Category Archives: Parenthood

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.

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!

What he thinks of me.

He calls, and I tell him about my brother’s dog, and how Rob and I took care of him, and how the responsibility kept on shifting from one maid to another after Rob left, until now, when the poor dog is chained to the side of the dining room, begging for attention.

He tells me to stop complaining.

He calls and asks what I’m up to, and if I have even the tiniest drop of concern in my voice – for my brother’s schooling or my son’s welfare, for example – he tells me to stop overreacting. Then he lectures me on how to choose a mate, and tells me that he doesn’t know what I see in Rob.

He calls and dives into a tirade, yelling at me, screaming at me, asking me why I fired the last maid. What’s wrong with me? Don’t I know how hard it is to find good help? And so what if she didn’t wash clothes very well, or clean up after my brother’s dogs very well, or refused to do any heavy lifting because of a decades’ old surgery and her belief that lifting heavy objects would cause her bowels to spill out of her belly button. At least she tried.

And then my mom comes for a visit and makes the same complaints that I’ve been making about the dog. And about my brother. And about the maid. And my dad doesn’t call her a complainer or tell her she’s overreacting; he respects her opinion and does something about what’s bothering her.

My brother gives voice to his personal issues, and lays out all his problems, and says what I’ve been saying about the maid – that I didn’t fire her even though I should have done so – and instead of being blamed for having issues and problems, my dad congratulates him on learning how to talk through them.

Our extended family fights all of these uphill battles against cultural downfalls and personal vices and streaks of full-on ignorance and stupidity, and my dad yells at them, then laughs at them for having these problems.

And I think to myself: Why do I bother?

Why do I bother speaking to my father? Why do I bother speaking to this man who obviously thinks lowly of me, to this person who will off-handedly sacrifice my pride and well-being for his own benefit?

And I realize: I do it because he’s my dad.

I do it because he’s my dad and that fact is supposed to mean something. I do it because he’s my dad and I’m a parent, and one day my kids may not understand me, and maybe, if that happens, I’ll understand him. I do it because I’ve been taught that that’s what people do when they love someone. They accept all of them, they work with all the parts of the person, they do their best to make it work, to understand, to help the other person.

I do it because I’m strong, and because I can walk away from a conversation with my dad without feeling bitter or used. I do it because I know I’ve been influenced by him. I do it because dealing with him has trained me on the tactics of dealing with assholes in general, and with my brother in particular. I do it because I don’t know how not to do it; I’m a mom, and I refuse to deprive my kids of their relatives just because I don’t get along with them.

At the end of the day, I do it. I deal with it. I engage in a relationship with a person who degrades and disrespects me. And I wonder: what’s it all worth?

Boss.

It’s a little past midnight, Rob just called to ask what size of sneaker Riley wears, and I’m debating going to the kitchen for a snack. I feel like, the second I leave the room, Riley will wake up and go crazy searching for me, which has been going on a lot at this hour. I’m not sure if he’s suddenly more clingy because he senses that another baby is coming, or because I’ve been less available lately, or because he’s rebelling against toddlerhood and would rather stay my little baby for as long as possible, but I’m simultaneously tickled pink and getting salty at the thought of carrying him around forever.

These are my thoughts right now: I want to turn on the light to study, but we learned in class that sleeping with a light on increases your risk for a specific kind of cancer, and seeing as Riley is half Rob, and Rob’s mom’s side is riddled with cancer, I don’t want to risk it. I wish I remembered which kind of cancer lists “sleeping with a light source turned on” as a risk factor.

In truth, I feel myself slipping in my schoolwork. I’m not caring as much about getting high grades, and it definitely shows. I feel as though I’m not on top of my studying – not as much as I usually am, anyway – but when I step back and compare my studying habits of today to those of three months ago, I honestly feel like I’ve improved. Maybe the stuff I used to do just doesn’t cut it anymore, what with all the other priorities that clog my mind at any given moment. Or maybe the exams just got harder. (I’m leaning toward the latter.)  All I know is, my grades have fallen a bit and I’m positively aching to leave school the minute I step foot there. Point blank: I’ve been really salty when I’m anywhere but home. I just want to stay home, turn on the air conditioning, read, hang out with Riley, and focus on myself and my pregnancy for a bit.

Micah has been kicking like crazy, and I noticed that he kicks even more when I’m at school. My brother says that it’s because I’m the most stressed when I’m at school, which means my body temperature goes up, my blood pressure rises, my respiration rate also rises – pretty much all of my vital signs soar. This, in turn, causes Micah to go, “What the fuck, Mom? Get your shit together.”

Honestly, guys, I’m really wondering if I’ll make it to October. It’s not that I don’t think I can accomplish all of my goals – give birth to a healthy baby, bond with him for a week and a half, peel myself away from him to return to the grind, balance motherhood with work and school, launch a big promotional campaign for my editing business, learn about the dynamics of having two young kids, keep up communication with Rob, stay in touch with loved ones, manage a household, do lots of editing, take a full class load without failing any classes, have my first semester of hospital duty, and manage to SLEEP – cuz, strangely, that stuff? I know I can handle all of it – except for that last part. Sleep? Forget about it. Sleep and I are going to be distant acquaintances until October.

I tell myself that the next semester starts on June 14th, and then there’s approximately four months from that point until I’m on vacation again, and that four months is no big thing. But, really? Really, what I foresee in my near future in my hair a mess, my eye bags down to the floor, my appearance all kinds of unkempt and dissheveled, and my self-esteem plummeting because of that fact. Basically, I don’t see myself having any time for Me. For the myriad of responsibilities that I have to everything and everyone else? Yeah, no sweat, I’ll make the time. But for myself? Nah. I just wouldn’t be able to keep up the juggling act if I had to take care of Me, too.

I’m aware of how awful that sounds, and I really don’t intend on playing the martyr. I figure, in October, I’ll turn 27, and I’ll get a haircut and color, and buy myself some new clothes, and start doing aerobics on the regular, and I’ll feel better about myself. In the meantime, I’m fine with letting my grades slide from “uber-spectacular” to “better than average” if it means keeping my sanity intact.

That small bit of reprioritizing – giving my ego a rest from feeding on my “I got the highest grade on the exam!” high – is making all the difference. These days, I’m enjoying the hell out of every second that’s not spent in the classroom and making the most of my time in the classroom (usually by writing lists and making studying outlines). I’m learning to finagle the system to my liking, and that makes me feel like everything’s going to be okay.

On being a pregnant nursing student with diarrhea.

The last few days have been a warm-up to the difficulties that await me. On Tuesday night, after eating brown rice and beef with onions, carrot sticks, walnuts, and lots of other healthy fare the whole day, I suddenly felt like I was going through labor. A really bad bout of diarrhea sent me to the bathroom faster than a 5-foot rat with rabies could’ve had me running. Also, I was exhausted after having a tiring day at school, and contractions wracked my body. I really thought Micah was going to be born a premie, and I kept on saying to him, “Not now. Mommy’s not ready yet. I don’t have your bassinet or your diapers or even the money for your delivery into this world. So, please? Not now. Give me at least two more months, and everything will be set. I’ll even love you more than I love your brother. Deal?”

That last part, of course, wasn’t serious.

I don’t think…

Anyway, the pain was getting unbearable, to the point where I couldn’t hold a cell phone to my ear while getting hit by contractions. (Rob and I were talking on the phone at the time.) Luckily, though, my ob-gyn had prescribed some pills to ease pre-term contractions. I took one at 2:30 a.m., and just as I was about to get some shut-eye, Riley woke up. So I woke up Joy. Then I quickly ran back to the bathroom and planted my ass there for what seemed like an eternity. By the time I was done, my butthole burned and I remembered how, after I gave birth to Riley, I’d had my first-ever case of hemmorrhoids and kept on thinking Ya know, this isn’t a walk in the park on a perfect Spring day, but it’s not like I’ve been caught butt-naked in the park and tourists are oggling me while a monsoon is tearing up the place.

Right after that thought hit me, I had an epiphany. Because hemmorhoids? They’re pretty fucking bad, and if I don’t remember that fact in all of its clarity and actually think that diarrhea-ass is more painful, then I must’ve been too high on motherhood to make an objective assessment of the situation.

And that made me think of the future. Because in about three months, I’m planning on popping out a baby as naturally as possible, bonding with him for no more than two weeks, then returning to the same old rigorous routine of school, family and running an editing business. And while I have help with Riley and the household, I still often feel drained and tired.

I had to ask myself: Can I really handle all that?

I wish I could say that a resounding HELL TO THE YES! screamed from the emptied bowels of my… umm… soul, but instead, I shrugged. Because the truth? The honest fucking truth? It’s that I don’t know if I can handle all of that. I don’t know what the future has in store, or what might come back from the past to bite my ass. I just know that I’m willing to stick it out, try my best, and make the best out of whatever comes. No matter the challenge, that’s what I’ve got, and I’m okay with the outcome, whatever it is.

Even if it burns my ass in the end.

Reunited and it feels so good!

Not with Rob, sadly. But almost just as good: with the internet! Man, I’ve missed you guys!

Quick recap: I’m now 26 weeks pregnant, gaining waaaayyyy too much weight because I spend most of my days sitting in a classroom, and kicking ass at school. I’ve mellowed out on the editing, since I haven’t had a working internet connection in almost two months, and though I’m committed to finishing all the projects that have been sidelined, I’m also wondering if now is the right time to go full-steam ahead with the business. I spend a minimum of 10 hours per day/four days a week wearing my school uniform, and that number’s going to grow in the next 15 months. Micah’s due the first week of August (though if a recent dream means what I think it means, he’ll be arriving sooner than expected). Plus, in this whirlwind of events, I’ve gotten my old writing mojo back. Can’t say I’ve been writing up as big a storm as I’ve been studying, but it feels so. unbelievably. good to get the old tingles just by putting a story down on paper.

NOTE: This new story just happens to be crazy-influenced by my time here in the Philippines, so writing it makes me feel extra purposeful. This is extremely important since all of my friends back home have been making huge life changes that I’m not around to share in, and I need to be constantly reminded why I’m away from them. I shed a lot of tears over all the awesomeness that I’m missing out on.

ANYWAY. It’s summertime in the Philippines, which usually isn’t cause for me to bat a lash. I’m almost done with my 2nd trimester of pregnancy, though, and like I said, I’ve been gaining way too much weight. [You’re supposed to gain 25-35 lbs throughout the whole pregnancy; I’ve already gained 40 lbs and I’m only 2/3 of the way done.] This means that I’m positively sweltering in the tropical heat. Like, I take a cold shower, and the second I step outside of the bathroom, I’m drenched in sweat.

Riley’s as much a as sweetheart now as ever. Thing is, though, he isn’t talking yet. He’s 20 months old, and honestly, even though I know that most kids are talking by this age, I’m not really worried – and that makes me wonder if I’m not being proactive enough. That’s the way it goes, though, right? Either you’re too involved or you’re not involved enough with your kids. *sigh*

…..

Funny feeling in my gut today. I just want to sit on a deserted beach somewhere, under an umbrella, and watch the waves crash.

The impossible.

It’s 9 p.m. on a Wednesday night. My two-week summer staycation is officially in full-swing. Riley has been knocked out for more than an hour; neither of us are sick. There is yummy food in the house, I’ve finished editing 4 out of my 5 big projects (only a handful of pages to go!), and I’ve managed more than a few good deeds for the day.

There’s a couple TV shows on my queue for me to catch up on, but really, after taking a long soak in the tub with some bath bombs and hunks of cucumber over my eyes, I’m all relaxed-out. Next on the agenda? Making fliers for my editing business! (I desperately need to drum up some more business before the school semester ends in the States!) Then, working on my fiction-writing.

This, right here? The ability to check everything off my to-do list without losing (too much) sleep? It’s exactly the opposite of what I thought motherhood would be like, and I keep on waiting for the other shoe to drop.

[NOTE: Just as I was typing that last sentence, Riley woke up, looked at me, drowsily picked up his bottle, and went back to sleep.]

A-writing and a-flier-making, I go!

Down from my high, then higher still.

Last time I posted, there was a definite swagger to my tone. I was feeling damn good, and not afraid of the implications of this fact. That night, though, Riley’s nanny – who’s been with us a little over a month – told me she’s leaving. That’s right, folks: In about three days from now, I’ll be nanny-less.

My summer semester starts on April 11th and runs until May 25th, and since I don’t have any friends or family available for babysitting, I.need.a.nanny. Big time.

I stressed about it for a few days and I cried a lot. I even complained and cried to our maid, Joy, but she probably understood only every other word of my rant. She’d just sat on the couch, across from me, smiling pensively. She was probably hoping that I’d end the discomfort and go upstairs to my room.

I think about Riley, and my heart hurts. Rob left a couple of weeks ago, setting our little guy’s world off-kilter, and now that Riley’s just started showering his nanny with hugs and kisses, she’s going to leave. I want to strangle her. I mean, seriously? One fucking month and you leave because you’ve decided you don’t like it here, in our house, with air conditioning and food and a loving baby to take care of? After we took her on all sorts of day trips, made sure she had everything she needed, asked her repeatedly if she was going to stay for a while (and she always answered “Yes, everything’s good here. I’m going to stay for a long time.”) – NOW. SHE’S. LEAVING?!

Like I said, I’ve been really upset about all this. Today, though, something happened. I was editing the hell out of three projects, and when I took my break, I took Riley out for a walk around the neighborhood. I watched him play with a bunch of kids. We picked flowers together from vacant lots, collected pebbles from the front of our neighbors’ gates, smiled and laughed and talked. And as all this happened, I thought about his nanny, and how she practically never speaks or smiles, and I realized: it’s okay that she leaves. So what if that puts me in a bind? So what if my plan smight be one year behind schedule? So what? The important thing is that Riley is taken care of. After that, the priority is finishing this degree in as little time as possible, sure. But always always always, my family comes first, and I will never regret putting them first. As long as they’re being taken care of, everything’s going to be okay.

No shame in my game.

I was just FB messaged by a friend who’s graduated from my current school. We talked about life and our plans for the next five years, and when I mentioned that what I’d really, really like to happen is to only ever be a part-time nurse because I’m too busy getting paid for my amazing writing, he was offended. Here he is, in the Philippines, already having gone through 4+ years of school; he’s gone through hell to pass his board exam and become a licensed RN; AND he still can’t find work as a nurse, aka his profession of choice. And here I am, doing what I do, acing all of my classes, and not even planning on making nursing into my lifetime career.

While we’re on the privileged tip, I’ll let you in on a little secret. Ever since Rob left, I rarely cook. I’ve gotten my aunt, the semi-retired chef, to teach Joy, our bumbling but kind-hearted maid, how to make a bunch of entrees. Now, all I need to do is put the week’s menu on the fridge, give Joy grocery money, and eat when the food’s cooked. The house has also never been so spic and span, and now that my semester is thisclose to being done, all I have to concentrate on is Riley, Baby #2, writing, editing, and staying in touch with Rob.

I’m privileged. I know that and I own it. But I swear, if anyone calls me spoiled, they’ll have my foot up their ass.

I’m still standing.

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

And there are no tears in my eyes, either – even though Rob left for NYC this morning, I won’t see him for at least a year and a half, and I’ve been left to face the tumult of single-parenting in a foreign country, while working, going to school, and being pregnant.

How is this possible?

To be honest? I’m not sure. Maybe the full weight of reality hasn’t yet hit me. Or maybe I just managed to really psych myself out. Or maybe I really do need this time to do a lot of self-reflection and writing. Whatever the reason, the tears have been flowing considerably less than I thought they would be, and I barely managed to soak through one handkerchief (although I can’t help but get teary whenever Riley does something adorable that Rob would positively go ga-ga over).

I’m studying and editing and writing this weekend, and finally going to see the doc about mine and Riley’s crazy-bad cough. I only have five days of classes left, then there’s three days of exams and I get a two week vacation! Can you say “Hell to the yes”?! Admittedly, I’d love to be cuddling and such with my man, but alas, that cannot be so and I’m wise enough to accept the things I cannot change.

So.

To sum up: Rob’s not here and that SUCKS. But the show must go on and muthafucka, it will go on – brilliantly and beautifully. That’s just how I roll.