Tag Archives: motherhood

When I Chose to be Productive Instead of Present

Family WalkYesterday, my son had his last basketball training day for this summer. Just like in the previous summer, my son joined Complete Basketball Camp with San Beda Alabang coach James Tolentino. Two months of thrice-a-week training had come and gone, and yesterday was the last day, the culmination of all that effort. My son was nervous and excited to play.

I needed to make a quick side trip to the bank. I had placed an online order to replenish some of our health supplements. I wanted to make the payment and send the confirmation that morning with the hope that my order will be shipped before the end of this week.

When my son and I arrived at the basketball court, I told him that I would go on a quick errand and be back as soon as possible. Training would take about two hours, so I figured I would have plenty of time to get back before it ended.

I went to the BPI Family Bank branch that was two minutes away, only to find out that their ATM was offline. I drove to the nearest BPI Bank branch which was about 15 minutes away. To my dismay, I discovered that their ATMs didn’t issue receipts at that time (and I needed the receipt to email my payment confirmation). I had no choice but to queue up for a deposit over the counter. I think I spent about 20 minutes in the bank, and I was so glad when I could finally head back to my son’s basketball training.

As soon as I sat in my usual spot in the bleachers, I was so happy to catch my son make a beautiful lay-up shot! I thought of my arrival, “Perfect timing!” When he approached me at the end of that quarter for a water break, my son said, “Mom, I really wish you were here during our first quarter. I played really well, the best I’ve ever played. I made several shots. The bigger boys were even cheering for me. I really wish you had seen me play so well.” Wow, turned out I had lousy timing.

After the game, I asked him to tell me what happened during that first quarter, how many shots did he make. He replied,  “Maybe four or five. Some were long twos, close to the three-point line….But it’s not the same, Mom. I can’t really tell you with words…I just wish you had seen me.”

I broke my son’s heart when I chose to be productive instead of being present. And I don’t want to make that mistake again. I don’t want to repeat that indelible heartache of years ago when I had to stay overnight in the office to finish a client presentation, and I learned that my husband had to explain to our then two-year-old daughter why Mommy wasn’t coming home that night.

Yesterday, I tried to make it up to my son. I promised that when training starts again, I will be there. I promised to ask his coach how well he did during that magical first quarter, to know more about how he played his best game ever. And I made a promise to myself that when there is a choice, instead of prioritizing being productive, I will choose to be present.



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Behind a Mother’s Brave Face

International Women's Day

When I look back at my earlier years of motherhood, I smile and reminisce at countless joyful moments: when my children took their first steps, when they insisted that we read aloud the same books every night, when they looked so adorable in their tiny swimsuits as they splashed in the pool. I remember the fun I had swapping stories and photos with other young moms about sleepless nights and breastfeeding, about labor nightmares and preschool triumphs. Of course, there were many times when my mommy friends and I were physically exhausted or mentally spent. But we had our families, we had our beloved little children who gave us hugs, depended on us and kept us going. Somehow, we always found ways to make things work, to keep our families happy and healthy.

Years later, I find that my mommy friends and I are perhaps in a transition stage of motherhood. We are older; our children are older. We have teenage children who seem to need us less and less everyday. We have arguments with our kids that aren’t easily fixed with hugs and kisses. We feel the cold silences and the pained looks. We aren’t always the fun company we were to our kids back then.

And for many mothers, life starts unfolding in darker, more mysterious ways. We deal with serious illness, whether ours, our partner’s or our children’s. We struggle with financial debt. We face betrayals in marriage and in friendships. We cope with long distance families. We mourn suicides. And slowly, the cracks in our image of blissful mothering start to show.

After all these years, we are faced with the reality that mothering doesn’t always feel like a joyful and noble calling. Sometimes, it doesn’t feel happy. Sometimes, it’s all too much for us to handle. But we refuse to let it show.

We are fatigued but we refuse to sleep because we need to cook dinner or clean the bedrooms.

We eagerly buy our children the things they need for football training and art class, and we refuse to spend for a replacement for our tattered slippers.

We dutifully drive our children to school in the morning and stare blankly on the road as we drive home.

We put on a calm and loving demeanor as we comfort our sick children, and weep silently in the bathroom when everyone else is asleep.

We are mothers. We love our families, our children more than life itself. In our desire to be the best mother for our kids, we become our worst enemy. We act like martyrs and deny that we are. We put the needs of everyone else above our own, at times to our own detriment. We expect to be masters at multitasking and knowing what is best for our children, and we cannot disappoint. So we put on that brave face, while we slowly crumble behind it.

Each mother has her own way of dealing with crisis and grief. What I am thankful for and what I believe to be one of the most accessible ways of coping is by talking to one another. I’m thankful that mothers can talk to each other about our deepest fears and gravest pains with acceptance and empathy, without judgment or advice. I’m thankful that, even for brief moments, we can embrace our sorrows and let our tears flow without the fear of letting anyone down.

Then, stubborn with love and duty, we put our brave face back on and be mothers as we know best. And we hope and pray that we are good enough.

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Inspire Monday: When Mom Could Do Everything

GrandmotherI visited my mother yesterday, the first time in a little over a month.

She asked me to look at what happened to her email because she hasn’t opened it in a month. When I was on her computer, I saw that the desktop shortcut was still there. I showed her how to click on the icon to open her email. I watched her slowly type her username and password. When she had to scroll the page up or down, I showed her how to use the track pad and left-click button (using page up and page down buttons were harder). After some time, she admitted that she was having a hard time seeing the left-click button since it was the same color as the keyboard. We put a little sticker on it, and that made it much easier for her. She was also having some difficulty reading the letters on the keyboard, hence the slow typing.

After she went through some of her emails, my mom told me that she wants to have her cataracts removed. She has had them for months now. She had seen a doctor about it, and when she asked if she should have them removed, the doctor said that it is up to her. The cataracts aren’t critical or life-threatening, and she can still see although her vision is now hazy. My father has already had the procedure done and he now has perfect vision. Understandably, my mom would also want to get her normal vision back.

She also told me about how she needs a dental procedure done, and asked if I could first accompany her to a dentist. She admitted that because of pain and discomfort, she is having a hard time eating. She has to pick soft, easy-to-eat food. As if my mother isn’t thin enough, now she can’t eat comfortably.

Having that talk with my 73-year-old mother reminded me of how difficult things must be for her now. My mother always made taking care of others, especially her family, a number one priority. Now, as a grandmother, she still does what she can to take care of her grandchildren. However, unlike in her younger days when she would drive us around, feed us, make sure we had what we needed for school, etc., now my mom is the one who needs caring.

I am reminded of the care, the sacrifices, the hard work my mother did for my siblings and me when we were young. I know that her maternal instinct is still there, still strong, still aching to care for her family. Even when her body isn’t as young and as strong as it used to be, even when her body won’t let her do things for herself and her loved ones. I write this to honor my mother and all mothers who are so dedicated to their families. I honor my mother and all mothers who are feeling the pains of growing old yet refusing to give up their maternal calling. You are remembered; you are important; you are loved.

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When a Child Fears the Dark and the Shame

I’ve just realized that the ten-minute walk from the park to our house is one of the best times for me to get to know my son better and to learn from him.

way outIt was already dark, some minutes after sunset, when my son and I went home from the village park yesterday. As usual, I was walking our dog while he would alternate between riding and walking his bike. A neighbor was slowly walking towards our direction, and as soon as she was alongside us, she looked at me and said hi.  I said hi, too, and continued walking.

My son turned to me and said, “Mom, she scared me. It’s scary that she is following us.”  I explained to him that I knew her, that she was a friendly neighbor who lived just two houses away from us and that would explain why she could be walking our way or nearby.

My son continued to tell me again how he’s afraid of the dark, of big houses and of scary stories. He said that sometimes his friends in the park like to tell scary stories, and although he doesn’t want to listen, he also doesn’t want to show his friends that he’s afraid. (Oh, how such moments break my heart.) He said that even though he tells his friends that he doesn’t like such stories, they continue telling them anyway. I suggested to him that if they keep it up, he should just walk away and find something else to do until his friends stop.

I asked him why he was afraid of the dark. He replied that he imagines all sorts of scary things in it.  I said that one of the downsides of having a big and wonderful imagination is that you sometimes imagine bad things, scary things. I said, “When you start to imagine something scary, try to catch yourself and change what you imagine.  When you start to think of something that scares you, think of something funny instead. Or think of something you love. When you see a dark and empty space, imagine Minecraft blocks in it, and form them into something cool.”

Finally, we reached the gate of our house, safe and sound. We removed our shoes, washed our hands, got cold drinks of water, and settled down.

And I am reminded of how an innocent and imaginative mind deals with dark places and playground peer pressure. And I should be ready to listen and to guide him in dealing with his fears.



photo by: Georgie Pauwels