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The struggle is very real

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You don’t know real struggle until you’ve taken my daughter to the mall (or any open space).

I think it’s been established through my social media updates (if we’re friends) or my past entries that Elle is a difficult kid. Not just the tantrums-every-so-often kind, those are normal for toddlers. She is the I-will-ruin-an-entire-early-morning-flight-for-all-the-passengers-if-you-don’t-let-me-walk-in-the-aisle-while-the-seatbelt-sign-is-switched-on kind of kid. It’s something about her seemingly limitless energy that every time you try to suppress it (read: make her act like a behaved toddler), she just explodes. (Ask me about our trip to Pagadian last August, if you want to know how bad it gets sometimes.)

I think the best way to describe Sundays at the mall with Elle is like taking a zoo animal, say a tiger, out into the wild for a stretch. The tiger runs free, as far as its paws would take it, and every attempt of trying to pace that feline ends in a bloody mess. That’s exactly what we go through with Elle, only that every time we stop her from running into trouble (down the stairs or worse, the escalator) it ends in a MASSIVE tantrum, like drag-her-off-the-floor-while-she’s-kicking-like-crazy kind of tantrum.

Just this Sunday, we had to go to the mall of a couple of hours to have photos taken. We spent two hours there but it honestly felt like forever. Half of our meals are spent with one parent chasing Elle around and the other stuffing as much food in the mouth as quickly as he can so he can take over taking care of Elle. Jan and I didn’t move a muscle for 20 minutes when we got home just to recover the consumed energy. Now you can imagine that any trips outside is a harrowing experience for us the guardians. Sometimes I can feel eyes judging us when we’re at the mall, probably questioning how we can’t get a grip on our own daughter. Well, sir, I’d like to see you try.

I envy those moms who can take their little daughters out to somewhere without back up. The longest I’ve gone alone with Elle outside was a taxi ride and even that didn’t go so well. By the time we’ve reached our destination, I was already calling SOS. I’ve never had alone time with my own baby and it sucks. I’d like to comfort myself by saying that it’s not that I’m not strong enough, it’s just that Elle is TOO STRONG for her age. She is a one-year-old trapped in a 5 year old’s body who runs around like a mad, headless chicken. Add the fact that she weighs 19 kilos makes everything just a little harder—scratch that, WAAAAY HARDER—for my totally unfit body. (Hmm yeah, maybe I’m just really not strong enough. I’m 66 kilos of all fat.)

I don’t want to say that I look forward to the day when Elle and I can walk peacefully outside hand in hand, because that would mean skipping the good parts about her growing up, those adorable and heart-melting moments you can only get from a toddler. Like how we were walking around Uniqlo and she was trying to figure out where I was amid rows of clothes, and when she finally saw me, she yelled: “Peekabo! Hi there, mimi!” I’d never forget how happy she was seeing me as if I was gone the whole day. That’s the trade off. I guess I’m really just left with no choice but to suck it up (I think that’s what the last two years have been all about) and enjoy the good with the bad as much as I can.

Peekaboo! I found you, mimi!

A video posted by Celest Flores-Colina (@_celestial) on Sep 25, 2016 at 9:14pm PDT

 

Make no mistake, this is not another complaint. I just want to put it out there that behind all the adorable photos of our Sundays is a mom wanting to cry for help. Haha! Plus maybe there are others out there who are going through the same and are just to shy to admit that they sometimes can’t handle their kids too.

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Army wife 

First, let me give you the backstory: Jan enlisted in the Army to play basketball. It was ideal not to mention an honor to be working for the Army, and I naturally had no complaints. But then came October 30 when they were told they were getting shipped to Basic Military Training, which would last at least three months, and they had to leave the same night. Three months (and now it could actually be six freakin months) is a long time to spend away from your one-year-old daughter, and it all happened so sudden! You can just imagine what a mess I was that night, and I honestly haven’t been able to adjust to everything even up to now.

So I saw my husband for the first time today in two weeks since the Army trainees were in Manila for the week-long APEC festivities.

Spending the last two weeks in Basic Military Camp, I really didn’t know what to expect. For sure, he would lose weight and get a little darker, but probably not anything drastic. But when I saw him, I actually almost didn’t recognize him. He is three shades darker and about two sizes smaller; it was like he got sick. He had lost six kilos in the first week alone. His naturally high hairline can be seen in its full glory since he has gone bald.

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Celestine is loved

I’m thankful to have been given countless reminders this week of how much my daughter Celestine is loved.

From closest friends and family to Facebook friends (some I haven’t even met in person, some I haven’t talked to in years), they all found a way to send their regards to Elle on her first birthday.

Most of the people I wanted to see at Elle’s party today showed up, too! That was amazing. I admit I had been dreading the party because when I imagined how Elle’s first birthday would go, Jan was in everything. It never crossed my mind that I’d be doing this without him, so this was tough on my part. But seeing a room filled with people who went out of their way to celebrate with us, dragging their asses out of their beds on a Sunday morning, I found a lot of reasons to smile.

It’s such a blessing that Elle is growing up surrounded by such thoughtful people. I know I am not the most generous person, but my friends have never failed to shower Elle with love. I could say the same for my family, especially Elle’s lola, who have always been there with us in every way she could, every step of the way—no matter how bitchy I got (which is more than half of the time).

I am overwhelmed. 🙂 My apologies, I’m never this sappy. Haha! But it had been an emotionally draining week dealing with Jan leaving even as trying to stay positive for Elle, today was a welcome happy moment.

So, from the bottom of our hearts, thank you for making this week special!

Happy birthday, my love!

Happy birthday, my love!

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Celebrating Celestine’s special ‘daaay!’

Today was Celestine’s first birthday celebration here at home! Nothing fancy (not that we ever get fancy) since we have another party for her on Sunday. We just made sure there few dishes on table and of course, cake!

Naturally, “Happy Birthday” was sung a million times today, to which Elle always  chimed in with a loud “Daaaaay!” because that’s all she knows how to pronounce. (You have to hear her, it’s the most adorable thing.) “Happy Birthday” is actually one of those songs that would get her to stop crying no matter. It’s up there with “Twinkle Twinkle.”

Unfortunately, she was already too sleepy by the time we got to blow her candle, so there was no singing along. Although she was able to muster a smile. That smile!

Blowing her candle. Although mom really did the blowing. 🙂

She got her good mood back after a nap, so she was able to enjoy our birthday gift; a cute pink bike! Being a very transparent baby, it’s easy to figure out when Elle is enjoying or not, and I know for sure she loved that bike.  She even tries to mount it by herself.

We still need donbsp;to push her around because the pedal’s still too far for her to reach. But soon enough she’s going be zooming around on her own. (Yikes!)

Check out my new ride.

We just wanted to make sure that Elle felt as happy and loved as she could be on her special day. Special thanks to my mother, my siblings and other relatives for always giving their love to Elle. A phonecall from Jan would’ve been perfect, but we’re not complaining. I know he would’ve called if he could.

When everyone was busy tearing it up on the videoke downstairs, Elle and I retreated to our room and I put her to bed. Mommy sang and she dozed off. It was a perfect end to such memorable day in both of our lives.

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Fastest one year of my life

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One day old.

She came out of me weighing 3.5 kilos, now I’m lucky to be able to hold her for long even using both hands.

Dada and Elle.

Dada and Elle.

She used to look exactly like her dad—from the small eyes to her thin hair, now all most people see in her are her my features—from her long eyelashes to her killer smile.

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Chillin’ on mommy’s legs.

She used to just fit snuggly on my legs where she spent most of the time sitting and playing, now she’s already half as long as me.

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Favorite sleeping position.

She used to love me rocking her to sleep and she would always end up snoozing on my chest for hours on end, now all she needs is the bed and her favorite pillow and she’s all set.

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She used  to spend all night, even at 3 in the morning, just rolling around because that was all she could do, now she’s either on all fours or on her two feet all day.

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Grumpy one.

She used to be one grumpy baby and it was impossible to make her smile, now not a day goes by when we don’t hear her infectious laugh.

She had gone through a lot of changes in past year, and there’s stopping her from going through some more. But there’s one thing that’s never going change—she will always be mommy’s baby.

My baby girl <3

My baby girl ❤

Happy first birthday, my baby long legs, my Celestine! ❤️

(Don’t grow up too fast!)

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Daddy’s Girl

My love Celestine,

I know you haven’t noticed Daddy hasn’t been home for four days. He hasn’t called too. Maybe it’s a good thing that you don’t know, so you won’t have to feel sad like mommy. Here’s the thing, that’s going to last for a while. I’m sorry but we won’t have daddy for 14 Sundays. He won’t be there on your first birthday, maybe even on Christmas or New Year too. We don’t know if he can call to greet you or if he can go out so he can spend the holidays with us. Actually babe, I don’t know a lot of things about this trip, but I know for sure he’s doing this for you.

Remember what I told you yesterday, while we were watching TV and I was stroking your hair while you were lying down on my chest? I really miss dada, babe. I don’t know how to survive the next three months without him. I know I’m going get help from Lola. I know I can provide you your needs. I promise you won’t lack the love and attention while he’s away. But I don’t know how to enjoy our Sundays without him. I have never been away from your daddy for more than a week, and I never imagined he’d ever be far away from you for three months. How do we walk around the mall without him carrying you? Only dada is strong enough to do that. Who’s going to change your nappies at 5am when mommy is still too sleepy to do so? You’re going to finally stop being afraid of walking on your own soon, and by the time he gets back, you won’t need to hold his hands anymore when we go on our strolls.

Daddy and Elle.

Daddy and Elle.

Do you think is mommy overreacting, babe? Is three months not a long time? But you’re growing up way too fast and everyday you show us something new. All I can think about is you won’t recognize Jan when he gets back, that you won’t call him “dada” anymore when you see him.

I’m writing you this so when you see photos of your birthday or your second Christmas and you wonder where daddy is, you will know that daddy is out on a great adventure just  for you. He shaved his head bald (Daddy does not look good bald), he endured not seeing you for a long time so he can provide for you. I don’t think he ever saw himself being in the middle of a gruelling military training in his lifetime, but he was willing to do it for you in a heartbeat.

Please stay a Daddy’s girl, baby. Mommy and Daddy love you so much.

Love,

Mommy

***

This morning, I showed Elle a photo of Jan on my phone. She grabbed my phone and started kissing the screen. I think she misses her dada too.

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A dream first birthday party gone wrong

We’re a week away from Elle’s birthday party and I feel like I haven’t gotten anything done. Not that there’s a lot to do; We scrapped plans for a relatively grand party (grand by our lowly standards) and we decided to have a simple get-together with our closest friends and family. Since Jan won’t even be here to celebrate with us, there is really no point on spending a fortune. But we still want everyone who cares about my baby to see her. (See you, guys!)

Of course, if I could, I would throw something grand for Elle. Anything fit for the princess that she is. But when you’re living on a smalltime writer’s paycheck, there’s no way that’s going to happen, at least for now.  So I had to let go of all my party envy, which I blame on Pinterest. (EVERYTHING JUST LOOKS SO PRETTY AND EASY ON PINTEREST).

My subconscious, though, wasn’t going to let me get away with it that easy. Of course, it said, let’s give this overthinking mother a glimpse of her dream party for Elle—only, everything that could go wrong, would go wrong! THE HORROR. It was actually the most vivid dream I’ve had in a long time, and I woke up feeling like I didn’t sleep a wink.

Here was how my nightmare went down:

It was such a perfect set up but nothing was going right!

Elle’s clothes for the party were all filthy but she had to wear them anyway. Less than half of the people I invited showed up on time!

The venue was not decorated and someone got Elle’s name seriously misspelled on all of the banners.

When it was time to eat, we started serving cans of sardines because there was no rice! (I mean, WHAT?)

No one served the dessert because it was buried under some random boxes! (WHAT IS PARTY WITHOUT DESSERT?)

When the all guests finally arrived (weirdly, they were all in ballgowns), there was no more food on the table and I didn’t have money to order some more.

When it came to the parlor games, I apparently had forgotten to buy prizes. I decided to go out to get some from the nearest conveniences store, but when I got back, the party was over!

THANK GOD IT WAS JUST A DREAM.

This just really proves one thing, my brain has too many tabs open. WAY TOO MANY. Well yeah, I still had to do even just a little planning for Elle’s thing. I just feel like I still want her to have a perfect celebration, though it’s nowhere near what I really wanted for her . However small or simple, I’d still want it to go off without a hitch.

I know that’s never going to happen, though. As with all parties (I learned the hard way with my self-organizes wedding and Elle’s Christening), it’s never going to be perfect. For starters, not everyone you’re going to invite is going to respond to your invite let alone attend the actual thing  (and you have to prepare not to get disappointed). Another is not a lot of people are going to remember the little things you did. Most won’t even remember what kind of table centerpiece, which you probably spent tons on, you had.

Despite know all these things, I can’t believe I’m still obsessing. Though I admit it’s totally me to overthink everything, up to the tiniest detail even of such a small get together. I’m not even a good, creative planner! I’m just totally a momzilla. Thanks for reminding me, subconscious!

What I should remind myself is that Celestine is going to turn one (and so on) and it’s going to be the best thing to happen to me every year—no matter how we celebrate it.

One things for sure though, we won’t be serving sardines to any of her parties…ever!