- The adventure of the plane ride to the other side of the world.
- Learning how to stick his tongue out on command (at 3 months old!).
- Setting up Riley’s crib and buying him more sheets.
- Making the switch to formula.
- Riley’s first Christmas and New Year’s.
- Adjusting to his nanny.
- Adjusting to the weather.
- Adjusting to having other babies/kids to play with.
- Riley’s first solid foods.
- Meeting the new pediatrician.
- Learning how to roll over.
- Learning how to sit up.
- Learning how to stand up on his own (at 7 months old!).
- Getting jealous for the first time.
- Separation anxiety.
- His pesky habit of staying up all night right before one of my exam and/or presentation days. (And sleeping well if my schedule’s free.)
- Wearing out 4 pairs of shoes before he’s 8 months old!
- The look on his face when he tried his walker for the first time. SUCH HAPPINESS AND PRIDE!
- The excitement of each new food.
- Using the infant bathtub without a net.
- The look on our faces when the pediatrician told us that Riley’s not a really pretty shade of bronze, but a shade of orange because he’s been eating too many carrots and squashes.
- The way Riley inspects every person and every situation as if he’s Sherlock Holmes.
- His “smooshy smile.” (I have a crappy camera that takes too long to take the picture. By all means, if you have any leads on any cheap/good ones, please let me know!)
- Trying to walk on his own. And falling. Then getting back up and trying again.
- Getting jealous when Mommy shows attention to another baby.
- Playing peek-a-boo.
- Getting frustrated when he can’t get a button, switch, or level to work. Then lighting up with pride when he figures it out.
- Making a lot of noise and moving a lot until a music video with hot Korean girls starts. Then he’s entranced by their writhing bodies and tries to keep beat with his wrist/hand.
- Outgrowing all of his clothes, so that now, at 7 months old, he wears clothes made for 12-month olds.
- Hearing everyone say, after picking him up, “He’s so skinny, but he’s so heavy!”
- Learning how to wave “bye-bye” and “hello”.
- Learning how to knock on the door before he’s carried into a new room.
- The special smile he has when he wakes up.
- “Talking”: At 5 weeks old, he babbled incessantly. At 3 months old, he was babbling the same amount. By 5 months old, it was apparent that he was curbing his “talking” – maybe to absorb the other languages he was learning? Now, at 7 months old, he’s back to babbling a mile a minute, no matter what language – English, Tagalog, Waray, Ilocano, Spanish, Arabic – is being spoken to him.
- His hair’s grown so long, we have to tie it up into a pony tail.
- When my cousin came over, crying, Riley cooed very softly at her and hugged her. He was 6 months old.
- The fact that he always smells like freshly baked cookies and calendulas.
- Learning how to appreciate his toys, instead of finding random things – boxes, paper, bottle covers, lids for pots of baby cream – to play with.
- The strangeness of his body: he has no moles, but he has bluish spots/birth marks.
- Getting attached to people.
- Loving to play with animals. (We have 5 dogs and a cat.)
- Reading time!
- How much he LOVES the Itsy Bitsy Spider song!
- Feeling the heft of him before he dozes off to sleep.
- Seeing him grow, and not knowing if he’s at the highest cusp of the length/growth chart because it’s a “Filipino” growth chart, or because he’s a big baby, in general.
- The fact that everything is better because he’s around.
- A zillion other things that I can’t list here, by sheer virtue of time constraints.
I know that Rob’s missing Riley a lot, but I can’t help but feel – resentment? embarrassment? sadness? pity? all of the above? – due to the fact that he chose to stay in the States instead of make the move with us.
This choice, and the facts that he persuaded me to make the move, and also that he had no plans to move here until I practically begged him to come, make me feel like our priorities are just so fucking different and our communication styles are so fucking different, that there’s no way in hell we can make this work.
To him, money matters, and because he’s the man in the relationship, he has to provide monetarily. I agree that money matters, but I think that keeping the family together is what matters more. It’s not like we’ll be destitute over here; not only do we live without any overhead, but my parents happily pick up the tab for all of the necessities. Plus, Rob kind of sucks at making money – at least, in a way that’s independent, legal, and stable/routine. So even though I’d like to back him up on this tip, I can’t do so in good faith.
When I think about how many times I asked him to make the move with us before we moved, and how many times I’ve had to tell him to move here after we moved, and how many times I’ve pulled my hair out because he still hasn’t renewed his passport or booked his ticket even though he’s supposed to be here next month… I just feel cheated. Neglected. Unwanted. Unloved. Disappointed. Stupid. And hurt. I mean, it’s not like I’m being opaque or obtuse. Since the get-go, I’ve told him that I can do this on my own, that I don’t need him in the picture to be happy, or to be a mom, or to raise Riley. From the get-go, I’ve repeated this sentiment again and again and again. And every time, he swears up and down that he wants to be in it to win it: he wants to be with me, he wants to be a dad, he wants us to be a family. Over and over and over again, I tell him what I need from a partner, and he tells me what he needs in a partner, and we work on our problems and talk about things, and keep the lines of communication open, and give each other room when we need it. Time after time after time, we tackle the obstacles we face: his family, my dad, his parents’ relationship, my parents’ relationship, his past, my past, his exes, my exes, money issues, expectations for the future, et al. Even though we don’t have the same kind of thinking, and we come from vastly different backgrounds, and our families only resemble each other in that they’re both originally from the Philippines, we continue to make it work. Despite the naysayers, the doubters, and the haters. Despite our hardships in communication because I love him, but OH MY GOD, he and Grammar are not friends. And HOLY FUCK, he couldn’t pick Logic out of a line-up if his life depended on it. Despite all of that, we make it work.
And then. Rob persuaded me to move to the Philippines, and even though I really wanted to stay in New York, and even though I got accepted into a reputable 2-year nursing school, and I could get a full-ride for tuition, and all of our friends are in New York, and we’d still be getting WIC if Rob couldn’t land a steady gig, I took his advice. When I think back on it, I just felt so rejected. Like, him telling me to leave the country was the ultimate way to passive-aggressively say, “I want to end things with you, but I don’t want to be the bad guy.” So that ticket to the other side of the world seemed like the best choice, not just because I’d be a pauper living like a princess in a third-world country, but also because I’d have the distance and time necessary to figure out what the hell I was doing with Rob, and whether or not I wanted to be doing it for the rest of my days.
Still, because I’m persistent, or because I’m a retard, in the weeks leading up to the move, I kept on trying to convince him to come with us. “I need you,” I told him. “Riley needs you. I’m going to do so much changing and evolving in a new country and as a new mom, and I don’t know if I can take the distance and time away from you. I don’t know if I’ll want to be together again if you don’t come with us.”
It sounded fucked up and kind of pathetic, but that’s how I felt, how I still kind of feel. And despite those words, despite the fact that my dad offered to take care of us financially if Rob made the move (and even offered to pay his tuition, so he could also go to nursing school!), and even gave an impassioned speech about why it would be best for our family (aka, me, Rob, and Riley) if Rob made the move – HIM! MY DAD AKA THE MAN WHO’S HATED ROB SINCE THE MOMENT HE LAID EYES ON HIM SAID THIS! – Rob decided against it. Every time he gave the idea a chance, and built it up to be a possible option, he was always put off by the idea of leaving his mom behind. And that got old really quickly, so by the time I left New York, I was kind of resigned: He’d make money, he’d send it to us, we’d be fine. If things worked out between me and Rob, that’s great. And if things didn’t work out, that’s great, too.
But he couldn’t land a steady job, and I had a $900 debt to my last school in New York. Because of the debt, they wouldn’t release my official transcript, and it was only because of the kindness of their hearts and the neediness of their bank accounts that my current school offered to take me on (under the condition that I produce my transcript before the end of the semester). Rob agreed to pay my debt in installments, and to send me whatever other money he earned. He talked frequently about how stressed he was to have so many responsibilities to handle, and that didn’t strike me as silly. Ya see, when I met Rob, he was coasting on trust fund money and had never held down a job for longer than three months. He hadn’t finished college and wasn’t looking to go back. He was the guy who was too cool to care about his appearance, and dressed shabbily because he had nothing to prove. He was kind, aloof, and easy to talk to. And he was always good to pick up the tab. Even if we were rolling 20 deep and had drank the bar dry.
So his lack or responsibility? That was kind of a given. It’s something that we’ve talked about ad nauseum, and that he’s worked on (quite admirably, I might add).
But then I found out that, according to my old school, Rob hadn’t been paying my bill. And now my head’s reeling. Because Rob’s never been all that reliable when it comes to anything tangible, sure. He’s only ever been good at doing things to make me feel better, and not really to assuage any actual problems. But I thought he’d been working on this. He’d told me he’d been using up the better part of his paycheck in order to pay off my debt. He knew that my education hinged on this. He fucking told me he’d been doing it.
And I want to believe him.
But I don’t.
And that right there is the big problem. My lack of trust. I think it’s founded, and I have a zillion reasons for this. But none of the reasons really matter, I don’t think. All that matters is that my faith in him is not there. My respect for his abilities are faltering… If only my love for him was conditional, I could make the break more easily. Unfortunately, I don’t just love the bastard, I’m in love with him, too. Blindly, and stupidly, maybe; and definitely not the way I should, but the love is undoubtedly there. I’ve already decided he’s going to be my first husband.
So this break-up, or whatever it is, isn’t absolute yet. It isn’t final. It isn’t anything but a feeling in the marrow of my bones that tells me that the brittle strings that tether our relationship together might snap under the weight of all of these events. Rob still says he wants to work things out. He swears he’s going to make all of this right.
But he won’t/can’t produce the proof that he actually paid my debt, and without it, it seems that he’s simply paying off my debt right now. It feels like he didn’t do anything but twiddle his thumbs and play Xbox while Riley and I were away (and lying to me about this). It gives the impression that his mom was the one sending us money (which she says she has been doing, but his mom’s another somewhat-shady character).
I don’t know what I want, what I think, or what I need. I just know what Riley needs, and that’s love and stability. And if Rob and I can’t even form a cohesive idea of reality, then we don’t need to be together. I guess the next few weeks will determine what’s going on. Rob’s supposedly going to pay off my debt, move here, and try out being a family. It’s at my discretion to kick him out if I feel it isn’t working.
NOTE: This post wasn’t intended to be a venting of my feelings. But that felt. So. Good. I hoped it made sense to you.