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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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The trouble with being a writer

The trouble with being a writer/blogger/magazine editor is what we do looks like it's not a respectable way to earn money. As a blogger and editor, I attend events. So in photos, I look like I'm partying. As a writer and editor, I meet and interview celebrities, go to photo shoots, guest at shows, which looks like a lot of fun. I'm always at my computer, typing away, which is what everyone with a computer does anyway so it doesn't look so special, so writer-y, whatever that is.

So imagine our dilemma when Vito came home with an assignment to share with the class photos of mom and dad at work. Not photos of our work but what we do while we're at work. And I scrolled through hundreds of photos of me at events, at shoots, at TV shows, of Vince at his desk writing and... we just don't look like we're working!!! What will my son and his classmates think?

Vince writing his novel in bed, because he can only write when the kids are asleep.

Well, I hope they think writers and editors are amazing people who work really hard to write stories, spread information, highlight relevant issues, entertain people, and shine a light on life's truths. I hope the little kids understand that, despite the photos we sent with Vito to Show and Tell.

Because we don't want to return to a desk job just yet just so we can have photos that are easy to explain to little kids!

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Saturday, November 15, 2014

How softer skin made me a better wife and mommy

I don't think I've ever been this excited to get a big box of cleansers and lotions!

Thanks so much, Physiogel, for the birthday gift! Now I can be assured that I'll have clean and healthy skin for one more year. I'm serious about this. Physiogel's cleanser and lotion are the only ones that have helped me with my chronic dry skin. I've always had horrible dry skin. Mostly because I find it hard to drink the recommended 8-12 glasses of water a day. I can barely reach 3 glasses! Every birthday and every New Year, "Drink more water!" is on the top of my list of resolutions.

(So, yes, you can bet that drinking more water is my top resolution now that I just turned 38!)

My dry skin was worst on my legs and feet. If you noticed in my photos, I don't wear sandals a lot. When I do, that's because I just had a foot spa. But even a foot spa can't cure my dry and cracked heels. I've tried the most expensive cream on them and it did not work. My cracked heels are that bad.

This made me insecure, and I'm just not talking about the not-wearing-sandals issue. I'm also talking about me being a lover to my husband. When we make love, I get conscious of my feet. I think, "What if Vince sees my yucky feet? Baka he'll get turned off." And we all know that it's hard to abandon yourself to passion when you're thinking of stuff like that—whether it's cellulite or bad breath or your pimples or, in my case, rough and cracked feet.

Then when I became a mommy, I was careful whenever I held my babies. I won't touch their faces because I was scared my dry hands and nails (the cuticles can get sharp and my fingers and palms were rough) would hurt them.

So dry skin has held me back as a shoe lover, a wife and as a mom! How horrible! It's just skin but the effects are way deeper. But since I started using Physiogel a few months ago, my skin's condition has improved dramatically. My skin is so much softer, silkier and healthier. My cracked heels are healing. My hands are now smooth. My husband likes touching me even more. And I finally allow him to massage my feet after a long tiring day—heaven! Hindi na ako self-conscious! And my sons like cuddling even more. Iñigo, my second boy, likes to touch my arms before he sleeps. And I'm no longer afraid to touch my boys because my now-smooth-and-soft hands won't hurt them.

Physiogel freed me from my worries. I've become happier and better at showing my love and affection because I have healthy skin!

I'm so happy with Physiogel that I wanted to share them with three amazing women, Nicole of Beauty & Sparkle, Martine of Make It Blissful, and Ginger of Mommy Ginger.