Being A Mom

I thought, with all the roles I’ve played so far, saving lives and limbs, teaching doctors and doctors-to-be, the carrier of bad and good news, a sister, a daughter, a friend, a mutant in rebel’s clothing, being a Mom would be a walk in the park. I was dead wrong. Motherhood is a whole new universe with its own unique culture and language. I am both awestruck and overwhelmed.

When I gave birth to my two kids, a boy and a girl,now 8-years-old and 12-years-old respectively, I thought I have conquered the most challenging part of being a Mom. That is of course beside the fact that I barely slept when they were infants; that I panic when they are sick, nevermind if it’s just cholic and I have been an acute care physician for years; that I can not make myself leave the house for even a few minutes because I fear not being there when they need me; that I rush home after 5 rings and the nanny hadn’t yet pick up. Since the birth of my children, I ceased to own myself, and it’s alright.

Now, I have reached another milestone. The challenge is to keep up with my kids in spite of the generation gap. I learned to play Minecraft and Roblox. I tried to listen ( and like) One Direction and Big Time Rush. I try to learn their language, which amazingly is like learning Martian. I made myself see what is not obvious because they have reached the age when telling Mom that it hurts is unacceptable. I learned to really listen when they talk, and listen even more when they are silent.

I remember a time when my then 9-year-old daughter phoned me while I was busy in the clinic, frantically asking me to help her find her “nipple” because it’s gone missing. I had to excuse myself and tried my best to calm her down with a promise to help her find it as soon as I get home 😁.

I discipline by teaching, not by punishing. I do not believe that children should be physically hurt for them to learn. They are intelligent beings and they are as capable as anyone (if not better) to learn by mentoring. I stopped supervising my daughter’s study time when she reached 4th grade. I started giving her more freedom to explore study techniques that worked best for her, but I make sure I am always available to aid her in tasks she finds difficult to do alone. It meant so much to her that I trusted her more than her brother when it comes to school works. It gives her a sense of autonomy. It’s a badge she wears everyday with pride. Freedom equates to responsibilities, I often remind her, something every child should understand and take to heart.

Being a Mom meant banning all inappropriate movies and channels from our home. It’s childproofing web pages; books and magazines; it’s watching Emoji The Movie instead of IT. It’s going out with friends less and staying at home more. Vacations are often an educational trip, not just leisurely stays. We visit places that would stimulate our children’s minds and reinforce their love for learning, not only for test score’s sake.

I still have lots of popsicle sticks, learning blocks and play money to teach my son division. I have devised ways to teach him topics he finds difficult by quizzing him every now and then using fb messenger or viber when I’m at work. I leave reviewers I labored on the night before so he can study systematically even when I’m away. He still needs someone to guide him when he studies. He gets overwhelmed easily. Boys develop later than girls, a bit less organized, and are easily distracted by their surroundings. As his mom, I need to constantly remind myself that he is not his sister. Boys and girls are two very different beings, therefore, approach should also differ. Teaching my son demands more creativity from me. He needs to see to understand, he needs to touch, and do. He is experience based. I remember him playing a new game and I noticed he kept failing to get to the next level. It turned out he does not know how the game works. I told him, “why not learn the game first before you play it so you won’t get frustrated?”, He simply said, “I am trying to learn it now”. Boys learn best through experience.

I have lots of things to share about my being a Mom, but for now, I’ll just say that there is no self help book that would detail how to be good at it. It is a lifelong journey and every step is a learning experience. It is definitely the hardest and most delicate role I have played in my entire existence. It is also the most rewarding 🙂.

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Old Friend

Old Friend

When we were in grade school, you were the artist and I was the thinker. You make my aprons and my pajamas for work ed and I make your book reports and math equations. You salvage my art works and I catch the volleyball for you when you are too afraid to get hit. I listen and you talk and talk until the bell signals the end of lunch and we walk back to class. With you, I don’t have to say anything. You fill the silence with your endless chatter. That suited me just fine. I’ve always found talking too tiresome. With you, I did not feel the need to say anything. You did the talking. I did the listening ( and sometimes, the punching).

In high school, you got your period first. Mine did not come until a few years later. It was so funny watching you walk with those bulky pads between your legs. You never were lady like, and having your periods did not make you anymore so. Puberty however also made your mood confusing. Your arts became as intense as your feelings. The change made us clash every now and then, but we always make up. There is something about your early puberty that kept you from being who you used to be. You were growing so fast and leaving me behind. That was kinda sad.

We did not get into the same university in college. Your NCEE score did not reach average. I got 99. Maybe because there is no work ed or practical matters included in the test. You had to select a course and a school that does not give weight to that. I started my university life and I was overwhelmed by how big a world I’d be in without you in it. You started your college degree and became your very own version of “the renegade”.

We were eagles taking off with a wing missing. Several years later, it was not surprising to find each other all broken and conquered. Life isn’t like high school, where the bullies only play pranks on you. Life is meaner, nastier. And we faced it alone.

You got married before I did, and had a son. But it was not a happy ever after kind of thing like you thought it would be. The fate of your marriage left you angry, and broken. You attacked life just as you thought it attacked you. You were self destructive, vindictive, and out to cause pain – because you were so wounded you did not know any other way to deal with it. The world had no time to listen. You were left alone in your own misery, while the world continued to live.

I got married after med school. Had two kids. It’s no fairy tale either. Mine was a roller coaster life. I tried my best to hang on but I got thrown every which way. It had always been a bumpy ride – this life. But we get used to it. We learn. We adapt. Eventually, it’s no longer all that bad. I learned to put everything in writing, like how we used to do when we were kids. That way, I put the ambiguous into a perspective I can understand. When I do that, it ceases to be overwhelming.

I know you started painting again. That’s good. The burden of living sometimes make us forget who we really are. We played roles for far too long we’ve forgotten how to live with only our bare skin. You are your paintings. Those vibrant shades that used to represent your excitement is still there deep within your heart, within your soul, untouched by scars and by broken idealism.

The Wish

I wish I could sleep. The real sleep without needing to swallow all those pills. I wish I could dream real dreams, without the terror of relieving the horrors. I wish I could recreate a world where I no longer have to pretend to smile, while being drenched in my own tears; to belong without the need to play roles, to hide behind characters that is not me.

I wish I am not so tired to crawl in between the crevices of your perfect life; and to get away from the torture that haunts my own. I wish I am not too defeated to stagger into the crackling blaze of your hearth, to touch the fire, while I watch my frozen soul defrost and ignite; to be consumed and be nothing. I’d rather be nothing…than to be so cold…

I wish I could be whole enough, to be able to walk the day, without falling apart; like old paint peeling off me, exposing the scars I’ve tried so very hard to hide. I wish I’m whole enough to dance in your music and to sing your song. But I am all wrong. My parts are all misfitted, like a ragdoll haphazardly sewn back together. I hold my heart into the palm of my dirty right hand, while the other drag along a deflated dying soul. An unwelcomed blackness, in your perfect universe.

I wish I could hear your laughter, but I’ve grown deft. I wish I could make you see me, but there is nothing of me left.

Do You Remember?

It’s been years since I last saw your eyes. Since I last saw the shadows haunting your soul. I can only imagine the sorrows you carry. The demons crowding your head. You once wished you were dead.

But time makes a difference doesn’t it? It may not clear away all the cobwebs, but it sure allowed some flickers of light. It’s still dim but it beats the blackness you once existed in. Time can’t heal all wounds, at least not the kind of wounds we have, but it made you get used to the pain. You learned to dance in the rain.

It’s been years since I watched you sleep. Your nightmares masked by your peaceful face. The throes of terror tamed by sedated slumber. We were both each other’s monsters. Do you remember?

Did the years erase the history of pain in your heart? Was a path created in place of the needle tracks that marked your way? I remember the ugly shadows underneath your eyes. A reminder that ghosts need not be dead.

I stared into your sad eyes, and you peered into the emptiness of mine. We were two souls lost somewhere in between the crumpled pages of a forbidden yesterday. Two monsters, once lovers, now fearing each other.

Do you remember?

The Burnt Pages

A long time ago, I was given the magic of writing, to weave meaning out of the meaningless

I started writing at a very early age. While children my age were still learning their alphabet, I’m already putting it together; while they were dreaming of fantasy land, I’m already creating my very own version of magic through words.

My pen and paper became a major means to communicate. Because while my writings blossomed, my verbal capacity to communicate regressed. I was not just the timid child who sat at the far end, I was the ghost no one noticed, except when I write, because it’s through it that I make the most noise. The kind of noise that offended the sensitivity of those who find the abstract meaningless.

I did not learn to make sand castles that collapse when licked by even the gentlest tide, nor fold paper boats that float awhile before the water consumes them into nothingness. I created worlds amidst the blandness of what is; painted without shades of colors, and touched souls from a distance. Yes, always from a distance.

And then I was told to stop…

Because my creations were dark; because they touch on matters that should not even enter the mind of a child; because I scare the adults with what I write. Because I scare the adults, period. I am a ghost, therefore I should stay as a ghost. My writings make them hear me, it makes them feel me, and that frightened them.

On the burnt pages of a child’s magic

There is something tragic about suppressing the magic of writing in a child. It suppresses expression and personhood. It implants in a young mind a constant feeling of guilt every time an urge to create is experienced. Darkness is subjective. My darkness used to be magical, full of stars, and wishes and childhood dreams. They used to be fearless, until fear introduced itself. Shadows were companions and ghosts were children, just as I used to be. Only, I grew up, and my friendly Caspers became monsters. The magical darkness of a silent child fading on a book with its burnt untold pages. A dark canvas dismissed as evil simply because no one else saw the magical stars.

Satire Or Black Propaganda

I hate political posts. I find it offensive when I am forced to engage into a discussion that had always been deemed subjective in my perspective. Sometimes, I do wish to express an opinion about a certain issue, but I never found any that supports the need for me to engage in ferocious battles. Everyone is entitled to his or her own political views, If views don’t fit mine, then respect should be the equalizer always.

What’s with the “fake news” hype? Well, this I’ve got to say something about. Freedom of expression, like any freedom, is a privilege enjoyed within an organized, well structured, and modern society. Freedom is a byproduct of democracy. A democracy that, without responsibility, will be threatened to extinction. Freedom, without responsibility will produce chaos.

Freedom of expression should never be used as an excuse to sow lies. Misinformation propagates mayhem. Opinions are not facts, but they are not lies either, and never will they ever be synonymous to each other. Lies that are deliberately made to look like facts in order to mislead an audience for personal gains is no longer a mere act of self expression, but a black propaganda.

It is demeaning, as a blogger to be pulled into a questionable state since the people who were somehow linked to “fake news” dissemination in social media, have.repeatedly said, “ I’m a blogger, not a journalist..”, therefore what? Sometimes, other people’s logic baffles me.

We do not have to be journalists to know that once we publish something in social media, we immediately become accountable to it. False accusations and hoaxes, made to look like news will always be malicious. We can not count on people’s discriminatory power to delineate what is real and what is not. We write, we influence, and that’s it.

Not everything should have to be in black and white to direct a conscience. Not everything should be marshalled by the law. The code of a socially acceptable human behaviour should be first and foremost governed by one’s sense of accountability. Every action produces an equal reaction, and the conduct of bloggers are not exceptions.

I Promise Not To Smoke Today

Of course there are tons of reasons to quit smoking, and I know all of it by heart, starting from the multitude of toxins that goes with every puff, to the complicated pathophysiology of every disease that comes with it. The scare factor unfortunately does not work. Not to a lot of smokers and not to me. Why? Because we are addicts. And addicts rationalize or simply don’t give a fuck, because for one, it’s “ the high” that counts. It’s the feel good rush that makes a difference. The flood of epinephrine, norepinephrine, and dopamine makes the logical choice of quitting just a hundred folds harder. Is it the Nicotine’s fault ( the substance in cigarettes that is addicting)? Well, in part yes. But the psychological factor in the act also plays a big part in the dependency. The reasons why we smoke in the first place is a factor. This makes quitting to smoke one gigantic challenge to conquer.

First, if I can go back in time, smoking is something I will not even dare to go into again. I mean, I have tried some dangerously addicting stuff in my life, but it’s the cigarette that really got the tight grip on me. It’s notoriously hard to break away from it, even as I literally came close to watching my life NOT slowly wither as some would describe it, but collapse in a single blink.

There is no good time to stop. Anxiety triggers would still be there. There is no short cut to quitting. It’s a journey that can be both frustrating and painful. But wanting to stop is the first major step to a life without cigarettes. We may fail many times, but even these failures are good, because it only means that we tried. It’s not a lost cause. Trying again will always be free 🙂.

I failed many times to quit smoking over the years. I always found excuses to go to the store and buy a pack. I’m aware of how expensive the habit is becoming and I’d find ways to compensate with the splurging by not buying other things like new gym shoes. Anything to nurture my addiction. And it had gone to a point when I’d need to sedate myself at night, not only so that I could sleep, but so that I won’t be sneaking out of the veranda at the wee hours of the night just to smoke. I’d binge smoke and then I’d feel guilty. The guilt triggers my depression and anxiety, which I’d conveniently use to smoke even more. It’s a dark cycle and it had to stop, not next week or the week after, but NOW ( I’m 3 months smoke free 🙄).

The withdrawal symptoms? NONE. I’m not joking, there really isn’t any. All the hype about the vape and patches or nicorettes to minimize the withdrawal from nicotine that simply isn’t there is crazy. As to any habit, I craved very strongly for a smoke for the first 24 hours, but the cravings where intermittent and it lasted for 3 mins each on the average ( yes I timed it. It’s my way of challenging myself and it helped). As the days passed, the cravings became less and less. No I did not distract myself from smoking. I thought about it and faced every cravings head on. That was probably just my nature, and I was not really sure it’s the best way to handle it, but it worked for me. Some say distraction is the key. But facing the situation made it trivial. It removed the seduction of the “off limits”. I did not throw away the lighters ( It cost too frigin’ much just to throw it away). But I did remove the ashtrays. I replaced the easy chair in the veranda. Nothing much there except for the fact that replacing what I used to associate to smoking also minimized its power over me. Aside from changing the easy chair however, I did not put a blanket on my “smoking history”. I want to remember I smoked. I want it to seduce me, taunt me, mock me. And I want to be able to say NO on its very presence ( fine. I’m symbolizing 😏 ).

Like in alcoholics, I will not say I will never smoke again. What I can promise myself is to not smoke TODAY. And even if one day, I fail again, the days I kept from smoking counts ☺