I could get used to this elf-like surprise!

This will be short and sweet.

Baby Ben and I took a nap. It was Friday and there’s only three of us home. Me and the two kids, as most Fridays. We have no house help on Friday, a weekend here in the UAE where people go have their day off.

And because our house help is having her day off, I don’t have mine.

The living room looks like there had been a hurricane that passed.

There’s something is piling up in the laundry room.

Don’t get me started on the kitchen.

Baby Ben is extra clingy on my day off, because six days of the week, I am an absentee mom at day time. I gladly spend time with him and with Pristine (our other child, 9 years old) because the dirty dishes can wait.

And the sun is always shining in Dubai so I can always wash the dirty laundry tomorrow.

In short, I am exhausted on Fridays. So I take a nap in the afternoon. That is my sacred hour. And I feel I’ll nearly die and won’t survive another work week if I don’t have that important Friday afternoon nap.

Baby Ben and I went to the room after I cleaned up a partial amount of mess and Pristine was in the living room, reading something on the internet. I told her she can take a nap too if she likes. She nodded.

I woke up after two hours to…. a very clean house!

There were no objects on the living room floor, the baby books have been kept back in the shelf, the laundry outside had been taken in and folded, the dishes on the kitchen sink washed too. And I saw her with the biggest, proudest smile.

When I asked her why,

“Because I saw your blog post mama. Not minimalist enough but at least it’s cleaner now.”

That moment, I felt I am the luckiest mother in the world.

Feeling the heartbreak of moms working abroad

I woke up screaming and crying at 3 am today, my hands frantically feeling the wide bed for my son. It’s still dark and I wasn’t able to see anything at all. A wave of panic came to me when I can’t feel where Ben was. What if it wasn’t a dream?

Apparently, the little boy has rolled on to the little bed attached to the big bed. The little toddler bed had been there for months but he has refused to sleep alone in it. We’re co-sleeping and attached to the hips since he was born.

Last night, like the previous nights lately, he has been rolling to the toddler bed and sleeping nicely there. Great, I can relax and have a little space, yes? Yeah, for the first time in months, I can sleep on my back again for longer time and not on my side exposing the upper half of my body (he is still breastfeeding at 16 months and compensates a lot at night because we’re away from each other the whole day). 

I’ve been having nightmares since he started sleeping away from me and last night was the worst.

I wanted to get up and write so words won’t escape me in the morning. But alas, Ben woke up, startled with my screaming and needed comforting and I am once again nailed to the bed, unable to move away or risk getting my nipples bitten off.

I had a terrible nightmare – that I had to leave my son ‘back home’ (at my parents) to work in a far away land – Dubai. He was an infant in my dream, so small and fragile and looked at me with misty eyes. I was in the airport, handing over my bundle of joy to my parents as I bid him goodbye. I was crying hot tears and I couldn’t stop.

You know that strange feeling when you KNOW you’re dreaming yet can’t seem to get out of it? Or don’t want to get out of it so you know how it ends?

The one where you know the crying will stop once you open your eyes but you can’t open your eyes?


I love my children. I’m crazy about them. I kiss them everyday. No. ‘Kiss’ would be to put it ridiculously mild. I INHALE them. Sometimes I feel I must have sucked all the baby smell out of them. I miss them before I go to work, miss them while I am at work and I walk a little faster on my way home to be with them again at the end of the day. They are the center of my world and I cannot imagine living everyday without seeing their faces or not being able to touch them.

Yet my nightmare is a reality for so many Filipino mothers working in Dubai. Many of them leave their babies back at their home countries, thousands of miles away to earn a living. Many work as nannies – taking care of little children for other families so their own little children at home can live.The sacrifice. What must go on behind these ladies’ radiant smiles as they report to work every morning?

I feel a pinch in my heart.

I get sad when our nanny reports baby milestones that happen and I’m not able to see it. I had a guilt trip when my daughter’s caretaker told me I missed to her take her first steps. But for these women working abroad? Forget the little milestones – they will not see their baby grow up, for months, for YEARS. They will not see their children laugh or be able to comfort them when they cry. And despite of it all, I’ve witnessed a lot of parent-child relationship strained because some children end up resenting the parent’s lack of presence in their lives.

It’s a sad reality.

A few days ago was International Women’s Day. I wish no woman had to ever come to the agonizing realization that they must work abroad if they want to provide adequate food, education and health care for their families.

I only had a nightmare but the pain was so real. I held my son tight and wept into his hair for the mothers who must choose between supporting or soothing their children. To the working moms abroad away from their children: may the days go by faster so you can be together with your precious children again.

Also, happy (UK) mother’s day to those celebrating.

Top photo credit: Google images

She’s a mom, I’m a mom

I’m living with my mother since May 2007, a few months after we relocated in Dubai. She’s been a great help for me – taking care of my daughter after school, cooking when I’m sick, just being there to me. I am so grateful.

But there are times when my mom forgets one very important thing: that Pristine is my daughter and not hers.


Last Friday (weekend in the UAE and our dayoff), Pristine had fever. It was the first for this year and probably the worst. She had been complaining of throat pain, having difficulty to swallow thus wasn’t able to eat properly and had a very high fever to the tune of 39C (102.2F). My mom left for church as she always does on a Friday and told me Pristine had Paracetamol at 7am. Later, Pristine wasn’t showing any symptoms, she was as usual perky, chatty, nothing sicky about her at all. We even baked cookies.

At noon time, she was starting to have temperature again so I gave her Paracetamol. We read books in bed and took a nap. Moments later, I was awakened by a jerking motion – she had febrile convulsion attack.

Febrile convulsion happens when a child’s temperature rapidly increases in a short time*. It was so scary to see and although I have seen it a few times before (first when she was 18 months that I had to call an ambulance in Japan), I was still terrified to see my daughter stiff, unconcious and lips turning blue. Thank God the seizure stopped after 20 seconds and color came back to her face.

* The child’s risk of febrile convulsion rises if they are genetically predisposed to it i.e., if a parent or both parents suffered febrile convulsions as a child.

After that, I wasn’t able to do anything except watch her closely. The last time she had febrile convulsion was when she was 2 and a half years old and doctors say it would stop occurring usually once the child reaches five. Pristine turned six last December 2009. Febrile convulsion can be prevented with a medicine called Diazepam but this is classified as a controlled drug in the UAE and not readily available (they refuse to prescribe it), unlike in Japan. So whenever Pristine has fever, we can only rely on Paracetamol, Voltaren, cold pads and lots and lots of prayers.

My mother came home at 7 pm. I told her about my ordeal (I had to deal with it alone because M went out to buy something) and how scared I was. You know what I got? SCOLDING. I was already feeling small and inadequate and the last time I would want to hear was scolding and blaming – “you didn’t take care of her properly!” or “why didn’t you give her Paracetamol immediately even before she had fever! (huh?)” or the extremely uber emotional, “this would not have happened if I was the one at home taking care of her!”

I wanted to cry right there. Ok, maybe she just loved Pristine so much as a grandma but still.

She forgets that of all the people in the world who wants the best for my daughter, looks after her best welfare is me, her mother. What kind of mother would want her child to suffer? Sometimes I feel that my own mother belittles me just because I have only one child and she has six. That I’m less of a mother than her because of that.

It’s been two days but I’m still hurt and while wrapping up this post, I realize…this is such an inappropriate post for Mother’s Day.

Lovenotes for a busy mom

I have been so busy with work since Saturday that I didn’t have the time to update the blog or reply to comments or read anything online. I tell  you, you wouldn’t want to see my choking feed reader!

On Saturday, Pristine kept calling me at work asking me lots of things, not material ones but the requests range from wanting me to go home early or nap with her or just go home and watch Enchanted again. Don’t say, that movie!? because I kind of like it. 🙂

School is off on Fridays and Saturdays and I only have Fridays off – meaning she’ll be home on Saturdays while I work outside.

“Mom? Why are you working on Saturdays? Your boss is crazy.”  is the generic weekly comment I get when I get out of the door. While we were talking on the phone and she heard the clicking sound of my mouse and the tapping of my keyboard, she asked “Mama? Are you sure you are listening to me?”  Ouch. Babe didn’t know I am trying to get the deadline by noon time so I can possibly, with remote chance, however, go home and be with her. I am tired as well. But I didn’t finish my work on time and had to spend the rest of the day in the office. Gah.


I came home at 6:30 pm and had dinner with her and spent a lovely evening playing lots of games, those silly role plays we love, recording voices in my cellphone (one day I’m going to post her rendition of a Kelly Clarkson song), taking lots of photos and reading lots of books. 

That photo – now you know that there’s a giant panda living in my house. Look at those dark circles in my eyes!

Before we slept, she gave me one rolled paper, which was enough to erase the dark circles away. Ok, maybe not but it certainly helps.


* I don’t know what’s happened to her lately that she writes her emotions in pieces of paper and rolls them then either give to me directly or leave them in my desk. Not all of the notes are sweet – some are not and some are questions. I’m keeping these little note with me and preserve it as long as I can. *