This birthday was quite different for me. I was on a plane somewhere over the Indian Ocean going home from South Africa when 12 midnight struck. I had a birthday breakfast in Singapore during our layover with my husband and two of our very good friends, Ariel and Shirley. Then we got home and waited for the kids to be dismissed from their respective schools and had a nice dinner at the newly-opened Denny’s in BGC.
What I want to share with you are two of the best yet birthday messages I’ve received. They are of course from my children. I share this with all the moms because I believe that everyone of you too deserves these words.
This one is from my eldest, Nathan:
“They say the older you get, the more you appreciate your parents. Well I’m 21 this year, and with each passing year I’ve discovered more and more how much you’ve sacrificed for me. Some days I pray for you and tear up because of how much I see you’ve given up just so I could be happy and walk in God’s path for me. You’re turning 40, right? 40 is too big a number so I chose to list down 21 things I’ve discovered I’m so grateful for.
1.) You went through labor pains, birthing pains, hospital expenses, and postpartum depression just to have me.
2.) You learned to change diapers, deal with my spit-ups, and give up sleep taking care of me as a baby.
3.) You carried me along in your yearlong mission trip to Russia, reading storybooks with me before I went to bed.
4.) You preached the Gospel to me. I’m forever grateful for this.
5.) You taught me how to be a good kuya to my sister, and now to my other siblings.
6.) You fixed all my requirements and kissed me goodbye before my first day of school.
7.) You disciplined me even though it was painful for both of us. You knew the fruit it would bear one day.
8.) You were always there for me. To comfort me when Jerome died.
9.) You never stopped believing in me, and encouraged me to keep learning and trying new things. Especially when you found out I was a child genius.
10.) You learned how to homeschool me, and taught me science and math and, the worst, Filipino.
11.) You would forgo spending on your own desires so we could save up for family trips.
12.) And on those trips, you would still be selfless enough to make sure I had a comfy bed, enough to eat, and even extra spending money for toys.
13.) You helped me write my grade school graduating speech.
14.) You pushed me to stay in high school and gave me comfort at the same time, when Mr. Brazal made me cry.
15.) You blocked off everything else for our family days, which I would always look forward to after a long day at school as an outcast. I’m so thankful I have loving arms to come home to, who will accept me no matter what.
16.) Even if I get so stubborn with girls. You corrected me and disciplined me and helped me learn to put my security in God alone.
17.) You took care of me and watched over me when I almost died from dengue. Your nonstop prayers worked miracles.
18.) You supported me in my every endeavor. You came to my Upward events, you gave me advice for talking to freelance clients, and you always opened the house to worship nights and gatherings with my spiritual family.
19.) You let me go on trips to Xiamen and Singapore to bless others and be blessed. I’m so thankful for these life-changing trips.
20.) You let me work and learn from the real world, and taught me that after all these things, family still matters the most.
21.) You support me in my lovelife endeavors, and pray for a godly and fruitful marriage for me.
Mom, after all these things, I can only say thank you. So much. You have sacrificed a million other things for me, and I will never be able to recount them all, much less repay you. You are so important to me, and nothing’s gonna change my love for you. Happy birthday.
P.S. I think you’re the best mom in the whole world. I really do.”
And as if that wasn’t enough to make me cry, Janina posts this one on Facebook:
“Mom, you were my superhero. you were amazing and perfect in every way, i would look up to you in awe from below. but as i grew up, i saw you become human. i see you angry, sad, frustrated, i see your imperfections and your short comings as a mother. but more than the cape and the cool stance, i see you move in complete grace in every situation you face. your face might not be as flawless as it was, but your crows feet are symbols that you smile no matter what happens and that you choose joy. your stretch marks maybe are something you sigh at, but to me they’re evidence of great strength and motherhood. i know i haven’t been the best daughter to you, but you’ve been the best mother to me, and so many more people. before, that was the only thing i’d see you but now, you’re not just my mom, but my quirky, loud and crazy best friend. and maybe, you’re not a super hero, but you’re my hero, and i think that’s super. happy birthday mom, i love you!”
My heart is full. I hope these messages encourage you… If you feel tired, discouraged and unappreciated, time will come you will be able to see the fruit of all your labor in parenting. So keep at it. 🙂
P.S. I did not just turn 40 as Nathan has said ;p