Raising Xam… Alone

Who would have thought that a plain Jane have blown her chances away to raise her child alone? But it wasn’t that alarming at all. Besides, being a parent, especially mother, is the best gift we could ever receive and believe me, your happiness will get doubled and even grows even more. No one can ever explain the downpour of feelings the time you first hold your baby.

Plain Janes like me are everywhere and increasingly dominating the single-parent statistics. From the time I see the heartbeat of Xam inside me until I gave birth to him, I shouldered all the emotional, physical and psychological struggles all alone. Yes, it was so difficult, or I should say painful – physical pain, emotional pain, psychological pain, it tortured me. Until now, I still can’t help but cry everytime I recall those life-threatening moments – and I survived. Oh I’m crying. But why should I? With just one look at Xam, I know that I am blessed with the true greatest gift.

Xam has never been a hard-to-please baby. He was so quiet and calm. He had less fussy periods during his first month unless he is hungry, uncomfortable or sleepy. Some infants cry so loud and uncontrollably for no reason at all and I’m glad that I rarely experienced this with Xam, though from doctor’s point of view, fussy crying is just normal. It even helps the baby release excess energy so they could return to a more contented state. This is easy for a single mom like me, for a having a very cooperative son.

Kidding aside, what I need to understand about single-parenting is that this is not a half-way journey. What the father mostly can’t provide, the mother will compensate and she always has a way to make things work out. And as long as I’m getting support from family, I don’t have anything to worry about. Huh, just like that. Yes, just like that. And because I care a lot for my family the more that I want to take care of myself.

Guilty-feeling Not

At times, I couldn’t help but to feel guilty for not even thinking about Xam before I dared think about conceiving him, that he would only be having one parent. But it doesn’t mean that I’m guilty I have to make amends by spoiling him. Spoiling is but natural. It’s just means that you’re giving attention to your baby because that’s what he needs in a single-parent family. I’m just so grateful that my parents support me and share the day-in, day-out job of taking care of Xam.

Don’t look for problems that don’t exist.

I don’t anticipate problems but I do recognize them when they arise. Sometimes I may fall short of my responsibility as a parent but that doesn’t mean that it’s a hole in the heart that I should be guilty of and that Xam won’t grow up a better child. I know I’ll be facing challenges of being a single parent and one of them is handling things alone. But this is more of a challenge not a difficulty. Only when times get rough and specific things get complicated and unhandy will I need a source of support. And again, I’m fortunate enough to have my family and friends around.

The best medicine of all: laughter and humor

I realize how important it is to maintain good humor in ourselves. Everything seems so light and manageable if matters are taken positively. Challenges are more fun before you know you surpass it. So laugh it all the way and you’ll feel 16 again.

Relax, see a movie, go to the spa…

Why not? For you and for your family’s sake, stay healthy – eat right, get enough rest and sleep, and get a break by hanging out with friends once in a while. Pursue your interest and hobbies.

 

MOM’S STANDPOINT

Being a single parent doesn’t mean being alone. We all have extended families and friends to support us and it’s completely fine to ask for help from professionals like your pediatrician when you need it. They’ll be most concerned not only about your child’s development but also about you and your relationship with your family. So don’t feel alone and isolated. You too as a mom has your own emotional needs and don’t be afraid to acknowledge it. Face it optimistically and with confidence.

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Unloading Emotional Baggage

Luggage tags of PBair.

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It’s quite getting heavy again and I think it’s time to sort out and check on the not-so-necessary loads in my baggage and set them aside or better yet, keep them out of sight (at the attic maybe). There are a lot of emotional sores we usually tend to linger on too much in our lives which we need to get rid of or at least put them in their own dwelling place. These issues almost always bury deep into our luggage that when another issue comes up we just tend to dump into them without even noticing until our whole baggage burst out.

Life is like but a flight. We don’t want to be late or get delayed to our destination just because of packing and unpacking loads to take with. It takes a while yes and so it’s better to prepare for it in advance, allot ample time to get ourselves ready. However, our human nature says, “I know what to carry, I don’t have to do it now.” “It’s so easy to pack I can make it one or two days in advance.” “I have enough luggage to stuff all my things in or I can even borrow one from a friend if it’s not enough.” Whoah! Up until then, you are still working on to get that enough space, pumping all the sides of your bags to make sure there are no air spaces for you to be able to squeeze in what’s left to pack.

Dutch family on their way for their summer hol...

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Look at your life now. Is it still worth wasting and risking time, energy and resources trying to be in control of everything? Your mind and heart are shaped to rationalize and endure only what is essential. It may offer some allowances but it is not for us to dump more but to sort out and consider carefully that only what is left unpacked are those mistaken objects or anxieties in our lives that often confuse us as relevant but are actually clogs that keeps us from moving on.

Here are some thoughts that I apply whenever I feel like I have to unload:

  1. List down your main issues as well as the small matters that bother you; may it be at work, family issues, career development, emotional and physical needs, financial needs, relationship with friends, etc. Cross out what you think should not come in priority. At the time my older sister finally decided to go home to Philippines for good, I already assumed the title of a “breadwinner“. Coming from an average family, in a country where there are limited opportunities for skilled and non-skilled citizens, I feel a deep sense of responsibility to first get even with impoverishment and work out on getting financial stability for them and later prepare for my own family’s financial needs. This has almost fully occupied my baggage as it grows more like a vine. I couldn’t do anything at all to reach this goal without even thinking getting a high-paid or multiple jobs and so I have to consider a career that simply goes with it. See, it’s already swallowing me up. But as you trim down to what should be prioritized first, you will see a clear direction and start to feel a deep sigh of relief.
  2. When you feel that it’s getting into your nerves, check your pace and slow down. The idea is not to go far to your goal and run down on what’s available and make use of it or if you don’t have what you need, think of a probable solution and ways how to do it. Try to exhaust possible options but do not rush on your decisions. Time is precious so you don’t need to hurry. Make use of it wisely. You can’t go back to your past; the reality is now so just go with the flow.
  3. Go out from your comfort zone. Leave your room, go out and take time to smell the flowers and get bitten by a bee. You’ve been staring long enough at all the four corners and wall displays in your room but still unable to find not even a single clue on how to resolve your problem. Perhaps, who knows, you’ll meet a good samaritan along the way and offer you or give a reference to where you can actually find a good-paying job or other options outside your base that will offer profitable and productive opportunity. It happened to me during my first few months of job hunting here in Dubai although I didn’t fit in at the end; maybe it’s not just meant for me. But the fact that even a stranger can help makes it worth giving a try.
  4. Free your thoughts from useless anxiety and think about less fortunate (not necessarily financially-deprived) people around you. They may be enjoying financial stability, long and fruitful marriage or even a high seat in authority but are going through big scandalous issues like the one our ex-President Gloria Arroyo is undergoing right now. Looking at her in her distressed condition and being bombarded with side by side political accusations, you wouldn’t know how she would be able to take this load in her baggage. You don’t have to go far. You go by the street and you can see beggars. They only need basic necessities that you are already wealthy of. A friend or a stranger may come to you to help him or her look for a job which you already got one. Don’t be annoyed with this reality. Just be thankful you are more blessed than them.
  5. Do not be subdued to emotional distress alone. Go to a friend, a counselor, priest or a religious group. You might just need someone to reiterate to you how you can go through this tough time. Most of the time they are the most reliable people to talk to or get some help even on your specific need.
  6. Pray harder. There’s no substitute to a real talk with God. When I feel so overloaded, I don’t have to go the church and kneel in front of the altar. I just talk to him whenever I can, even when I’m in the bathroom. He, above of all, believe it or not can take over everything. The next day you will just feel rested and renewed.

Some of these things may seem temporary. You will say, “Then tomorrow what’s next?” Back to worrying and moping around. It’s your choice anyway. You may repeat your usual agony or you may choose to go back to the temporary but “just and right” and make it routinary.

I don’t have a single cent right now and I’m on a local leave. I lost my last bucks somewhere when I went out. It’s my fault I didn’t bring my wallet with me. It’s a lesson learned and a useless load to dwell on. Wasted yes, but somehow maybe, the person who found my money is more in need this time. My job as a Receptionist at the hotel is not giving me enough budget to support my family back home but to think of it on the lighter side, it’s also offering me enough opportunity to grow in my career as I take a step to a higher position – not so soon though but in the right time when I am fully equipped.

You may find your own way to get out of your own misery and how will you see your life is definitely your own choice. I have hurt myself so much, I was longing for a partner to share my life with but I failed. I am fulfilling my title as a single mom and a breadwinner and still unable to cope up with my responsibilities. At thirtiesh, I should somehow know what to do but often lost in space doing nothing but run around in circles. But I wasn’t chosen to carry these loads if I am not strong enough, if I’m not at all capable. I just need to recover and rediscover myself and allow free air to my baggage so that along the way, as I go board on my flight and travel, I would be able to take some more better loads than what I have left behind.

The Parable of “Talents”

The parable of the talents, as depicted in a 1...

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The other Sunday, 13th November, the Holy Gospel talked about the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25: 14-30) wherein the Master is leaving for a journey and entrusted his possessions to his three servants. He divided of what is so-called the “talents” according to the servants’ ability: three, two and one to each of them. As stewards of the Master’s wealth, the first two servants, knowing the character of their Lord or Master, “traded” their talents and doubled them up. The third servant who feared and mistrusted his Lord, buried his share of the talent and returned it as is back to his Master. The two stewards were praised, given more responsibilities and shared the Master’s joy while the third one was rejected and persecuted. “For to everyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”

All of us has been given “talents”. We were all born stewards of God’s wealth and resources meaning, all we are and all we have belongs to God and He entrusted us these belongings to grow in value. Therefore, we must discover, acknowledge, develop, use and share these “talents” according to God’s character and instructions until the end of our lives. And we must remember, He will make a final accounting when that day comes, whether these talents were valued and multiplied or not.

And so we know that our talents – time, resources and ability – are just lent to us; isn’t it just right to lend or share it as well to others? But how do we begin to be a blessing to other people? First, we must discover and acknowledge every single simple “talent” that we have and use it as wisely as we can. But then again, understanding the human character, it is more easier said than done. According to Rev. Fr. Jerry Orbos, there are three causes of talent failure for most of us: pride, laziness and selfishness. Pride stops us from developing our talents and working hard to achieve its highest value. We often tend to reject it out of shame and arrogance. We are all given the time, resources, means and the capacity to increase our value but we oftentimes blow these chances away because we tend to procrastinate or lose interest and diligence. It’s even more worse when we waste our talents for selfish interests. Some professionals would care more about their fees in exchange of their services. We of course know the fact that being professional in our fields of interest is hard-earned and we all worked hard to attain our status quo. But what harm will it cause for some small acts of charity out of what we have? Remember: the more we have, the more we get rich if use it responsibly and unselfishly.

God has blessed us so much. Some of us were given one or two talents and some are multi-talented. Isn’t it so unfair? When God showered talents, some got more so easily, the others have to work for it harder. Some got beauty with brains and money; some received only brains with no beauty (just quoting a famous joke in analogy). After all, the bottomline is, whatever God gave us, develop and use it for others’ and for God’s glory. Look at the other side of life where some people are born incapable of doing things: no sight to appreciate the beauty; deprived of motor functions to wander; and lost their hearing and voice to speak the richness of the Word. Yet, it is still amazing to see them pushing it hard and motivate themselves to be the stewards of God’s creation. To us, maybe it seems unbearable when we see them coping up with their current state, but out of love and commitment, for them, their devotion is not at all so difficult.

There is one more remark that Fr. Jerry emphasized during the homily: Blessed are you who have talents but blessed more are you who see and encourage talents of others. Let us be an inspiration and blessing to those who disregard and misuse their talents.

Talents are not only for display; it is for good use. All that we are, all that we have comes from the Lord. There’s nothing to be proud of.

I just happened to watch Princess Diaries 1… and I ended up watching Princess Diaries 2

Seriously, how would you feel watching fairy tale movies when you’re on your 30’s, single and waiting in vain for Mr. Prince Charming?… Well, what’s the matter? It doesn’t sound bad at all, does it? Well, to be honest there are good and worst part of it. You’re supposed to feel (and would even want to memorize) every romantic climactic line you would hear, be carried away by the refined gestures of pulling of bodies close to each other to the subtle bending of necks for a kiss. Ugh! You wouldn’t seem to like it nor deny yourself, would you?

Feel-good movies like fairy tale love stories do happen in real life… maybe, some times, because we all believe (hidden in our hearts) that there is always something and someone that’s meant to be. Don’t boo me on my 30’s if I would say I’m into the princes’ and princesses’ kind of stories in the 21st century. Why not? I would simply say that these movies are recognizably prototypes of homely, uncomplicated living of a human life. Matters of heart are unfathomable. You couldn’t find a reason from and beyond the reason of its actions. There is the risk of loving Mr. Prince Charming as the world lay down the consequences upon them. People speak and the lovers goes to the odd side. But through it all, the raging hearts will never give in.

But along the way, we are all given choices. Oh, I love this word. CHOICE. If you fail in the end, you would always go back in realization: I made the wrong choice. You forgot that picking up a choice entails making decisions out of conflicting interests so it also goes with THINKING not just IMPULSE. Of course! You weigh things up, you think twice, thrice and you decide. Then you’ve got your choice. Fairy tales made it simple for us: go to where your heart is and the rest will follow. It also means a train of mistakes and lessons in between. And the easiest words: Stand firm by your choice and work it out.

It may end up a happy ending but that’s just the PART 1. PART 2 is always a complication out of PART 1. Twist and turns of stories. Major setbacks that will test the main characters. And the best part of it? More characters will get into the circle. Life’s like that along the way. We meet TEST every time and every where and when it seems unmanageable, there is always one person that will stand by you and help you get through it, just like Princess Mia and Queen Clarisse of Princess Diaries (now you know what I just watched and I don’t mind :D). And what lesson I love the most? It will not always be Prince Charming who can save your day. And who knows you could be one saving grace as well.

Oh, Anne Hathaway and Julie Andrews simply rocked it!

Blogger repost: Did you wish you were a child again?

1-yr old Xam on his walker. I love taking pictures of him when he was a baby.

Since I opened up my new wordpress blog, I tend to forget about posting on my launching blog “Single Mom at Best” where most of my experiences and journey as a mother was recorded. I feel so guilty of not even bothered visiting it once in a while or when I open my laptop – like it was an obligation to keep it readable and popular to at least the co-blogger community and least to ones who can relate to it – as it was my sort of “shock absorber” and a dependable “friend” whenever I want to trust my feelings to the world. I succumbed to the idea of leaving it just like that but I think it is unfair so I am digging a hole to somehow connect it to this blog by reposting some of my favorites, just like the one below published on August 7, 2008 at 20:43pm.

Did you wish you were a child again?

Last weekend, when I went home for a 3-day vacation, I had the chance to look at our old photo albums again after quite a long time. Some photos are actually vanishing that I can no longer recognize who’s in it and even if I could, I still felt bad to find out that it is one of my favorites and feel sorry that I haven’t kept and preserve them the way they deserve. Anyway, as I kept turning on the pages, I was smiling and even bursting in laughter on my childhood pictures where I look so darned perky, with my sister, brother, cousins, grade school classmates and friends and childhood neighbors. While looking at them, I also remember what happened then or why it happened. Like one photo taken during our dance number during a commencement exercise where my younger brother at about 6 yrs old came up on stage to join the dance. If I could have known he will find the guts to do so, then I could have warned him. But it happened. He kid and went up on stage beside me where it would have only be me in the picture as the star dancer and the dance wasn’t ruined at all. But I have to admit, he was actually great. I didn’t know he was watching on us during our practices and learned the steps by himself. I was surprised he can follow with us during the performance. It’s just that, he was going in wrong directions most of the time.

Everytime we had a school occasion, I was the star. The graders looked up to me whenever I perform upstage that even when I graduated, they would ask me to help them arrange a dance number for a school activity. Whew! What a pressure! I actually didn’t have to feel it ‘cause I really enjoyed dancing. Well, I can still dance but I don’t have the time now. Only when I go home for the weekend in the province will I have the chance to dance, but no longer just me as the star dancer but with my son, Xam. He loves music so much. He loves to be swayed. Maybe because when I was still pregnant, I get to listen to classic instrumentals and we have this CD that I kept on playing every morning when I wake up. It’s the classic version of Abba songs. So everytime Xam’s about to fall asleep, I turn on the stereo and play his favorite ‘I Have a Dream’ and then we swing together. Without a doubt, he’d close his eyes quick for a sound sleep.

Now Xam's enjoying a scooter ride in the mall's play area

I didn’t realize what a child simply wants until I became a mother. And I wouldn’t want to deprive my son of his simple wishes. When he wants to reach for something he’s fond of, as long as it’s not going to hurt him, I help him reach for it. Whenever I notice he’s not comfortable with his shoes, I remove it. If he screams while the priest is praying during the mass, I don’t warn him to shush; I just take him at the back and turn his attention to things that would make him quiet. As much as possible, I don’t want to make growing up hard for him, but as early as possible, I want him to learn how to go about it on his own. I want him to enjoy it like I did. The experiences were hard-earned for me but it wasn’t at all rough. I do get being reprimanded most of the time and had been deprived of my wants sometimes, I could still do what I love doing a lot; just like dancing, I could go with the flow.

“For the lessons of life there is no better teacher, than the look in the eyes of a child…”

We can give justice to what we believe is right in our present time, by trusting to our childlike instinct, with love, hope and trust in our hearts.

I Love You. I Love You (not too but)… Much More than You Love Me

via lobobear.com

Two hearts beat together. Man and woman conveyed their feelings towards each other. A mutual relationship was born. How did it work for almost six years? There was a year that they never had communication. They didn’t see each other for quite a long time. What else is there to look forward to? Her mind said “It’s enough” but her heart was not giving up. No matter how dim the light of hope could have been, she didn’t let it die out.

It must have been true love because no matter how hard it was, she had let him go. But she really loved him and she’s still in love with him. She had suffered but still willing to go through it again. But how far can she go for love when she knew it has all been ended?

One cannot love and be wise. She could have found the failure at the beginning but she was locked in and didn’t manage to pull enough bravery out of her foolishness. She fell head over heels in love and the love found all its way for her and him to be together though obviously to them it’s not long enough.

How long is not long enough? One year? Two years? Six years? It’s all been said and done. She said goodbye in every word and shut it off without him answering back because she knew he won’t let go. He didn’t want it to end. He loved her and still in love with her. He searched for her and waited and still willing to go through it again just to win her back.

Right up to this moment, she still loves him, he still loves her. But they realized it’s over mutuality now. In one way or another someone must have gone farther and further in the relationship. One must have given more than what the other gave. She has been more loving, more understanding, more trusting. Before it was only justice but now it’s love above the foundation of justice.

All the past years, when he says, “I love you”, she answers back “I love you too.” But the relationship has grown because one of them exceeded the love they expected from one another. So now, every time he express his love for her she would always answer back “I love you more”.

Courage

After days of deep thinking and realization, I think it’s time for me to make a conviction to let go and let live yet I know it takes a lot of courage to start with. I’ve been to so much pain and fear and it stabbed me so much that caused me to hold enough distress and I know it wouldn’t be as easy as saying it. I know it wouldn’t be easy to heal it. But I have to hold on to that word “courage” — to condition my whole self to face all the fears, sleepless nights, depression, insanities. I have to give myself a chance, to give more to myself, to think more of myself. I have to do it myself, I have to start everything with God’s help. There will never be “but(s)”, “what if(s)”, “if only(s)”. I couldn’t control time. Past is past. I have to move on. Yes I’m sure the feeling of love will stay forever but feelings is not enough; living that love is essential over time.