Tag Archives: Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day Weekend

05.13.2014

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez

The second Sunday in May is a sentimental celebration for a lot of women—the arrival of spring, the birth of better weather and the bloom of flowers, and a day to recognize and honour the gift of motherhood.

Not everyone is privileged to be a mother, but everyone is certainly born of one.

I’m blessed to be privileged of both.

If you know me personally or if you’re a keen follower of my blog, you’ll know that a key part of my identity and pride is deeply rooted in my two children, Michael and Mercedes.

M&X. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
M&X. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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But, it certainly hasn’t been an easy road to (and sometimes through) motherhood.

While most in my family highly suspected pregnancy as a reason for my “shotgun” wedding to my husband almost 13 years ago, it wasn’t actually easy for me to conceive. We had, if anything, not thought of having children until quite later in life in the plan of first fully enjoying our independence as a newly married couple. And then when my “biological clock” started ticking (and ticking loudly), my desire to have a child was as natural as it was thrilling—and frightening.

Both of my pregnancies were extremely difficult. I was told on both occasions that I had miscarried. And then in my first pregnancy, I  went into pre-term labour at a mere 25 weeks (six months), which brought upon severe complications for my son and exhaustion and hardship for myself and my husband. My little one was in hospital for three months before he could come home.

Because of the nature of my first pregnancy, I was classified as a high-risk patient and had to be under the care and keen supervision of a neonatologist. This meant more appointments, tests, and restrictions than other women throughout each trimester and a cervical suture operation in order to help carry my second baby further along in pregnancy. Even with this surgery, my daughter still came early.

But, the joy of having children far outweighs my negative experiences with having them.

My son, Michael, who is almost 10-years-old is a sensitive, caring, and extremely obedient boy. While he’s known to talk a lot, speak loudly, and be somewhat hyperactive (which can carry its own burdens)—Michael is always the first to notice others’ needs before his own and the most willing to sacrifice for others out of his depth of compassion. He’s also a keen activist for the environment, which surprised me considering his age. And he is thoughtful and extremely loving, traits I am absolutely grateful for and proud of.

(c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
(c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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My daughter, Mercedes, who is almost 5-years-old is feisty, rambunctious, and self-assured, which is admirable, but can also be weary and a constant test of my patience. She is, however, extremely affectionate and tender when in the right mood and will often give me the sweetest and most thoughtful compliments when most needed. And if anything, the things she often says will just make me laugh!

(c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
(c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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While mothers never stop being mothers, working hard to not only raise their children well on a daily basis, but to also advocate fiercely on their behalf, and simply loving, and enjoying who they are in the journey of parenthood—Mother’s Day is a wonderful day to focus on the gift of what it is to be a mother and to also have one.

This Mother’s Day weekend, I celebrated with my mom, my sister, and my immediate family with a quiet, but filling lunch—potluck at my parents’ house that included traditional, Filipino, celebratory dishes like rice, Pancit, Pinakbit, Lumpia, spicy chicken, salad, Dulce Neopolitan cake, and Fudge cake.

(c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
(c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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(c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
(c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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(c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
(c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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And of course, Mother’s Day isn’t complete without those thoughtful gifts that you receive from your children! This year, I was really pleased to receive exceptionally creative gifts!

Xara's Mother's Day card. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Xara’s Mother’s Day card. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Xara's Mother's Day card. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Xara’s Mother’s Day card. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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Mercedes who is in Junior Kindergarten and just learning to write her alphabet made me a card that says:

My Mom [is] recognizable because she loves me.

I also got a wonderfully creative paperweight from my daughter. She proudly told me:

Mama, you know what I got you for Mother’s Day? A ROCK! I painted it green so it wouldn’t be ugly. I got it outside when I was exploring and I decorated it in Craft. Do you like it? You can use if on your papers.

I love it!

My homemade paperweight from Xara. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
My homemade paperweight from Xara. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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And Michael made me a homemade frame to house a picture of himself and a candle. He also went out of his way to buy me the Jennifer Aniston perfume I liked with his own money.

He told me:

Mama, I bought you this, but Papa paid for the tax!

Yay! Now, I have a beautifully framed picture of my son that I set on my desk to remind me of him, a candle that I can light when I want to make the atmosphere more mellow, and perfume that I love (and makes me smell like Jennifer Aniston!).

Created by Michael. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Created by Michael. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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Jennifer Aniston perfume from Michael. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Jennifer Aniston perfume from Michael. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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Overall, it was a quiet Mother’s Day with a trip to one of my favourite hot spots—Kariya Park—where I enjoy the tranquility and beauty of cherry blossom trees and the blessings of being a mother to two, amazing kids!

Me, at Kariya Park on Mother's Day. (c) Photo by Esly R. Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Me, at Kariya Park on Mother’s Day. (c) Photo by Esly R. Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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To all the beautiful and loving mothers out there, hope you had a wonderful Mother’s Day filled with gestures to remind you of how much you are loved and appreciated.

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How do you celebrate Mother’s Day?

Are you close to your mother? How did you celebrate who she is and all she has been in your life on her special day?

Are you a mother? What do you love most about being a mom?

What did you receive for Mother’s Day? What special gestures of love did you receive on Mother’s Day?

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zara cat stamp

Making the Headlines in “Mom’s Gazette” – Mother’s Day Series: Part 3

Making the Headlines in

“Mom’s Gazette”

Mother’s Day Series: Part 3

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez

Ever since I first read the book, The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh, it compelled me to want to study horticulture to acquire the ability to grow an indoor garden or out. (You can read my review here.)

I have four favourite flowers:

The Butterfly Orchid

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The Calla Lily

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The Sampaguita (The Philippine Jasmine)

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and Sakura (Cherry Blossom)

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I received none of those for Mother’s Day—contrary to what I was expecting, I received no flowers at all!

Or breakfast in bed (my husband isn’t in agreement with the possibility of crumbs on bed sheets, so this isn’t a treat I have ever experienced yet—oh well, maybe next year…)

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I did, however, receive an all-weekend-pass to:

“You can do whatever you want, Mommy, May 2012.”

So, my Mother’s Day tribute began on Friday at 168 Sushi Japan Restaurant, a favourite spot for my husband and myself.

168 Sushi Japan Restaurant

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The restaurant crowd was filled with the social buzz of culturally curious youth, interracial Asian couples, and corporate business men and women, prestigious enough to eat slowly, laugh loudly, and not clock their corporate lunch on corporate time—and us, a small, young family of four, having an impromptu treat to sushi.

The celebration of Mommyhood was in full force as my husband and daughter happily chomped down their beef teriyaki and gin-zake, while my eldest son was slow and cautious, begrudgingly swallowing food as if the raw sushi itself would resurrect right into his throat and nip at his tonsils. My son was always given to drama.

And so, while I multi-tasked between cutting chicken and kalbi pieces for my two-year-old, I also flagged down the waitress for a large order of fries. And that’s when my son sat up straight, perked up his ears at the change in menu, and happily clipped his chopsticks together like an alligator practicing intimidation before his next meal: chomp, chomp!

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Much of my Mother’s Day weekend was like this; my husband and children surrounded me with their daily nuances and needs. But that’s motherhood, its crux and its joy—the necessity of who you are and what you lovingly provide for them.

In return, I received some time to visit a local bookstore and bought myself a paper stand (all the better to see my written reviews or content for posts with) and a new weapon of choice: Maybelline Super Stay 14-Hour Lipstick in Timeless Crimson. Plus, a new pair of Geisha chopsticks for my ever-growing collection of Asian products! BAM!

My lips in Timeless Crimson, Maybelline Super Stay 14-Hour Lipstick. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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Maybelline Super Stay 14-Hour Lipstick in Timeless Crimson. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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My new pair of geisha chopsticks—perfect for the renovation of my home office and its Asian theme! (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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And of course, I was presented with a personalized gift made by my son, which always makes the gift more meaningful. Its medium was also coincidently fitting: a cover page headline in the newspaper, Mom’s Gazette!

M&M presenting me with my Mother’s Day gift: a headline in “Mom’s Gazette.” May 2012. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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And though my son broke the rules of his assignment by not drawing only a picture of the two of us, he drew instead, a view of his bedroom from an open door–-because it’s the place he loves spending the most time in and the place that I “clean up the most.”  (Makes sense!)

The room in the picture is clearly recognizable to me: a lamp, his bunk bed, his laundry basket, desk, computer, his toys, and a picture of us together while he “reads a chapter from his book for his school’s RAH Program (Reading at Home).

My copy of “Mom’s Gazette” for Mother’s Day, May 2012. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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Close-up of my Mother’s Day Gift, May 2012. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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Here’s a translation of the article’s content:

World’s Best Mom!

One mother breaks all records to be named Top Mom.

When asked about this honour, her child had this a response:

My mom rocks! She is funny.

When she hugs me, it makes me so happy.

I love doing things with her, especially dancing.

She is so good at singing.

She really is the best!

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I remember the day when my son  first came into my life and made me a shocked and frightened mother with a child no more than 2 lbs. and 18 oz.— and then when my daughter dispelled this fear by giving me a second chance at empowerment by labouring in preparation and without fear.

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Becoming a mother…again… (c) Photo Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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During my pregnancy with her, I studied the labour-coping and life-saving book, Juju Sundin’s Birth Skills: Proven Pain-Management Techniques for Your Labour and BirthFor those of you who are pregnant for the first time or need more confidence in facing the pain of labour, this book is brilliant! It has real techniques that you can learn and choose from for pain management in better coping and understanding labour and birthing. I highly recommend it for any woman on her way to bringing another baby into the world.

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And years later, here are my two little monkeys posing for the camera in presenting me with my Mother’s Day gift, the Mom’s Gazette:

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No, I didn’t receive breakfast in bed. Nor did I get a bouquet of my favourite flowers. I did, however, receive what is always best on Mother’s Day: unconditional “Mommy” love, a platter of sushi, some laughs, and quality time spent with my kids.

M. at Gage Park in celebration of our Mother’s Day weekend! (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
X.M. on swings at Gage Park in celebration of Mother’s Day 2012! (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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How did you celebrate Mother’s Day? What was the best part of your celebration?

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Holy Mother! I’M a Mother!: Reflections on Motherhood Part 1 (Mother’s Day Series)

Holy Mother! I’M a Mother!

Reflections of Motherhood Part 1

(Mother’s Day Series)

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez

As a young girl, I was fiercely independent. Unlike my younger sister who secretly misinterpreted “apron strings” as “Siamese twins.” She was on my mother’s hip for a large part of her early years. Unlike me, who was content and unafraid to experience the world on my own. It’s not that I didn’t need my mother—I just didn’t need my mother.

Independent little me. (c) Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez.

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Later, my ambition, which was sparked not only by my very first “academic award” found in my compassion to “share my crayons” with another child sitting at my table in Junior Kindergarten when I was awarded with The Apple of the Day Award from Miss Sherry, my beloved teacher—was further embedded by my parents’ generous praise of my work and my intelligence.

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I was four.

And every picture that I painted or drew was hung up on the walls of our townhome laundry room, which was on the second floor.

Pictures of a crude, shaky hand: the ever-recognizable yellow-circled sun with straight lines for its rays of light; green scribbles of grass, over-exaggerated stems of tulips of varying colours and sizes (since I had no idea how to draw any other kind of flower); blue clouds, tiny m’s for flying birds, an apple tree with far too many apples and obvious stems; a box house with an attempted roof; and anatomically bare stick people who were taller than my boxed house.

Yes, these were the products of great praise. And so, I kept on drawing. I kept on painting. I kept on reading. And I kept on writing—I kept on.

As I grew, I became a scholarly and serious student, often, if not always at the top of my class. I even graduated as Valedictorian, winning a Brampton Rotary Award of Excellence that drove me to believe I could someday conquer the world (okay, not the world, but maybe a good two or three countries).

Needless to say, my drive for success propelled me into an accepted solitude with a focus only on a strong career and vocation, extravagant travel plans, a nomadic lifestyle, a few adventurous lovers, dependable and like-minded friends, along with a house full of cats (I later found out that I’m anaphylactic to cats and put myself at risk of death in ever being near them!)

(c) Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez

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Marriage or having children were not part of my long-term plans—or even part of a short-term one.

I had nothing against children. Or even men or marriage. I just had other plans. (And we all know how plans usually go…)

My husband and me on our wedding day. (c) Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez

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I’m not complaining. Some of the best things in life derive from spontaneity and surprise. And poof! I met someone who didn’t make me forget my plans or myself, but helped me acutely remember.

Two years into our marriage, “we made plans” to try for a baby.

The actual stick that changed my life. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez

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Unlike some women (and my previous academic success), my pregnancy and that surrounding childbearing was not in any way, “textbook.”

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I was diagnosed with an incompetent cervix, a terribly insulting term, which alluded to the idea that my cervix was somehow wilful and unwilling to succeed in its primary function, which is to carry a child. And just as insulting to my very nature, which was not used to being called “incompetent” at anything I had set my mind to.

And so, I carried my child for as long as I could until my firstborn was born too early—the mere size of a pop can, born at six months gestation instead of the anticipated nine.

(c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez

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That’s how my personal experience of motherhood began. Not the wistful, flowing ebb of sentimentality usually associated with Hallmark cards, perfectly colour-coordinated baby showers, and gushes of congratulatory hugs, handshakes, and bravado cigars. No.

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I had panic and pain when I should have been ethereally glowing. I had Level- Three-priority hospital care with the subjugation of pity, awe, and scientific wonder and study. I had worry, anxiety, and fear—first of labouring, which I had never experienced before, and second, of the potential death of my unborn and then “born-too-early” child.

It was an intensive time of postpartum hormonal change with the heightened stress of death banging on my son’s isolette incubator door. He was 875 grams when he was born. He was fully intubated, depending on the life source of CPAP machines, strong antibiotics, a strict visitation code, a revolving shift of surrogate nurses, and the grace of God.

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I had missed my prenatal classes by two weeks! My son was born before I could attend my first session and so when the accompanying nurse told me to breathe, I didn’t know what the heck she was talking about, nor did I know what it was to enjoy a baby shower.

I had one—an impromptu gathering of my mother, a few of my aunts who had thrown a few gifts into some gift bags, and a buffet of food I didn’t feel like eating because all I could do was worry about whether or not my baby would live or die.

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Dramatic? Yes. True? Absolutely.

And rather than tell you in detail of the four years of frequent hospital visitations, medical appointments, tests, studies, and other forms of my son’s near-death experiences and medical scrutiny—I will say, that we had by no means, any plans to have another child due to the extensive care our son required and the fear of surrendering a second child to a similar fate.

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But, you know how plans go.

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And so, five years later, we put our faith into the possibility of having another baby…

Now, I have a seven-year-old son and a two-year-old daughter!

M & M, my two “kidsters!” (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez

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What’s the moral of the story?

There isn’t one—but, it is my story. And that of my children. And in reflecting back, Mother’s Day isn’t a day to merely celebrate what it is to be a mother—but also to celebrate the children themselves who have made us so.

I know I will most likely be receiving a similar drawing to the one I drew as a child, on Sunday from my kids. The crude and shaky lines will most likely inscribe,

“Happy Mother’s Day, Mama! I love you!”

And yes, I will most likely post it our fridge door.

The yellow-circled sun will most likely be replaced with the steel mask of Iron Man and the straight lines will become its rays of light-beam weaponry. The green scribbles of grass will most likely be the bludgeoning green of Hulk, while the over-exaggerated stems of tulips will become the varying colours and sizes of enemy ships. The blue clouds will stand as Captain America’s shield and the tiny m’s of flying birds will most likely become boomerang discs.  The apple tree will stand firm as the tree from Black Panther’s forest. And the boxed house with an attempted roof will most likely become a testament to the Superhero Squad’s secret headquarters!

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And of course, the anatomically bare stick people—will now include two more!

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How do you celebrate your children as a mother?

If you’re not a mother, how do you celebrate the children who are in your life?

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