1. As soon as you give birth, relatives and friends are bugging you for the next baby. "Sundan niyo na!" seems to be on everyone's lips and you can't help but stare at them as if they've lost their minds. Can't they hear the screams of the wild beasts chasing each other, laughing up a storm, and wrecking your house? Or even more confounding, can't they see the baby in your arms? The one you just pushed through your hoo-ha and got stitched up for? These well-meaning folk need a good bonking on the head. Or better yet, a definitive locking up with the wild ones or a screaming infant for an hour. Let's see if they'll be asking for another baby now.
2. We all fear the question: "Do you want candy/ice cream/chocolate?" Adults know how much children love sweets. They dangle the bribe before your kid and tsk tsk when you protest and say your toddler can't have too much sugar. But before you know it, he's already got the offending treat in his mouth. You can't do anything without causing a scene or having your child hate you forever. But you do want to stuff the adult's face with more than just candy when they ask why your kid is so hyper and suggest you have him checked for ADHD.
3. No matter what you do, your kid will pick up Yaya's accent. When your child asks for "melk" instead of milk, you correct him over and over, wondering where it came from. You or your hubby don't say "melk." Then in walks Yaya saying it's time for baby to drink "melk." Mystery solved.
4. You've always dreaded making the rounds at family gatherings -- and now it's twice as hard. You never liked it, and now you have to make your little one do it too. It's all well and good when he's in a cooperative mood but eventually, after standing under scrutiny of the over-eager lolas or worse, being made to perform for the other relatives, he will put his foot down. No more. That's when you run the risk of being judged as a horrible mother who isn't teaching her son to respect and follow his elders!
5. There's a birthday party every other weekend, one even bigger and louder, and more bongga than the last. You're already broke from last month's slew of gifts, but that's no excuse to show up empty-handed. You must attend the birthday party, join all the games, all while you wonder how much longer till you grow deaf from the screams of the kids, the music blaring from the speakers, and the booming voice of the party host.
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6. You can never pack light anymore. It's not just the diapers, toys, iPads, books, bottles, and extra clothes. It's also taking along the yaya, the driver, and maybe even an extra helper if you can afford it. Most public places in the Philippines have yet to catch up with other countries in the kid-friendly department, so in the meantime, you need a battalion with you. Because sometimes, when you step out with your child in Metro Manila, it does feel like going into battle.
7. Your gadget and car are loaded with emergency goodies for when you're stuck in traffic. An hour in a non-moving car with a hyperactive toddler is not an ideal situation, even if you aren't the one driving. So you load up your gadgets, stock your car up with food (roaches, be damned!), and have tons of jingle bags (or even an arinola!) just to hang on to your sanity.
8. If you leave the house without help, people will look at you like you're crazy or not make eye contact at all, in the fear that you would ask for their help with your kids.
You know you can do it. It empowers you as a parent ... but sometimes, the unexpected happens and your child gets hyper, has a tantrum, or just plain sulks. Wait for it: "Ba't wala kang yaya?" No fail.
9. If your child isn't enrolled in any extracurricular activities or isn't in school by age two, you're worried he will be so behind, you'll need a million tutors to catch up. It isn't true, by the way. But the manner in which other parents make you feel like your child isn't getting the stimulation he needs just because you're only singing him nursery rhymes is driving you nuts. Where's Bach, Beethoven, and Mozart?
10. You just want to wear jogging pants or shorts and a tee everywhere you go. But you can't. Not only will your mom admonish you and accuse you of looking "losyang," but standing next to your co-parents in their wedges and designer handbags will throw you into a pit of style-less despair. Time to head to the salon, Mommy! Lest you be judged as the only mom on the playground who doesn't have it together.
11. The moment the skies darken and it starts to rain, your school-age kids whoop in excitement, "Walang pasok! Walang pasok!" It's a reality we bemoan because we remember the olden days when rain didn't automatically mean a flood. But times have changed (and so has the climate), and our kids instantly equate rain with class suspensions. We can't blame them when, 10 minutes into a downpour, a small puddle collects at your front yard.
12. Kids are found bouncing around in the car or worse, sitting in the front seat before age 7. There's a reason car seats are mandatory in the U.S. At the same time, Philippine law states children under seven years old cannot sit in the front seat. Yes, we checked. But safety aside, have you ever ridden in a car with little kids? A few minutes would be enough to convince you to strap the little wild things down.
13. Everyone (especially--but not just--the lolas!) wants to smell your baby's head. Admittedly, there is something about that baby smell. You can't help inhaling the sweet, comforting goodness as often as you can either. It's just a pain when baby comes home with his head smelling like saliva. (Ew.)
14.Lola and Lolo are allowed to spoil the kids as much as they want. But it's up to you to discipline afterwards. The kicker? They blame you if your kids act like spoiled brats!
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But no matter what, one of the best things about living in this country is being able to raise your kids with family around. No matter how much criticism they throw at you, they will always be the first to catch you when you need help -- especially when it comes to the kids.