Mom, This One's For You!

As a Mom myself, I know how easy it is to put ME at the bottom of that priority list. And having talked to quite a number of Moms out there, I know I'm not the only one guilty of that! ;) Which got me thinking...

The best gift you can give a Mom this Mother’s Day is her ability and opportunity to SELF-CARE: time and space to give back to herself, after all she has done for others.

This May, in honor of all the magnificent Moms around the world, I'm offering my signature 6-session MommyProofing One-on-One Coaching Package to FIVE lucky Moms. I'm so excited! :)

What's in store for these Moms? Through the six sessions, we'll work together to help Mom give back to herself, work through identified challenges (from any area of life!), and create concrete steps to move Mom closer to the Self she is happy and proud to be.

So whether you’re a Mom, you’re about to become a Mom, or have a Mom in your life you care deeply about, it’s time to GIVE BACK to the Moms in our lives.

Who would be perfect for this? A Mom who is wanting and ready to not only spend time on herself, but to invest in her life, her passions, her dreams. A Mom who is driven and ready to devote six sessions on planning and implementing actions to get her closer to the desired Self and Life she wants.

How to avail of this offer? Simply click on this link: https://mommyproofingcoach.acuityscheduling.com/ and choose the “What About Me?” session to schedule the first session. Make sure you complete the intake form and note at the “Anything else you want to tell me?” section that you’re availing of the Special Mom’s Day 6-Session Package Offer.

I would love to walk this journey with you and help you bring more happiness, more joy, and more passion into your life! And all it takes is a press of that button :) 

Happy Mother's Day to all the AMAZING Moms out there!

Coach Joy

 

*Offer valid for the first five moms to successfully complete the form and schedule their first session. All six sessions must be completed within 60 days.

Today, I Was Mean to My Son

Today, my son – who has since birth been stuck to me like a leech – told me he wanted to sit away from me, “to have privacy”. He didn’t want to play with the toys I had set up on a mat to keep him occupied while I got my 30-minute run on the treadmill. He wanted privacy.

No, he isn’t a boy on the cusp of puberty, needing his independence from his Mama. He is a 4-year old little boy.

After giving him his space, I approached him, sat down in front of him, and asked him why he had wanted to be alone. He looked at me woefully and said, “Because you talked to me in a mean way.”

My heart broke.

I hadn’t shouted at him. I hadn’t used harsh words on him. But I did talk to him impatiently and curtly, feeling justified to do so because he was “bugging me” during my precious time for myself. Because I was tired and my mind was focused on the things I hadn’t been able to do (like this post!) and it was already 5 in the afternoon. Because he wasn’t listening to me when I told him to just wait a few more minutes for me to finish my run. Because, because, because…

There are so many reasons, but none that really make enough sense to talk in that way; to one of the people I love most dearly in this world. Don’t get me wrong – I am a firm believer in structure and rules, guidelines, and helping children realize what is right and wrong. BUT, I am also a firm believer that we need to parent in love and positive discipline; and that children – despite their being small in stature – deserve as much respect as everyone else.

As I sit here typing this up, I realize that really, whenever I get impatient with my son and let it get the better of me; whenever I fail to respond to him with love and care, it is usually because of the following reasons:

  1. I am in my head, versus being fully present and mindful of him and the situation we exist in.
  2. I have all of these expectations of how I think he should act, versus seeing what is actually happening and trying to figure out why it is happening that way.
  3. I keep all that - the negative emotions/thoughts/stress, in my head, versus actually verbalizing them and talking through them.

We try to teach our children to calm down and breathe; to express what they feel, talk, communicate what’s going on in their heads – but we don't do it enough ourselves. And the more we keep shoving those things down, the uglier it comes out – impatiently calling out at our kids, being overly-critical, zoning out and not really engaging with them.

How can we parent more kindly, with more respect, and more love? Here are some ways I've found to have helped me become a kinder person to my child:

  1. Hold yourself in kindness, respect, and love FIRST – It seems almost simplistic to say this, but most of the Moms I talk to – myself included – are guilty of not doing a lot of self-care. I find that when I am exhausted, lacking in sleep, and just generally not treating my Self with honor and respect, it is very, very difficult to parent a 4-year old with love and patience! ;) So the next time you find yourself short-tempered, take a breather (yes, it is okay!), schedule some time for yourself, and get back that energy.
  2. Our children deserve our respect, just like any other adult. – Another simple truth that so many of us forget. Why is it so easy to let our patience run out with our children, but expand that patience a hundred times over with others? Children, despite their young age, feel the same emotions we do, and are infinitely more intelligent than we give them credit for. When was the last time you sat down with your child and talked to them honestly and frankly, trusting in their capacity to understand? Whenever I have the presence of mind to do this, it works wonders with my son!

3. Focus on the WHY. – When things go crazy and your child refuses to sleep/eat/listen or “purposely” defies what you say, focus on the WHY – why do you do all these? Why do get up every hour to feed your baby? Why do you continue to wrack your brain on ways to get your child to eat? Why do you continue to try to teach your child what is right? On days when things are not going your way, the power of your Why will save your sanity!

At the end of the day, we must trust in our selves and in the love we have for our children... even if some days, we'll need to dig deep to get past all the insanity! ;)

How do you intentionally choose love and kindness when dealing with your child? I'd love to hear from you in the comment box below!

Dear Fellow Mama

I’m here to tell you something nobody really told me; something no one really talks about:

Motherhood is dangerous.

I remember clearly (as can be, given I had just delivered another human!) the day we brought home our son. It was absolutely overwhelming. We had read and prepared and baby proofed; but nothing could have prepared me for that moment – that moment of intense happiness but also an equally intense “OH MY GOD. I am now forever responsible for this being. I can’t do it!!”

I was dazed and confused; shocked; frozen. I was drowning and it felt like it would be that way forever.

No one really tells you that you will cry innumerable tears over things like sleep, spilled milk (literally!), sheer exhaustion, and not knowing how to deal with the insanity of your 2 (or 12 or 22 year old!). That you will feel guilty for every little thing – from allowing your child screen time so you can grab more sleep to losing your cool at your preschooler when you should have been more mindful, to knowing you’d rather go out with your friends versus stay home with the child that is your own flesh and blood.

No one tells you that you will become crazy, become a Mombie (Mom zombie!), pick fights with your partner because you secretly resent that he gets to leave the house, be a hundred times more sensitive than when you were pregnant, and feel intense loneliness/exhaustion/confusion.

But more than that, no one really tells you that motherhood will totally and completely hit you (as a truck would) at your deepest core – you will question who you are, what you stand for, what matters to you. You will wonder if you will ever be your own person again; if anyone else out there actually understands what you’re going through. And this will be intensely frightening. This could go on for a day, a week, a month; for years…

These motherhood dangers – the ones no one really ever speaks of, are there. I know it, you know it. But why are people reluctant to talk about it? Why is it all about the bliss and the amazing fulfillment you should feel just by being a Mom?

Don’t get me wrong. Being a Mama is my life’s purpose. I love being a Mom and when I became one, I knew this was my calling. I love my son immensely. Immensely. And feeling exhausted, feeling burnt out, needing a break (!), feeling lost and wanting more does not take away from that love.

So dear fellow Mama, I need you to know that while motherhood is one of life’s greatest blessings, it is also one of life’s greatest challenges. It will challenge you constantly. Some days, you will triumph over these challenges; other times, it will kick you in the butt.  There will be many moments when you will have no idea where to gather neither the strength nor the energy. There will be many moments where you will fail – you won’t be as patient, you won’t remember to use a gentle voice, you’ll forget something or another. And during those moments – you will still love your child just as much as the blissful moments.

Fellow Mama, we need to be more open and accepting that yes, motherhood is tough. The more we sweep the “tough” part under the rug, the less we talk about it, the more of a danger it becomes. We need to start having more conversations like this. By having these conversations, it will be so much easier to reach out to one another, help each other. Let’s build a community of support, an environment with less Mommy Guilt, less Mommy Judgment, and less Mommy Shaming about things that are natural, that are normal.

We need to start having more conversations about the challenges, the difficulties, and the tough times we mothers will go through. We need to call it as it is and label it as we see it, so we can begin talking about solutions and share ways of coping. We need to start telling our fellow moms that you will love your child like you never have loved before, BUT there will be moments when you won’t like your child, or you won’t like yourself, and that’s okay.

Because yes, motherhood is dangerous and you will not like all parts of it – but that’s okay, because not liking some parts does not take away from your love and it does not make you a “Bad Mom”. It makes you normal. It makes you human. It makes you a Mom.

  Sincerely, Your Fellow Mama

 

Sincerely,

Your Fellow Mama

I Choose To Be Happy

There is this amazing video from TED Talks by Ric Elias, a man who had a front-row seat on Flight 1549, the plane that crash-landed in the Hudson River in New York in January 2009. In his talk, he says something that has become my mantra of late and has gotten me through entrepreneurial stress, personal challenges, Mommy Drama, and all other soul-grating moments that could pop up in the day: I choose to be happy.

So, when I read Coach Jennie’s latest blog 10 Spectacular Things Happening Right Now (and even before I received one of her patented cathartic shoves! Ha!), I knew I would write one of my own.

So join me in celebrating what’s rocking my world right now and putting a huge grin on my face:

1. Last October 16, my husband and I turned 5! More than the romantic place and incredible food, I am most grateful for the amazing reconnection we had over dinner that night. Our marriage has always been great, but something happened over dinner that night that allowed us to see past the roles we play (“Husband”/”Wife”, “Dada”/”Mama”, “You’re in charge of bath tonight!”/”Did you buy his vitamins?”) and, cheesy as it sounds, fall in love again with the Person we each had evolved to become.

2. Because of this reconnection, we’ve become so much more excited about what’s ahead – the future is brighter with plans of more travel (Japan! Iceland!!), more dates (Hi Grandfolks who will be babysitting for us….!), and dreams of our future home (!!!)

3. Every single day, my son amazes me. I will try to put into words the love and happiness I have because of him, but I am sure I will fail. He is funny and smart; simultaneously sweet and feisty; rough and gentle; clingy and independent. He drives me nuts many times in the week, but he can calm me down with a kiss, a touch of his hand, a smile… He is my Buddy :)

4. My parents, who are my bedrock of sanity and safety, are my Friends for Life – they’ve been with me since Day 1 (and now that I’m a Mom myself, I know EXACTLY what it means to love as a parent does, so I am 100x more grateful for them!). They continue to be my parents – loving, guiding, challenging, celebrating, and supporting me and my little family.

5. I am amazed at the people who care so unconditionally for me and my family – cousins, uncles and aunts, friends, even acquaintances from far away, who celebrate our wins with us and support us when we stumble and fall.

6. I continue to be amazed by my decision to leave the corporate world almost 5 years ago – the guts to do it, the inner strength and belief in myself, the support I continue to have from my husband and those around me.

7. Because of this decision, I am able to wake up to mornings where I can have breakfast with my loved ones, stroll leisurely to my “office” (a few steps away from my breakfast table and never too far away from my son!), and then work to help make the lives of Moms happier, calmer, and more meaningful for them, while earning the money I need to help sustain our household. Just writing that down makes me shake my head in amazement! I am truly blessed!

8. With the work that I do, I am able to connect with amazing, amazing women who trust me enough to allow me into their Mommyhood Journey. With every Mommy that I talk to, I am both in awe of who they are and also have a heart filled with gratitude that I can be of support to these powerful women.

9. Coinciding with my 5th wedding anniversary, I took a trip down memory lane and looked back on our pictures from wedding day onwards. Boy, did we look younger (thinner??) and more carefree then!!

But, I wouldn’t trade the past 5 years for that younger self/body. I celebrate our changing faces, heavier bags under our eyes, and that little Mommy jiggle in the belly that will never go away (no matter how many core workouts I do!) I am proud of these sigs of aging – these changes represent the lives we have lived, the Life that we brought into this world (and many, many sleepless nights that came with him!!), the obstacles we have overcome, and the many wins we have had.

10. More than anything, I celebrate that very basic but blessed fact that I am ALIVE. In this crazy and chaotic world, that in itself is such a precious gift. I am safe and living in good conditions. I celebrate that I am a woman who is able to stand tall, proud, and equal to men. I celebrate that I had the immense fortune to have learned how to read and write and that I can teach my son to do the same thing.

I am grateful. There are no better words to end this post than “thank you”! It’s an amazing time in my life and I choose to be happy :)

I challenge you (yes you!) to write out your own list of 10 things to be amazingly grateful for and if you decide to publish that list, please do share the link in the comment box below!

“If the only prayer you said was thank you, that would be enough.” – Meister Eckhart

The Day I Put On My Big Girl Panties

I got my period today and I was devastated. I cried in the bathroom for ten minutes, found my husband, and cried another bucket. I was like a crazy person.

Drawing by Damien Dejos, my eldest son: "Mama with Baby in Tummy"

Drawing by Damien Dejos, my eldest son: "Mama with Baby in Tummy"

Except, I wasn’t.

Seven months ago, we had a miscarriage and lost our would-have-been-second child.  We were devastated. We allowed ourselves time to heal – physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually; and when we felt ready (and gotten the go-signal from the doctor), gave it a go again.

And over the course of the last few weeks, I felt certain I was pregnant – nausea, dizziness, 24-hour sleepiness – same symptoms as the first time I got pregnant. These symptoms had me cranky and overly cautious all at once. I stopped exercising as hard and said no to rough play with my 3-year old son. My dealings with those around me felt mundane, driving me to feelings of impatience and restlessness – the idea of being possibly pregnant was consuming me. And at the back of my head, I knew I wasn’t my best self – not the best wife/mom/daughter/friend to the people I loved. But I rationalized and thought to myself – soon enough, they’ll know why I’ve been acting this way… and everything will make sense. 

Despite these less-than-positive emotions, my husband and I were giddy. We giggled over our little secret: we were pregnant!

Except today, we found out, we obviously weren’t. And I cried buckets – mourning the loss of the idea of being pregnant. Like I was a crazy person.

Except, I wasn’t.

And in that moment of silence – that space between “buckets of tears” and “I’m okay now”, I allowed myself to truly feel – true grief over the loss of my child from seven months ago, throw a tantrum that I didn’t get what I wanted today (!!!), shame and regret that I had put my life on pause over the last three weeks, envy over all the people on my Facebook thread who had children so (seemingly) easily, and finally, reassurance that this roller coaster ride I’ve been on is insane, yes, but not abnormal.

And just like that, I felt freer, lighter, and happier than I had in weeks. I put on my “big girl panties”, hopped on the treadmill, and ran like I hadn’t in such a long time. I wrestled with my son, then called on two of my best friends and set a date for Mojitos Night (yay!). I felt alive again and my life was back on track.

Do I still want a second child? Hell yes! But I realize now that anxiety happens when you seek to control situations that are beyond your power and that are bigger than you. I will be ECSTATIC when I finally see the beautiful face of my second child; until then, I will take each day as it comes; and celebrate and revel in each moment I am given. I will maximize the opportunities I have, work with what I’ve got, and ready my life for the blessings in store.

It’s time to live my life on play.

***

And to all the Moms (and Dads!) out there, who have been through the difficulties of getting pregnant and/or moving forward from a miscarriage, I respect you, I celebrate you, and I send out my love to you. You are my heroes – with your courage, your love, your hope, and your choices to keep moving forward. We are all in this together! And if you are not yet ready to move forward, that is OKAY. Take your time, take a breath (or two or a million!). 

 

 

Goodbye “Should Mom-ster”!

Tonight, my three year eight month old son had a mini-meltdown when I told him he had to go wash up for dinner and no, he would not be able to finish the episode of  “River Monsters” he was watching. As he started wailing, I got down on one knee, spoke in a firm but soothing voice, and managed to calm him down and get those hands washed. Win!

Two minutes later, he found something else to have a mini-meltdown about: he wanted “shrimp in crunchy cover” (tempura!) and not the burger he had so sweetly requested for dinner. Down I went again on my knees, speaking soothingly and explaining the meltdown away. Success!

Head to the dinner table and… bam! Bam! Bam! Three successive things set off a now major meltdown – “Is there really no shrimp!?”, “But I wanted to come with youuuuuuuuu to get the catsup!!”, and “No! Only Mama can help me make the sandwiiiiiiich!” Whether it was because he was sleepy or he was feeling out of sorts because he had just developed a cold or some other mysterious reason only three year olds will understand, I did not know. All I knew was that I suddenly felt myself slipping…

“Oh my God, why is he throwing these insane tantrums? What has happened to my sweet, well-behaved boy??”

“I can’t let him behave this way. If I do, he’ll grow up to be a spoiled brat!”

“Wow, where is this coming from? We’ve had such a great day so far. He shouldn’t be acting this way!”

I was losing this battle; this battle to remain Zen, peaceful, mindful, and above all, a loving Mom.

I could feel my mood dipping, my patience wearing thin. It was a kind of out of body experience, where I could hear my tone of voice getting more and more clipped, where I could see my lips tightening, where I could feel my shoulders tensing up, and where I could sense my ego taking control. A tiny voice in my head was telling me to BREATHE, but I was slipping faster and faster…

“This is NOT how things should be!”

* * *

When my Dad turned 65 years old, we asked him, “What do you think is the most important lesson you’ve learned so far, in your 65 years of existence?

He paused, smiled, and said, “That all of us would be so much happier if we accepted life for what it is, rather than demanding of it as we think it should be.”

* * *

As I look over at my son now, sound asleep, unguarded, beautiful, and pure, I realize that he is not a “should”.

It doesn’t matter that he should or should not be one thing or another.

It doesn’t matter that I should or should not be this or that kind of Mom.

What matters most is what he IS right now and what I am right now and how we can be together.

* * *

As a three year eight month old Mom, I’ve realized that my worst moments as a Mom have been when “Shoulds” have ruled my head and my heart.

“Shoulds” have caused me doubt, guilt, confusion, sadness, regret…

“Shoulds” have caused me to drown in impatience, act out of anger, and view moments selfishly.

“Shoulds” have clouded my judgment and impaired my ability to love and nurture.

* * *

And my winning moments as a Mom? When I just am and when I allow my son to just be. When I have faith in my son and faith in my mothering.

Is it easy? Heck, no! It’s probably one of the most challenging exercises in the world, to just BE when your own flesh and blood is wailing his head off for some (in your opinion) insane reason. 

But is it worth the effort, the breathing exercises, the counting to ten? Heck, yes!

It is in these moments that I see that when I allow my son to simply be, I am more able to connect with him, love him, nurture him, and guide him into a better and more positive space…

…and he is able to do the exact same thing for me :)

The Whisper of Pregnancy

In 2010, we were ecstatic when we found out I was pregnant. It was 5:30AM on Father's Day... I took the home pregnancy test, saw those two pink lines, shrieked, ran to my husband, and then told the rest of the family. It was a day of celebrations.

Yet somewhere, deep in my heart, there was a whisper. A whisper I couldn't quite hear amidst all the "CONGRATULATIONS!!!" and tight hugs. So I squashed that whisper down and turned a deaf ear to it.

Life progressed as life normally does - except this time, I was no longer in control of my own body, my own life. I was put on bed rest during the first few months of pregnancy, I watched what I ate, I was conscious of my movements, I stopped exercising. I was lucky enough though to not have morning sickness, to not have insane cravings, and to have relatively rare hormonal mood swings (or so I'd like to think - haha!). So by the second trimester, I was loving being pregnant. I was back in control of my body; could move around more freely; the baby was out of harm's way. I felt beautiful, confident, blessed, and powerful.

And then, without any warning, the whisper came back. Except this time, it was more of a loud panic in my heart - WAITAMINUTE. Am I ready for this baby? Am I ready to completely give up my life as I know it? What about my dreams? What about my goals? What about this new career I'm setting up for myself? What about my life with my husband? What about travel, seeing the world together, being crazy and ready for anything? I suddenly viewed my life as a series of "haven't been able to" instead of "been there, done that!". I started to question whether I had truly been able to live my life on play - and now that a baby was on the way, it would be even more of a challenge to live MY life...I suddenly felt scared, suffocated, lost, yet I also felt guilty, wrong, and a terrible Mom-To-Be. This was not what a pregnant woman should be thinking. This was not what a pregnant woman should be feeling.No.No. No.

So I cried over it in private, then shoved those thoughts back down, and convinced myself I was worrying over nothing; I found the "ecstatic" again and plunged head first, back into the land of "Everything Baby", busying myself with preparations for the delivery. And before I knew it, the day had arrived.

My son, Damien, is one of my Great Loves and one of my Best Friends in this whole wide world. He brings me so much joy, so much happiness, and so much fulfillment. But boy, did I feel like I was hit by a ten ton truck after he was born! In the months that followed his arrival into our lives, there was no time, no energy to think deeply about what life I wanted, what kind of person I wanted to be in this chapter of my life. Damien was (and continues to be!) all-consuming.

Hindsight is 20/20 - and truly, now that my son is 3 years and 5 months, I look back and realize: Not only did I have every right to feel those waves of panic, I also should have set aside time and energy to really sift through them. Those waves of panic were signals from my mind, my body, my heart, and my soul that I was about to undergo a MAJOR transformation - and that I had to prepare myself for it.

Women spend so much time preparing for the coming of their baby - we read up on our babies' developments within us, we eat the proper food, we go visit the doctor, we buy all the necessary baby equipment, and we baby proof our homes, to make it safe for the coming of our children. But how much time do we actually spend preparing ourselves for THE role of the lifetime - becoming Mom? I know I spent very little time really sitting down and thinking through what that meant. I spent more time obsessing over what crib to buy and what name to give my child!

So Pregnant Women of the World, take this time - take these nine months you have and spend them wisely. You will never have the same luxury again of peace, quiet, and total "Me Time".

Use these moments to really dig deep and ask yourself - who do I want to be, now that I'm adding Mom to my roster of roles? What kind of life do I want to lead? How do I continue to be passionate about my goals and dreams?

Take a moment to MommyProof yourself. Trust me, it will be one of the best decisions you've ever made - for you and for your Baby!

If you want to find out more about getting MommyProofed for FREE, click here: http://www.mommyproofingcoach.com/mommyproofing-1/


An Open Thank You Letter to All the Super Dads Out There

Over the past couple of weeks, I've been fortunate enough to have connected with so many amazing Moms, via my #MommyChats* initiative. The wealth of wisdom and experience from these Moms is astounding and humbling at the same time. But that wealth of Mommy Wisdom is saved for another post. Let me zero in on just one for today...

A common thread binds those Moms I've chatted with who are happy, sane, and (more or less!!) at peace with motherhood - they all say they have great husbands who have become great dads. The care and support they have received from these men have made such a difference in their being able to transition from "Me" to "Pregnant" to "New Mom/Mombie" to "Mom/a multiple other roles".

So today, I wanted to take the opportunity to say THANK YOU. Thank you to all the Super Dads out there who have pushed past the "gender stereotypes" and have stepped up as incredible husbands and fathers. You have made such a great impact, such a great difference in the lives of not only your kids, but also your wives. Hooray for you! :)

And in the same breath, I want to say thank you to MY own husband, my son's Super Dad - for choosing to be the kind of Dad who gives his son a bath every night, the kind of Dad who obsesses over what preschool to send our son to (and becomes 1 of only 3 out of 30 Dads in the Parent-Teacher Orientation Night!), who cries every time we need to retire a shirt that's gotten too small (sorry, was I not supposed to share that?? Don't worry - other Super Dads can relate! ;) ). Thank you - you've made a difference in my life, you've made a difference in our son's life. And I am forever grateful :)

Here's to the Super Dads the world over!

------------------

*To find out more about #MommyChats, head on over here: http://www.mommyproofingcoach.com/mommychats

A Mother's Secret

Let me tell you a secret. For the past 3 years and 3 months, every time I’ve reached my wits end – become burned out, exhausted, and transformed into a certified “Mombie”, I tell myself – “Wow, it’ll be heaven to get a few hours back when he starts school…”

Yesterday, my husband put a down payment for my son’s first year in school.

In just a week’s time, my son will be off to school. June 9. Every single weekday, from 8 – 11 o’clock in the morning.

My little buddy. My eternal companion. My Siamese twin.

And I am suddenly heartbroken.

How did this happen?? Suddenly, I am faced with reality – no longer will I have this little boy “bugging” me, stopping me from taking that call, running into my office, telling me he wants to play with only me, begging me for 5 more minutes.

No longer will I be able to peek through my office blinds and watch him play outside, in between coaching calls/making presentations/writing reports. No longer will I have to lock my door, worried that he’ll run in, as a client is venting/brainstorming/visualizing. No longer will I have an eternally ready and willing date, when I want to procrastinate from work.

No longer.

Because suddenly, he is all grown up. Suddenly.

My heart races – I ask my husband, “Are we sure he’s ready to go to school already?” Half hoping the husband will say, “You’re right, he’s not. Let’s wait another year.”

But he is ready. My boy is ready. He’s ready to step out and be his own person – for just three hours a day, every weekday. I try to tell myself I’m being dramatic – it’s just three hours. But it’s three hours this year, next year, and the year after that. Then, maybe seven hours; then sooner or later, his life will be his own and I will be the one “bugging” him to spend time with me, begging for 5 more minutes, telling him I want to talk to him.

And now I know – the secret every parent has – every smile, every wave, every “You’re going to have a great first day! You can do it! I am so excited for you!” is mixed in with, “This soon? No! Too fast! Too soon! Stay, stay, stay!”

Yes... everything does come to an end. Those long, sleepless nights I spent rocking you, praying you'd fall asleep - then STAY asleep - those have come to an end. Those days when I could not leave you even to go to the bathroom - those are now few and far between. Those moments when you'd cry if I'd leave the room - done. But with those endings, come beginnings that I'm not sure I'm ready for... Am I ready to send you off to school? To watch you grow up? To know you are spreading your wings?

Parenthood is not for the faint of heart; but for you, I stand strong. And when I wave at you on your first day of school, know that the "You can do it! I am so excited for you!" far outweighs the "No, not yet!" because I know, deep in my heart, you are forever mine as I am forever yours :) I promise to hold back the tears on June 9... at least until you step into your classroom ;)

A Heart Filled with Gratitude

Less than 24 hours ago, my family and I spent a good part of our Saturday packing school supplies and school bags for young students (third- to sixth-graders) in the far-flung mountains in the Nueva Vizcaya province (in the Philippines).

It was mundane work made meaningful by the thought that one simple bag filled with 12 composition notebooks, a few pencils, a ruler, an eraser, a pair of scissors, and a bottle of glue would bring such joy to so many people. We were told by the different principals of the schools that have received the bags in the past that the parents of the students would cry upon receiving the bags. Cry, because that one bag would cost so much, compared to their meager earnings. Cry, because at least for one year, they would not need to think of how to get school supplies for their children who wanted so much to go to school, that they’d wade through rivers just for a chance to have a regular school day.

And now, as I sit in the quiet of 10:33 PM, with my own 3-year old sound asleep in his bed, I wonder… How can I instill a grateful heart in this beautiful boy who I have the awesome responsibility to help mold and form? How do I ensure he is grateful for things that I myself have taken so much for granted – the mere opportunity for an education, shoes to wear on the way to school, school bags, books, materials that come so easily… How can I ensure he realizes how incredibly blessed he is that he will need to put down those toys because he has to get ready for a day inside a classroom, with teachers who will focus their full attention to teach him new things? How do I ignite the fire in his belly to yearn to learn, to dream of more, to be hungry to know?

How do I make sure that my son grows up grateful, never taking for granted a single second of his ability to go to school? And every moment of his life, for that matter?

I do not know the answers right now. All I know is, today, I opened my eyes to how much I have taken for granted; how easy (and ignorant!) it has been of me to assume the rest of mankind has it this easy. And if I keep this realization close to my heart, and live each day with immense gratitude for everything and everyone, then maybe, just maybe, through my own grateful heart, I will be able to help build a heart filled with gratitude in my beautiful, beautiful boy… :)