This year is all about discovering how I can be better at mothering you, inside and out.

I remember this year to be another year of power struggle; striving to respect your choices and acknowledge your emotions.

I remember you entered second grade with so much excitement because it was another school year to learn new things, make new friends, and discover new likes and dislikes.

I remember hearing good things from your classmates; they said you’re smart and that you write quickly or answer the teacher’s questions enthusiastically. I remember loving your Tr. Aly so much. I remember being so active in school events, making sure you know we are always present.

I remember you meeting new friends; I remember Faith wanting to be your best friend and you were so happy having her. I remember you telling stories about how cute Faith is and how nice she is to you. I remember hearing the names of Pilar and Oona and Amira and seeing the tons of notes inside your bag.

I remember you already having a crush and how it made you smile. I like that for you, having a crush means someone is really nice to you.

I remember making new friends too. I enjoyed this stage of motherhood where most of our activities and plans involved our newfound friends from school. I recall being really happy in the company of fellow parents—singing, drinking, hanging out after school, on weekends, and celebrating birthdays together.

I remember you going on your first field trip alone. It was scary at first, but I trusted that you would be safe and enjoy yourself. Some said you were too young to be on your own, but I believed in you and in the school. True enough, you had a great time, and it was a truly memorable experience for you.

I remember celebrating my birthday in Boracay with the whole family, including Grandma, Ninong Rom, and Ninang Dar, all of us having a great time. Afterwards, we drove to Baguio a few days later and spent Christmas together, just the three of us.

I remember going on camping trips with our school friends; we made camping trips a priority this year and so happy that you have spent valuable time outdoors with your best friends. I remember you laughing so loudly, running so extensively, and playing so happily. I remember your dirty clothes, sweaty body, and the smile that won’t fade easily.

I remember you feeling angry at me whenever I yell or get mad; and I remember how you would choose some time alone to process your emotions. I remember us apologizing to each other every after fight. I remember not being able to control my triggers, I am very sorry for that. Know that I really want to be as gentle as possible, but I am still learning and it’s really hard for me.

I remember being honest with with whatever I feel and you have always been so kind to understand. I remember you always validating my feelings and always telling me I am a good mother despite my shortcomings. I remember this year to be not just about you but also me growing up and learning from you, too.

I remember you finding your tribe and I am happy witnessing that. I remember you talking nonstop about your friends and always coming home happy because of them. I remember being thankful to them especially to Faith because she really loves you and was always there to protect you. I remember taking you, Pilar, Oona, and Faith to a date and I loved seeing you girls smile. I love that you have friends who are like sisters to you, even at this early age.

I remember your first heartbreak when Pilar and her family left for NZ. It broke my heart seeing you cry so deeply when we said goodbye to them. It was tough to witness, but it also showed me how deeply you can love a friend and a sister, and I’m glad you’ve experienced that same love in return.

I remember us going on with our lives after an adult “break-up”. I remember us moving on and continue being happy with our circle. I remember you saying you are enjoying the company of Lucas and Leon; especially now that both you and Lucas are members of HPFC. I remember you being comfortable and happy being one of the boys, adding Xander and Clive, too.

I remember you wanting to learn how to play piano. We got you a mini keyboard and boy you were impressive. You learned so quickly even without formal lessons; just a little help from Google and Daddy. Don’t worry because we will find you a teacher so you will learn more.

I remember you always standing your ground, always firm whenever you think you are right. At the same time, humble enough to admit whenever you thing you’re in the wrong.

I remember you sleeping in your own room just to finish a book and I remember missing you but carried on because I wanted to sleep with just daddy alone.

I remember a lot of things, but the most I treasure in my heart is the way you long for me even if we’re always together, the way you always yearn for my hugs even if we have just hugged. And the way you always forgive me after a fight.

This year we are facing yet another chapter — not having you for lunch when the school starts. I know you can do it, but it’s me who can’t. My baby is now going almost full day in school. While I am excited for you to enter another stage, I can’t help but think of the past 7 years that we are always together. Time flies, really fast. I can totally understand now.

Happiest 8th birthday our Dareen Monica. Please always remember that our love for you knows no limit, no end. And nothing will ever change that. We love you so much. <3