When we found out that we were pregnant again, one of the first questions that came to mind was, “When should my mom fly in from the Philippines?” My mom has been there for the births of all my sister’s and my children. Though not in the delivery room with me (in many hospitals in the Philippines, no family members are allowed in the room during delivery—not even husbands—so the concept is somewhat strange for my mom) she’s helped get everything ready for baby and given Mr. D and me some extra snooze time after the babies’ births.
As a first-time mother with Sofia, it was a blessing to have her around 24/7, not just to help with the baby and give gentle advice, but to have someone to talk to and reassure me that everything I was going through was normal. It was also special that we got to celebrate Mother’s Day together that year, three generations of us girls.
We knew one of the challenges after Caleb was born would be taking care of Big Sister Sofia. We wanted to make sure that she would get the attention she needed while we adjusted to having a new person in the house. What’s really helped us this past month and a half was having Mom spend time with Sofia and keep our very curious and precocious three-year-old engaged.
My mom’s gift has always been for teaching. She taught English for a while before my sister was born, but chose to stay home and take care of us. Even so, she became the director of our church choir (a position she continues to be passionate about—this week she and the choir will be going to Korea on a missions trip) and tutored my siblings and me after school. She actually used to make mock exams for us before our quarterly finals, which meant that she read all our school books along with us. Most of the time, her tests were longer and more difficult than our actual exams, which made finals less intimidating. She also practiced with us as we played our piano and violin pieces every night. She coached me for my declamation and extemporaneous speaking competitions, and encouraged me to join writing contests. When we traveled, she made sure that our trips centered around museums and cultural experiences rather than shopping, which is something I try to carry on with our family.
So, it’s no surprise that my mom’s been keeping Sofia occupied by teaching her new things. When she arrived, she gave Sofia a puzzle that put pictures and words together and explained their relationships (A tree grows from soil, etc.) Before we left for the hospital, she made sure we had activity books ready for her and Sofia to do while we were away. They went through the Kumon Cutting, Folding, Pasting, Letters and Numbers books really quickly. She also breezed through her Pre-K workbook, prompting us to buy books on Rhyming Words and Kindergarten Math to keep her interested. This morning I woke up and went out to the living room to see that Sofia had already completed two pages of her workbook before breakfast. When we struggled with getting Sofia to dance in ballet class (she was going through a phase where she refused to dance and would end up just standing in the corner close to tears), it was my Mom’s brilliant suggestion to make a reward chart with stickers that motivated our little girl. She’s now back to her happy, excited self on Saturday mornings, and is already halfway to her prize.
While I’ve been thinking about having Sofia begin music lessons sometime this year, my Mom had already been researching Suzuki method violin teachers near us. She also got instructions for making a “box violin” that Sofia could use to practice holding a violin and bow. Sofia had a great time building and decorating it.
My mom leaves for the Philippines today. Though many would think that having their mom come to stay for two months is a long length of time, I can’t believe it’s gone by so fast. I’ll miss her and I know Sofia will miss spending time with her grandma. But in the last sixty days, Sofia’s already learned so much and her eagerness to be challenged and discover new things has grown even more. Thanks to my mom, I am prepared to meet those needs and make sure her love of learning continues.