Happy birthday Mommy Cali!
Just would like to thank and honor you for always taking care of us. I know it's super difficult to stay sane with all the demands of motherhood and our growing Peek 'n Click business, but you stayed stronger and more beautiful than ever.
To my #OTL, I love you and happy birthday!
I thought I would be able to get through Mommy's death anniversary without having to shed a tear. Then this McDo TVC showed up in one of the channels we were watching that night.
I'll try to translate in English the lines that the children were singing
Parang kailan lang
Ang mga pangarap ko'y kay hirap abutin
Dahil sa inyo napunta ako sa nais kong marating
Nais ko kayong pasalamatan
Kahit man lang sa isang awitin
Not so long ago
All my dreams were far away
But because of you, I was able to reach them
I just want to thank you
Even with just this song
One of the hardest roles of parents is helping their child create their dreams. Mommy taught me how to dream. She taught me to dream big... to aim high and believe in myself. She taught it not by words but through the perseverance I saw on her when she's making big transactions in her business. She taught it even after her business collapsed, she has the positive outlook that she can still bounce back and earn what she lost.
I heard from one of the talks that the poorest person is not without money, but the one who has no dreams. I hope that like my mom, my girls could see how their dad stepped out of his comfort zone and persevere in pursuing his dreams.
Tatanda at lilipas rin ako
Ngunit mayro'ng awiting
Para lamang sa atin alaala
Sana laging tayong magkasama.
I'll grow old and pass on
But there's this song
For us to remember
Hope that we could be together forever
They revised Florante's lyrics in order to show the kids wanting to express their gratitude to their moms and dads. How I wish the last line will stay true forever. Reality is... we all shall pass. Mommy did. But she left a legacy of love. A love that I can always see in our family.
I'll be forever grateful for the love and inspiration you gave me. The whole family misses you.
One challenge of parenthood is trying to stay calm when your little child is always getting upset about little things.
I remember the quote above when I passed by an international school somewhere in Magallanes while doing a photobooth about a year ago... It says "Children need love, especially when they do not deserve it."
Family life is a vocation anchored on deep faith and commitment, not on emotions. As kids grow up, I discover now that parenthood really transforms ones character. Your reaction will determine the growth of your character, whether it will go better or worse.
A few weeks ago, I found this article circulating in the social media... which was the Cockroach Theory by the Google CEO, Pichai... Sundar not Prospero :)... Response and not reaction. One of management's basics which also applies to parenting.
Now that Amanda's four, there are periods where she cries a lot about small things like she needs to be the one pressing the down button for the elevator or having a specific shade of pancake when cooked. As a normal human being, the natural tendency will be to talk back with a higher and louder tone to request and reason out that what she's complaining is just a simple thing. After all, in an adult's eye, it's just a button or a pancake. This is what we call Reaction. To reflect back what is thrown at you without any processing.
But as parents, we need to "Respond". Well it maybe just an elevator button but it may be a sense of pride for her knowing that she has control over the elevator doors... or maybe it's just a pancake, but having the right amount of shade corresponds to a better taste on her artful imagination. To RESPOND means, to process the situation, take a deep breathe, stay calm and talk lovingly to a child even when it seems it's not working. To calmly explain that what she's feeling is ok, but she needs to be reminded to act well and correct her behavior. At the end of it all, shouting or being mad would just make things worse and let her feel unloved triggering more tears and upset behavior... and worse, a very sad childhood if the cycle goes on.
Parenting is a continuous choice between reacting and responding. Sure there will be times where we might fail to process and just lose our heads. But the good thing about life is that we can always bounce back and respond properly to the negative actions being hurled at us. I believe the same principle goes with our spouse. In order for relationships to grow, any negative reaction can always be turned into positive when we know how to love the person we're dealing with. To respond, and not just react.
They say that in school, you'll learn how to write, read, draw and other technical stuff. Last weekend was full of new things to learn for me.
Man's Time vs. God's Time
Week after week, we're so good at filling up our schedule to the brim. There were cases were we put event coverage, photobooth service, attending birthday parties, family gathering and serving through CFC all in one day. We're so addicted on being busy to the point that at the end of the day, when we look back at the things we've done, everything seemed to be mediocre. That things were done out of compliance and not aligned to what we were designed to do.
God took charge and made us stick to what is important. Amanda got sick so we went to the Asian Hospital super early morning which is much earlier than the activity we're suppose to go to. Instead of going through a lot of activities for that day, we spent it with the kids. That afternoon, we visited lola at the heritage to check out if our solar lamp really works, and then went to my cousin for Cassandra's shot.
During our visit to Dr. Robles, my cousin and both of my kids' pedia, she told us on how a woman's body adapts to the needs of her baby. Did you know that the breastmilk that moms produce contains the exact amount of vitamins and nutrients that her baby needs? Like whey and casein proteins. The right balance of these two substances make it easier for a baby to digest thus increasing her ability to resist infections. Formula milk tries to mimic these combination that's why you can see different types based on an infant's age.
Same Sex Marriage
This was also the same weekend were Same Sex Marriage was legalized in the US. I would have to agree with Pope Francis' view that this is cohabitation rather than marriage and family life. A family needs balance and by God's engineering, men and women although different, complement each other's existence. And that these different roles are important to raise kids who will be the future of the society.
Last February 22, we attended the first Robles family reunion. I would like to think that this was inspired by mommy's passing as our Tito Exie (mommy's first cousin), realized that the family has grown so much that even the closest relatives don't know each other. Btw, mommy's the eldest among the Robles cousins.
For me, the highlight of the celebration was the mass lead by Fr. Alex Balatbat. Where he stressed that families fall apart when they want to get from others, what they can only get from God.
Three realizations I had during the reunion:
It was fun that even in a small amount of time, we're able to connect with each other. Hope this becomes a tradition so that even our great grand kids could still be connected to our roots.
Last May 16 weekend, we were fortunate to attend the CFC Echo Conference. And this year's theme is Love More.
Some insights I got were:
Why send your kid to summer school?
I think most new parents are very anxious on leaving their child to a person whom they don't know personally for some hours to interact with other kids. Some doubts that kept on wondering in a parent's mind could be, "what if there's a bully who would hurt my child?" or "what if she starts looking for me and frantically screams the whole session?" or "what if she becomes bored as she doesn't have interest with their activities?"
Before the summer began, we were still having some doubts if Amanda is too young to go to school. Imagine, from three years old up to well 22, she'll be undergoing a rigid routine of waking up early, commuting to school and then being preoccupied with all the schoolwork with greater pressure as she becomes older.
Maybe I was thinking way advanced and looking at the disadvantage more than what the benefits we could get from having her attend school.
Two Fridays ago, it was Amanda's end of summer school. And guess what? I realized six surprising things that happened to Amanda as a result of her schooling:
Last week, it was Champee's first time to go to school. Like other parents, we tried our very best to prepare her for the big day.
The plan was simple, that is to allow Champee to take a good rest on Sunday and then go up early in the morning to prepare to go to school.
Murphy's law: anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.
Since we came from a very long weekend for the Holy Week, our simple plan got derailed. We still went out that Sunday to maximize our time with our Cebu visitors. Even our plan for that day didn't happen the way we liked it as well. We're supposed to go to mass first, do the zip line and then go for a good dinner in Tagaytay.
What happened was, we got late for the mass in Tagaytay so we went out for a quick snack in mushroom burger. Good thing there's a nice playground there, making Champee super happy with the swing. Then we went to the Picnic Grove for zipline. We're expecting a lot of people going there since it's Easter, but wasn't expecting that there would be a mega-rally-like crowd. The people plus the blazing hot temperature equals not a relaxing vacation. So we ended up in a Starbucks nearby traveling miles away from home just to go to drink coffee. We ended the trip by going to mass at the Pink Sisters Convent and then went back home to have dinner at the Festival Mall in Alabang.
The plan to take a rest on Sunday, didn't materialize. We even had to get up early on Monday by 5 AM from Cavite to bring our guests (Tita Tei and Tito Kevin) to the airport and then head to Champee's school in Pasig for her first day. Although she just slept the whole road trip, it's still tiring for a three-year-old baby.
We were expecting a cranky girl when she woke up, but it was a miracle that she's excited to go to school and her mood was at an all-time high. Upon entering her school, she immediately hold her teacher's hand and went inside the room for their group activity. What's good was that she found a new favorite dance called the "Gummy Bear" and it was cute and fun watching her do the moves (see the YouTube video below)
First Day of School Learning: Vision.
When Champee went up to us saying that she wants to go to school, we were sure she's going to do good on her first day. Why? Simply because she developed that vision for herself. A goal that she wanted to do even without anyone forcing her. I'm sure she was influenced by Hi 5, Barney and Murray had a Little Lamb that sparked that idea in her young mind. So big thanks to the Disney Junior and YouTube for these great influencers :) But still she was able to hold on to that vision of finally going to school.
And from that time, we scouted for nearby preschools where she can grow more mentally, physically and spiritually. After months of research we chose the Mother Goose Playskool in Greenwoods, just three kilometers away from our castle (btw this is just Champee's name for our tiny condo unit, very far from being a castle). Apart from good reviews, it was the rapport that teacher UK (pardon my spelling mam if you're reading this) built with Champee so that convinced us to enroll for summer school.
First Week of School Learning: Good habits build a character.
As I begin to recall my past experiences, I was able to observe that all first days of any event becomes either extremely good or extremely bad. But definitely majority of them are good or even best experiences. And when you look at the output at the end of the activity or project, the first days may have a good impact but the first attempt doesn't dictate the outcome of any activity/project. What matters are the succeeding days if they were consistently good enough to arrive at the outcome I wanted.
Going back to Champee's schooling, we were happy with her first day. But I was quite anxious as to how we can make it through the succeeding days of replicating the good things that happened on her first day. As with NASA's Convex Goggles experiment, it will take 21 consecutive days to develop a habit. Meaning if we have that great first day, multiply it by 21 times, we can be assured to have a great schooling experience for Champee that could possibly last a lifetime.
All the while, I just thought that we're sending Champee to school to learn. Unknowingly, I think it was me who's learning more as we found more things to fix on my fatherhood as far as sleeping routine, time management, patience, sacrifice, commitment and love.
Sleeping routine - irregardless of how late I went home for work, I needed to get up before six to prepare not just breakfast now, but also her stuff for school.
Time Management - I became more conscious on spending time with her since her body clock finally got corrected during the first week of school. She now takes a nap after school, goes for play in the afternoon at the playground and sleeps early by 8 or 9. That's good for her, but I don't get to spend our late night playtime sessions anymore decreasing our bonding moments. So every weekday, I made sure to have a quick play time in the morning before she takes a bath.
Patience - Truly, this made me think on how my mom and dad became super patient with me when I was a toddler then. We can never really repay the hardships that our parents endure to raise us as good and oving adults. What we can always do is to pay forward these little acts of kindness even if our kids are uncooperative. For Champee, it was a struggle to have her setup for breakfast and bath time. It was really time consuming, but then again, what I observe is that there's really no other way to convince a toddler but to show that you understand where she's coming from. Then you act, then you reason, and then repeat until you can get her buy in.
Doing shortcuts and losing one's temper won't really get you anywhere as what happened to us when we got late last Friday. Sometimes as adults, I realized that the easy way out was to muscle our way in to let our child finish what should be done. However, I discovered that there's always an underlying reason why our kids behave that way. And scolding them, at the height of our emotions always lead to a negative result. I think that we can only scold our kids if we are on a controlled temper so as to clear our minds of our goal to correct our baby rather than just be reactive of the rejection we got from our child.and totally miss out the opportunity of having him or her learn from him or her mistakes.
Sacrifice, Commitment and Love - As a dad of a preschooler, I realized that in order to be consistent on doing something for someone, it takes sacrifice and commitment that is deeply rooted on unconditional love. I learned that as long as we made Champee feel loved, she always ends up doing the right things like for her school today, she got three smileys as she's the most behaved in her class despite being a little late today.
Beyond the First Day
During Champee's first day of class, her teacher requested us if she can call her Amanda (her real name is Amanda Claire)... and we said YES. And guess what Amanda means? It's "fit to be loved"
Maybe as dads or moms, even if our kids didn't have a happy first day, first or second week of school, let's help our little Amanda's have the best childhood experience they can have, after all every child deserves to be loved.
April 27, 2014 - Caliwag, Pasig
Irregardless of age, financial status or gender, everyone can share something for those who don't have enough.
As a rookie dad, I wanted Amanda to learn the value of living not just for herself but to have the genuine concern of loving others. I believe that it's one of the ways to live life to the full. And hopefully starting her young even if it seems that she doesn't understand is a way to expose her that not all kids experience the same blessings as what she has and that it's perfectly ok to aim to have more than enough blessings so that she can share them to others.
So starting on her first birthday, even though she's just barely walking, we coordinated with our SFC brothers and sisters serving in Caliwag to celebrate a simple birthday with our kids there. The same went on last year and on Champee's third birthday this year, it was pretty amazing since she's able to participate in some of the activities already.
Three things I've observed:
I would like to honor the brothers and sisters who helped us with Champee's birthday at Caliwag: Jhoan, Vince, Julius, Dave, Fidel, Sarah, Zaldy, Bojo, Tita Dorie, Tonton, and Jack hoping that someday, Champee will also get the same passion for serving underprivileged kids
I'm a technology geek, photographer, musician and a rookie dad trying out to speak my mind through writing my daily experiences as a young Pinoy dad.