First Night

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Dear Niko,

Tonight, it took me all my courage and acting skills not to cry in front of you.

It all began last Monday. You and I went to Target and you found yourself drawn to a coffee machine toy (you and your love for food and drink toys). You asked if we can buy it and I said we’ll buy it if you ever sleep in your own bedroom. You agreed and asked to add one more toy to the deal, preferably a Transformer. I said okay, thinking it’s too soon anyway. You were still too clingy to not sleep in the same bedroom as me. We left Target without buying any toys.

Then, today, we had to make another Target run. You mentioned the coffee machine toy again, that Fisher Price rip-off of Keurig. You remembered our deal. Coffee toy plus a Transformer = you’ll sleep in your bedroom. I was amazed that you remembered and apprehensive you’d keep your end of the deal. So, I negotiated you open the coffee toy today and if you sleep in your bedroom, you get to open the Transformer tomorrow. If you don’t, we return the toys. We did a pinky swear because those are sacred to you.

We bought the coffee toy, a Transformers toy and walkie talkies (this was my idea – hoping we could use it to talk from different bedrooms). Your papa installed the toddler rail on your new bed and relocated your humidifier/night light to your new room.

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You were excited at first then you were afraid. We reassured you that we’ll stay with you until you fall asleep. Being around us, you were hyper for a bit but finally, you’ve fallen asleep.

Part of me is so proud of you… of what an awesome negotiator and brave little boy you’ve become. But part of me is also wishing you’d wake and come running back to our bedroom, back to me like a little baby.

You’re growing up and becoming more independent so fast. Way too fast for your emo mom.

This is super selfish but I still wish time would slow down for us. When you’re a teen and feel like hating me, I hope you read this. When you’re a grown man and want to leave the nest, I hope you read this.

Love you forever, Baby Bear. As long as I’m living, you know the rest.

Love,

Mama Bear

“I don’t love Mama”

Warning: Super emo post

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Dear Niko,

The other night, you told me you like Papa better. Last night, you said you don’t love Mama.

I wanted to leave. Just walk away. Show you what life would be like without me. Some people might say, he’s just a child. He doesn’t know what he’s saying. But you do know. You can tell that I am too busy or too tired to give you the attention you need. You see me as the mean parent because I am the one asking you to do things you don’t like most of the time – potty train, change clothes, clean up, sleep. I am not the fun parent because I can’t make your toys do funny things.

I cried when you said it. I am crying now, remembering it.

But I’m still here, while you are sleeping beside me. Son, this is love. Staying even when you’re in pain because you are not loved back or appreciated.

I hope that tomorrow, when you wake up, I can repair whatever parts I broke in our relationship. I hope that someday, you can fully understand why I ask you to do or not do things. I just want you to be safe and grow up to be a good person. I am trying to do what’s best for you.

You’ve told me many times that I’m your best friend. Even if you stop believing that, even if you stop loving me, with my broken heart, I will still care for you. I will still love you.

Damn. You’re not even a teenager yet.

Love,

Mama Bear

Remembering how to play

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Dear Niko,

It’s been a long time since I wrote.

Truth is, I’ve been overwhelmed. By a career path I’m good at but don’t love. By a dream I need to pursue even if it means facing the truth that I’m not good at it and may never become better at it. By being away from you, physically, mentally, emotionally. By recurring health issues in mind and body.

I’ve had a rough past year. I’ve made a lot of drastic changes but I’m still adjusting. One of the changes: stay at home to care for you full-time.

I thought I would be awesome at this. I thought I would be on top of house chores. That I would be exercising Zen like patience when you don’t listen, when you lie, when you hurt me, when you forget to say you’re sorry. I thought your potty training would be a breeze and that I would have your home schedule all figured out, along with my efforts to care for my health and follow my other dreams.

I thought I’ve had some challenging roles. But this is the hardest role I’ve had thus far. Every day, I’m still winging it. Sometimes, I feel so blessed I get to spend so much time with my sweet, smart, talented child whom I love with all my life. Other times, I wonder: what the hell was I thinking? What made me think I could handle this level of responsibility?

Over the last few weeks, I’ve realized – I’ve forgotten how to play. As a child, I used to play pretend with my sisters all the time – with or without toys, inside or outside. I played multiple characters – protagonists, antagonists. I developed exciting plots – tons of humor, action and drama. Then, I grew up… got busy with school then work then life and slowly, I forgot.

But you’re teaching me. You’re helping me remember. You’re helping me find my inner child beneath all my hardened and broken pieces.

I’m not sure when I’m going to find things easy, I’m not sure if I ever will. I can’t promise to always be fun and not have any down days. You will likely still catch me off guard when you ask, “Mama, what are we doing today?”

I will never be perfect. But for you, I’ll keep learning and re-learning. I’ll keep working to find balance. To care for myself, too, so I can be my best at caring for you.

I love you. We’ll figure this out together!

Love,

Mama Bear

Second Birthday Blues

Hi Niko,

It’s your birthday.

You turn two today.

Time goes by so fast. I’m happy you’re growing into a smart, handsome, kind (sometimes crazy) boy. But at the same time, I feel bad that so much of your life is passing by without me at your side.

I often wonder how other moms do it. How do they go about with barely any sleep, cook all the meals for the family, keep the house clean, do the laundry, do budgeting, spend 50-60 hours working and still care for a young child?

Truth is, without your father and Tita (and/or Grandma) – I really don’t believe I can manage. I either go nuts trying to get work done or I feel extreme separation anxiety when I am unable to spend more time with you. So yes, the house is constantly a mess and the next meal is always a mystery. For someone who plans ahead and manages a lot of projects at work – I just plain suck at managing a home.

Often, I come from work tired out of mind – that I am not even able to give our family quality time.

But know that if I had a choice, if we can afford it (this state, and country in general is insanely expensive), I will leave the corporate world in a heartbeat to care for you full-time. I am not sure if I will be any better at keeping up with chores but I know I’ll be the best damn mom that I can be, not half-assing like I am right now.

Know that I keep working not only because I want you to have a better life, the best life. I also keep working because I want to excel at something (in addition to being your mom). So that when you grow older, you’ll know that at some point, in some other way, your mother rocked. Then, maybe, I could hope to inspire you like you continue to inspire me.

I love you, Son.

Hope you have a happy birthday!

Love,

Mama Bear