The Lonely Commute

By Julie Javellana-Santos

Without my daughter, the 40-minute commute to work seemed longer than usual this morning. I felt lonely and deserted traversing the kilometers between my home and the school where I work and she studies. Up until last June, however, I had been going to work alone. It was only when she began going to the college where I worked that we “bonded” while commuting.

The long (not that long) train ride was most conducive to chatting about inconsequential and mundane things. Things like the state of her wardrobe, how her blockmates annoyed her, the books she wanted to buy and the fast food she wanted to sample on a daily basis.

Our conversations inevitably turned to more serious matters — how she was getting low scores in Math but which she vowed to make up for with higher scores in English and Literature and how she was enjoying college.

It was during those times that we talked about my health too, and how I felt about my job.

There were also times when nary a word was spoken by either of us. The only sound she made would be the rustling of the innumerable papers she had to read for class.

Midway through the train ride, she would always lean her head on my shoulder to take a short nap and catch up on her sleep. By virtue of her larger size, this sometimes made my back ache, but what the heck, anything for my “baby.”

My “baby” is now living temporarily with my sister, whose house is closer to her college. As school is not far away, she hopefully will have more time to study. And I, I will just have to learn to live with commuting alone, having these conversations in my mind.

Time has flown so fast from when she was a babe in my arms to one stumbling through her first steps. I realize that soon enough I will have to say goodbye on a more permanent basis so this temporary separation is a “dry run.”

Yesterday she dropped by my office because she had forgotten her vitamins at home and it was all I could do to keep myself from hugging her.  I now understand why my mother visited me often at my own flat.

My feelings are also silly because she will only be away to study for her final exams next week.

The week after, she will be back home for her semestral vacation. And then the new semester will start, and we will be commuting together again, taking those long train rides together again and chatting about inconsequential things again.

Baby Talk

By Lyra Pore

“Mom, are you going to have another baby?”


“How do you know?”

“We can’t afford another baby.”

“Mom, you don’t have to buy it! You just pop the baby out of your tummy!”

To my seven-year-old daughter, having a baby is but a simple matter. Several years ago when there were only two children in the family, she pointed to the empty seats around the dining table.  “Maybe we should have another baby,” she said, “so someone can sit on that chair.”

Indeed we’ve had one more baby since she uttered those words. Not really to fill empty chairs in our dining room, but because we always found joy in having children around the house.

We broke the news to the girls in the park.  “We’re having a baby,” their dad told them as we all sat around a picnic table next to the playground.

“Are they going to cut up your tummy in the hospital?” They asked.  “Or are you going to pee and the baby comes out?”

“I’m going to pee,”  I said.  I’ve had two natural deliveries and was expecting the third to be the same.

“Is she going to have blond hair and blue eyes?  Some of our classmates have blond hair.”

“We can’t have a blond-haired baby.”

“How come?”

“Well,  Daddy and I are Filipinos and Filipinos have black hair.”

When the baby finally arrived, the girls came to visit us at the hospital.  They looked at her lovingly as she slept in her bassinet.

“Can she speak English?”

“Not yet.  Newborn babies just cry.  They have some growing up to do before they can talk.”

“Can she eat sinigang?”

“Not yet. But someday she will.”

10 Things I Learned from Breastfeeding 4 Kids

By Jing Lejano

I breastfed all of my children. Yes, all four of them.

At the time, breastfeeding wasn’t the big thing that it is today. Still, I knew that I had to do it—something in my gut told me that breastfeeding was the way to go.

And so, in a span of six or seven years (I had my kids about two years apart), I always had a little babe suckling on my teat. And here’s what I learned from all those seemingly endless days and nights…

  1. Breastfeeding is still the best—and fastest—way to lose post-pregnancy weight. Forget about going on a diet. Breastfeeding your babe will help you shed those unwanted pounds. P.S. I was stick thin for most of those six or seven years.
  2. In the case of breastfeeding, size doesn’t matter. Just because you have big boobs doesn’t mean you’ll have lots of milk—and vice versa. I think milk production has more to do with supply and demand than anything else. Your breasts will produce as much milk as your baby needs, so it’s best to keep your baby suckling. If you do it less frequently, it’s sort of a signal to your body to produce less milk as well.
  3. Don’t ever forget to put on those nursing pads! When I started working, I’d sometimes forget to put on nursing pads. Lo and behold, I’d be in a meeting and I’d start feeling my milk come out, and I’d have to excuse myself and hurry to the bathroom. Boo!
  4. Gear up! When I say gear up, I mean get the proper underwear support. Your breasts are going to bloom like crazy. You have to give them proper support or else, it’s going to be such a pain.
  5. Yes, malunggay (moringa) helps! One of the first meals that my mom prepared for me after I gave birth was clam soup with lots of malunggay leaves. She told me that it would help increase my milk supply, and I believe it did. I also remember drinking lots of water then—I was always thirsty.
  6. Find the position that best suits you and your baby. Whether you’re sitting on your sofa or lying on the bed, you have to find that one position where you and your baby are most comfortable with—or else, it wouldn’t work.
  7. Make sure your baby feeds on both breasts. Otherwise, you’ll find the breast which hasn’t been completely drained aching. Ouchie!
  8. Your experience will be different with every child. Just because it was easy with your first child doesn’t mean it would be the same with the next. Every child is different; every breastfeeding experience is different. Don’t feel guilty if you’re having a hard time with your third child when everything went smoothly with the first two. That’s just the way it is.
  9. Some babies are just lazy. What can I say? Some babies just don’t like the experience all that much. OK, I might get some hate mail from fierce breastfeeding advocates, but when you’ve tried and tried for many days and many nights, and you could only make your baby suckle for a few minutes or so, don’t beat yourself up. Try pumping, putting your breast milk in a bottle, and then feeding baby. It’s the same thing.
  10. Don’t worry about how your breasts would eventually look like. When I was single, my breasts were firm and perky. When I got pregnant, they got big. When I started breastfeeding, the size of them just went crazy. But after breastfeeding my fourth child, I found my breasts, well, kind of depleted, and for a year or two, I felt like a flat-chested teenager. Today, I’m somewhere between my single and first pregnancy breasts—not so big, not so small, not as perky true, but just the size and shape I like. Coolness!

August is Breastfeeding Awareness Month.

Get Into Your Kid’s World

By Karen Galarpe

“Oh look, it’s Domo-kun!” I said, pointing to stuffed toys of the brown Japanese character at Toy Con 2011, the annual toy convention recently held at SM Megamall. “And Angry Birds, and lots of anime characters. Do they have Lucky Star?”

Yup, that’s me talking. Thanks to my son’s interest in Japanese anime, I am not so unfamiliar with what some kids and teens are into these days. When Miley Cyrus was in town recently, someone in the office asked, “Does Miley Cyrus have a lot of fans?” And I said, “Hello? Hannah Montana!”

And when the video of that 4-year-old Fil-Am boy singing a Warbler song a la Darren Criss on “Glee” became viral, someone in the office again said he’s not familiar with the song as he doesn’t watch “Glee”.

I know who Miley Cyrus is, and I watch “Glee.” And “Lucky Star.” And some years back, “High School Musical” and “Gundam Seed Destiny.”

I try to make time to get to know what kids today like because it’s a way to bond and build relationships with today’s generation.

I know I’m not alone in this mission because when Taylor Swift was here a few months ago, two of my friends watched the concert with their daughters and their daughters’ friends. And they realized Taylor is really a great performer and a good role model for today’s kids.

Same thing when Justin Bieber arrived in Manila this year. Guess who were photographed with preteens and teens in the crowd? Their parents.

What is your child into? Find out, get into it yourself, and in the process get to know your child more.

Since my son loves cars, I have seen my share of auto shows and even drift competitions from which I have come home smelling like burnt rubber. Is it worth it, grime and all? It is. Our children are priceless, and time spent with them is valuable.

What does it take to be a good mom?

I’ve been a mother for almost 16 years, and I have to tell you that there have been good days and there have been bad days. There have been times when I’ve been overwhelmed with joy. And there have been times when I’ve been sickened with frustration.

What does it take to be a good mom? This is one question that I always ask myself. The basics are easy enough: feed them, clothe them, shelter them, provide them with good education, teach them about faith, and shower them with love. I make sure that they grow in a psychologically and financially stable environment so they can be free to explore their various hobbies, interests, and passions.

But as a mother of twin teen boys and two young girls, I ask myself, what does it take to be the best mom? That’s because I always value excellence in everything I do, especially when it comes to parenting. And so, I read books, learn from other parents, and pray for guidance.

But what I’ve learned through all those years is that I can only try my best. For example, my children say that I don’t spend enough time with them. But as far as I could tell, I spend all my non-working hours with them. We not only see plays and watch movies, we also engage in sports. They say I’m too strict when it comes to rules. But then, I am only doing so to instill a sense of discipline and responsibility in them. I try to make them realize that there are consequences to their actions—or inactions.

I’ve realized that there is no one way to raise a child. One child is different from the next. And so, what worked for Angel may not do so for Meggy. Although I also get complaints on that: “You’re unfair!”

And so I keep trying. I keep working at being the best mom I can be because when I see my four children, I know that all my efforts have been worth it.