Friday, May 14, 2021

Mama of littles, you can blink, you can breathe

Possibly one of the best pieces of advice given to me when I was a new mommy more than a decade ago was, "Don't blink." 

It was also one of the worst. 

The advice was meant well. Don't blink. All this is fleeting. You won't want to miss anything. Your kids will never be this small again. Stay present. Don't blink.

And I really really tried hard not to blink. Even when I had yayas, I couldn't let my guard down. I didn't want to miss anything. I didn't sleep for 8 years! So when despite all that, when the boys' first words and first steps were witnessed by their Papa or their yayas, instead of me celebrating the milestone, I anguished over the guilt of not being the one to see it first. Because I was their mother. I'm supposed to be the one to see it all happen. I'm the front and center. I'm the hands-on, must-be-there mama. To miss anything means I was a bad mom.

Well, fuck that. All that pressure was the one making me a bad mom!

I finally realized I'm not just their mother. I am more than their mother. And even if motherhood is probably the most important thing I'll ever do in my life, I'm not going to be a good mother if I don't sleep and if I don't let other people help me.

So I blinked. In fact, I slept. I trusted my husband to be a parent, too. I trusted my kids to be on their own and to do things on their own. And I found that I could finally breathe, free from the pressure to be forever present, to never blink.

Listen, young mama. It's true. All this is fleeting. Tomorrow, your not-talking baby will suddenly say, "Dada." Tomorrow, your crawling baby will stand up on wobbly chubby legs and walk. Tomorrow, your child won't need you to spoon-feed him, or wash his butt, or dress him. He'll want to talk to his friends instead of you. He'll close his bedroom door. He'll forget to kiss you goodnight. 

And that's okay. I love Facebook Memories because I get to be reminded of how adorable my kids were. What those pictures fail to show is how desperately exhausted I was from keeping my eyes wide open all the time. I know now it's not healthy to obsess about missing any of it. I had to look away from them and look at me, look at my husband, look at the rest of my life, and also take care of those aspects of myself. And when the other parts of me were flourishing, my kids looked at me, too, and saw more than just a mama. That's important, too.

People told me all the time back when I was going insane with the sleepless nights and the "don't blink!" guilt-inducing comments, "You will miss all this! Just you wait!" Well, almost 11 years later, I am happy to say I don't miss it at all. I'm relieved. I'm glad it's over. I'm happy I'm no longer stressed out with the constant vigilance. I'm healthier because I sleep now. I did it. I succeeded. I survived. And while I will always love my boys' baby and toddler years, I am so happy that part of my life is done. 

Next: pre-teens, then the teenage years. I'm going into this next chapter blind but also determined that we, all of us, will survive it, too. I'll just tell myself that while all this is fleeting, I need to take a step back once in a while, relax more, trust more. Breathe.

That said, this song remains one of my favorites. It's about making the memories last but also letting go. It's okay. Let go. That's what parenting is all about anyway.

Friday, May 07, 2021

7 reasons why I'm happy to be an old mom

I'm 44 and mommy to little boys. If I had gotten pregnant at 22, I'd have a kid in college now! Since more and more women are delaying marriage and motherhood, I'm in pretty good company. In Europe, the average age of first-time mothers is 29.9 years old (source). In Japan, it's 30.7, in South Korea, it's 31.4 (source). But the older generation, specifically my father, had insisted I should've had my kids early, like when I was 22. When I turned 27 and was still unmarried and child-free, my Papa told me to get pregnant already to force Vince to marry me. That was sad because I think he started telling me to guard my virginity since I was 7 (parents, please stop tying your daughter's value to her virginity!) and then 20 years later, that integrity was thrown out the window all because Filipinos believe only motherhood is the point of women's lives.

Considering that I absolutely love motherhood (most days haha), I ought to agree, right? Nope. I am oh so glad I delayed having babies for as long as I could. But to answer the question, well, if I had known it would be this ridiculously amazing, well... I still wouldn't have done it. I know who I am and the mid-20s Frances would never have appreciated motherhood the way mid-40s Frances is being blown away by it every day. 

(I'm also being battered by it. Maybe if I had been a young mom, I'd have had more energy?)

Here are my 7 reasons why I am so relieved and happy I'm an old mom:

1. I became a somebody before I became a wife and a mom.

I don't mean I became famous. I just mean I became my own person - not someone's daughter, not someone's wife, not someone's mother. I became me. I learned who I was and what I wanted in life and was able to achieve all that on my own and without the guilt of choosing between career and my family.

I'm a mommy now and you know what? I will always choose family over career. But sometimes I wonder if I have this conviction only because I had the privilege of having enjoyed a career without having to think of anyone else. I can say easily now that between an important meeting and picking up my kids from school I'd pick my kids. But that's because I've earned the position - I can dictate meetings now, say no, and my career will be fine. If you're 23 with a crying baby and a demanding boss... that sounds horrible. 

2. I'm wiser and vastly more patient.

Less selfish, too. Less drama. More love. More kindness. Not saying that women in their 20s can't be wise, patient, selfless, and kind. I'm talking about ME. The Frances in her 20s wasn't really a nice person. She was all about herself and I'm not saying that's a bad thing. I was a kid, I had fun, I had a whole decade just catering to me, me, me. And that was glorious!

But those years also taught me a lot about the world, relationships, family, money, and the fleeting brevity of life. So I was able to make mistakes and learn from them and the only one who was affected was me. I became softer, more humble, kinder, more forgiving, more understanding, and compassionate. So when the babies finally came, they had a mommy whose heart had become tender from all the blows of life.  

3. I'm old enough to know that I'm not missing out.

I met Vince when I was 22 and he was 25 and we had a blast growing up together. We pursued our passions separately, and there were times we didn't see each other for days, even weeks, since we were so busy with our own lives and dreams and careers. And you know what? All that shit was fun but I don't miss any of it. So when I became a mom and was at home for days and days on end, the partying photos of other moms didn't make me feel bad. Been there, done that. 

4. I love my body now.

It's ironic that when my body looked its best (late 20s to early 30s), I didn't like it. I kept comparing it to other bodies. It was always sick. I was too busy to appreciate it. But aging and maturity made me appreciate how my body makes me do the most amazing things. I got pregnant, gave birth, recovered at lightning speed, breastfed three babies continuously, carried heavy babies for hours and hours, ran after little boys, and kept house and home for them all on an average of 4 hours of sleep a night for the last 11 years. How I'm still alive, I do not know! My body keeps going and going. It's my favorite miracle. 

5. I had so much sex!

The thing with having children - though we love them so very much and we will literally die for them if needed - is they're the result of lovemaking and now they prevent us from making love. Cue the sad violin music.

My husband and I miss those days and nights when just one look and we become undone. Now, we just look at each other longingly and nothing happens hahaha Thank goodness we had those pre-parent YEARS when we could make love all day long and all night long!

6. I actually like kids now.

Loyal Readers who have read this blog since 2016 know I never wanted to be a mother. I had many reasons, chief of which I don't really like kids. I don't hate them. I enjoyed my brief career as a preschool teacher, for example. But the best thing about being a teacher/babysitter/auntie is you can enjoy the cuties for a while then return them to their parents. But now, in my old age and because my kids made me fall in love with them and anything that vaguely resembles them in size and shape, I love kids!

7. I met new young friends.

I mentioned that in other countries, women are having kids at a later age. Here in the Philippines, it's still a young 22.8 (source) so many of my mommy friends are younger than me. And while I'm glad I'm an old mommy, I can see that motherhood isn't just for oldies like me. Young moms have so much energy and devotion and creativity! I don't know why! Youth??? 

Sure, being an old mom has its downsides. I don't have the energy I had in my 20s. I'll still be paying for college tuition in my 60s. But those I can brush off. What I'm sad and desperate about is I really really want my kids to marry young so I can dote on my grandkids!!! What the what! Yep. That's the only thing that bothers me about having kids late. If my boys take after us and also get married in their 30s, then I'd be in my 60s before I see my grandkids!

Now, am I saying women should have kids in their 30s? No. I think you should do whatever makes you happy and be a mommy whenever you're ready. That can be 22, that can be 33, that can be 45. In my case, I was 33. To be honest, I didn't think I was ready (is anyone ever ready hahahaha). But I guess I was because I had already lived my selfish, carefree life, have the requisite loving and committed relationship, have the home, and had the money in the bank. So what was I waiting for? Thank goodness I missed a few pills and got pregnant!

Thursday, May 06, 2021

Pre-order your Not Invisible Experience Kit!

This month, Topaz Horizon is 15 years old. FIFTEEN YEARS OLD! Imagine that!

Last year, when we all thought the quarantine would only be for 30 days, I had planned to celebrate by holding a little party with 15 of my most Loyal Readers. But more than one year later, we're still prevented by the pandemic to see each other. It is what it is and we have to celebrate every day we're alive and healthy... and turning one year older!

Happy birthday, Topaz Horizon! 

So, for this blog's 15th birthday, instead of a party, I just chose to commemorate it by publishing my first ever book, Not Invisible, a collection of the best posts from this blog and from my now-hidden mommy blog Topaz Mommy. Thank you so much to the hundreds of people who enthusiastically supported my debut book! 

I shared on my social the special gift box I created for the media. As a PR professional, I figured it would be a good idea to enlist bloggers and press to amplify my book and blog. Instead of a press kit, I called it an Experience Kit because reading my blog and my book is an experience! Everything in my kit enhances that experience. I was so happy when the mommy bloggers unboxed their kits and loved it!

So many of you asked if the Experience Kit was for sale. Some suggested that it can be my blog anniversary celebratory event. And you know what? I think you guys have the best ideas! So let's make the Topaz Horizon x Not Invisible Experience Kit available to you, my Loyal Readers!


The Experience Kit is just P750! Each box includes one book, one Topaz Horizon scented candle, a nap dress, and a golden bookmark. 

There's a little guide on how to make the contents of the kit enhance your reading pleasure.

I really thought over the contents of this kit super carefully. At first, I wanted to ask my blog sponsors to stock it but then I realized that I wanted everything in it to be just about you, me, and reading. 

The candle smells soooo good! Even unlit, the sweet and feminine scent wafts everywhere. I tried many scents but my husband and kids said that this particular fragrance reminds them of me best. 

The daster, a.k.a. nap dress para sosyal haha, is super soft and comfy. Perfect for settling down in your bed or favorite chair to read my book or my blog! The dress design in each box will be random but they will all have shades of orange.

The Topaz Horizon x Not Invisible Experience Kit is so simple but I lovingly created it for you! So I hope you order a kit! Just fill out this form

Please don't forget to check the box and indicate how many kits you want to preorder! 

I'm accepting orders from now till Sunday, May 9, 2021. So I know how many books to reserve and dresses to order! The Experience Kits will ship out on my blog's 15th anniversary, May 24.

And on that anniversary week, I'll also be inviting everyone who bought my book and the Experience Kit to a virtual book launch where we can talk about the experience of invisibility and how we can deal with it in a constructive manner. I'll email the link to you a few days before the launch.

I'll also have a little Facebook Live on May 24, 9 pm, just to say hello and thank you to all of you in my squeaky voice, and do a giveaway, too! 

Happy 15th birthday to Topaz Horizon - to me and to you! We made all this happen but it's really you who kept me going. Thank you for loving my stories and my family all these years. God bless you!