Little Things

Three-year old at bedtime:

“I love you, mama. Good night! See you tomorrow.”

Oh my heart.

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An honest letter

Dear Ma’am,

This is in response to the memo I received last week regarding my tardiness. It took me a long time to write a reply since I didn’t really know where to start. Should I write a generic reply, or should I write an honest one? I decided to go with the latter.

I am at a season in my life where it’s hard for me to find what they often call as a work-life balance for working mommas. I am far from achieving that. It was a planned baby, and having had an easy motherhood the first time around, we thought it would be the same. But it is really true that no two children are alike. I was struggling to care for two kids. I let my pride take over and refused to ask for help. I thought, well I was us (my husband and I) who wanted two kids, and therefore it is only right that we endure the hardships alone.

Most of my frustrations came from self-imposed rules. I wanted a tidy house, home-cooked meals, do activities with my preschooler, bounce back at work, while still being able to breastfeed my second baby. A bad combo. I pushed myself to do ALL those things AT ONCE. No matter how other people try to assure me that a messy house is okay when you have a newborn, it just didn’t sit well with me. I wanted to do it all. I thought I can do it all.

I didn’t really want to consider motherhood as an excuse why I frequently come in late but it really is. It feels as if my shoes and feet turn to lead every time I step out the door and my toddler is telling me “I don’t like mama to go to work”. Trust me kid, I don’t like it either. But for all our sake, I have to get my butt to work, or else, I don’t know what I’d do if I were to stay at home with two crying babies.

I have found the best solution so far: letting my kids sleep late so that they’ll wake up late and not see me out the door. The problem with this setup is that, in order to finish prepping for the day, I have to wake up two hours ahead of everyone else. This means, I can only get a maximum of 4-5 hours every night. I am a person who loves to sleep, and needs at least 6 hours of sleep every night. We have been so far successful in sleep training both my kids. Heck, I have even given up my middle of the night pumping sesh, even if it meant sabotaging my supply, just so I can get precious sleep hours. But it is a sacrifice I’d be willing to do, rather than quit work. I know this setup is bound to change once my kids grow up, but for now, this is my game plan.

I feel ashamed even writing this letter. I am truly grateful to the company for the consideration extended upon me. I promise to change my ways in the coming days.

Thank you.

Sincerely yours,

A working momma

PS: Pero charot lang. Langayan ra gyud ko sa tinuod lang maong madugay kog samot ug maabtan kog kamata sa mga bata maong madugay kog lakaw. Hehehe

 

 

 

 

 

 

Change of heart…

We are once again helper-less, with my mama deciding to take a vacation. Although I find it hard most of the time, I decided to look into the beautiful side of it. I now have the liberty how to spend my time the way I wanted to.

Taking the kids to bed at 7PM? No worries. I can just shut off everything, as in our house is pitch black. Unlike before where the TV is still on up to 11PM, since my mama loves her evening teleseryes.

No dinner prepared for us? Easy peasy. I made a very simple weekly meal plan which only consisted of sauteeing and frying.

Messy house? I really don’t care anymore, as long as there are no visitors. Hahaha

Laundry undone? We can go back to our old routine: choosing a nearby laundromat for my husband and I’s clothes, and me washing my children’s clothes. It takes time, especially that I do not machine wash my children’s clothes. But actually, laundry was the reason why I wake up early on Saturday mornings. But since my mama came, we would wake up at 10AM since there’s really only cleaning to be done.

Kids without a yaya? Well, good for me because I have husband’s family nearby. Although I feel hesitant most of the time (kay maulaw gyud ko), I just let it be and think that this is way better than the alternatives (enrolling my son in a 7AM-7PM playschool with child care or taking my daughter to Samal and thereby forcing her to wean off the breast).

I used to be so angry at every unfortunate circumstance that I am faced with. But the moment I changed my perspective, everything just felt… right. It is a very difficult season, but it’s really not a reason to be sulking and feeling ungrateful for all the help I was given, even if they were not the kind of help that I expected, and truly wanted.

 

 

 

On throwing things

It actually just occurred to me: I no longer have a toddler, but a preschooler at home. Every time he does something, like throwing random things out of the blue, I often wondered if it is normal behavior or not. As much as I want to resist to consult Google every time, I can’t help but type in: my child throws things is this normal. I also unsubscribed to some websites but somehow I cannot do the same to BabyCenter. The website seems to be screaming normal to me.

Just like the email I received today, it said that after a traumatic doctor visit, a child may line up all teddy bears for shots. Although he did not particularly did this as we did not have teddy bears, he did use my headset as a stethoscope. So for the throwing thing, he may have seen me throw the dirty laundry in the hamper, or throwing the pillows back to the bed, or throwing the trash in the garbage can. He just mimics what I do. So I guess if I want a change in his behavior, I gotta change mine.

Hello, Postpartum Rage!

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At almost four months post-partum, I still don’t feel the same. Well, I know I should not feel the same with these major changes in my life but something just doesn’t add up. Could be postpartum blues, but I don’t feel sad or depressed. During the first month, yes, I was. I remember crying every now and then while watching both of my babies sleep. But lately, I was always angry. Even at the little things like toothpaste not returned to its container, utensils that fall on the floor, unanswered text, my toddler asking me to do things while I pump.

And then I came along this article about postpartum rage. Boom! Finally, an answer to what I have been feeling for some weeks now. Only was it lately that I realized how awful I feel after an angry fit. Sad to say, since it is mostly just me and my children at home, most of my fits were often directed at my three-year old. No matter how much I tell myself that he is just being a kid when he shouts, and awakes his sister in the process, I still find myself shouting back at him as if that would change things. The worst thing I did was hitting his little hands with whatever I could get my hands on.

My heart ached so much when things go out of hand and I start raising my voice and my toddler chooses to hug me instead of running away, while saying “I love you, Mama” or “Sorry, Mama”. It’s a story I tell my friends and co-workers, often omitting the part where I shouted heatedly at my toddler, so it looks kinds cute. It’s not. My heart ached even more when at night, he begs me to take him downstairs to spend the night at my inlaws’. Could he be so afraid of me that he doesn’t want to spend the night with me? He must be so confused with his mother in rage one time, then loving the next.

I also remember, whenever my mama couldn’t make it to our house and I have to take a leave of absence at work, makes me furious to the point that I’d want to draft a resignation letter and end our problem (of not having a reliable helper) right there and then. I mean, I don’t make her stay at our house for free. We give her a generous allowance. What else could she ask for?! Does she want me to give my entire paycheck to her? And then a few minutes later, I calm down and tell myself that I shouldn’t be angry with anyone not meeting the expectation of support that I have set. It’s not their problem in the first place. It’s mine. They’re only doing what they can to help me, and they have their own problems themselves.

Another remarkable instance that happened recently was, going home only to find out that my two days’ worth of pumped breastmilk was consumed in just eight hours! I remember raising my voice about how they shouldn’t overfeed the baby, and the 1-1.5oz rule should stand, and she was probably just crying because she wants my boob or something to suckle on such as the pacifier. My sister was the one who knocked me into my senses when she said that, “Well, we don’t have your boobs so what do we do?”. I felt very, very bad. I was very demanding, to the point that it’s becoming ridiculous. Rage reared its ugly head again today, when I received a call from my mother about the amount of milk in the fridge. Only one bottle left for the day, and it’s not even 1PM yet. I remembered pumping extra so that I can go to the supermarket to buy food for my birthday dinner.

So what’s really my problem? I already came in terms with feeding my baby formula in case my stash runs out. And it’s not as if she has been purely breastfed since birth. I’ve already introduced formula three weeks postpartum and back to pure breastmilk again at six weeks. So what’s new? Nothing, right? I don’t know the answer to that, but one thing is clear, I am angry at I don’t even know what. At my low milk supply which has not been established because it was just me and I had no help after giving birth? At not listening to my ex-boss about pumping before six weeks at the risk of oversupply and mastitis? At the laundry? At my son’s toys everywhere? At the mess that is my life?

Clearly, I need to start sorting this out before it comes really getting out of hand. This is just the first step: getting it out there. I’ve never told anyone about this, except for a short email to my husband this morning, which he probably haven’t read as of now. I think I’ll start by telling my mama about what I have been feeling, hoping to be understood.

Photo Credit: Unsplash

Second child guilt…

I had my 35th week appointment with my doctor. Since I will be having a second cesarian section, our doctor asked us to schedule it two weeks before or after my due date, which is December 9. Since we really wanted to spend more time with our first born, we scheduled it at December 3, which is a week before my due date, at 39 weeks.

However, as pointed out by my doctor during this morning’s checkup, it would not be so wise to schedule it that late, especially that it’s my second pregnancy, since the baby might arrive earlier than our chosen date.

My doctor asked me to choose any date between November 25 to 30. After my checkup, I went home since it was still early to report to the office, to ask the opinion of my husband on it. While discussing, with our first born lying between us, I can’t help but feel sad that his days as an only child became even shorter than expected.

While I truly wanted to make my days count with him, like going for a walk outside after dinner, and while waiting for his Papa. Sadly though, this didn’t happen. For one, I had contractions noted at 16 weeks and came back when I was 30+ weeks and haven’t stopped since then. I couldn’t figure if they were just Braxton Hicks or they were signs of preterm labor. In fact, every time I go to the toilet for a pee, I’d always check for blood, afraid that I’d give birth earlier than expected. I didn’t experience this with my first born. This pregnancy was even harder than the first, so hard that I had finally decided that we’d stop at just two kids.

When we decided to have a second child, this feeling of guilt wasn’t in the equation. It was all about giving our first born the gift of a sibling. We tried for four months (conceiving for the second time around was harder than we expected). When I finally saw two faint lines, and told my husband about it, we were both elated. Finally, our first born doesn’t have to play by himself anymore. It didn’t matter if it was a boy or a girl for me. He or she will be loved wholeheartedly!

But as my pregnancy progressed, my toddler also became a handful to the point that I’d spank him. I feel bad afterwards because after all he’s just turned two and probably doesn’t understand half of what I am trying to say. This was also the time when we let go of the idea of going helper-less. So you get where I’m coming from. Working full time, without a helper, and a toddler, spelled disaster.

I started to question if we made the right decision to have another child this early. I mean, we have just ironed our finances out and we’re not even 100% debt free yet. And to top it all, we don’t even have a reliable carer for both our children right now. I am still hopeful though that things will eventually work out fine.

The actual cost of owning a thing..

Since getting married (after getting pregnant) wasn’t part of our plan, even after dating for five years, my husband and I never explored the idea of investing in a house together. And you know, looking back, I wonder why. Are we not sure of each other?? I mean, I’ll be turning 30 in just a few years’ time then, and he’ll soon follow a couple of years after that (I am two and half years older than him).

So when I had an emergency C-section to deliver our son, which meant that we could no longer push through with our original plan of continuing to live together with college friends in an apartment, we were introduced to the idea of having a house to ourselves, even if we don’t own it.

For more than a year, it was practically bare of any essential thing that you would look for in a house, except for a small clothes cabinet we bought before our son was born. I would dread having visitors around, because we didn’t even have decent dinnerware!

And big projects came along, and we’re finally able to pay up some debts, which enabled us to finally buy furniture that we’ve been eyeing! The biggest purchase that we probably did was our sofa from Our Home. It was love at first sight. Our son even loved it even before we decided to finally go for it.

But, as they say, “You can’t have nice things when you have kids”. It’s really true! Because after just a month since it was delivered to our house, our cozy sofa has suffered unimaginable things from our toddler: milk, water, food, pee, cookies, crumbs. It wasn’t long before my husband and I started to question ourselves if we’ve made the right decision to purchase something as pricey as the sofa with a toddler around. It wasn’t easy to clean especially with the stains it has sustained over the past 15 months. If it weren’t for the power vacuum from my inlaws, we probably had ended up paying more in cleaning for it. My husband recently purchased a cleaning solution online, but it still wasn’t enough to restore it to its original state, as the seller advertised it. Not even restored to half of its original state.

Reading further into The Minimalists posts, I’ve learned that:

But the true cost of a thing goes well beyond the price on the pricetag.

The cost of…
Storing the thing.
Maintaining the thing.
Cleaning the thing.
Watering the thing.
Feeding the thing.
Charging the thing.
Accessorizing the thing.
Refueling the thing.
Changing the oil of thing.
Replacing the batteries of the thing.
Fixing the thing.
Repainting the thing.
Taking care of the thing.
Thinking about the thing.
Worrying about the thing.
Protecting the thing.
Replacing the thing.

When you add it all up, the actual cost of owning a thing is nearly immeasurable. So we better choose carefully what things we bring into our lives, because we can’t afford every-thing.

We probably shouldn’t own a sofa in about… uhmm.. Let’s see. Next five years, perhaps?

Minimalism?

As my due date draws nearer, I find it harder to concentrate on my remaining tasks before I file my maternity leave. Although I am scheduled for a repeat CS on December 3rd, I still feel that I need to fast track all my pending tasks should I give birth early. But boy, what a task to do! Between endless trips to the comfort room for pee breaks, I often find myself daydreaming about what I could do once I get home. Cuddle with my first born, arrange the pantry, sort the clothes in the cabinet. The list goes on to the point it becomes so overwhelming.

So I started reading various blogs on minimalism in order to create a more meaningful life with my family. One particular blog that I liked, The Tiny Life, listed steps on how to start living a minimalist lifestyle.

1. The decluttering process. It said: to live a simple lifestyle, you’ll need a simple living space. While I still consider myself a simple person, I would still say that I’ve been influenced by consumerism especially by those that I follow on social media. And it also doesn’t help that I am about to become a second time mom. All those cute baby stuff! Recently, a pregnant friend and I went shopping for baby stuff. While I reminded myself that I only needed the basic stuff, just like what I did for my first born, as in buying only stuff if the need arose, I fell into the trap of getting “nice” things for my second baby. I mean, I do need three comforters right? I need additional hooded blankets, booties, gloves, even though I already have one from my previous pregnancy. I mean, I have to have them in color pink, right?! The problem with this was, since we’re living in a fairly small studio type house (40 sq mtrs), we just didn’t have the space to store them. It stayed on a chair for a week before I was able to squeeze it inside our cabinet. Sooo.. This may not happen overnight, but I am planning to discard all our (including that of my husband’s and son’s) unused clothes during my maternity leave.
2. Stay mindful. Living intentionally. If there is something in your life that you don’t love, change it. What I really truly wanted to change in my life right now is to minimize, if not truly eradicate, the hours that I spend on social media (mostly just Instagram and Facebook). I was able to stay off Facebook successfully for a month because I was so fed up with the amount of fake news I stumble upon my feed on a daily basis. I’ll do it again next month.

3. Minimize your relationships. This will probably have to be done last, if we’re doing it.
4. Be intentional with your time. Instead of RSVP’ing “yes” to everything you’re invited to, take some time to think about whether it’s something that you are excited about attending. Hah! I am so guilty. There was one weekend, where I had to attend my niece’s birthday AND attend a get-together with college friends. We went out at 2PM, and ended up going home at 11PM, with our energy depleted.
5. Create a savings account. A huge part of minimalism is creating financial freedom. Before we got married, my husband and I have already failed at starting out right financially. After working for five years, all we were ever able to accumulate was consumer debt, which we had to pay off years into our marriage. I mean, we have to live up to the “for richer or for poorer” part of the wedding vows, right? It was only after two years that we were able to finally pay off a large chunk of our debts. Never ever going that path again. Last week, we challenged ourselves to only live on the remaining Php 1,500. By the end of the week, we still had Php 500 remaining in our budget. It can truly be done, especially if both husband and wife are in it.

Torn

I am again feeling as if I am in a dark place. I have made this blog to document my journey on becoming a full time wife and mom. The initial plan was to stay at home probably on the second half of next year. But oftentimes, I get consumed with worry on how we’ll deal with our finances as a one-income family. I know we’ll manage. We always do. I mean, we didn’t always have the disposable income we’re enjoying right now. I still remember how hard it was when we were just newly married with a newborn, with payables here and there.

The past week has been especially hard for me and my husband, as our two-year old has started being clingy whenever he sees us preparing for work. I don’t know if this is just a phase but I hope it goes away soon because it’s truly heartbreaking seeing him in tears whenever I head out the door. It even came to a point where he snatches my dress away as I get ready in the morning. I feel guilty even more turning the TV on so early in the morning just so he wouldn’t notice me leave.

I feel bad having second thoughts about staying at home. This wouldn’t have been a problem if we’ve found a reliable carer for our son. But as much as I am thankful having my in-laws around to care for him, it’s still not the same whenever I feel like my son is not getting the care that only a mother could give. No carer I think could ever be enough for me. I consider myself the best. Hahaha.

Discovery at S&R

My husband’s family are a big fan of shopping at S&R, and I am not. I mean, the grocery at the mall would suffice for our weekly needs, and I didn’t think we’d need to buy food and things in bulk, as there were only three of us at home. We usually just accompany them after a family lunch and be content with just looking at the aisles (especially the cheese!!) I don’t usually visit the meat and chicken section because I thought they were a little bit expensive compared to the local grocery.

Until recently. My mother-in-law bought chicken legs at a much cheaper price than at the grocery we usually shop at. It’s surprisingly Php 40 per kilo less! I still didn’t buy because I was doubtful about the quality as it looks very frozen to me. The chicken was served during my sister-in-law’s birthday, and boy, it tasted good! It tasted like native chicken but wasn’t rubbery even if it wasn’t tenderized.

Last week, we went to S&R again and the first thing I did was check out the meat and chicken section. The pork and beef were understandably pricier but the chicken, they were really cheaper! My parents-in-law bought a 15-kilo quarter cut chicken for just Php 116 per kilo. I was about to buy the breast part but my MIL suggested we’d just share with the quarter cut.

So if you’re like me who used to think that everything in S&R is expensive, head to the meat section and find your gold there.