It’s getting easier and easier to pass by the computer without being seized by the urge to sit down in front of it and surf the net or blog. What started out as a Lenten exercise of self-restraint and sacrifice has become a real reflection of my constant lack of time here at home. Between my son Alphonse (with his escalating needs) and the housework, the only time I can find some respite is when he lies down at night to sleep. But I’m not giving up yet. It isn’t over till the fat lady sings. In this case, I am the fat lady, and I am definitely not singing “Adieu” just yet.
This has been one tough summer, and I don’t think it’s over yet. Contrary to common expectation, summers in our household are usually periods of stress and sieges. Summers are when nannies leave, either permanently or for brief vacations. Summers are when I have an extra child in the house, which necessarily translates to time divided and an increase in demand for food. (Most days, I feel like a short order cook.) While Big Brother Alex can be a lot of help, particularly with babysitting, somehow, his presence in the home makes Alphonse refuse to work or study. I think Alphonse has learned to associate his brother’s presence with weekends and free time. As a result, he resists our schedules, and what used to be seamless transitions for his activities have become constant battles for control.
Then, too, to make things just a little more complicated, with the departure of his regular nanny for a vacation, we welcomed his old nanny back into our home – with two sons in tow. While we felt that this would not be the wisest choice to make, given than Alphonse hates sudden changes, we could not ignore her pleas for help. The children were starving in their hometown, and their mother, once Alphonse’s beloved nanny of four years, begged for help, even if only temporarily. The sudden introduction of children crying loudly late into the night, of little boys poaching on Alphonse’s turf and playing with his toys, and of the rambunctious pitter patter of little feet (in early morning!) have disturbed our home’s equilibrium. The first few weeks after they arrived, I had a headache almost every day, so unused were we with having to share space with little children again. Alphonse’s sleep cycles were disturbed by the new sounds in our home, and this has made him more irritable and more prone to fits of anger. We cover our hair with bandannas all day to prevent the recurrence of hair pulling, and wear loose shirts after Alphonse ripped my good nightgowns in anger. These have been difficult days, we all know.
Yet for all the difficulties we encounter, I still see goodness in these trying days. Despite the children’s wariness to their new surroundings and circumstances, they both adore Alphonse. They imitate what he does, from jumping on the trampoline, to chewing on ice (one of Alphonse’s quirks), to playing with bubbles. The older child, a five-year-old boy, declared that he will jump every day so he will grow to be as beautiful as Alphonse. The two-year-old, a very tiny squirt of a child and still more of an infant than a toddler, already acts like a big brother to Alphonse, calling out to him kindly and constantly, “Kuya Alphonse, bubbles kita?” (Big Brother Alphonse, shall I blow bubbles for you?”) In the last week, Alphonse has passed them by without so much as a glance as the kids shouted in unison, “Hi, Kuya Alphonse!” Today, he actually looked at them for a while before moving on.
This is all temporary, I know. In a few months, we will have to reevaluate our domestic set-up and try to find other ways to help Alphonse and these children. Right now, our household budget is strained to the limit, and I feel the stress of having to be more creative and more resourceful in order to make everything work for this larger household. And so, between the added responsibilities these changes have brought upon us and the balancing acts as peacemaker and negotiator I perform for all the members of my family, I find little time to speak my mind in the pages of my own blog or in this forum. Today is a rarity, one that has allowed me time to breathe and recharge before I take up my role as mother to all again. But I yet hold hope that this tough summer will pass. I just have to remember to take it slowly, one day at a time.
From Herword.com, May 14, 2009