Manic Mornings

Manic Mornings

By Romelda C. Ascutia

Come to my house on a weekday morning, and you’d think it has been the site of a police raid. You know the aftermath of such an intrusion: The place is all topsy-turvy after investigators have combed it inch by inch in search of contraband. That’s how our house greets me when I come down from the bedroom in the mornings. But the culprits are not the search authorities; it’s my two boys.

My children, a college freshman and a high school sophomore, have convinced me that they are old enough to take care of themselves and don’t need my help to prepare them for school in the morning. This is not an act of total altruism on their part, mind you. Truth is, the boys don’t want me hovering over them because I drive them nuts. I nag them to hurry up, to take a bath already, to brush their teeth properly. I pester them with questions. Why didn’t you tell me you have a button missing from your polo? Why don’t you ever bring an umbrella (or at least a jacket) when it’s raining? Why won’t you get a haircut? Why do you ignore the fruits I place on the table?

Because our mornings have become a strain on both sides, we have agreed that I will get all the boys’ needs ready the night before—the hot water in the jug, the cereals and milk in the jars, the bread for toasting snug in the bread box, uniforms hanging neatly in the cabinets—and they will do the rest. The next morning, my duty is to simply call out to the boys when the alarm sounds off, and I go back to sleep when I hear them stomping downstairs.

This arrangement has worked well for all of us so far. I believe this setup teaches the boys to be more independent and self-reliant. If I’m around, they treat me as a convenient lost-and-found center: Ma, did you see my ID/belt/notebook/toothbrush/watch? Can you please go upstairs and get my P.E. shirt? I’m already in the bathroom so could you throw me my towel?

As for me, as a night person, I am not at my best at dawn. I become more energetic as the hours pass and get my second wind late in the night, when everyone is asleep. That’s when I whirl about straightening things, sweeping the floor, cleaning the bathroom, folding the laundry—all those things other moms normally do in the first light of day. Before I head upstairs, I survey my handiwork with a little smile, knowing that everything is in its proper place.

So there’s been a wonderful truce in my household ever since we hit on this morning deal. But I am still far from completely content. After they leave I survey the “damage” my independent young adults have inflicted: beds unmade, dirty clothes and wet towels on the floor, cabinets hanging open with folded clothes in disarray, used plates on the dining table, toothbrushes by the sink, pools of water near the bathroom door for me to slip on. Books and notebooks that are not scheduled for use that day sit in chairs. Receipts, tissue paper, and other whatnots lie on the floor, having missed the trash can.

And so the next hour or so is used to clear up the trail of mess my boys have left behind. But like any hopeful mom I truly believe that with time—and more nagging on my part—my mischievous raiders will become better behaved. Until then, the morning raids will continue.

Featured Photo from Mrs H’s Favorite Things


By Jing Lejano

For several Saturdays now, I’ve found myself by my lonesome at home. Actually, I have not been so lonely for my granddaughter S has kept me good company. We’ve been playing with her doll house, eating ice cream, and watching cartoon movies.

As for my own kids, well, they’re off with their own lives. My two kids in college, E and F, have classes on Saturdays. My second son S, who’s in high school, has Citizen’s Army Training on Saturday mornings. However, he only comes home around dinner time as he usually spends the afternoons with his friends. My youngest son K also has stuff to do on Saturdays. He’s either off to a classmate’s house finishing a project or at the mall hanging out with his friends.

This is new territory for me. My kids and I usually spend Saturdays at home. Well, at least some of them or most of them, but never not all of them. We usually get up late in the morning and I’ll cook something nice for lunch. This would be followed by marathon sessions in front of the tube, watching the latest batch of movies.

My kids and I, we’re movie freaks. The boys and I, we love action and sci-fi adventures, usually those involving some journey to a galaxy far away. My daughter E loves gory horror movies, usually those involving somebody getting hacked to a million pieces. Sometimes, I can get them to watch cheesy romantic comedies, but not too often. We would watch and we would eat, and every so often, somebody would make a joke or two. Of course, we’re not always together. On some Saturdays, each of us would be occupied with our own projects, but we’d still all be home.

I suppose I am at the beginning of what’s popularly called the empty nest syndrome. You have these wonderful babies, bring them up into well-behaved children, and hopefully raise them into individuals with passion and purpose.

Raising these four kids has been one hell of an adventure filled with comedy, drama, romance, and yes, even action—the very same things that we used to enjoy on the tube every Saturday. Looking at them, I could only hope that I did right by them. I could only hope that I was able to teach them something about living and loving as they go off into their own adventures.

A budding Earth Mother

By Romelda C. Ascutia

Contentment infuses me as I sit in our front porch sipping hot morning tea. On the breakfast table is a small aquarium with a couple of tiny fish swimming. Against the wall hangs the birdcage housing clucking lovebirds, and by my feet lies our pet dog.

Over the past few weeks I have been channeling my inner domestic goddess, engrossed in transforming our modest house into my family’s ideal hangout.

I have long wanted to decorate the interiors, but office work prevented me. To me the house felt austere—serviceable but not welcoming. And although the situation filled me with dissatisfaction, it was tolerable because I was away at work most of the time. Now that I am a freelance editor working out of the house, I want my home to be more inspiring and embracing.

So began Project: Home Sweet Home.

I went into this activity diffidently with modest ambitions. My first step was to buy a fishbowl and two goldfish. The next day, one fish was dead, and the other soon followed. I replaced the fishbowl with a small aquarium for more space to swim, and bought smaller fish (the saleslady said they were rosy barbs) and some accessories.

My second step was to go to a mall sale and buy synthetic potted flowers (buy one-take one basis), which I placed strategically in our porch, living room, and dining/kitchen area. I wanted but couldn’t afford the imitation bamboo sticks even at their discounted price. I later encountered an ambulant vendor who was selling them for 80 percent less. After a little haggling, I bought a bundle and placed it in the corner near the TV set.

My next move was to give the lovebirds a better environment. The poor things had been languishing in the laundry area in the back of the house for years, and were regularly terrorized by the neighborhood cats. I transferred them to the front porch, perched high beyond reach of their predators.

And just a couple of days ago I purchased different houseplants and arranged them by the house entrance.

Now I feel not only a domestic goddess but also an Earth Mother. I’ve rescued our lovebirds from a life of neglect and terror. The little barbs are alive and lively—so far. (I’ll probably graduate to a bigger aquarium if they don’t make it.) As for the houseplants, I’m planning to buy nice pots for them, and I’m all excited to find out whether I have a green thumb or not.