Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Every mother has superpowers. Any woman who has a child will tell you that. Mothers juggle the house, the kid/s, the husband, and the career, or any combination thereof, and do it all well, or at least properly. Everyone in the house eats healthy, laundry gets done, dishes washed and bills paid more or less on time. Multitasking is a woman's specialty; most men cannot manage it.

When the first baby is born, a new mum acquires several new skills while wishing for many more. First, she learns to do things one-handed - eating, typing, going to the toilet and even putting on makeup. Ambidexterity follows, as she learns to do all of these with either hand while the other holds on to the baby. Then comes the wish for elastic arms, so that while holding on to the sleeping or nursing infant, she can also reach for her mobile/book/glass of water/laptop. She also acquires super-speed, the ability to do everything from eating to grocery shopping even more efficiently and quickly (and often simultaneously).

Of course the ideal would be to be able to multiply one's self, so that one can look after the baby, the other go to work and the third take care of the household chores. We can always dream.

On television the other night, they were showing The Incredibles, one of my favourite recent animated films. Seeing it again, and for the first time since having my own child, made me realize how aptly the characters' powers are assigned. Dad is the strong one, protecting the family and keeping them safe from physical harm. Mum is the elastic one, the glue that holds them all together. The teenage daughter is self-conscious and shy while the young son is a bundle of endless energy, much like Little A. Finally, there is the baby who is elemental, able to turn into fire and stone as his emotions dictate.

Little A turns two this weekend. Another milestone. I wonder if this means a whole new set of mummy superpowers are in order.

Why Why Why?

I have just read about Baby Peter, a 17 month old boy who was killed by his mother and her boyfriend in London. Yes, there are people out there who have children without realizing they need to care for them, and there are people who are too selfish and irresponsible to care for anyone other than themselves. But domestic violence is just far too common nowadays. And it is always the children, who never asked to be born and never did anything wrong, who suffer.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Turning Two

In a little over two weeks, my son will be two years old. Two years old! My fellow parents are lamenting that their children are now putting on uniforms and starting "big" school while other friends are just about to give birth or are still pregnant. So it goes, the cycle of life.

Meanwhile, my little boy will turn two and his grandmother is insisting on throwing him a birthday party. So I dusted off all the preparations I made over a year ago for his Knight and Princess themed party, and we are having it this year, weather cooperating or not.

Last year, my husband and I purchased balloons, giveaways, (swords for the boys and fake jewellery for the girls) a tablecloth, cake toppers and designed the invitation. We thought about hiring Shetland ponies for the kids to ride, but the costs were too prohibitive. Then the rains came. July in Manila is well within the rainy season, and last year there were plenty of thunderstorms, monsoons and all the rest of it. Wet, very wet. So we opted for a safe first birthday celebration at an indoor soft play centre, which Little A enjoyed until he got sleepy a couple of hours in.

This year, we will rent a bouncy castle, tents and set up a play area for the babies in my parents' garden. We purchased a new printer and I spent several hours printing out invitations on parchment, cutting the paper to size, burning the edges for the "old" look, and sealing them with wax. I've bought large quantities of spaghetti noodles, tomato sauce and mince, since our local culture requires noodles for long life to be served at birthday celebrations. This weekend, I hope to find an artist to produce the dragon pinata we need and find a baker who can make the cake we want without charging us an arm and a leg.

Meanwhile, the birthday boy is done with his milk strike, which was followed by a ten day or so food strike, during which time he would eat nothing but cheese biscuits and the occasional slice of pizza. I wonder if he looks forward to the coming year. Two years old means talking and toilet training, maybe even preschool. I sure hope I'm ready.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Little Carbon Footprints

From the time Little A was born, I wished there was a way that his nappies could be treated so they could biodegrade more easily. Babies can go through 8-12 nappies a day, particularly in the early months when they poop so often. And since he became mobile so quickly, it was difficult to put him in cloth nappies as one wee meant he was crawling about and slipping in wet patches. Plus, cloth nappies may not be as ecologically efficient as we think, given the amount of washing they need, which uses plenty of water and laundry detergent.

Recently, chlorine free and eco-friendly disposable nappies became available locally. Not only are they significantly cheaper than their non-eco-friendly counterparts, they are completely biodegradable and hypoallergenic. I purchased some, and Little A has been wearing them for a week now.

While the nappies are not as well-made as their polluting cousins (one in five comes with different tapes on the sides, with one plastic one and one soft breathable side one, some are not too well sealed, so balls of stuffing come out and can be eaten by curious children, and some aren't very absorbent, as the pee just goes straight through the back of them as I found out at a too-early hour this morning) they are, by and large, a good choice. I can't help but think of the massive savings I would have in the bank now if Little A had been using these for the past year and 11 months, but comfort myself with the fact that they weren't available sooner and that by breastfeeding I've saved significantly anyway.

So Little A's Little Carbon Footprint is smaller now, and it should continue to reduce in size once he is toilet trained. In the meantime, we will keep on using the earth-friendly nappies. Now if only they came in pull-up form.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Just Because It's June

The Merry Month of May is gone. With June came the rains. And ten days short of celebrating his 23rd month on earth, my son decided he had had enough of milk. One day he was drinking his usual 2 cups a day, the next he went on what is now going on a two week milk strike.

The first night he refused his milk, I put it down to being too full after a big dinner. Next morning, I allowed it as well, since he ate plenty of breakfast. As the days went on though, he has shown no signs of wanting to ever drink milk again, despite many failed attempts to trick and coax him into ingesting some. (Chocolate milk? Disgusting. My son would rather eat his own poop. Changing cups? He refused them altogether and only accepted water from a clear glass.) Clearly, I am not wily enough to outsmart a 23 month old.

As all mothers will know, parenting is largely a matter of trial and error. From the time of a child's birth, you try new things, different things. Nappies, (some give them a rash, others have sharp tapes that cut their skin, others don't absorb well enough) teats, in the case of bottle drinkers, and sippy cups, (some spouts are too hard, others too soft, yet others weirdly shaped in a way they don't like) soaps and body washes, (some dry the skin, others cause eczema) laundry detergent, the list goes on and on. When a child begins to eat, they will try every type of mashed, pureed, bottled and fresh fruit, vegetable and food combination. Entire sections of baby books are given over to Baby's Favourites, which automatically implies that the process of selection and elimination for each has been laborious and lengthy.

Going back to my son's milk strike, I'm considering the alternatives. He's rejected 4-6 types of formula in the past, and with age 2 coming up certainly won't need it any more anyway. I could try soy or rice milk, but chances are as long as the liquid is white, he'll reject it anyway. But that won't stop me from buying a number of variants nonetheless.

I have a terrible feeling this is the beginning of the Twos, when most children become more active about asserting their independence. While Little A still won't speak, he no longer allows us to make his digestive decisions for him anymore. A box of rabbit-shaped organic cheese biscuits recently arrived from grandmum, which in the past would usually languish on the table to be finished off by mum and dad, but Little A knows they are his, and now looks for them before, during and after every meal. If we take away the biscuits, he'll refuse to eat the food. For now, he is eating both. Fingers crossed it stays that way. Now maybe if I dipped those cheese rabbits in milk...