Tag Archives: motherhood

Breastfeeding

Breast milk is the best food for your baby and is all the nutrition your baby will need for the first six months of life–Healthy Kids Healthy Futures (Kaiser)

I was determined to breastfeed my first born.  After all, it is easier (no bottles to sterilize), cheaper, and can even help me lose weight.

I was on a mission to make this work– I took an extended leave from work (6 months), had soup with Chinese herbs with every meal, stocked up on tea (with fenugreek, thistle, and fennel) to help me lactate, and got myself a breast pump.

I enrolled in breastfeeding classes

I did everything that my lactation nurse said I should.  When I wasn’t feeding, I was pumping. I thought it was working because my son fell asleep and woke up every few hours (just as the books said).

Imagine my total shock when we went for his first checkup and discovered that my son lost 10% of his body weight.

My pediatrician wasted no time in getting me a sample formula bottle from the back room to give to my son right away.  Then he suggested doing mixed feeding– supplementing breast milk with formula.

I failed my mission.  I thought I was going to be a cool mom with total breastfeeding under my belt.  But I didn’t.

I don’t think it made me less of a mom though.

Although I didn’t lose the weight I wanted, and I did spend extra for the formula milk, I did not completely give in to the appeal of the bottled milk.

Even with the formula milk supplement, I did not stop breastfeeding.  I breastfed until my son was a year old (and my daughter 18 months).

Now 8 and 6, enjoying water play

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Elementary School

A couple of years ago, my husband and I sat in the classroom with my son’s first grade teacher.  She had called us in to talk about my son’s behavior, and how unmotivated he seems to be in class.

After going back and forth about ways to help him enjoy first grade (because it was clear that he wasn’t), the teacher asked us about our child-rearing practice.

I told her that at home, we encourage our children to express their opinion as long as they are done in a respectful manner, that we believe that they should be given options (if we can afford to give options), and that we use logical consequences instead of punishments.

cake or cupcake ?

Much to my surprise, the teacher said, “I am surprised then that you chose to send your son to this school.” Then she went on say that the school is blah-blah-blah-blah-blah.  Honestly, after that bombshell, I had no interest whatsoever to listen to what she had to say next.

We could not have pulled my son out from that school any sooner.  He still finished 1st grade, and even started 2nd grade.  But by the time the first anniversary of that enlightening conference came around, my son was already making friends in a new school. It is geographically farther by a few miles, but the commute is well worth it.

We now have interesting conversations in the car on our way to school.   The topics of our discussion ranges from Greek mythology (which I know very little of), to their car wash services, to the next Manila vacation, to the prices of homes, to whether or not Michael Phelps should endorse a product that he does not use.

There are families (not to mention, teachers) who truly believe that teachers should rule the classroom; children should always be told what to do; and anyone who reasons out with a teacher is rude.  And, I respect that.

There are families who believe that a mark of a great teacher is measured by the length of the homework, or how straight the line is when the kids go out from the classroom.

But, I don’t.  Just like families, different schools have different philosophies.

So I looked for a school that had a teaching philosophy similar to mine.  I am thankful to have found one.

Co-Sleep

This is how my daughter’s bed looks like in the morning.  If you think that it looks like it hasn’t been slept on, you are absolutely right.  She only sleeps on it for a few hours at night, and then leaves it before dawn for our warm Cal-King bed.

Co-sleeping works for my family, but I am sure that it does not work for all.

Before my husband and I decided to co-sleep with our firstborn, we researched on the pros and cons.  I certainly loved the many advantages; not having to walk to the crib for feeding is at the top of the list.

I consulted my pediatrician.  He said that a high percentage of parents who accidentally roll over infants in bed without ever waking up were either obese or alcoholic. Since my husband and I are neither alcoholic nor obese, we thought of giving our plan a try.

Co-sleeping turned out to be the best for us.  My sleep was only interrupted by feedings, which wasn’t so bad because I would fall back to sleep soon after my baby burped. When my son was two, we transferred him to a toddler bed we set up in our room, so my newborn daughter could co-sleep with us.  Only when we moved to a bigger house did the children start to sleep in their own beds.

The transition to sleeping in their own room was fortunately very easy.  I tucked them in their beds,  did the nighttime ritual (reading and praying), and then shut the door. Both slept straight through the night without problems. At that time my daughter still wore pull-ups.

It was only when my daughter was completely potty trained that she started sleeping with us again.  Instead of going back to her bedroom after a trip to the loo at night,  she would head to our bed, snuggle, and stay there until morning.  In Tagalog, we call this lambing, or showing affection.  I don’t find it intrusive.  In fact, I welcome it.

I know that there will come a time when my daughter would no longer sneak in our bedroom.  She would eventually  want her independence and her own space.  When that time comes, my husband and I would have lots of happy memories of cuddling with her. Until then, I look forward to waking up to her unique snore and finding her foot on my face.  And if I am lucky enough, I hope to wake up sweaty to find her little arms wrapped around my neck.

 

The Hope

Mom, when I grow up can you choose a wife for me?

It was around this time two years ago, when my then 5-year old son made this peculiar request. It was the summer before he turned first grade.

The question, as well as how sincere it was asked, caught me off guard.  I paused for a moment, and then responded as honestly as I could:

Oh, thank you for asking me, but choosing a wife is a decision that you have to make for yourself  when you get older. Just like the decision to marry your dad was mine. 

(In my head, I was thinking…really, I am having this conversation now?!?!?)

His response to my response floored me—

But mom, what if I don’t make the right choice?  He was half whimpering.

I looked at him reassuringly:

That’s why as early as now your dad and I are guiding you to be the best man you could possibly be.  When the time comes that you are old enough to choose a wife, you would know.  You would have had lots of practice making good choices by then.

(I am surprised that I was very calm, and actually made sense when I answered him)

Will you help me?  

Of course, I will help you, if you want me too. You know that I will always be here when you need help.

(What I really wanted to say was, ‘So as God is my witness, you had asked me, your mom, to choose a wife for you—no backsies or in Tagalog, walang bawian)

This surreal conversation was over in less than two minutes, but etched in my mind forever.

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Who knows what will happen 25 years from now?

Filipino moms are known to stick their noses in their children’s affairs. I have certainly had my fair share with my own mom. I have yet to talk to the guy whom my mom berated 20 years ago!  Really embarrassing.

I am praying that when the time comes for my son, hopefully I would still have at least 25 more years, I would still be as calm as that day in the garage when he asked me for my help.  After all, he at 5, gave me permission to choose his wife.

Traditional Filipino Wedding Ceremony

Lost in Translation

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My daughter was playing with plastic eggs left over from Easter when she decided that she wanted the egg that was on the top  shelf.

I was napping when she asked me to get it.

“I am going to get the egg later“, I said.

Like a typical four-year old (this happened last year), she had to have the one egg that was out of reach.  It did not matter that she had 2-dozen other plastic eggs in front of her.

Real eggs that we decorated

She begged.  She cried.  She pleaded.

I was still trying to nap.  I begged!  I cried!  I pleaded!

At this point, my feisty little girl started stomping her feet.  It was now a full-blown tantrum.  She was now screaming and demanding that I get her toy–NOW!

I am a preschool teacher so I am no stranger to  meltdowns and tantrums.  I have been told that I am very patient with my students.  I don’t get annoyed, and I am usually calm and composed.

But, when my own children start to make unreasonable demands —like getting a toy when there are other toys to play with—I go bananas.  More bananas than usual now because a nap, that I seldom take, was interrupted.

So I said, “No!”

She got deliriously mad.  She was now stomping both her feet, screaming at me, and telling me to get up and do what she is asking me to do.

Oh, I did get up!  And I sent her to her room.  But not before I said something that sounded eerily similar to what my mom would have said…

Aba, aba, aba!  Huwag mo akong kakausapin ng ganyan.  Umakyat ka sa taas!

(Very loosely translated to:  Hey, hey, hey!  You do not talk to me in that manner!  Go upstairs!)

My kids know that being sent upstairs is not a punishment.  That part of the house is good for helping them calm down and regroup, though when the words came out of my mouth, being sent upstairs seemed like a punishment.

I called her on her behavior because to me, talking that way was being disrespectful.

Sometimes, when children are caught up with emotions that are spiraling out of control, they need to be taken out of the situation.  The room where I sent her has toys, books, and a soft bed —things that could pacify her during this meltdown.

Blocks

Reading can always calm her down

Later that night as she was helping me with dinner, and all traces of that ugly argument forgotten (or so I thought), she asked me in her sweetest voice,

“Mom, what does aba, aba, aba, mean?  (She clearly understood the rest of my Tagalog command.)

 It caught me by surprise,  “It means, I don’t like what you are doing.”

“Ohhhhhhh.  Next time just say, I don’t like what you are doing… because I don’t understand what aba, aba, aba means. Okay?”

To which I retorted,

Aba, aba, aba!  Now you know.  So don’t do it again!

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 http://www.bansa.org

aba: Word: aba!
English Definition: (intj.) an exclamation of surprise, wonder, or disgust; emphatic denial.
Examples: Aba! Bakit ngayon mo lang sinabi? (Hey, how come you only said it now?)

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Any wisecracks you’ve heard from kids?  Share them in the comment section, please.