Top of the world

By: Cris Evert B. Lato-Ruffolo June 08,2019 - 08:10 AM

“There’s a pleasant sense of happiness for me,” to quote a line of the Carpenters’ Top of the World, every single time my children ditch their tablets and hurry out of the main door to play with their friends.

I love to hear the giggles and cheers. It tells me that they are having fun in the company of real people. Their eyes are not glued on those pesky gadgets to marvel at another child unboxing toys.

When they come running back home with a scrape on the knee, I actually want to pat them on the back and say, “Good job.” This tells me that they ran, fell and picked themselves back up again.

When Nicholas tells me that his friend, Gideon, has a toy that he doesn’t have, I often tell him that we do not always get what we want. You’ll be surprised how you can say “no” to children without really saying the word.

Parenting in the age of Youtube and social media is tougher than I thought. When I was pregnant with the twins, I had a Utopian world full of books that I planned for them. I recently read some of them in old Facebook and blog posts dating back to 2013.

In one of those posts, I wrote: “I will only allow one-hour screen time for my children because the silver screen has a way of mushing people’s brains. The brains of babies are like sponges and they will take in whatever they see. I don’t want my kids to be addicted to TV. I just want them to read books and play. “

Although we still don’t have TV at home, because we have laptops and smartphones and tablets, I admit that I have exposed my children to more than one-hour of screen time.

It’s the ultimate babysitter especially when you’re a stay-at-home mother plagued with endless amount of household chores to accomplish.

Several times, my children were glued to their tablet for eight hours, taking breaks only for snacks or lunch of chicken nuggets and fries.

The twins were two years old and I just gave birth to Jeff Jr. I was living outside of the Philippines and had no help as Jeff was working, too, for the family. I can’t even begin to share how many times I cried on the kitchen floor and spent hours folding clothes and then do the same thing again the following day.

Coming home to Cebu, I thought it was going to be much easier because I can have all the help I want and need.

But I learned that I am a different kind of Mom when I’m home. I tend to work or find more work to do here. I spent more time outside of the house on the first six months since my return because I was so tired of staying inside the house.

But a working mother also face a different set of challenges including the daily exercise of reconciling with herself that she is not a bad mother because she is out there looking for ways to contribute in the family’s income so there’s always food on the table and the children’s school fees are paid.

There are work-from-home mothers too, who fulfill their responsibilities as professionals by doing jobs that they can accomplish from home in the midst of all the chaos caused by children. They are a different breed, too.

The single mothers are the unsung heroes of this generation, especially the ones who work and then rush to school events so they can be there for their child/children.

I have three more weeks to enjoy my children’s constant presence at home before they go back to school.

My twins will be six years old on their first day back to school and they’re going to be in Grade 1. The youngest in Kindergarten 1.

I probably used this line more than 100 hundred times. But really, where did the time go? Why is it in a hurry to let my children grow? At this stage of my life as a working mother, it gives me so much joy to see my children smile and their happiness reflected in the glow that I see in their eyes. Nothing gives me so much joy. Well, their smiles, beauty pageants and my husband’s homemade spaghetti sauce.

I’m 32 and I don’t wish for material things that much now. I have most of the things I need because I am surrounded with love by the people whom I love.

Karen Carpenter sang it beautifully.

I’m on the top of the world lookin’ down on creation/ And the only explanation I can find/ Is the love that I’ve found ever since you’ve been around/ Your love’s put me at the top of the world.

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