“Loved by me as jewels, rare”

Photo by Maxim Geraldino

Happy mother’s day!!!!

My Mother’s hands, so thin and work-worn,
Were loved by me as jewels, rare,
For they had rocked me in my cradle,
And, lovingly, they’d stroked my hair.
They worked for me, both night and morning;
They helped to smooth away my fears,
For never were these dear hands idle;
I think of them with love and tears!
My Mother’s hands to me were precious:
I thought their beauty was sublime;
I felt no harm on earth could touch me
If they were near me all the time!

~ Gertrude Tooley Buckingham, “My Mother’s Hands” (1940s)

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My Nanay (mom) and I

 

 

by Erika Tellier-Angley

When asked to write about motherhood, a million and one thoughts came to mind. Do I write about the circus act of being a working mom? Do I write about being a working  mother of a child on the autism spectrum? Or do I write about the anxieties and exhaustion that seem to accompany motherhood?

In exploring and settling on a topic, I came across a quote on motherhood by Lisa Alther that succinctly describes my experience:

“Any mother could perform the jobs of several air traffic controllers with ease.”

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Dad Edward with Connor and Liam.

Fast forward to June 2009. I had just gotten off the phone with my brother who announced that they were happily expecting their second child. “They’re out of their mind! Brody just turned one in March… don’t they want to sleep?!?!” I thought.

The next day though, which was Father’s Day, I found myself in the bathroom, staring at two pink lines on a home pregnancy test in utter and complete disbelief. I called to my husband, who was blissfully feeding Connor cheerios.

“Edward, lines don’t lie, right?” He rushed in, and peered at the stick on the counter:

“Shut up. Shut. Up.”

“Happy First Father’s Day, babe.”

And so my training began….

My pregnancy  with  Liam  was  the  complete  opposite  with that of Connor. I was never uncomfortable when Connor was in utero, and it seemed that Liam was bent on letting me know that I was the “alien host.” Liam would roll and dive in the womb non-stop.

I was back at work while pregnant with Liam and during a lecture on Geoffrey  Chaucer’s  The Canterbury Tales,  a  student  raised  his  hand cautiously, “Mrs. A? Did you make your stomach do that just now?” Liam had chosen that exact moment to do a somersault and stretch out as far as he could. I shook my head ‘no’ and the student’s girlfriend looked him dead in the eye, “You are NOT going to do THAT to me. EVER.”

Liam spent eight days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit following his birth,  hooked  up  to more  machines  than  I  could  count,  due  to  his underdeveloped lungs. The back and forth between home and the hospital, all while managing a 15-month old and trying to recuperate, brought me to the realization that I had to juggle all the parts of this life now.

I knew that I could always count on my husband and parents to help, however, they weren’t always going to be right by my side on a day in, day out, basis.

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Edward and Erika on their wedding day.

My nickname is now “the glue” and as one can infer, I keep everything together. I manage  the  chaos  to  an organized state.

I’ve become the master of the calendar, enforcer of day in and day out routines and structure down to the minute, all while being flexible and sacrificing my own needs for my boys. I handle blips on my radar, big and  small,  in the  same manner, as to not upset the flow of my house.

Although there have been some desperate moments, there haven’t been any crash landings on my shift.

Liam will be five years old on January 13th, and I am in awe of how I manage to keep my house running smoothly. Connor and Liam are the best of friends, and although part of my job responsibilities now includes being a toy hostage negotiator, I wouldn’t give up my sons’ snuggles or kisses for anything. Their personalities are starting to emerge, and the “one-liners” that they utter are hilarious.

Time spent at the breakfast and dinner table has become a time to practice their “comedy routine.” The most recent iteration had to do with a TV  commercial  they  saw  while  watching a  program  on Disney Junior:

“Hey Mommy! You know what you should get yourself for Christmas? The Magical Flying Tinker Bell! She even has fairy dust!”

How did they know that’s exactly what I want?


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Edward and Erika with sons Connor and Liam.


Erika is a National Board Certified teacher and a very dear friend. Yes, I nicknamed her “the glue” because I am in awe with how she manages with ease all the “traffic” of being a working mother in New York City. She takes care of her lovely family so well, teaches like a champion to students in Harlem, and still finds time to support her struggling colleagues in any way possible. She has the softest heart ever and manages to always look beautiful, whether at home or at work.

Of Mothers and Air Traffic Controllers

By RHEA C. HERNANDO     

SINGAPORE – I can talk about it now because I think the worst is over or I have a firmer grip on things, the latter being the more plausible. The past weeks were just awful. Even Nadal’s win at the  All  England Club didn’t make a dent on my sour and sad mood,  although “depressed” may be more apt.

Don’t you have days like that? When you look around you and your heart knows you have everything that you need but there will always be something that you will want? Like some space to breathe, a little freedom to do things for yourself and yourself alone, or a much-needed boost to just go and set the spirit free?

Inner struggles are the most frustrating, unbearable, and dangerous conflicts of all. Whatever antidote  you administer to repress them or compensate for them – shopping, most especially – will fail, and in fact, will  boomerang  when the credit card  bill  arrives.  I have  also resorted to attending weekly bible studies, a first for me. And yes, it made me more attuned not only to the here and now, but also to the future – particularly the things I must do today to make it better, brighter, kinder to me and my loved ones. But no, it didn’t help me resolve my inner struggles. Maybe sometimes God answers prayers with “no, you do it alone.”

So I cruised, nay, floated through my everyday life of waking up, eating breakfast, mothering, getting dressed for the office, being at the office before 9 am, going home, mothering, and dreaming about gory things. I notice that I dream often when I’m sad, and my dreams are mostly chaotic and senseless, but meaningful at the same time.

Painting by 6 yr. orld Yesica Isabel Hernando.

“Cherries.” Acrylic Painting by 6 years old Yesica Isabel Hernando.

When I have inner struggles, all things intrude into my thoughts. Controlling these thoughts is really the least of my worries. The worst part is going back through time, regretting everything: dismissing every agonizing decision and almost all of the difficult choices that I made, as either unimportant or a mistake.

To be regretful is like falling into a bottomless pit. There is no redemption – just a mindless, endless plunge into the unknown. And, yes, it’s a pakshet feeling.

A friend asked about the root cause of all these negative feelings. At first I was afraid to go deeper  because  the unknown  will  always  be  a little disconcerting for me. But I felt I have nothing more to lose, and maybe,  everything to gain. So I thought things through and tried to examine every angle. I eventually came up with an answer: there is no root cause.

Instead, it’s a million things at once: A feeling of dissatisfaction at work; striking a balance between a toddler who demands my attention, on one hand, and  a  little  boy  who  needs my  kind  and  patient love, on the other.  It  is  between  noisy  children  and  a  quiet  husband,  and between a manual-labor-level  work  life  and  an action-filled family life.

And the list goes on and on, forever and forever – a nagging thought that I am biting off so much more than I could chew in a thousand and one days. That I am giving too much of myself to everything and everyone that I’m afraid I will break anytime and soon.

It helps a lot that I have someone who seemed to understand what I’m going through, who encouraged me to “take a risk, think out of the box, do not be chained, free your spirit.”

Thank you. I know it is also an ordeal for you but you have always been consistent in your love and understanding and I don’t know how long you’ll last.  But  you are here, now,  when  I  need you  the  most.  And  although I am numb and bewildered right now, I know that my heart, once it has settled, will be eternally grateful.

Mother's Day Artwork by Yesica Isabel Hernando

Mother’s Day Artwork by 6-year old Yesica Isabel Hernando

I have always been unafraid of depression, sadness and misery. In fact, they have been my companion most of my life. So that happiness, no matter how fleeting is the moment, seems to never fail to put me off-balance.

But that was then, when I had only myself to think about, to nurture, and to take care of. I have a family, and my state of being makes a hell of a difference to them – especially to my children.

But I know that much as I think of myself as being a better mother than a wife, I try very hard to be both, or nothing at all. And it drives me crazy sometimes, this balancing act. And it’s not even counted as an “inner struggle”- not yet anyway.

So, what now? Where to from here?

I think it was my good friend Ching who said something like, “Moving on is baloney, where do you move on? How can you think of moving on, especially when staying put makes you comfortable, happy even?”  So I am not moving on. I am taking my time.

Resolving inner struggles is not an overnight thing anyway. And the masochist in me relishes the pain. It means that I am not shunning it nor am I walking away from it. I am realizing that there is no escaping it anymore, you can brush it off but it catches up on you at one time or another. So that I am truly in the here and now, living in a sometimes-too-harsh world, but living.

In the meantime, I go through the motions, I pray when I can or when my heart allows for some gratitude, some compassion beyond myself, or something akin to happiness, and I answer every duty call with as much kindness and love as I could muster.

The only light in this dark tunnel that I am in is the fact that I am aware of  what  is  happening to  me and  its  consequences to the people I hold dear. Awareness is always the first step…towards where? I really don’t care much at this point. Maybe freedom. Maybe happiness. Hopefully both.

But I wish that happiness will take hold of me again.

I desire that I will have the energy to really count my blessings and just be thankful. That every time I see my family, I will be shaken into acceptance that loving unconditionally sometimes means forgetting yourself.  That I will be content, not wanting anything, only needing everyone – family and friends.

More importantly, I hope that I will be whole, no matter how long it will take and how much pain it will require because I need to be whole. My happiness and my family’s well-being depends on it. At the end of the day, it’s all that matters to me, that my family is happy. #

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Rhea C. Hernando received both her BS in Business Economics and MA in Economics from the University of the Philippines Diliman. She currently resides in Singapore with her family.

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A Career Wife’s Intrusive Thoughts, Inner Struggles

A Teen Mom’s Letter to Her Son

by Gay Tibay-Corbeta

Dear Son,

Thirty three years ago, God entrusted you to me. Being a young mother at 16 was not an easy task. I was just a child, myself.

But I took on the responsibility and braved the trials for you.

Many doubted whether I could properly raise and support you. There were moments, too, when I second-guessed myself. I thought that being a teen parent would  be the end of my happy life.

But I was wrong.

With you being a young engineer today is a testament that you are a blessing. I have seen how you have grown into a responsible father to your own children and a loving husband to your wife.

You have grown into a respectful son and a thoughtful brother, who never get tired of encouraging his siblings to reach for their dreams. I have also known you to be a good friend to all.

What you have become add happy days to my life. You were never a mistake. You are a gift to me from God. I now realize that because I am special to HIM, I received my gift too early!

I am blessed to have you my dear first-born son! I love you to the end of end!

Lovingly,

Mama


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How I Made It to The FilAm’s “A Collection of Memorable Personal Essays for 2014”

Photo: "A Drop of Trust" by Dupz Escatron Ravelo

by Mayette Timblaco Geraldino

Cristina DC Pastor, the founding editor of The FilAm – a magazine for Filipino Americans in New York, has been instrumental in rekindling my love for writing. I still don’t know what convinced her that I could write. I didn’t tell anyone of my stint as editor-in-chief of The Nicolanian, the official college paper of St. Paul University Surigao.

Days after our chance meeting at the Carnegie Hall for the 2013 The Outstanding Filipino Americans in New York (TOFA NY) Awards, where I was the awardee for Education, Research and Technology, she sent me a private invitation in Facebook. “Mayette,” she said, “would you like to write for The FilAm?”

At first, I was taken aback and thought to myself, “But where would I find the time?” As a New York City teacher and a mother of four, I did not think that I still have the time to write. I also argued, “How does she know that my article would even make it to her writing standards?” Cristina, as claimed by a former student, is a “legend among editors and writers” in Philippine journalism.

But I said, yes, anyway. My first attempt made it to her “What we read this year; The FilAm’s most clicked stories in 2013.”  The article was also re-published by the GMANetwork.com.

And it just took roots from there.

Fast forward to today. I just learned that one of my FilAm articles made it to her “A Collection of Memorable Personal Essays for 2014.”

Thank you, Crien, for that invitation and the opportunity to improve my craft. You have been a good mentor and an inspiration. You re-opened my world to what I love to do, next to teaching math of course, which is writing.

Was it just a coincidence that we met in New York City, no less? Or was it a pre-ordained inflection point?

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