I can buy myself flowers

I meant to write this for May when it was Mother’s Day, Flores de Mayo season, and my mother’s 70th birthday. But circumstances made it hard for me to hear my voice enough to write a column straight from my heart.

So here I am, on Father’s Day weekend, and as a solo parent, I also celebrate Father’s Day (my son Basti grew up greeting me on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day at his own accord). Because it’s true: us solo parents make up fifteen million of the Philippines’ current one hundred million population, based on a recent study of the World Health Organization (February 2024).

Ninety five percent or fourteen million of the solo parents in the Philippines are women. This means there are one million solo parent fathers who also act as their child’s/children’s mothers. (I’m looking at you, Gabe Mercado!)

This column is for us, my virtual gift of flowers as we celebrate our strength on Father’s Day.

Flowers make me happy

I have always been in touch with nature. I don’t know how to explain it, but I feel happy and reinvigorated when I am around plants, trees, and flowers. As a child, I used to describe it as very Narnia-like: you sense their life, breathe with them, and feel their care. 

We were raised to think that we should receive flowers, at least here in the Philippines or for my generation (Gen X). Flowers have always been a symbol of courtship, love, and even grief.

But does it mean they can only symbolize love from someone else? 

No, flowers can symbolize our love for ourselves. Flowers can symbolize our love for our space, and they will love us back. 

There’s a science behind it

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, conducted a 10-month study on the link between flowers and life satisfaction with one hundred forty seven women. While we already know that flowers liven up any space, their findings provided a scientific foundation, making it a pragmatic need to add flowers to our space for the sake of our health. 

“What’s most exciting about this study is that it challenges established scientific beliefs about how people can manage their day-to-day moods in a healthy and natural way,” says Jeannette Haviland-Jones, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology at the university and lead researcher on the study, in an article published on safnow.org.

Here are their findings:

1. Flowers instantly impact happiness. All participants demonstrated raw delight and gratitude upon receiving flowers, across all age groups. 

HAPPINESS BOOST. Flowers may not last as long as a new gadget or dress, but the happiness they give is incomparable. Photo by Kai Magsanoc

2. Flowers positively affect our mood, and this is long-term. Participants said they felt less depressed, anxious, and agitated after receiving flowers.

3. Flowers help strengthen connections. Receiving flowers from someone led to more contact. 

“Science shows that not only do flowers make us happier than we know, they have strong positive effects on our emotional well being,” adds Dr. Haviland-Jones.

This is your sign to get flowers for your space, stat

Last December, at forty four years old, I bought myself flowers for the first time in my life. I was celebrating Christmas alone for the first time in my life (yep, lots of firsts), because my mother had migrated to the US and my son was out of town. I got myself a dozen red roses, and not only did they make me feel happy, they also made me feel empowered and capable.

FOR EVERY SPACE, ANY CORNER. There are no rules when it comes to displaying flowers. If putting them in your bathroom or restroom makes you happy, go for it. Photo by Kai Magsanoc

“Kanino po galing ‘yan? (Whom did this come from?),” we would usually ask the person who delivers flowers. But that day I was to receive them, I knew I got them for myself, and I was excited anyway. I must have taken the vase around with me at home for an entire week — my work desk, my bedside, and my dining nook. Wherever I went, they went.

If you don’t know where to begin incorporating flowers into your life (or if you still find it awkward to get them for yourself), here are a few tips:

1. Buy a vase each for your home and office. Keep them in areas where you usually see them, even if peripherally. Seeing them every day will remind you to get flowers to fill them in. I also suggest getting one for your dining area and kitchen, because when you prepare food happily, the food just tastes better.

2. Decorate your home with flowers, even if as art. Flowers don’t have to be fresh in order to add life to your space and warmth into your life. In my case, portraits, photos, or paintings of flowers give me as much awe as seeing real flower details up close. Decors like these are available in the home section of your go-to department store.

3. Give flowers as gifts. Giving flowers to others gives us as much joy as they give the receiver (although I really advocate getting them for yourself). This is a good place to begin in case you still hesitate to get flowers for yourself.

CONNECTED WITH NATURE. Flowers come in all shapes and forms. They can be subtle or colorful, a lot or a single stem. But they will be good for you and your space anyway. Photo by Georgia de Lotz for Unsplash

Remember that, as parents, we are our children’s role models. We shape them by our example, and how they see us taking care of ourselves through our self-care and self-respect is crucial to how they will care for themselves and what they will tolerate as adults.

Flowers in our space boost our mood, reduce stress and anxiety, promote feelings of appreciation and gratitude, help us feel more connected to nature, and inspire creativity. Therefore, they help us become more productive, too.

Life is hard, but it doesn’t have to be ugly. So long as we are trying and showing up every day, we deserve the beauty that life has to give. And it doesn’t have to be grand or expensive.

It can simply be flowers. Happy Father’s Day.

What flowers work for you and your space? For me, it’s roses and sunflowers. Tell me your story at [email protected]