Hello, dolls! Hello, 2020!! Can you believe it?! It’s the New Year and for the first time in a long time, I feel refreshed about starting over. For the past couple of years I would always say things are so good I don’t think I want to change anything. This time, I am ready to take on new challenges and be open to every opportunity that will come my way.
Being a Mom during the holidays is like running a marathon. I feel like I haven’t stopped running since Thanksgiving. From packing for our family’s trip to Asia for two weeks, then coming back two days before Baby A’s Christmas party in school — which was five days before Christmas! I knew my schedule was going to be hectic as soon as we landed in New York! I only had our naked tree up until the 18th so I spent my days splitting my time unpacking 7 suitcases, decorating our house, Christmas shopping, and be a Mom to Little A and baby C! Just typing all these made me exhausted already lol.
So I am ready to start over but not the kind that makes me want to erase everything. I just want to…grow. The difference between starting over to restart and starting over to grow is the outcome we want to see. Restarting means (almost) completely changing things, whereas growing is to encourage change by letting go to make room for new ones. As happy as I am now with my familial situation, I know for a fact it’s time for me to grow as an individual — and 2020 is the year for it.
The last time I spent Christmas in the Philippines was 2013! I went home a couple of times since then but nothing beat being with my entire family for the Holidays. My first year of being away from home was really rough because I moved to a place where I literally did not know anyone. It was hard to feel home even if I tried with all the Filipinos around me. No amount of lumpia or pancit would suffice.
I am blessed to have A because without him, I wouldn’t have anyone to call family here (before Little A and Baby C). His parents welcomed me like we’ve known each other for years and I have grown to love the rest of his family too who are all so sweet to me.
I have been living away from home for almost 8 years now and here are some ways that helped me cope homesickness during the Holidays.
1. Your Purpose
Remind yourself of why you are in this situation. Why you decided to move and the positive motivation behind it.
I moved 8 years ago because I needed change. I was trying to heal myself from a bad breakup and I knew the only way for me to move on was to focus on myself. I wanted to feel great and I knew my options in Manila were very limited so I applied for an internship in the US. I did not know anything about Baltimore but I knew in my heart it was the best choice for me at that time.
I told myself it would only be a year — one birthday, one Christmas, and 52 Sundays away from my family. What I did not realize was the heavy feeling it would entail each time my family would celebrate something. I knew the feeling was heavy for them too but my Dad would always remind me “you are doing something for yourself, after that, you will be someone better”.
Little A right after Christmas at work with me.
I don’t know about you but I like to distract myself when I am worried about something or whenever I am feeling dejected. It’s not that I want to run away from reality, I just feel like getting some space helps me ponder on what is important and come up of ways to be happy.
One thing I realized in 2019 is to never ever put my job first. As much as I want to feel grateful because it is the industry that brought me here and lead me to meeting A, the past year was a bittersweet awakening for me. I remember taking Little A to work with me several times because I felt like I could not afford to take off or go home early because of my responsibility as a Chef. I was so used to pushing myself too hard especially around the holidays to distract myself.
3. Mingle All The Way
One of the most effective ways of surviving feeling homesick during the holidays is to connect with friends and spend time with them. Over the years, I have come to realize the importance of friendship and how it reflects who we are. While I do not count how many friends I have, I do value friendships that grow with time — it’s easy to find friends, but keeping them is the challenge!
I may not have a gazillion friends here in Baltimore (which I honestly like) but I know that I would love to spend the holidays with each one of them 🙂
4. Just Like Home
I love to host parties and I always look forward to our Filipino gathering after Christmas because it makes everyone feel like we are in the Philippines again. Aside from the delicious Filipino food we all put on the table, the waves of laughter and hours of chitchatting alleviate us from missing our families too much. Being with other Filipinos and sharing Filipino foods that we love makes me feel like I am not too far from home.
5. Immerse Yourself
One of the best pieces of advice I got during my internship was to immerse myself – to the culture, society, and way of living. Though a lot of people who move abroad like to say “we will never change”, it is actually inevitable since it organically happens as we grow. Part of fighting being homesick is to do something different.
Part of being married to A is to welcome new traditions in my life. I couldn’t thank his family enough for being so welcoming because it became easy for me to adapt. New traditions = newfound happiness.
Christmas morning with Little A!
6. Retail Therapy
I don’t know about you but shopping is my favorite medicine 😛 I love shopping for presents especially since it helps me keep my mind off the loneliness.
My shopping trips don’t normally look like this. Back when Toys R Us was still in business (or at least before their hiatus), I went to the store with my A boys to see if they have any cool baby stuff I can bring for our trip. A went to the aisle of Legos with Little A and when I caught them like this, I laughed and told A “this is how we are going to spend the night of December 23rd for the next couple years, at a toy store because of Little A”. This trip was for A though! lol
7. Face Time
We are fortunate to live in a world where communication is so accessible for most of us. I remember my grandfather almost two decades ago buying call cards to call his wife in the US from the Philippines. They were so content just hearing each other’s voice. When I moved to Baltimore seven years ago, I pretty much installed every video call application on my phone so I can call my parents and see them.
Although I know nothing can amend the feeling of being physically together, being able to see my family’s smiles when we talk gives me the positive feeling that I yearn for when I miss them.
8. For Him
Although the Holidays are the best way to gather with family and friends, we must not forget who we celebrate Christmas for. Remind yourself that the main reason we celebrate Christmas is because of Jesus will give you the peace of mind and comfort that you will ever need.
From being an intern and feeling homesick to having my own family I can celebrate Holidays with.