Okay, so Valentine’s Day came and went. The day wasn’t monumental for me. I didn’t allow myself to be lured by my “one free night“, as I fantasized here. But we didn’t stay at home the whole day either. We went out and watch the movie that my husband had been wanting to see for a week. So I would say, it was at least good, not something for the books but good especially because I was able to reflect on some things which made me feel like a tad bit mature.
Three days before Valentines, we – all three of us: husband, baby and me – went to watch the opening of the Pyromusical Competition at SM Mall of Asia. For the uninformed, this is an annual international fireworks competition where different countries show off their best musical fireworks display. By musical, it means that every bursts and sparkle are choreographed to match the beat and rhythm of their chosen music. Every show is a spectacle and I’ve always thought that this is so much better than the fireworks display that we see during New Year’s Eve.
It was really fun to watch and we’ve probably gone to 2 or 3 competitions in the past. This year, having a 2-year-old toddler who will most likely enjoy seeing the night sky being lit up by hundreds of colorful lights, my husband was determined that we go and watch. But I wasn’t as thrilled in the beginning. I mean, I would want to watch a fireworks display any day of the year, but the venue, SM Mall of Asia, is just a little too far from where we live. And I know that the contest will last until 9 p.m or even later.
So I had this picture in my head of travelling for at least an hour in a car with a toddler who refuses to stay still (no, we don’t have a carseat because she hates being strapped); and waiting for hours because we had to get there early to get a good “viewing” location; and getting tired from running after an energizer bunny or carrying her when she doesn’t want to walk anymore, even before the contest starts; and going home late and all the other things that could happen between the time we drive to the venue to the time we drive home.
I think you get the picture, especially if you’re a mom. And it’s a picture of utter exhaustion. I could already see myself feeling so tired from all the things that can and might and will happen that day. Just thinking about it makes me want to curl in my bed and sleep.
In the days leading to the event, I kept dropping hints to my husband that I don’t feel like going. But he ignored them and as far as he’s concerned, we’re still going. On the morning of the competition, I found out that we don’t have a car to use (because my brother borrowed it and my dad didn’t know that we’re going to use it that day). I told him maybe we shouldn’t go because, you know, if I can already see myself feeling tired travelling in a car, how much more it will be if we’re going to use public transportation. We ended up getting into a little argument, and he said that if I didn’t want to go then they’ll just leave me. He and Yani will still go and watch the show.
I am at the point in my baby’s life where as much as possible, I want to be with her when she goes out and experience something. Toddler years are important because this is the time when she’s discovering the world and starting to make sense of everything around her. And I don’t want to miss these moments of wonder and marvel. So even if I wanted to show my husband that I have a point for not wanting to go, I went anyway.
The commute from the house to the venue went rather well. There were no meltdowns, no tantrums, no baby giving us a hard time except for that incident when she pooped on her diapers. I told my husband that I’ll take care of it because he needed to stay to save our “seat”. We’re way outside the mall and I had to carry her all the way back inside to find a diaper changing station. But that was the most tiring part. Overall, everything wasn’t as bad as I had imagined it would be.
When night fell and we were counting down the minutes before the competition begins, I was looking out into the sea and feeling particularly reflective. The sea has this effect on most people, perhaps because it calms our minds and enables us to think better, deeper thoughts.
When the fireworks started, amidst the people ooh-ing and wow-ing at the dazzling pageant of lights and sounds against the evening sky , I realized something.
I realized that I’m losing my adventurous spirit fast. I’m forgetting how it is to have fun no matter what happens. I used to be that person. Now everything has to be comfortable and fuss-free. Otherwise, I’d rather stay home where I can babysit while resting, or have someone to babysit for me. Maybe it’s because I get tired easily now. But my baby is still young and I don’t want my lack of energy to hinder the things that she could see and experience.
And you know what, it feels good to be out there, even if at the back of my mind, I was thinking how are we going to go home at past 9 in the evening with the rest of the people who watched the contest and more people who were at the vicinity. We managed to after 2 bus rides, 1 jeepney ride and a baby sleeping like a log. We were exhausted, my back was aching and I knew I was hungry but too tired to eat.
But it was a good day. Yani was smiling and laughing a lot, clapping her hands in delight, singing nursery rhymes, talking to other kids her age. No, actually it was a great day even if she slept through half of the show and couldn’t remember the next day what she’d seen the night before. I realized it wasn’t the fireworks show that made her day. She didn’t really care about it at all. It was all moot to her, the fact that we went all the way there and waited for hours just to watch an hour’s worth of fireworks.
It was being out there, with all these people that are new to her. It was being in this place, even if she’s been here before but she probably doesn’t remember that – it’s being outside of her daily routines and surroundings at home. As I was saying earlier, she’s still so young that she experiences almost everything as if she’s experiencing them for the first time. And that’s what so wonderful when we bring her outside – how she marvels and takes in all the newness that surrounds her. Even if watching the fireworks is new to her, it’s just one of the many more new things that she experienced that day.
So now that I think about it, I’m glad we went and if I will be feeling reluctant about going out again, I will try to remember why we’re doing it and what it would mean for Yani.
I had another insight on Valentine’s day. It’s not really a light bulb moment thing, more like thinking more maturely. You see, we’ve been married for 7 years now and in most of those years, I’ve gotten a Valentines present from my husband. They are either bouquet of flowers or a bag of chocolates, or both. But this year, I didn’t receive any. I knew I wouldn’t so I didn’t expect. For a few months now, he hasn’t been getting enough work and consequently, a much lesser income than what he used to earn. I always discourage him from spending on things that are not important because we have financial obligations that we need to fulfill. A gift is nice, but it’s something we can do away for now.
But he still asked me if I wanted to go out to celebrate the day – do something or eat somewhere not too expensive. And we ended up going to the mall to watch the final installment of Resident Evil. I know, it’s not the most romantic thing to watch. But anyway, at the mall as expected, there were lot of couples, mostly young and middle-aged, and most of the girls are clutching their flowers, probably feeling giddy and special.
I must admit, there was a tinge of envy and maybe some nostalgia as I recall how it feels to receive a bouquet of flowers on Valentines. Nothing like flowers on Valentine’s day can make a woman feel adored. And suddenly my arms felt empty that day because I don’t have one. Don’t think me petty but it’s honestly how I felt.
As I casually looked on, trying not to linger too long at the pretty blooms in other girls’ arms, I reminded myself that if my husband had the budget, I would have my flowers and chocolates – no doubt about that. But we both knew and agreed that we have other more important things to spend our money on. It wasn’t his intention to make me feel less special on Valentine’s day. Besides, I could sense my husband’s uneasiness when we passed by flower stalls and gift shops. It’s as if he feels bad that he didn’t get me any for Valentines. He’s hurting a bit, too and that made me sad and happy at the same time. Sad because I wish that wasn’t the case but happy because it’s feels like we’re sharing this bit of sadness with each other.