How long is a year?

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How long is a year?

Long enough for me to watch you with joy, pride and wonder as you aced each milestone – smiling for the first time, holding your head up, saying your first words, eating solids, sitting up unsupported, sleeping through the night, crawling, standing, walking and getting your first tooth.

Long enough for me to continuously question my capabilities as a mother. Many days, I’ve run on empty but because I love you and because I am accountable for your wellbeing, quitting is not and will never be an option.

Long enough for me to experience “too many cooks in the kitchen” where there are too many opinions on how to raise you. Although suggestions are highly valued, your father and I must still aggregate and filter all available information, sometimes making mistakes in our decisions, so that we could find our own way.

Long enough for me to deal with bouts of anxiety and depression while I struggled to balance family, health and career. Only to realize that things will never be perfect across the board and that I can be happy just from doing my best to get by.

At any other point in my life, a year would have felt like such a long time and yet, it feels like it was only yesterday that I first saw you, held you and heard you cry.

I love seeing you grow and become more independent, and yet, I already miss you being so tiny and fragile. I already miss you asking to hold my hand with every step you take.

The first year went by too quickly and yet, it was long enough for me to feel all the beautiful, scary, all – enriching things you’ve made me feel.

I love you so much, Niko… Although you are officially a toddler now, like I’ve said many times before, you will always be my baby boy.

Happy First Birthday, Baby Bear!!!

A letter to my son

Your father and I found out last week that you are, with 99% accuracy, a baby boy. I think it’s fairly safe to say you are… our son.

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I can’t tell you what growing up would be like for a boy. I didn’t have brothers and was only able to see my male cousins on a few weekends and holidays in a year. I had a boy neighbor whom my sisters and I used to play with when we were younger but I can only recall how much I disliked his attitude problems and how much I feared getting chased by his family’s geese.

When I was in grade school, boys would be nice to me and talk to me about their crushes (which could coincidentally be me) or they would be mean and call me “Loser” then refer to the prettier girl as “Winner.” Yet, I don’t remember having any serious conversations with boys until I was in high school. Even then, I didn’t have a clear picture of how being a guy must be like. I mean your father has told me countless stories about his childhood and teenage years. Still, I’m no expert and will leave it to him to give you more insights on becoming a man.

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My only wish in this matter is that you grow up to be a good man. Your father and I will play a huge role in that but we will not always be by your side to watch and guide you. During those times, treat people with kindness and at the minimum, respect. My mother, your grandma, often said (in Tagalog) “If you can’t tell us (your parents) about it then it’s probably not the right thing to do.”

I was bullied a lot growing up. I developed a lot of self-image issues from being told I’m not beautiful or I’m getting too fat. Please don’t be one of those guys, well, those people in general, who don’t think before they speak. Your words could have a lasting impact on people and yes, sometimes, the truth hurts but always consider if it’s necessary to say it.

For instance, before commenting on someone’s weight, think: are you assuming that person is blind or doesn’t see his/her reflection everyday? Are you suggesting that this person should be unhappy with how s/he looks? Are you implying that s/he must not be trying to lose weight in the case that s/he does in fact want to lose weight? I know it’s quite complicated but your grandma has another wise and simple rule: “If you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything.”

As for me, I still struggle with my self-image but don’t feel sorry for your mother. I don’t let it get the best of me like I used to and let’s just say being geographically away from insensitive people helps. I’ve gained and lost weight through the years and now, I need to have a healthy weight gain while pregnant with you. However, I want you to know, that heavy as I appear, I have never felt more beautiful as I do, now that I am carrying you.

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I love you, son.