I had my daughter at 27 years old. Pretty good age, I would think. We have both been through tough times. She’s my best friend now and keeper of my secrets and pains. We have a relationship based on honesty. “Always be honest to momma.” I tell her. “Always be honest to me.” She replies. We tell each other the truth even if it hurts sometimes. I tell her the truth even if it means that she sees her mother, weak, vulnerable, making mistakes or major disasters. We have learned to laugh at them. I open up to her about my work, my struggles, relationships, and financials. Everything is an open book and she has her inputs about this as well. There are times when the best advice comes from her. In fact, she’s the one who reminds me that we have been through much more and survived when I hit a rough patch. I’ve been mulling over this and have seen different dynamics especially with single moms.
We have heard so many times that honesty is the foundation of relationships. Sometimes we forget that we have relationships with our children. We shield them from the truth thinking that it’s best for them. As mothers we try to present a strong facade, and portray Supermom. I think not just towards the kids but towards society as well. It’s so much easier to tell them what to do and not involving them with “things that are just for adults”. We can shut them out and they live in a bubble of video games and toys, not knowing what’s going on.
We program them to think what we want them to think but these kids eventually grow up into adults, with their own thoughts and their own opinion. They turn into adults exposed to other people and experiences. Then they realize that their mother lied.
They look back and realize that the man knocking at the door weekly was not the nuisance she didn’t want to see but a bill collector, the “uncle” she introduced to you was the boyfriend who broke her heart, the man who visits was not a friend but their dad, the shatter and scream you heard as a kid was not a broken mirror but was your dad hitting your mom, many small and big lies. Everything to shield the child from “adult things” At the end of the day, all contradiction and lies.
We try to shield our children from truth and try to paint a picture of perfection but it can bear a lot of resentment and anger in the end. Children are little adults. They feel, see, hear, understand and want to help. They also love their mothers and the most hurtful thing for a child is knowing their mother lied to them all their life. SuperMom dies because all the kid will remember would be the lies.
I plan to continue to be honest and transparent to my child. She’s 12 and is my best friend. Our relationship is based on respect, honesty and teamwork. We go through every single challenge together – win or lose. We learn from this, build a stronger relationship based on this and love each other more because of this. We mutually love each other, imperfections and all. As she goes through her teens, this bond is something we need to strengthen more than ever. I am glad I started early.
What do you think about propagating honesty and transparency with your children?
2016 has rolled in. We really didn’t welcome it with a big bang. I left for Cebu with my little girl while my hubby was left to old the fort here in Manila. Visits to Cebu can be fun and stressful at the same time.
The kids rarely see their cousin (my daughter) so every night is slumber party night. Of course we have to keep watch or referee… eventually, one kid ends up crying.
I didn’t even get to spend time with any of my friends (sorry, guys), it was all about the kids shopping, games, food and more food, visiting places they Googled about like this Cat Café and Café Tiala. All good fun.
They have all grown up so fast. Soon, they’ll be teenagers and I don’t know if they would want a mom or aunt chaperoning them. The thought breaks my heart but on the other hand, it gives me time to sleep and rest. Haha. Really, I don’t want to think about the time they’ll be gallivanting on their own. 😦
2016 will be a great year. I just know it. I don’t know what it will bring. Everything just seems so unsure but I’m just going to just go with the flow and let things surprise me.
I have been wanting to post this for a while but I forgot. That’s the problem, I forget. For the past 3 years, I’ve been getting absence seizures because of this congenital brain deformity (to be honest we really don’t know when this started). Nothing to worry about except for the fact that every time I seize, I forget some things. Things like what that thing you have in your hand is called. You know, the thing that you use to call and text people. That thing you hold against your ear and causes carpal tunnel…that thing. For the life of me, I would not be able to recall what it’s called until hours or a day after. Same as that yellow thing you use for writing and drawing with the pink eraser at the end. It’s not just these things I forget, I forget things that happen to me too. I have blurry memories of dates and activities with family and friends. Blurry memory if I’m lucky. At times, I get a total blank. Funny but it doesn’t really affect much of the memory related to work or heavy data. Stupid right? I can still remember the YOY net income of the company I worked at years ago.
It gets frustrating. It frustrates me that I don’t remember much, it frustrates me that my family sometimes has to talk to someone as if it’s a game of…I forget..the game where you have to act out things..wait, I have to ask a friend. Ah…Charades. That game.
It scares me too. I have images of Drew Barrymore in 50 First Dates. A movie I really didn’t like, by the way. I felt that the female character, Lucy was asking too much from the male character, Henry. I mean seriously, all that effort every single day just to make her remember, every day for the rest of their lives. I do have maintenance medication but I do forget to take them at times, get episodes and I end up crying when a bunch of data gets booted out of my brain. My husband patiently reminds me of the things I forget. He reminds me of the dates we’ve been to, the things I have done or bought, the things he did. He reminisces while I listen as if it’s the first time.
“Oh, how sweet of me or wow, how could I have done that?” I would say in reply. I have no memory of these things at all.
I laugh at how we were and happy at how we are at the present. That’s just it, I live for the present now. I try to be as happy as can be every single day so that in case I forget, I don’t have to worry. In case I forget, my husband and daughter have a good story to tell me in the future to laugh about. The good thing about this is that we try to love each other as much as we can on a daily basis. My husband tries his best to make me fall in love with him every single day and vice versa. We aim to have good memories every day. Just like 50 First Dates, we love and live one day at a time.
I will be posting regularly now and keep this site as a journal. You know..in case I forget. Do you know anyone else with the same problem? It would be great to hear about how they cope.
It has been quite a while since my last post. In fact, almost a year has passed. I left everyone hanging while in the middle of packing my former life to move on to the full fledged life of a newly married (again) woman. The move to the new place didn’t go to smoothly and I’m sure some of you have experienced some condo turnover blues. In fact, I think we have the entire People’s Republic of China on the floor right above us. We have learned to live in peace the past year.
A new home requires new things and finding the right pieces (that we could afford) and trying to “marry” the home ideas of two individuals was a bit of a challenge. In fact, during my last move to Makati, the house was up, running and decorated in 4 days..all from scratch (See post on: Ngarag Central ) Of course, I had to be confined at the hospital for 4 days after that ordeal but my place eventually looked like this: The Impatient Patient’s Place . it was easy because I had full run of the house, budget and the entire hullaballoo. I want a floral rug, I get a floral rug! Now, I have to consult and remember that this is not a temporary abode but something more permanent, our home. Plus, I have to consult..and consult and sometimes that doesn’t really work out too well and to think my husband and I have pretty much the same taste. We just wanted furniture that made us happy like this table and set of wrought iron chairs from Craftsmith Living or have a TV rack and a wonderful Bomb chair made by LongLive Upcycled things.
The past year also required a lot of purging and giving away of old things and furniture. You can only fit so much in 100 square meters. Seriously. Throw, clean, give away..haggle over what to keep and what not to keep, have cabinets done and just making sure there’s a semblance of order. We are far from done, actually. We just needed to pause for a bit to put up artworks of love. Our own works and ones collected through the years. Art at home make us happy.
We are literally still building up our home. Adjusting, purging, making sure everything is perfect and working like finely-tuned machinery. It has not been easy but building a home and marriage has never been easy. You just have to keep going and trying. It may take months, years, even a lifetime. When things get tough, we pause and do things that make us happy. There are some things that just cannot be resolved so, we create our own rules and practices that just make the family happy. Every home is different, every family is different.
Marriage a year and a half later, is still a work in progress.
On an average, I wake up at least 7 times everyday before my alarm sets off. Thrice as the puppies wake me up at 3:30 a.m. and I let them out at 5, twice as my hubby’s alarms go off, once to wake up my daughter and another to send her off to school.. No wonder I’m a cranky piece of humanity.
I’m typing up this article at 5:30 a.m. like a perky morning person when I definitely am not. I don’t even try to be and set my alarm at 7:30 a.m. because I know I am not wired to be a rooster. I am an owl.
I wish I could sleep earlier but nope, that’s pretty impossible. I’m usually the last person asleep at around midnight or so.
This is quite an irritable dilemma. Has been for a while. I force myself to go back to sleep at 6:30 a.m. and end up over sleeping and still cranky – irritable, strange and working badly, even sick.
Right now, I’m wishing that Mother’s Day comes along (that’s practically a year from now) and I ask for a day off. A day all to myself with no bother, no noise, no people. Nothing.
We really should have annual VFLL’s – Vacation From Life Leaves.
I don’t know how long I can function this way, really. Maybe it’s a sign that I should be a morning person…God forbid.
Here I was taking a break after an afternoon of packing what I call emotional bric-a-brac. In truth, I was packing books and tons of art supplies. I’m used to moving but packing will always be an emotional experience, especially this time around.
I love my place. I moved here as a single mom with my daughter with so much hope and dreams. We wanted it to be a little nutshell of art. I spent hours painting while she watched or drew beside me. I packed all the drawings I saw today. I don’t have the heart to throw out any of her cute doodles. Like me, she puts so much heart and soul into them.
Art was always something we both anchored on to cope. It made me cope with the rigors of a single momhood and it paid for some of our monthly needs. I love my place because I spent hours, days of just being lost in painting and writing. I was who I felt I was meant to be, and not just a working mom and now a wife. Those two roles have the habit of taking over one’s life and you really have to pull yourself back and say:
“That’s not me. I’m not just a working mom and wife.” In my head, those are just roles and not the end all and be all of my whole being.
As time goes by, you have to pull harder..or you get lost. I look at the empty canvasses and I know I was lost for a while. I had all sorts of reasons: too busy, have errands, no space, too sick, too tired, mom duties, wife duties, too lazy. Basically, everything under the sun.
I found myself again as I packed every memory filled painting, every single acrylic, brush, watercolors, invites to do exhibits and published articles.
I found myself as I stared at the empty canvasses strewn at the hallway. I cry and tell my husband “Don’t allow me to be just a mom and wife, okay? Don’t let me be just this. It makes me sad.”
I have to start all over again and this time around, I’m not alone. I’m packing with my daughter, husband, a poodle and a pomeranian puppy (our new baby). We’re moving to a better place full of love and art. More than this place will ever have.
I really don’t mind being busy. In fact, I love having a certain level of stress. I used to thrive on a professionally stressful day. I love it but I hate what it does to me. I head home tired, cranky and closed from interaction. My brain just wants to shut down and stop thinking. I don’t even want to sleep, just lie down catatonic.
Today was one of those days. Thus, I bought myself Krispy Kreme. I thought it would perk me up. I was wrong.
I went home cranky to a happy, perky child who asks me daily “How was your day?” in a sing-song voice. I force a smile and talk to her. I always do even if I just want a quiet home and a soft bed.
But she knows. A child always knows when their parents are not a hundred percent okay. Don’t even think they don’t know. Children can sniff out bad vibes like a pig searching for truffles. They know the way you know that they are up to no good or lied about eating half a dozen cookies. You can pretend all you want and receive a Grammy for your acting but those little munchkins watching Nickelodeon know.
This isn’t new to me. It’s not something new to working moms everywhere. It’s painful to see yourself turn into a cranky woman who wants to snap at them and say “Stop jumping around!”, “Turn the TV volume down!”, “Will someone please stop the dog from barking?!”,”I don’t want to talk!”, “I don’t like the dinner!”, “Why can’t you answer that Math problem? Don’t you listen in school?” So, you really try your best not to do it. Some days, nice mom wins and for other days, cranky mom takes over. Momzilla from the depths of hell.
It would be easy to just lock the room, not let anyone in and just keep to yourself to recharge and to not harm anyone in the household who gets in the way of cranky mom. It’s easy but doing it will just make you do it again next time, and the next time and the next. Until you’re left with a child, husband and dog who are too scared every time you get home. I don’t want that.On days like this, I try to do the following to feel better:
Take a walk – Walking helps to take away the stress.
Have alone time – Grab a snack (a donut might work for you too) or pray.
Take deep breaths – Try to get back into that relaxed state like a dog (Yeah,I watch too much Dog Whisperer).
Count your blessings and think happy thoughts – Cliche but yeah, this too shall pass.
Go home and hug – Hugs are for healing. Hug your child and husband until you remember that NOTHING in this world is worth hurting any member of your family. Words and being ignored hurts.
I don’t want my child to ever stop asking “How was your day, mom?” I don’t want her to grow up with memories of cranky mom. I tell myself : Beware of the cranky mom. She’s the mom I don’t want to be.
As I work and go home from a stress-filled day, it will always a battle with the dark side and I pray I win everytime.
Here I am outside Santis. Waiting for my husband. I can’t go in because I have Vader with me. I don’t really understand half the things sold here. I will not pretend to be a foodie or connoisseur of anything.
I just like eating them. Eat all of them like a pregnant woman on her second trimester. So yummy!
The guard finds it quite amusing that my hubby and I are doing sign language as to what to purchase. Nice guy..even offered to hold our dog.
We just wanted to get nice steaks for dinner and just laze around at home doing a marathon of Breaking Bad (awesome show). Much cheaper to have steak dates at home and we avoid the crowds and noise of restaurants. Plus we’re saving for our new place and everytime we spend much, it gives us buyers remorse since we could use it for a piece of furniture we need. 🙂
I get the “How hard was it to date as a single mom?How did you handle it? Do you have tips on single mom dating?” question a lot. I rarely answered it seriously since I was right smack in the middle of it and it’s not as easy as it looks. Now that I’m married, it’s about time I answer it.
Relationships can often be like the circus. There are juggling acts, lion tamers, tightrope walkers, or all of the above, depending on where you are in the relationship.
A single mom in a relationship involves all of the above, almost all the time. It isn’t easy at all. After coming from a bad relationship, you really don’t want your child seeing you go through another one. There really is no need to introduce every frog you date to your child but if you do find a special person, like I did with MDJ, they deserve to meet your child. This is when the circus begins.
A budding relationship with a single mom is always full of uncertainty. The common dilemma is whether she should be in a relationship to begin with, or just stick to happily being an independent, single individual with a funny little child in tow. You have your little household and your life working like an efficient little clock and when you meet someone special, the first thing that crosses your head would be “Oh God, my life is complicated enough”.
When I met Mark, it was difficult and a bit scary and I had heard so many judgmental statements about single moms, it deserves a separate entry. Yet for him, it seemed like loving someone with a munchkin tagging along seemed the most normal thing in the world. I actually found that odd but it was his nonchalant treatment to the entire situation that made me feel like everything may work out.
TAMING THE LION
Introducing your child to your future partner and the adjustment that follows can sometimes feel like one is being fed to a lion. Who the fresh meat is exactly,I don’t know. It could be your partner-to be who tries to make a good impression, it could be the child who is facing so much change and generally would have normal reluctance to accept someone new in your life or, it could be you who is right smack in the middle of a volatile sea of emotions. Either way, the words attack and swallowed up whole cross your mind. Bringing in someone new in your life can be threatening to everyone unless you can tame that big ferocious lion.
I asked Mark to meet my little girl before I would even think of committing to the relationship and he did. It went like this:
Zee:Is it okay if Tito Mark will be my boyfriend? He wants to talk to you.
Bea: *has this emotional, shocked, panicked look on her face* (whispers) What if he wants to get married?
Zee: *has this emotional, shocked, panicked look on her face* Err..not too fast. I said boyfriend. He just want to get to know us more and he says he loves mom. Will you talk to him?
*Mark comes in*
Mark:Bea, is it okay if I’ll be your mom’s boyfriend?
Bea:Okay but are you going to want to marry my mom? What if you go down on your knees and propose? I don’t think I can handle that yet.
See? That’s a lion, right there. I can’t continue the conversation because everything turned into an embarrassing, scary blur after that sentence.
But, here are some tips to taming lions:
1) Set ground rules: Being a responsible mom is the top priority. Dates have to be set when all obligations such as homework, study time, prayer time and play time are done and over with. This doesn’t leave much time,huh? It doesn’t, but that’s something you and your partner have to accept early on. Draft a schedule if you have to, in order to manage the expectations of both parties. What you don’t want to happen would be, to have a child feel like she has been replaced or a partner feel like you really don’t have time for him. In our case, we make sure I’m home on weekdays or if Mark wants to spend time, he goes to my place and we all spend time together.
2) Involve and gain trust: Be open and honest to both parties about the situation. You would be surprised how children can understand and appreciate honesty. Involve your partner in your activities. It will make him know you more. Being a mother is part and parcel of who you are and you really can’t hide and pretend you’re single and carefree. It will also allow your partner to know your child.
At first it was awkward to involve Mark knowing that her hasn’t been exposed to a lot of children. It was awkward to bring him in during prayer time and letting him have his say his part of the prayer of the day. It was awkward to ask him for help for Math homework but heck, God knows needed help there. I got over the pride of being independent and running the household on my own, the awkwardness and just gambled. If he was happy with it, then he’s a keeper and he passed with flying colors. He became part of the family and my two fluffies get along tremendously. It helps that he has the humor of an 8 year old and Bea thinks like an adult. In fact, they gang up on mom who they feel can be such a kill joy. Well, that’s what moms are sometimes.
3) Maturity is key: Your child is the child in this whole scenario. Not you, nor your partner. Any act of immaturity like tantrums should be limited to children. It can be hard to expect too much from each other.
In parenting for example, I had the privilege to get used to have a child around, Mark had to face all of this with zero experience. I did not expect him to be a parenting expert. Heck, there is no such thing as a parenting expert. Please be sensitive and don’t leave your partner with a baby that just pooped and expect him to know how to change a diaper. I left Mark and Bea alone with eggs to crack open and I come back to two people with eggs all over their face and hair. I can’t be all anal about that, it was kind of funny. Mark could have just walked away and say that he had no idea how to do it but he tried.
Bea was sick a few weeks ago and started puking. I run and calmly clean up the vomit all over the floor and tell her it’s okay while Mark peeks in, sees the vomit, has a shocked look on his face and runs back in the room and shouts
“Babe, if you need anything, I’m just here okay?”
That could have been annoying but I didn’t mind. Projectile vomiting children takes a lot of getting used to. Bea said the next day
“Did you see the look on Tito Mark’s face when he saw the vomit? It was priceless!” Yes,it was.
To be honest, it takes a real man to love a single mom. Boys cannot handle the lion.
A JUGGLING ACT
Once in a while, something pops up to just throw things off and everything goes haywire. A juggle could be conflicting schedules of equal importance like a school program and a scheduled travel or something as simple as watching the latest Bond movie or watching Madagascar 3. It can be a juggle to just simply want to rest but your child wants to play and your guy wants to talk. Maybe it can even be a juggle when one wants chicken nuggets and the other one wants adobo for dinner and you can only have time to prepare one. It can be anything, sometimes the juggle can even be imaginary. You just stress because you want to give the people you love,the best of you. It can feel like you’re being pulled in all directions and everything will just drop and break. This is when your luck in selecting the best partner comes in. The right partner will never be a burden and will always be an extra hand. There are times when Mark has to put up with hours of talk about My Little Pony and Bea eventually learned to appreciate James Bond. The only way to juggle many balls was to act like a team.
Team. That’s it. It takes teamwork to be a single mom in a relationship. Forget the single in single mom. You don’t have to be alone anymore.