Sunday, April 01, 2007

MOTHERHOOD (Chapter 5)

For the hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world.
I remember that as a little girl, I was such a spoiled brat who didn’t know how to help out in the house. I grew up with maids at home who gratified our needs and wants 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Everyone thought I wouldn’t be able to keep a good home. I thought so too.
Maternal instinct used to be meaningless to me. But now, I firmly believe in it. I didn’t really understand why I seem so natural at it. Probably because I was always the mommy whenever I play house with my friends as a child.
It was probably God’s providence that I be enrolled in BS Family Life and Child Development in College, instead of the traditional pre-med course. I had no idea what this degree was all about. I thought it was training the students to become professional babysitters. I used to be so embarrassed to tell anybody about my course that I would say “FLCD, meaning, Forensic Life and Child Detention” just to make it sound highfalutin.
But lo and behold! This course that I finished in U.P. trained me to be the first-class teacher/ administrator that I am, the high-quality wife to my husband, and the first-rate mother to my daughter.
It was true what they said that it was all related to Child Psychology, on being the best teacher and about putting up an excellent preschool. It was factual what they told me that it could be a stepping-stone to Law or Medicine. They forgot to mention that it was going to make me realize how important is motherhood and keeping an ideal home for my future perfect family.
My course in college taught me the entire viewpoint about family life and child development, but still, experience is the best teacher.

I was privileged to have all the time to be at home to look after my baby and to work at the same time. Funshine was our home, and I was the boss. I never had to sacrifice my family for a brilliant career or vice versa. Nobody suffered. I had every woman’s dream: being able to be with my baby round-the-clock, being able to be a fine homemaker 24-7, and being able to go out and have fun with my husband at night anytime he wanted. I had it all. I had my freedom to go and come as I pleased and make spontaneous choices. And my decisions were always made with my daughter and my husband in mind. I felt wonderful that I could go out in the world and make things happen for my career and for my family.

However, I couldn’t have everything that I wanted. Everyday, I had lots of ideas about what body perfection meant. I wasn’t going to let myself go as a new mother. I was going to exercise myself back into my form-fitting clothes. But reality was different. I couldn’t fit into my sexy dresses anymore. I still look normal though. But I always freak out when my husband would tell me “boy! You need to do sit-ups!” But for me, my belly is a badge of honor. I’ve struggled a lot during my pregnancy and I came out victorious.

Everyday, I would feel a different kind of excitement whenever I witness something new with my baby. A smile, a coo, a babble at first – all were cause for celebration. By four to six weeks, Maren Rae would move her mouth in answer to my questions, sometimes accompanied by bubble blowing and babbling sounds. I witnessed all the milestones in my baby’s life: the first tooth, first word, first walk, first talk, first school day, first naughty things, personal fears, early drawings, talents and interests as she grew.

Reiner was with me all the time. When I was still pregnant, he would educate himself on how to take care of his pregnant wife. With Maren Rae, he would read books on how to nurse and be a responsible father to our newborn baby. There was a lot for him to learn too.
I remember during Maren Rae’s first two weeks when Reiner was holding her and was talking to her for hours already. Of course, what can a 2-week infant do? She was just staring at him the whole time. Reiner finally got tired and gave her to me…”she’s boring” he complained. I guess he couldn’t wait for her to talk to him.
After Maren Rae’s Christening, Reiner was so excited to get picture of her in her baptismal gown. So everything was set: the background, the lighting, etc…and we tried to make her laugh or smile. Reiner waited…and waited…and waited…and fell down tired. Maren Rae was too naughty not to give her daddy a smile.

In Rae’s baby book, Reiner wrote; “ When you were born, we lived in a “crappy” place at 19 Hillman, Fairview. Then when your mom and I couldn’t take living there anymore, we transferred to #20 Hillman. The house was smaller but a lot better and we were happy there. You constantly played with the kids and grandchildren of our landlady. “Funshine”, our tutorial center grew tremendously and we again transferred to a 4-bedroom house at #50 Corvette. Here you could run and crawl all you wanted. You just kept on climbing the tables and throwing the phone off the hook. This whole house was your playground.
You stopped sleeping on your crib at six months. Up to your 1st birthday, you never had your own room. You always wanted to sleep beside mommy and daddy. At age 2 you had a Mickey Mouse sofa bed so you had your own bed already. Your favorite pillow was a heart shaped “Powerpuff Girls”. Up to now you still don’t have your own room”.

Rae would get wild to see Reiner when he came home. He would carry her in his arms while he uttered Daddy phrases. I fell in love with my husband even more for reasons that were unromantic. Up to now, he never hesitates to play with Rae. He would carefully comb her hair. He reads bedtime stories to her every night that she wouldn’t sleep until he gives her bedtime story. He watches her favorite cartoons with her and they developed a language of their own that I barely understand. He brings Rae to rides and playgrounds and would never get tired of taking her videos. I couldn’t believe that release from machismo. I used to call him “insensitive” but I can see that he was becoming softer, more sensitive soul.

After our baby’s birth, things became better for our family.

Was I really a natural? I don’t know. But what I know is, I learned a lot from my own family though I don’t tell them. I am a person whose values are intact because they taught me well. I am a dedicated mother who knows the significance of taking good care of my own family because they taught me well. I am a person who knows that though I live in the land of milk and honey I still believe that the traditional Filipino practice of nurturing their children is the best in the world, because they taught me well.
And I am determined to pass this good culture, tradition and family relationship to my children, and my future grandchildren…with the help of my husband.

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