“Nanay” means Mother in Filipino.
A non-bookish post today! A lot of you may not know this, but outside of this blog I am 90% mom and wife and only 10% bookworm. Mother’s Day is also coming soon, so I figured I might as well start a Nanay Diaries here. Will this grow into a series of mommyhood posts? I can only hope I will find enough time and energy to do so. But to start off, I’d love to share how we celebrated my son Elias’ 5th birthday last month. It was a day filled with all his favorite things–a fun but intimate celebration. Even if we wanted to make it bigger, it’s still too risky to host large gatherings at this time. We were happy enough to stay in our small garage. It was only challenging for me because of the fact that my son is like Peter Pan, he doesn’t want to grow up. Any talks of growing up including birthdays is a sensitive topic for him, and in a worst case scenario could trigger a tantrum. I must say I am quite proud of myself for still pulling it off.
The first step was to not call it a birthday party but rather a family pool party any time that the birthday boy is within earshot. I decided to have a multi-theme thing because the little one has so many favorite topics like dinosaurs, sea creatures, snails, etc. It was also more fun that way. I didn’t want to get balloon decorations anymore ever since I learned how bad for the environment they can be, so I chose colorful curtains, paper banners and hanging jellyfishes–all of which are biodegradable, or if not they can at least be reused and recycled. The jellyfishes turned out great and are still “alive” today.
My next hurdle is the birthday cake. Elias does not eat cake. When asked what he wants for his birthday he just said fried chicken and vanilla ice cream. He doesn’t eat any other flavor of ice cream, except maybe for cookies ‘n’ cream but then he would not eat the cookie bits sometimes. I, on the other hand, really wanted us to have an ocean-themed cake and was torn between having a cake customized or just a DIY. It is fortunate that Dairy Queen actually has an ice cream cake made of mostly vanilla, and the best thing about it is that it is colored blue! The cake’s theme is actually more of sky and clouds, but at least it also works for ocean after I put in my cake toppers.
We didn’t prepare too much food. It was really only the cake and his favorite fried chicken. I think there was pasta, but that’s it. My husband and I both grew up from humble households and are not really the type to appreciate having too much food on the table, and we feel even more against it now during this pandemic. We want a celebration without the excessiveness. Instead of food and other material things, the best thing is to still spend time together. So we spent almost the whole day in our garage just lounging and goofing around. It was a perfect day.
When I said we did not spend too much on material things, of course I didn’t mean that we didn’t give our son any gifts at all. His honorary ninongs and ninangs (godparents) also sent a lot of love. So aside from the indoor pool set up, we also prepared a couple of mindful gifts for the kid. He likes to listen to and create his own music using GarageBand app, so we gifted him with his very first keyboard. He is enjoying it so far and uses the microphone a lot to amplify his favorite songs from My Singing Monsters app.
He also likes Trevor Henderson monsters so we gifted him with a Siren Head doll. Please don’t worry about his taste for horror creatures because we always supervise him when he is exploring things. He is a very sweet kid and knows the difference between horror as art vs acts of senseless violence. He doesn’t like violence, but he is definitely not easily afraid of monsters. He just really likes interesting stuff like insects, prehistoric animals, human anatomy, etc. I myself already learned a lot from him when it comes to creatures names and other trivia.
Our house is also filled with my husband’s art, and so I guess that is how my little boy became familiar with this aesthetic, too. I feel bad for sounding almost defensive and feeling the need to explain, but as a mom I am used to unsolicited comments about our parenting so I just want to make sure that part is clear.
Five years is such a huge milestone, so I was really adamant about having a birthday celebration. Of course I have thought along the way that I could also just not make it a big deal if my son didn’t want to. It was his day after all. However, I honestly felt that it was my special day, too. After giving birth I never thought much of my own birthday anymore. Maybe because when I gave birth to my son, I gave birth to myself as a mom, too. I clearly have no regrets, because I can confidently say that it was one of the happiest times we’ve had as a small family.
As happy as we were I can’t help but feel melancholic for things I didn’t know I was looking forward to at this point of my mom life: like buying school supplies, bringing my son to school, meeting new moms and new kids, talking to my son’s teacher about my son (because seriously I cannot do this education thing alone).
I know these are things that are not so serious in comparison to the current health and economic crisis we’re all facing, but sometimes the tiny things that bite our hearts in the dark should be examined in the bright light of day, and given voice to. That being said, I continue living life one day at a time, while planning and worrying every second for a far future that is hopefully better but realistically will probably manifest all of our collective emotional trauma from this super extended quarantine.
Sorry. I tried for a cheery quick post but I think this ended up a bit gloomy. But then again, even if I am filled with dread and doom half the time, I am also rewarded daily with pure happiness because of our small family. At the end of the day, I am only grateful.
Although I did not start this post thinking of making a list about it, I realized that there are some things we can remember when we celebrate during a pandemic:
- It’s okay to celebrate. No need to feel guilty for wanting to feel a bit of happiness during dark times.
- Celebrate but don’t be too excessive about it. By excessive, I mean only prepare for what you know you’ll be realistically able to consume. Think of everyone else who needs food and shelter. It’s not the time to be wasteful.
- Give gifts but be more mindful about them. Take time to know the person you are giving the gift to. Choose only things that your recipient will genuinely love and have use for.
- If you have resources to spare, donate: to charities or drop food and other basic necessities in your local community pantries. The best way to celebrate could be in seeing how our existence can be a blessing to others, too.