Friday, December 19, 2014

A day with Mama, the magazine editor

I wear many hats so last month, when Vito had a school assignment that asked him to document a day spent with one of his parents at work, I was stymied. I'm a homemaker more than anything. When I have time, I'm a blogger. I blog more than I contribute to any publication, as writer or as editor. So which hat do I put on for Vito's assignment—housewife, blogger, writer or editor?

I finally decided on magazine editor because, visually, that's the most interesting one. Writing and blogging are usually done in front of a computer, unless I go to events, which then looks like I'm just partying for a living. Not very impressive. So magazine editor it is!

For the day he spent with me at work, Vito came along for a fashion editorial shoot for Baby Magazine. I'm the Market Editor. That means I pick every product that comes out in its pages. Clothes, shoes, accessories, books, toys, gadgets, diapers, beauty products, baby products, etc.

On our way to the studio, I told Vito that he'll see me oversee a photo shoot featuring clothes on kids like himself. I said that when clothes are photographed on models, the clothes look more appealing to moms who shop. He said, "Okaaaaaaaay!"

Here we are at Bulb Studios along Pasong Tamo. Vito's wearing his school uniform. We're early. He wondered where everyone was.

Here's Vito checking out the empty studio. Because his Papa has a mini studio (haha, it's just a 2x2 white tent with mini lights for product shots for my blog), Vito was impressed by how big a real studio is.

The stylist for our shoot is the ever gorgeous Kim Palanca. She is the friendliest, sweetest, nicest, funniest, and super organized and capable woman I've ever met. She's a mommy, too. I don't know how she balances everything! When I grow up, I want to be like Kim!

This is Mark Ches Ang. He's the photographer and owner of Bulb Studios. He's amazing with kids! Our theme for the shoot is photo shoot. Yes! You read that right. So Mark pulled out all his photography equipment as props for the background to show that the kids are in a photo studio, but we didn't actually use the equipment. They're just the setting.

Vito is observing Mark doing test shots on the models as they're being fixed up and posed by Kim.

When everyone was ready—studio, props, clothes, kids, etc—the shoot goes by fast. So for this part, I asked Vito to stay in the dressing area and just get busy with his iPad.

It's not a good idea for parents (and grandparents and yayas) to be at the shoot because kids should be following the commands of the photographer. Kids get confused when the photographer says one thing ("Okay, just look at me, relax.") and then there's a chorus of loving fans screaming other things ("Smile, kuya! I'll give you ice cream after this!!"). But I am grateful that for this shoot, all the parents who came were very cooperative. Thanks to my dear friends Michelle, Didi, Chrissy and Pinks, for being such pros!!!

With the shoot in full swing, I snuck away to breastfeed my baby Piero. Yes, he still goes with me everywhere! I'm so glad my job allows me to bring my kids to work!

And it's a wrap! Look at those cute kids! That's Kailee in the silver flats, Bella in the gray-and-orange hoodie, Rael in the jeans, and Lyndel in the striped shirt. Super easy to work with, these kids! All they needed was donuts from Didi and promises of candy from Kim! Oops!

And we're done! Just a day in the life of a magazine editor and her little boy. Just a day in the life of a child model, too, as shown here by Lyndel who's having a snack after all his hard work! See the fabulous results of this fun shoot in the December-January issue of Baby Magazine!

So that's what I do! Well, one of the things I do. It's a fun job, and I'm happy I got to share it with my son... and with you!

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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Stop stressing. Be a blessing!

Last night, my husband reprimanded me gently. He said that the true joy of Christmas is in the giving. I scowled. With just a couple of weeks left before Christmas, I have not done any gift shopping at all. Just the thought filled me with dread. Just the thought stressed me out. I have three little kids to attend to, deadlines to meet. Most importantly, I have no desire to go out and get caught in the mess called traffic jams.

Christmas wasn't happening in my mind and my heart. I used to love Christmas. I really did love the season! Then I became a mom and to me, now, the holiday season just means stress.

Vince listened to me rant about the time I'll have to spend shopping and wrapping presents. He looked really disappointed that I was not excited about the holidays at all. Then he quietly reminded me what the heart of the season was: giving.

My selfishness was getting the best of me. But my stubborn heart insisted that I had a point—I really don't have the time or the energy! My reasons were valid. I refused to listen to my husband, even though I knew he was right.

Then today, an e-book was sent to me, like out of nowhere. It was Keep Christmas Holy by Making It Hassle-Free by Karen Ehman and Glynnis Whitwer. It was a book on parties, with recipes to boot. I thought, "What a strange party book!" and scanned it half-heartedly. And I knew in an instant God was talking to me when these verses leapt out at me:
Proverbs 18:16a, “Giving a gift can open doors;” (NLT) 
Proverbs 31:20, “She opens her hand to the poor, yes, she reaches out her filled hands to the needy [whether in body, mind, or spirit].” (AMP) 
Nehemiah 8:12, “So the people went away to eat and drink at a festive meal, to share gifts of food, and to celebrate with great joy because they had heard God’s words and understood them.” (NLT) 
Colossians 3:23-24, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”

I refused to listen to my husband—never a good thing!—so my God talked to me. I was instantly rebuked! This whole season is not about me, and it will never be about me. No matter how I feel, I must always remember that every day of my life—and especially in the season of giving!—is about serving God, my family and others!

So if you, like me, are feeling the holiday stress, pause, take a deep breath and relax. This is an opportunity for us to serve God by celebrating our loved ones. Let's be a blessing!

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Saturday, November 22, 2014

Loving my three sons

Vince teases me that Piero, my third and youngest boy, is my favorite. That's not exactly true. The kids are all my favorite. Yes, yes, it's possible. Vito is my favorite when I need things done in the house—he's so responsible and smart and sensible. Iñigo is my favorite when I need a laugh—he's so funny and silly and entertaining. Piero is my favorite because with him, I finally relaxed with this whole motherhood thing!

With my eldest darling boy, I feel so much pressure to do well. I try to get away from the pressure by being a chill mom and, honestly, I am the chillest mom I know. I am super chill. Like, totally. But there is effort to be relaxed, you know what I mean? For example, if someone tells you that someone else is talking about you behind your back and you say, "I don't care," isn't there still a part of you that does care, that wants to know what exactly is that backbiting person saying? But you push it from your mind actively. You resist. You will yourself to not be affected. So yes you don't care but you decided to not care.

That's me with the whole motherhood thing. I don't need to be perfect or do what a mother is "supposed to do," and that's a loooooooong and scary list, especially in the age of the Alpha Parent. All I need to do is care for the boys that were given me in the best way I can, given my talents, abilities and resources, with loads of love. As long as my kids are happy, healthy and good people, I know I'm doing something right.

And yet I feel that pressure to be a perfect mom. I push back just as relentlessly, but it's there. It's there. Worse, I feel like my children, especially Vito as my firstborn, are expected by other people to reflect that perfection projected at me.

I know Vito feels it, too, because he's the first child and he has to be the role model for his brothers. He has to be good. He has to be more mature. He has to be responsible. We don't insist on that. He just knows it. He knows his younger brothers (well, Iñigo, for now) will copy his behavior—good and bad. This weighs heavily on him. We don't place that responsibility on his shoulders but he knows it's there anyway. He's become so sensible and mature, like a little man, so serious and thoughtful, which makes him strangely older than his age and yet he's so sweet, and I'm swelled up with pride. That wonderful, awesome, little man is my boy! My boy!

With Iñigo, my funny and lovable little fellow, he somehow senses that he's never going to be the only light in our life. He has to share that light with his brothers so he'll do anything to get our attention. He'll fight sleep so that, at night, he can have his parents all to himself. He sings and dances and performs, and he's delighted when we pour our attention on him. He needs to be loved. He showers us with kisses and hugs and nibbles and cariño brutal because he wants us to see him and love him. And we do, we do! Oh, Iñigo is beyond adorable! But he just can't get what he really wants because Vito is always doing things he can't yet do and Piero is stuck to me almost 24/7 just because Piero's a new baby.

So I worry about Iñigo, too. I want us to parent him so that he knows he is loved so much, that there is no competition, that he is amazing just as he is, that he has nothing to fight for. We love him as is! Yes, he's funny and sweet and entertaining—and we love that!—but even when he's annoying and throwing a tantrum, we still love him anyway. I hope we show him that and I hope he believes that, because he's special to us. He's loved simply because he's my boy. My boy!

With Piero, my precious sweetheart, suddenly I feel the pressure's off. He doesn't have to meet his milestones on time (he does). He doesn't have to be entertaining (he is). He doesn't have to do anything (he doesn't!) because I just want him to let me love him because he's my last baby. While everything is a first with Vito, everything is a last with Piero. So everything is savored. This is the last time I'm going to hear my newborn child cry. This is the last time I'm going to put breast milk on infant acne. This is the last time I'm going to breastfeed my child. This is the last time I'm going to make my baby laugh for the first time. This is the last time... everything. And it makes me panicky and relieved and sad and happy and it's glorious and bittersweet and familiar and strange all at the same time.

With Vito, it was a welcome, a triumph, at every milestone. With Iñigo, same victorious feelings. With Piero, it's a welcome as much as a good-bye. This is the first time he laughed... I'll never hear a first-time baby laugh from my child again. It's too precious, everything he does, because his firsts will always be my lasts. So I just want to drink him in, enjoy everything about my youngest boy, my last and precious boy.  

Each of my children has different needs and I love them all in a different way. Same big love, shared equally, but shown differently. I hope I'm really doing the right things. I do want to be the best mother to my kids, and while I do resist the pressure to be perfect, I am open to advice and suggestions. I know that not everything that works for some moms will work for me or my kids. The pressure also keeps me on my toes, knowing that this is the age of the most documented lives (parenting included) in the history of mankind. So there really should be an effort to make sure that what I document, my kids (yes, my kids, not the public!) will be happy and proud about. "Mama and Papa loved us. They may not have been perfect, but they tried every day to be good parents. And we had a happy childhood because of their love!"

Each day is a chance to learn and love. Some days, I fail at the learning, sometimes I also fail at the loving. But I'm grateful for every new day I have with my boys, that new chance to be a better mother to them.

Every time I pray, I ask God, "Teach me how to love my children in the way they need to be loved. Teach me to love them with Your love. Open my eyes to their needs and open their eyes and hearts to the love Vince and I have for them, and most importantly, to Your love, so that they will never feel unloved. Let them feel such overwhelming love and acceptance that there will be no space for fear. You said in Your Word that perfect love drives out all fear. Let that be the only perfection my kids know—love! Please let me love them the way You want them to be loved and please give me Your love so I can give beyond what I can give. Amen."

Amen. May we all love with the love of our Father!

"There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear." I John 4:18

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