Whether you’re a mother or not, we all can see how to be one. We see it in movies and TV series. We read it in books, blog posts, etc. We see it outside the house, in the streets, a woman asking for bread or money while carrying her child. We see it in the malls, a little girl crying and asking her mom to buy her chocolates or toys whenever they pass by a store. We see it at school, a woman sending her uneasy child to his first day of class. We see it at home, an old woman waiting for his teenage son to go home in the middle of the night. We see it in our mothers, of course. We are all witnesses of their hardships, sacrifices and the love they can give to their children. It’s all obvious and ubiquitous. So what makes it more special?
I have no idea.
But now that I become a mother, I should know something.
If this is a real office job, I can say that I’m still in the probationary period. I still have a lot to learn in this field. Everyday is a new experience with my son and seeing him grow up little by little excites me the most. A few years from now, I will have a school boy, wearing his white polo and navy blue short pants. He’ll wear little, shiny, black shoes and white socks. I want his hair to be like his Dad’s. He’ll have a cute little back pack and a lunch box where he will put his meals and snacks. A few years from now, his baby talks will turn into questions like why the sky is blue, how the flowers bloom or he may even ask where he came from. His careful little steps will turn into running and jumping around the house or even outside until he gets wounds and bruises. Part of growing up, they said.
He will, by then, be able to sleep on his own. He’ll no longer need to crawl up to me to lean on me in the middle of the night. He might have his own room, too. I wonder if he’d still be excited when I get home from work. Will he still open his arms and run towards me fast when he sees me outside the door? Will he still call “mommy” when he needs something? When he can’t put on his slippers or when he can’t see his toes because they’re under his pajamas? I wonder if he’ll still look for me as soon as he gets up in the morning, smile at me and say peek-a-boo as soon as I open my eyes. Or will he look for me and cry for help when a strange face wants to play with him? I wonder if he’d still believe that my kiss can actually heal his hand or head when it hurts. If he had a fever, I wonder if he’d still want me to hug him tight to warm him or to touch his back when he has a cough to make him breathe easier. Will I still be the one he’ll look for when he already wants to sleep? Will he still look for me as always?
You’ll know your child is growing up when he starts to need himself more than he needs you.
He’ll start to feel the need to do things alone. He’ll soon learn to pee alone, to take a bath on his own, to eat on his own, walk to school, play with the strange people he used to fear. He’ll soon decide on his own, what game he’d like to play, food he’d like to eat, tv program he’d like to watch, color of shirt he’d like to wear. He’ll no longer need you to choose things for him because he’ll start to know what he likes and he’ll convince you to give it to him. This is something moms should be proud of but also something moms fear of.
Where will I be when I am no longer my son’s universe?
Where will I be when he needs his playmates more than he needs me? After a few more years, he’ll need his friends and then his classmates and then his colleagues. Where will I be when I feel like he no longer needs me? I saw this in my mom. And I am scared to feel this, to experience this, to be in this situation where I can no longer feel my role in my child’s life, when I no longer know what else to say to my son if he wants something I cannot give or when he wants something I cannot allow. What else can I do when he gets mad at me because I can’t just provide him with anything he wants. Will he yell at me, too like what I see in this generation? Will he nag at me, too like how I did when I was young when I couldn’t get what I wanted?
You know, that little baby you took care with all your heart, that little baby you taught how to speak, that little baby you taught how to walk, you fed, you made sure he’s loved and taken care of, that baby who knows noone but you and the close people around the both of you, that baby who couldn’t actually live without you is the same baby who will soon have his own life and his own universe. How did my mom feel when she was in my situation now contemplating on things like this? Thinking about it makes me scared but thinking how my mom has raised us gives me confident that I could also do the same thing, maybe not better than how my mom did but at least I know I can do something significant to my son’s life when he grows up.
I know a lot of strong mothers. I’ve seen their battles. OFW moms who work hard just to find out that she no longer has a complete family to go home to, single moms who have been broken but was able to raise their child or children alone with full love and affection, fathers who also act as mothers to their children, ordinary people who has a heart of a true mom and are willing to give unconditional love to anyone who needs it. We’ve heard a lot of stories of our brave moms but this maybe not one of those. This exposes a weakness that I am afraid to face soon in life. Being a mother can really be scary especially at first. A lot may change as time passes by. Sometimes, we’ll feel sad in the process. Sometimes, things will really get hard but you know there’s nothing we can’t do if we do it with love. So where will I be and the others in my situation, when our children start to need themselves more than they need us? Just here. Proud, patient and happy because that’s what mothers do, after all.