I’ve had my hands full (most of the time literally) taking care of babies in the past year, so I had to take a hiatus from blogging. Babies over blogs, of course. No contest. I really can’t complain because I got to work with mothers and fathers who have also become my friends.
Now that my schedule has eased up a bit, I can finally write again. It’s time I showed this blog some love. The fact that I’m returning to it on Valentine’s Day is nothing short of serendipitous — and then some. Yes, I have mixed feelings about today.
Back when I was a florist, Valentine’s Day was a big day for me and my shop. Business was brisk. Many people splurged on bouquets and arrangements that screamed, “I love you and I want the whole galaxy to know it!” Despite all the craziness and giddiness on Valentine’s Day, I couldn’t be totally into it. When I opened my flower shop in 2010, I somehow didn’t realize that I’d have no choice but to put on a cheerful face so I could power through Valentine’s Day.
You see, since February 2000, Valentine’s Day became bittersweet for me. My mother Adela passed away on Valentine’s Day that year. She never even got to see her first grandchild, my daughter Athena, whom I had via C-section in September 2002.
Like all first-time moms, I had my share of anxieties. I wished that my mom was still around to help me figure things out. It would have been nice to have her by my side when I was overwhelmed by all the responsibilities and challenges of being a new mom. I felt so vulnerable and lost. It was as if I was given this new role and I had no script.
For instance, I was so scared of giving Athena a full bath because I was afraid of dropping her. The thought of that horrified me. Thankfully, I had Cel to help me. Cel was our live-in nanny. She acknowledged my concerns and gave me the guidance that I needed to care for Athena. It took me three months to overcome my fear of giving my daughter a full bath. It helped that she no longer seemed so fragile by then.
I learned so much about newborn care from Cel. I may not have had my mom with me, but Cel’s presence eased my sadness and uncertainty. I depended on her to help me with Athena. Since I was still recovering from my C-section, Cel was the one who would get up at night to feed Athena in the first few weeks of her life.
Come to think of it, Cel was actually my “baby nurse” during that time. She was doing the job that I now do for my clients. Thanks to her, I had no doubts that my baby felt that she was loved and cared for right from the start.
Twenty years later, though, I really still can’t help but wish my mom was here. A lot of people say it’s necessary to “move on” from grief, but I don’t think that can be done when you lose a loved one. The pain of my mom being gone will always be with me — in all the days when it would have been nice to call her up to just touch base real quick, to ask for advice, or to talk about nothing in particular for hours. I will always miss my mom. But, perhaps, I can also celebrate her life on Valentine’s Day.
It’s really funny how things work out because my daughter Athena reminds me so much of my mom. My mother had a great singing voice and so does Athena. My mom may not have seen Athena, but I see so much of my mom in my daughter. I also have a wealth of memories from the times my mom and I spent together. I am thankful for these little gifts that keep my mom alive for me.
As I honor my mom’s memory, I am also thankful that Cel was around to help me during a very important part of my life. I know that my mom would have loved her as much as I do.
Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! Hug your loved ones and tell them how much you treasure them. Hold on to the moments that will help get you through life’s not-quite-happy days. Me? I’ve realized that happiness starts with me taking care of myself. That includes enjoying even the simplest things — like a warm bath with my favorite karma bath bomb from Lush while listening to a soothing earthy music of Nora Jones.