep deprivation. In short, seven months of a roller coaster ride. Would I exchange it for anything? Absolutely not. Do I wish for easier days when the going gets rough ? Yes. Yes, I do.

Acceptance is the key word I am looking for. These past couple of days, I struggled with our parenting style. I sometimes sit and wonder whether we are doing it all wrong. I worry that she’s not sleeping through the night. I feel socially pressured to alter her sleeping arrangements even though it’s working well for us, for now at least. I question her disinterest in crawling and her preference to sit and stand at this stage while other kids are eager to crawl. I worry. Unnecessarily. And too much.

So, Jon and I had a serious tallk about our patenting style. He has no problems with it at all. Sometimes, I envy his capabilities of ignoring the social convention. I, on the other hand, assumed that we were doing it all wrong just because we are not adhering to what is socially expected. He has accepted that Lizzy is Lizzy and we cannot compare her to other kids nor our parenting styles to other parents for that matter. Acceptance comes with understanding that this is our child and we will do what we, as her parents, think is best for her. They may not be conventional but hey, it works for her and she is happy, growing and thriving. At the end of the day, that’s all that matters for me as far as my parenting skills are concerned. Until I start my vicious cycle of questioning and acceptance.

Six months

The last time I was employed was six months ago. Six months. Half a year. Dear me, Lizzy is six months old today. Where does Time get its wings and who gave it permission to fly ever so fast?

In the last six months my world has changed, in a good way. My definition of a productive day is now reduced to how many naps we could take in a day. Yes, I try to nap when baby is - it’s the most wonderful advice I’ve gotten since giving birth. I find happiness in the giggles of a child and peace in her quiet breathing as she lay asleep in my arms. I could now tolerate the color pink and I’ve developed a huge respect for parents.

What changed? I became a mom. Since then my priorities have shifted if not altered and my life has become meaningful and more settled. It’s true when they say you’d give anything and everything for your child. I should know because as tempting as getting a job is right now, I have no urgent desire to find one. I’ve chosen to give up a life in pursuit of a career path that will materially and financially make me stable in exchange of time.

Time with my daughter is all I want right now. Time to snuggle and cuddle with her. Time to sing and play the piano. Time to bake cookies and cook delicious foods. Time to chase each other outside, barefoot. Time to hold her for as long as I can get away with it. All I want is time with her and with my husband to create lasting memories. Time that will allow the three of us to be the little family we have prayed and hoped for.

Do I regret not going back to work? Absolutely not. Could we use the extra cash I could be earning? Absolutely yes. But my life is more than that and I refuse to be imprisoned by my market value. I have a noble role to play now, a higher calling if you may. And I now know what defines happiness, my happiness - it resides in Lizzy’s toothless smiles. There is no greater earthly love indeed.

A thankful heart

“What are you thankful for?”, was the question my father-in-law asked each of us at our Thanksgiving dinner. My mind immediately counted the many things I was grateful for such as having a healthy pregnancy and delivering a healthy baby amidst the c-section procedure. I am also thankful for my family and friends and for the many blessings God has given me. I stopped right there. I wasn’t going to share how thankful I am for my husband because thinking and talking about it pulls on my heartstrings and I get very emotional.
And tonight is an emotional kind of night. It has been for a couple of nights now actually .

The Bible says in everything give thanks. And so, I’m choosing to give thanks even though my heart feels like its been ripped into pieces. I am grateful for the chance to finally come home for Christmas after seven years. Grateful that I can come home with my child, where my family can meet my little one and that we can all spend Christmas together. Most of all , I am very thankful for my husband who gives sacrificially.

I write this with a heart that is full of love and at the same time tormented with sadness. I leave my husband for Christmas, taking with me the apple of his eyes. I cannot begin to imagine the depth of his love for me in order to let me go when it means having to spend Christmas without us, without Lizzy. It breaks my heart to realize that while I am enjoying my time with family, my husband is alone with only the cats to keep him company.

I am very eager to finally come home for Christmas. To bring Lizzy home so she could meet my side of the family. But it comes with a price to pay - to be separated from my husband and he from me. A price my husband willingly takes.

So now you see why it is a topic so close to my heart. It’s a story of my husband’s love. Of giving sacrificially and granting his wife’s long standing wish of coming home for the holidays. And of love so great he can wish me happiness at the expense of his.

I am very grateful for my husband who gives sacrificially and loves me unconditionally.