Category Archives: Family

Fresh air.

I was born in the beginning of October, which means that I’m a Libra. Libras fall under the heading of “air sign.”

I don’t know much. But I know that.

*****

It’s 4:30 in the afternoon, and I’m lying in bed, fighting my carpal tunnel and/or arthritis in order to type. It hurts to grip a pencil and to open a bottle of medicine and to reach for my kids. But that’s what I’ve been dealing with the past few weeks.

The nannies have been on vacation because I expected to be in NYC by now and I didn’t want to rearrange their plans just because we’re not abroad. My brother’s been a big help just by looking after the boys for 30 minutes each day so that I can shower—but that’s all the help I’m getting. It’s just me, a 34-month old, and a 10-month old. I clean the five-bedroom house we live in, cook three square meals a day, and take care of the kids. It’s not easy, but it’s gratifying. I’m beyond proud to be able to say that I’ve gotten control of this domestic life within a couple of weeks.

School-wise, I’m at a stand-still. I decided months back that I would take a year off. I was supposed to take the kids back to NYC asap because Rob’s mom has stage four cancer and would like to see her grandsons before she dies. Only thing is, we’ve hit a lot of snags. Problems with paperwork and red tape. Drama that would make your head spin if I got into it.

I don’t know what the future has in store, if we’ll end up going or not. Right now though, my plans don’t include going home any time soon. I want to get my dual citizenship taken care of asap so that I can work at a call center and save money. Due to my grandma’s death, Rob’s car accident, Riley’s hospitalization, and other factors, finances are beyond tight right now; I’ve decided that I’m going to pay for my tuition from here on out.

Not Rob. Not my parents. Not Rob’s parents. Me. No loans or borrowing or credit cards. I’m going to pay for the rest of my nursing school education out of pocket. I’m going to pay for my own tuition, and all of the expenses that go with it.

Also: I’m going to pay for Riley to go to daycare, and for clothes for the kids, and for a life that’s closer to the one that I want. I’m frustrated at my circumstances and need to feel in control of something.

I need to feel like I’m getting a kick-ass nursing education, and that I’m good at what I do. I need to feel like I’m an amazing mother, and honestly, only now, after being a stay-at-home-mom do I feel that I can claim that title. I need to feel that I’m in a relationship that works. I need to regain faith in myself and the future; I keep on fumbling the former and I’m afraid I’ve permanently lost the latter.

I’m angry at Rob for being so goddamn hard to communicate with.

I’m anxious about my health because I haven’t fixed any of my problems, haven’t gotten my skin biopsy or cervical biopsy, and haven’t taken thyroid meds or consulted specialists or gotten answers.

I’m sad because of all the death that’s been surrounding me, and because of my parents’ shortcomings and how they affect me and my own family.

I’m tired of making lemons into lemonade. I think I’m just going to suck on some lemons and see where it takes me. I can’t deal with pretending to be happy all the time just for the sake of other peoples’ comfort.

I am learning to be brief and concise. I am learning to be ambiguous, and to not share as much of my life as I would have done before. I am learning to keep to myself, to let the internal workings do their thing, and to trust whatever is in me.

Point blank: I’m not in an easy place. It’s not a bad place, per se. It’s just terribly difficult. My plate is full of worry and anxiety and frustration. I want to get to the next stage, to a place where I already have my BSN and at least one finished manuscript that I’m damn proud of. I want to kill my board exam and pass the NCLEX with flying colors. I want to add on to my family and move back to NYC and feel… different. I want life to be easier and fun and happy.

Because this? This lack of money, lack of power, lack of control? This overthinking that I do? These expectations for myself and for others that I have? They’re too much. It’s all just too much for me right now. And the more I try to fix things and realize that I just muck up the gears, the more frustrated and angry I get.

I need a break from everything that is unnecessary. I need to strip away the stuff I don’t need and get to the bare essentials.

I’m working Maslow’s hierarchy, one level at a time.

I’m climbing it, trying to get to self-actualization.

And taking as many deep breaths as I can on the way up.

I could do a lot worse.

The Bro is out watching a movie with Dad. I’d be with them, only I’m behind on a thesis that I have to edit, and I really wanted to spend time with the kids. Ever since Dad got here, our schedule’s been all out of whack. My routine is dependent on having attentive nannies care for my boys while I’m working/studying/et al., and with my dad here, the nannies’ responsibilities have somewhat shifted. Now, instead of taking care of Micah, his nanny, Tess cleans. A lot. This means that I have to take care of Micah, and though I love love LOVE spending time with my squishy-faced cherub,  there are papers piling up in my work inbox, advertisements that I need to finish for my editing business, and a slew of subjects I should be reviewing before the next semester starts. I’d rather spend time with him when it’s more convenient, aka, when I’m not having a panic attack from the thought that all my plans are washing down the drain.

I’ve been mostly unplugged for the past day and a half. A wicked virus is making its rounds in the house. My eyes are tearing up incessantly, my throat feels like it’s my cat’s scratching post, my nose is clogged up, and my body aches. Micah just got over a runny nose, and just an hour ago, he coughed so violently that he vomited at least two ounces of milk. Riley is the little carrier of infection who brought it to the house, and luckily he’s feeling about 94% better.

I’m not sure why – I’m assuming it’s the fact that I feel like curling up in a ball and sleeping for a week straight – but I’m dragging my feet to edit. Already, words are all a-jumble in my head. The cool part is, it’s actually a good thing that I’m feeling this way. Editing other peoples’ writing frees me to write creatively, without my inner editor interrupting the flow of ideas.

So. Here’s where I stand. My biggest problems are the following:

  1. A void between myself and my father. Only, the fact is, my dad’s been the personification of DOPE! since he arrived. (Read: He’s footed the bill for groceries, diapers, formula, and pretty much every other thing since he got here, thus allowing Rob and I the ability to pay off a few bills and save some money for Christmas shopping.) The real void has been our inability to communicate honestly and unflinchingly. We’re both too traumatized by past experiences with each other to let our guards down.
  2. My health. Even though, let’s face it: Whatever I have could always be worse.
  3. Being forced to rearrange my precious schedule and relinquish control over my life in order to spend more time with my little cuddle muffin, Micah.

All in all, not too bad a list of problems.

Another one bites the dust.

Another semester, that is.

I’ve been so ridiculously busy that I’ve let this blog become a dead zone, and now that I’ve gotten my bearings back, I’m reclaiming this space. I plan on recapping the past 3 months with backdated posts, but for now, let me just tell you what I’m up to.

The biggest news, by far, is that my dad’s coming to visit in two days. I have a lot of very extreme emotions concerning this fact, and it’s mostly centered on my dad’s womanizing ways. I know that when he’s here, he’s going to be chasing skirts. I know that he’s married to my mom, and even though she says she’s used to his ways/doesn’t care anymore, it depresses her that her husband steps out on their marriage. I also know that my mom handles all of their finances, so my dad most likely has a hidden cache of cash, and that he’ll be blowing most of it while in the P.I.

Here’s what I’ve come up with so far: I know that I can’t change my dad, try as I might to do so. I know that I have to accept him and love him for who he is, and not who I want him to be. I know that it’s pointless to get involved in whatever he does with other women. I also know that if he’s going to be spending all of his money on someone while he’s in the Philippines, I’d rather it be on me, my brother and my kids than some hoe. That said, I’ve decided to let him do whatever the hell he wants to do outside of our house so long as he’s discreet about it and he spoils the aforementioned family members while he’s here. 

A part of me feels really guilty that this is the only solution I’ve come up with. I feel like I’m selling out my mom, like I should be defending her honor or something. But that ship has sailed, and I’m tired of fighting battles/wars I know I can’t win. I’ve reached the conclusion that if she wants someone to fight for her honor, she should pick up an ax and start grinding; I’m tired of carrying all that weight on my own.

It’s been a really hard few months, and getting to the end of that leg of my journey has forced me to find strength and resolve. I’m feeling a lot more confident and relaxed these days than I’ve ever felt before. Yet, in a lot of ways, I’m reverting to old habits. For one thing, I’m smoking again. For another, I’m exercising hard-core again. Also: I’ve been dropping pounds like cah-razy, so that just two months after giving birth to Micah, I’m already hovering around my pre-pregnancy weight. Did I mention that I gained 50 lbs. during my pregnancy? That’s double the amount you’re supposed to put on in an average singleton pregnancy.

Fashion has also dropped onto my radar in  a big way. My body’s been doing a lot of fluctuating these past two years. So much so that 95% of my current closet consists of pieces that are either too big or too small for me. It’s weird to me, that fact. My cup size has gone from being DD to DDD to C to D to C again. My ass disappears then reappears and seems to have no plans of quitting this game of hide-and-seek. My stomach is pretty much flabby and full of stretch marks. I think of the latter just as I think of the ginormous bags under my eyes: they’re badges of honor that I wear proudly. Still. I need some toning up, and some bulking up (in the right places), and I definitely definitely definitely have to step up my style game.

The editing business is slowing picking up steam again. ‘m thinking about switching to a .com and calling it a day. This past year or so has been a lot of hit-and-miss, trial-and-error, up-and-down, and I’m hoping that by this time next year, I’ll be settled and making a good name for myself.

Maybe it’s because I’ve been studying, writing, and editing up a storm, but I now need to wear my glasses all the time. This is very very new to me, this dependency on eyewear. I still haven’t decided if I’m going to go strictly glasses on this one, or get contacts, or splurge on eye surgery when I get home. For now, I have three sets of empty frames and a date with an opthalmologist.

With a hiphop soundtrack.

Him: Right now, this song is pretty much my life.

Me: [jokingly] Ew. You’re corny.

Him: Why? What’s your life right now?

Me: Grey’s Anatomy + Noli Me Tangere, with a hiphop soundtrack and two kids on the side.

C.E.O. of the H-O-U-S-E

I’m currently studying for three microbiology/parasitology exams (two written and one practical), even though I saw my doc this morning and she was all, “Your cervix is soft and opening up! I can fit my fingernail in there! You’ll be a mom of two by the end of the week!” At the same time, I’m working on my freelance article, fixing everything for Riley’s birthday celebration, culling editing work, figuring out what to do about the housekeeping situation, and being OCD about everything being ready for Micah’s big arrival. I can’t say it’s been easy, but I’m not complaining!

I’ve decided to step up my discipline game. Not only do I have to start demanding more from my employees (the two nannies and one maid), but I can’t feel guilty for doing so. They work for me, and as much as I want them to feel comfortable here, I can’t compromise my own sanity just to keep them comfortable. I need to stay on top of the budget and make sure that my kids are being taken care of the way I need them to be taken care of. I need to scale back on other priorities to make sure that the house is being run the way it should be run. As much as it pains me to be a hard-ass at home, my conscience and my paranoia have to be relaxed: I have to be able to trust that things are running smoothly, and the only way to do that is to be more demanding.

I think.

To be honest, I’m not sure right now how I should feel. My dad picked fights with me earlier regarding the way the house is run, and I feel all sorts of conflicted. Am I changing up my usual routine just to please him? Just to do the opposite of what he wants me to do? Just because I think it’s right? I’m so confused, I don’t know.

All I know right now is that I need to concentrate on passing micro-para. My second son will be born soon. My first son is doing well, and I have little to worry about when it comes to him. And everything else? It’ll work itself out, one way or another.

So there it is.

My resolution.

To relax my mind, take things one step at a time, and forget my dad.

It feels like, the more I learn, the more I’m tethered to what I already know.

This little light of mine.

Rob has a job, and I’m making some money.

Rob’s about to sign up for an online degree program. My graduation day (although 2 1/2 years away) gets closer and closer every day.

Riley is growing and learning and being the most wonderful little person EVER. Micah is due any day now, and (almost) everything is ready for his arrival.

I’m currently taking my time to finish a project for my Nursing Care Management: Maternal & Child Care Class. The weather is just the right mix of sunny/sun showers/cool breezes that make me wanna cuddle in bed with a book and a loved one. And in between studying for exams and finishing my project, I find myself reading a lot of magazines, which has got me wanting to buy a lot of things, which has got me excited about the idea of living the way I want to live.

Here’s the thing about living the way that you want to live: It doesn’t just have to do with you. I totally believe that the biggest part of the puzzle (and the hardest part of the puzzle to achieve) is learning what makes you tick, figuring out what you want out of life, and being confident and happy in your own skin. After that, though, there’s a myriad of other issues to contend with. The truth is, as much as we’d like to believe we’re in charge of our own fates, we’re all affected by our environments.

The government in which you live, the culture by which you are surrounded, the attitudes that form your social sphere – all of it affects your life. That’s why it’s a big deal when the place where you’re living doesn’t recognize you as a “real person”, or doesn’t allow you to get married, or doesn’t understand you. It’s a big deal when your family has a lot of dysfunctional ideas. It’s a big deal when all of your peers seem different from you.

The thing is, very often, we don’t have control over our circumstances. We can only decide our own needs, desires, attitudes and actions. We can only have power over our own ideas and behavior. By living in a culture that is the antithesis of my own upbringing, I’ve realized the importance of being the very best version of myself. Because in doing so, I’m not only following Ghandi’s instruction to be the change I want to see in the world, I’m also following my own ideas, giving life to my own thoughts, and generally allowing myself to be free. It’s a lesson I needed badly, and one that I hope to carry with me forevermore.

This is the truth, and it’s something that I live by, too: No matter where you are or what you’re surrounded by, you’re always going to need your inner light to shine. You must trust yourself as your own spirit guide. You must not be afraid or doubtful of your own power and value. And you must never never never take yourself or your unique perspectives for granted.

You deserve to shine.

Right now, my light is shining brighter than ever. It’s a beacon of hope that leads me into the future I want.

My glass is 1/3 empty.

It all started a few days ago, when I texted my ob-gyn to tell her that I was mulling over the idea of having Micah delivered at Makati Med instead of Asian Hospital. Those are the two hospitals with which she’s affiliated, and though Asian Hospital is the one I’m more familiar with (I’ve been seeing her there + Riley’s pediatrician is there), I’m open to changing up the game plan if Makati Med is just as nice and cheaper. [NOTE: The thing is? It’s not as nice, and though it is cheaper, it’s only slightly cheaper. (I think. I still have to speak with Asian Hospital’s cost counselor to make sure.)] 

So, yeah, like I was saying: A few days ago. I texted The Doc. I let her know my thoughts, and she was all, “Yeah, yeah, sure, sure, I’ll see you on Thursday.”

I figured, since I’m 9 months along and seeing her every week, I’d get my appointment over and done with, get a tour of the facilities, and maybe even take a gander at the paperwork I’ll have to sign when I give birth.

But, no.

None of that happened.

Instead, I spent a lot of money on gas. Then, Bro got lost on the way to the hospital. This prompted him to catch a major attitude with me even though I was in my usual bright and chipper mood and couldn’t give two flying ducks that I was probably not going to get half of my to-do list done. I looked at his road map, told him where to turn, and he deliberately went the opposite direction, which got us going in circles for almost an hour. Again, I didn’t really care and resorted to texting Rob because I figured Bro knew where he was going. It would’ve been A-Okay, only, the whole time, he was snipping at me and giving me lip and generally being an asshole.

So I snapped. I just couldn’t take it anymore. I mean, for real? I drop a lot of cash on gas and food and whatnot, and YOU’RE THE ONE who gets us lost and decides not to take my directions, and you have the balls to be mean to me? At this time? When we’re supposed to be building bonds because you’re slated to be the only one I trust while I’m giving birth? FOR REAL?

I cried and ruined my makeup. All the while, I gave an empassioned speech about how he’s supposed to be my advocate, and instead he’s been being craptastic to me, which is making me feel like it’s Me Against The World.

By the time I got to The Doc’s office, I was upset and itching for a reason to knock somebody out. The office was located in a circular rotunda, and I ended up walking around it several times before realizing, “Oh, wait! I’ve seen this same snotty little girl four times already!” The actual office was built like a railroad car, so that you had to go through a tiny hallway in order to get to the actual office, which made me go, “HUH?” I mean, really, you expect pregnant women to waddle through a hall that’s barely big enough to accomodate my not-even-two-year old?! It didn’t help, either, that one of the ladies behind the front desk was giving me the side eye. I filled out a form, then slipped out to look for the ladies’ room, which was the size of a shoebox. By the time I got back to the office, overwhelmed with a sea of emotion and catching my breath, a nicer lady from behind the desk asked to take my BP. I obliged her, but mentioned also that I hadn’t had time to relax, so she might want to wait. She didn’t understand English, so she took my BP. Then she proceded to ask me questions that I’d just answered on the chart.

I saw The Doc, and all we did was TALK. And I had to pay her to talk to me. Not about my health, even, but about money. Because that’s what happens here in the Philippines, where there are no clear divisions on duties and hospitals only have ONE cost counselor.

I got home, expecting Riley to greet me with his usual “MommyMommyMommyMommmy!!!”, but instead, he barely batted a lash. Turned out, he hadn’t had a nap. So I spent some time with him. Joy and I gave him a bath. Then I lay down next to him and let him sleep.

Now it’s barely 9 p.m., I’m sweaty and tired as all hell, and even though this is THE PERFECT time for me to relax and unwind and watch my kiddo sleep peacefully, instead I’m going to work on a school project. Because, let’s face it. This right here? It’s also the perfect time to get lost in schoolwork without feeling guilty that I’m not spending quality time with Riley.

I’m feeling worn out, on edge, and agitated. I’m worrying that Micah won’t love me because I’ll be too busy with a million other things to take care of him. I’m remembering how my own mom didn’t spend time with me as a baby/toddler because she was always too busy working, and how she and I didn’t develop a close relationship until my late teens/early twenties. I worry. A lot.

But those are the chances I’ve taken, and this is the lot I’ve drawn, and, really, what can I do now but make the most of my situation?

Tomorrow is a new day and another chance to get things right.

Some lessons learned.

Today I tried to finish everything on my plate and ended up breaking ground on every morsel – but without finishing anything. Now, it’s a quarter to midnight on a Sunday night, and that means I’m going to get four hours of sleep (or less).

Strangely, I feel good about this.

I’ve already done the hard parts: buying all of the necessary components, setting them up, and even starting off each project. It’s the completion that’s easy. I’m a hop, skip, and jump away from several finish lines and feeling like I’m making good headway. I’ve only got three days of classes to contend with, then a killer dry-run to do to the hospital on Thursday. (I’ve decided to change the venue of my labor and delivery.) I can rest on Friday.

Some bulletpoints, if you will:

  1. I had an argument with my ob-gyn yesterday that’s left me resigned to having my next biological child born in the States (even though I’d had my heart set on getting pregnant again in time for a May 2013 due date). Lesson learned: Always read ahead. You’re less likely to bindly follow suit if you’ve got some edu-ma-cation up in yo’ head.
  2. My nesting instinct has kicked in like crazy, and all I want to do is organize and clean everything in sight. I ended up emptying all of the drawers in the master bedroom and organizing the hell out of them. Even though there’s still a lot of residual clutter from the material upheaval of knick-knacks and whats-its galore, there is a calm in my soul from having fixed something tangible. Lesson learned: Tidiness is next to sanity.
  3. The two maids need some real breaking-in and teaching – especially since they’ve had a role reversal. (Tess will be Micah’s nanny and Jana will be the housemaid, instead of vice verse.) I’m a little worried about this arrangement for several reasons, but living here has taught me to work with what I’ve got. Lesson learned: Do the best  you can with the hand you’ve been dealt.
  4. Probably the main reason why I’m okay with not completing anything? Because I spent that time taking care of me and my family. I allowed myself an afternoon nap. I played with Riley on and off the whole freakin’ day. I touched base with Rob really often. All this, in spite of the fact that I could’ve been a speed demon, ripping through my to-do list without nary a twitch. Lesson learned: Do whatchu gotta do, but never forget why you’re doing them, playa. Family comes first.
  5. Speaking of Rob, he landed a job! It’s not exactly an ideal job, and we’re hoping he can land another one asap, but it’s something, and that’s all I need to know. He’s also looking into online degree programs and seeing a shrink to enhance himself. I’m sooooo unbelievably proud of him, and I can’t wait for him to unfold his wings and be the gorgeous, soaring butterfly I’ve always seen him as. Lesson learned: Commitment is a bitch, but it’s worth it if you’ve put your chips in the right corner. Stick to yo’ guns.
  6. Also: Thanks to my homie, Jess, I ended up writing a pitch to a New York magazine. I’m not exactly holding my breath that I’ll land the article, but the idea behind my pitch has given me a much-needed breath of fresh air; I’m working on it even if it doesn’t get picked up. After the article is finished, I’m gonna shop it around and hope that it gains some readership. Lesson learned: Be true to yourself, and you’ll get the help you need to shine. You’ve just gotta have faith.
  7. School isn’t gonna be done with any time soon. I have SIX quizzes tomorrow, which means that if I was’t pregnant, I’d be studying like a madwoman right now, cramming as much in my head as possible and hoping that it all stays put. Instead, I’ve read the notes and done some highlighting; when I wake up, I’ll make study sheets and the prerequisite acronyms and mnemonic devices. Then I’ll relax, show up on time, and do my best. Lesson learned: Stressing out doesn’t make you more likely to succeed. Trust yourself.

I’m sure I’ve got more to say, but I’m exhausted. The doc says Micah could be making his appearance any day now, and she’s given me some herbal supplements to ensure that’s the case. I’m hoping for the best, stretching and walking as much as I can, and being as anxious and excited as possible to be a mom of two!

Mom leaves tomorrow.

She’s been here two weeks. In that time, I started another semester, we got two new maids, Riley got spoiled ROTTEN, we went “malling” every.freaking. day (yes, “malling” is a word here), and I got NO studying done.

Tomorrow, we’re bringing mom to the airport and I’m going to be absent for the first time since the semester started. Tomorrow also happens to be the first of two days with wall-to-wall quizzes. And did I mention the zero studying that I’ve accomplished?

I’m exhausted from all the driving, malling, shopping, eating, et al., that my mom’s vacation has entailed. Good news, though: I’ve made real headway on the business poster and nailed a couple of editing gigs, Rob’s thisclose to landing a job, and Baby Micah could be as little as TWO WEEKS away fom making his grand appearance. I’ve got most of his stuff ready for him, and I’m excited for the rest of what’s to come.

For now, this is the thought ringing in my exhausted mind: So what if I end up being absent and missing out on three of the five quizzes? I’ve only got one mom and I intend on spending as much quality time with her as possible.

The price of being an adult.

You guys know I’m busting my ass just to eek out a living for me and my kids, right? I don’t sleep, I’m stressed as all fuck, and I still have to take hand-outs from Rob’s folks. They’re generous as all hell, and it KILLS ME to take money from them, but I do it because Rob hasn’t found a job yet, and honestly, this feels like the only option to live the way I want and not loathe Rob. (READ: “Okay, so you’re not helping me financially with our family, but at least your parents are.”)

My own folks are cash-poor. Sure, they have property and cars and whatnot, but they’ve refinanced the mortgage too many times to count and don’t have anything to give me. I know this, and I don’t ask anything from them. Whenever they offer me something, I either refuse from the get-go, or agree with the knowledge that all I’m getting is an empty promise.

Now, my mom’s been in the Philippines since my grandma passed away. The other day, my aunt came to visit, and while the three of us were at the dining room table, Mom said, “How much are your medical costs [for giving birth]? I can’t give you anything, but…”

I laughed and ate cake. “I know you’re not giving me anything, Mom,” I said, dismissively. “So don’t worry about it.”

“Well, if you have any money saved for your labor,” she said, “maybe I could borrow…?”

I laughed again. Typical Mom. She’s never learned how to manage her money, and always spends more than she has.

“Sorry, Mom,” I said. “I’m busting my butt just to take care of my kids. I don’t have anything to spare.”

Then, today, my brother left the house and came back with $500 worth of new tech – which happens to be the exact amount of money I need just to be admitted into a fucking hospital – and even though I’d like to say that I was all zen and merely took deep breaths and went on my merry way, the truth is, my soul screamed!

I get that I’m older and have my own family. I hold myself to high standards and feel my pride dwindling at the thought of asking someone for financial help. But these are my parents. They see that I’m busting my ass to do what I gotta do. They know that I’m having a hard time. They ask me for money. And the second they come into some cash, they go and buy my brother some swag.

My mom says this is the case because my brother doesn’t have anyone to depend on but them, whereas I work and have Robert and his parents to depend on.

And I know it’s not my place to dictate where other people spend their money.

I know I should be above all of this pettiness.

I know that I should just be grateful for what I have and call it a day.

Those are the logical answers. But how about the emotional ones?

I feel like I’ve been traded to another team.

And here I thought I was sitting pretty as the MVP.