Sunday, December 9, 2012


December 1, 2012. 3:15 p.m. Nearing end of the Parenting Workshop.

"How do you see your child 10 years from now?" "What do you think will hinder him from becoming what you have envisioned him to be, from reaching his optimum potential?"

These were the final two questions our Workshop trainer asked or rather, as I felt, purposefully thrown at us that jolted us to our senses. And I, for the life of me, was stunned. A lot to process. A hell of a lot to think about.

I didn't get to answer in front of the big group. Which was a good thing because even just listening to the answers of the other moms in the workshop, the tears just wouldn't stop falling. Like a a gasket had blown. And water was coming down in torrents.


I was born and raised a Catholic. Spent twelve years in an all girls run-by-the-nuns Catholic school. My mom and aunts who helped raised me was also very religious, is very religious. Thus, as you can imagine, I was taught all the works at home and in school-- the saying of the holy rosary, attending the blessed mass, if possible everyday. And of course, being born and raised in Cebu , I was taught early on the devotion to the Blessed Señor Sto. Niño. I remember I was still 7 or 8, I would cry my eyes out because I was so tired from walking the what seemed like forever procession the day before the feast day of the Señor as was the tradition. But the most vivid memory I have is when my mom brought me to the Basilica del Sto. Niño. We sat down in one of the pews. And I remember looking around but what caught and held my attention was the number of devotees kneel-walking from the entrance of the basilica to the altar, very slowly, rosary beads in hand, murmuring 50 Hail Mary's, face fervent in prayer and supplication. I remember thinking back then, how painful their knees must be. Of course at that time, I couldn't understand why those people did what they did. It certainly didn't make sense to a 7-year old mind. When I finally couldn't hold the questions in, I asked my mom and she answered me, "They're making a sacrifice, darling.". I fell silent. Not because I understood, but because the word, "sacrifice" brought more confusion. What does sacrifice mean? Does this mean that God will answer their prayers because of their knees hurt? Or rather because they made their knees hurt? My brain simply could not fathom it.

Anyhow, through the years, I understood more what sacrifice meant as it translated itself into various ways, exemplified itself in different growing up phases of my life, from giving up t.v. time watching to finish a homework, giving up one's feisty personality so my caregiver would not spank me, giving up precious hours of sleep just to complete the requirements that would allow me to march on that elusive high school graduation stage and get that diploma. Then in college it became a giving up of a sense of comfort and security I had in the exclusive high school for a place in college life, a giving up of a certain preference of clothing to please a boyfriend (oh dear God, why?), then again, a giving up of precious hours of sleep to complete that darn college thesis and that double darn Advance Psychometrics requirement which if anybody would ask me now what it was I absolutely be pale and as blank as a fill-in-the blanks test blank.

So over the years, sacrifice become a clearer concept, a constant act required if I was to dream and realize my dreams in life. It was no longer an absurd idea that wracked my brain when I was entering early childhood.


Morgan is on the belt swing on his belly just as he likes it. Swishing to and fro. Me telling him, "10 counts more and we'll do the puzzle, Morgan." He obediently complies after the 8th count and sits down on the chair, ready to do the work. I kneel on the rubber mat as I assist him in placing the wooden animal pegs on the appropriate place. It takes him some time to finish everything. Eyebrows furrowed in concentration, then glancing up every now and then looking at the surroundings, then back at his work again. Me, still kneeling, feeling the grains of the rubber mat digging into my skin. He finally completes the puzzle and I gave him a high-five. He looks at me and slaps my hand back. I tell him, "Good job, Morgan!" I pat his cheeks and placed both his hands on my cheeks so he would look at me and see I was happy he had done the work. He smiles a little. So characteristic of my feisty king. Giving nothing away. I reward him with another 10 counts of his belt belly-swinging. He squeals in delight.

My heart is delighted.

Garret follows me into their room to have a change of clothes. He sees his alphabet and numbers writing booklet, gets it and hands me his pencil case where his markers are. He smiles, eager to start writing. I tell him, "You want to write, Kuya? Okay, we will change first then we'll write." We then go out to the family room and he sits down on his chair. He opens to the first page and waits expectantly for me to ready his marker. He writes "A" three times for the upper case. Then for the lower case. Morgan invades the room and goes for the marker to add to his group of toys. We transfer to our room where Morgan cannot disturb us. Garret settles down again and continues writing. "B" this time, upper case and lower case three times each. Me kneeling down, my hand holding his to steady his excited fingers. I feel the wooden floor boards dig into my skin. He moves on to C, D, E. We finish until Z. Then in the last blank pages I let him write his name and trace the letters of my name, BEA. Then I let him copy my name. He writes with my assistance--B-E, then another E, then A. BEEA. I smile. He smiles. I let him trace the name of his papa. Again, happily he complies. I tell him, "Good job, Garret!"I thought we were done but he looked at his Numbers booklet. And we continue. This time we go from 1 to 10. I continue assisting him. His face serious in concentration. We finally finish. Garret's face is content.

My heart is content.

December 1, 2012. 3:15 p.m. Nearing end of the Parenting Workshop.

"How do you see your child 10 years from now?", our trainer asked a mom.

"My child then would be in grade 9. And I think he will become and engineer later on. "

"What do you think will hinder your child from becoming how you see him to be 10 years from now?

"If I accept the job promotion waiting for me. I know the past two years work on my son will be all for nothing. Because it will require me to be away from my family, away from my child."

One word rang loud and clear in the room. Sacrifice.

This mom, right there and then had stamped and declared her decision to give up something for her child.

As everybody in the room digested what just transpired, I couldn't look up. My heart was in knots. My palms catching the droplets from my eyes.

Growing up it became ingrained in me that maybe if I knelt longer during prayer, God would take me more seriously. Apparently that image in the Basilica stayed in my young mind and made quite an impression. I thought, if I prayed long enough, meaning I knelt through all the five mysteries of the rosary then God would grant me with what I prayed for. I thought this was how it worked. Until I was given Garret and Morgan. It was only then that I knew right away what little I knew about sacrifice. It wasn't about just the act of prayer alone at all. It wasn't about the kneeling, the enduring 3 hour-novenas or several hours of procession. It wasn't about the inflicting of pain on oneself at all.

Sacrifice. Miriam Webster defines it as a giving up of something especially for the sake of someone else.

Something for someone. A thing for a person. Or a situation for a person. A job promotion for the sake of the kids. Resigning from a job in exchange for the challenging yet beautiful opportunity to raise the kids.

Sacrifice-- giving up my pride , my notion of normalcy and what should be for, unconditional acceptance of my boys. Giving up my own dreams for my boys' own dreams. Giving up my own plans for a much greater, unseen and seemingly impossible plan. Giving up my own fears of the future, the need to control the future so that my boys can be whoever they want to be, whoever the universe wants them to be. Giving up who I am, the limits I thought myself to have to defy the limits society has put on myself as a mother, on my boys on their potential. Giving up even conventional notions of dignity at the height of betrayal for the sake of my boys.

And it goes without saying all the intervention, special ed classes and various kinds of therapy is one sacrifice that we, special needs parents, gladly do. Glad is is the best I can do to describe it. The cost of intervention is impossible. And we give up conventional forms of leisure, vacation and entertainment so our kids will learn even the very basic functions of living and independence.

Sacrifice, giving all the time, patience, endurance, acceptance, understanding, empathy and unconditional love for my little Prince and feisty king that even I wouldn't know where this all came from, giving everything, so much so that my boys wouldn't even know what to do with all of it.

Now I know better. Now I know sacrifice is not just about praying long hours and kneeling for hours on end. No matter how many basilicas I would think of conquering with my supplications and prayers, it will all be for naught if I don't DO what my boys need me to do-- kneel on the rubber mats as I teach my Morgan, kneel on the wooden floorboards as I assist my Garret with his writing exercises, every day, making sure each happening in a day is a learning experience for my boys, giving attention to detail telling them it's alright to wait in line in the grocery cashier no matter how much they want to go home right away, telling them it's alright to wait in the car while Papa is still buying something from the DVD store, telling them it's alright to sit still while eating their lunch, teaching them patience as I show them how patient I am with them. To love them with a love that knows no bounds. This is the true meaning of sacrifice.

Sacrifice is giving up something for someone. It may sometimes mean giving up one's happiness for our children's joy. The most beautiful thing is that as we bask in our children's joy, we realize that this right here, is true happiness.

Sacrifice is giving a huge part of myself to my boys so they will be complete, whole, be who they are meant to be.

The real reason I was relieved I wasn't asked to answer the two questions in front of the big group is that I didn't have any. I only had fear in my heart. An uncontrollable fear of the future for my boys. Now I realize, this is so selfish of me. This is just like limiting and cordoning my boys' abilities, blocking their own light. And I can't allow that to happen. My own fear cannot and should not cripple my boys.

Now I throw back the question to myself, "How do I see Garret and Morgan 10 or 20 years from now?"

With a much stronger conviction and belief in my heart, I answer this:

Garret will be a writer, a poet. Or a musician. An artist.
Morgan will be a philosopher. A leader. A lawyer. A change-maker in the community.

Or whoever they want to be.

"What will hinder them from becoming who you envisioned them to be?"

My own personal fear of the future.

From this day forward, I promise to my two boys,

"Garret, my little prince, Morgan, my feisty king, NOTHING will ever get in the way of your dreams. You will be who you want to be. You will be what you are meant to be. Mama and Papa will make sure of it."

To the one who have allowed us to dig deep into our souls that fateful Saturday in December of 2012, you have said that tears have watered our souls. Nay, I disagree it is YOU have watered our souls well. And for that, thank you Teacher Mark Saballa...

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Right Here

Lazy Saturday morning,
Watching my boys still asleep,
Garret breathing softly,
left hand under his right cheek,
tucking his feet
Morgan's face as round as siopao,
lips as pouty as can be,
sleeps contentedly
beside his papa so close
they are nose to nose...
No other place I need to be
All I need is here
This, right here,
is where I'm supposed to be. ♥