One word, numerous anxieties attached at its hip. How can one word loom so heavily this Holy Week? Kneeling at the pews and doing Stations of the Cross in the sweltering heat of our local cathedral may have helped me distract myself from the material things but it certainly did not save me from the major decisions I will eventually be facing next year. Perhaps that’s why the priest took so much more time with me at the confessional because I seemed so lost, so despondent, so reflective, and he provided me with more admonition to seek guidance. I feel like a ruderless ship, for the most part. And this thinking has consumed me for the last 48 hours.
Basically, I harbored a come as you are mentality with things for the last 27 years of life. I had an endless stream of foot-in-mouth moments that make me gag in recollection. I can’t change the past, but I have such high hopes for the future despite my apparent pessimism.
But it does not always work like that. Certain things don’t come as they are naturally. Preparing for a lifelong commitment (possibly the biggest one yet that I remember myself signing up for since birth) is no joke. I continue to second-guess myself. I have been so used to the voice of my self-doubt that it now exists merely as background noise to an ever-chaotic brain. White noise, white noise, white noise.
I hold traditional ideals but I have such a contemporary goal in another aspect of my life. And I have less than 2 years to really decide what I should do next when the new phase of my life arrives. I believe that being a mother is really a full-time thing, and my constantly traveling job with long hours while I’m single may be okay now. But what happens in the future? Will I be able to find engineering work that allows me to become the ever-present mother that I aspire to become eventually? And when I think of that, I wonder what sense it made to plug away so many hours in a hard engineering course when I won’t be planning to use it for the long-term. (I can’t help but think whether I should have taken home economics or something…)
I know of a lot of people who are full-time mothers who blog about their bundles of joy. I also know of people who have really cool jobs and have house help to help them take care of the kids during office hours. The working mom get to keep their jobs and enroll their kids in the best schools because they have such spending power, they have such esteem with themselves. And they have so many things going for them. They travel, they get experiences that enrich their cultural knowledge, things that they share with the kids.
But what’s the price? Considerably less time with the family, for one. I am at this junction of life where I am trying to evaluate what I value more.
It may seem so impractical, but I honestly cannot see myself entrusting my kid to a yaya 80% of the time. I want to be there for the child when he or she cries, be the witness to his or her first words, be the one to shake the milk bottles, be the one to change the diapers, and just be the overbearing stage mother that for years, I was afraid of becoming. And aside from this, I want to be the wife who welcomes my husband after a tiring day at the office. If we both keep on working long hours, it will only be a matter of time before we snarl at each other and compensate for our absence to the child by buying him or her things, things that they don’t need that much while growing up.
One of the working moms I met told me a story of how her ex-yaya (now fired, thank God!) locked up her child in a building. Hours later, there were two fire trucks in the adjacent block of their house, and the 8-year-old girl remained locked in the bedroom because this non-thinking, immature yaya went to have a drinking session with her friends. Another recent tale was that of an eldest child hiding away a stash of drugs in her closet while her father was working overseas.
I see these things, and deep inside, I ask myself: is this the kind of life you want for your kids? Will you not want to give it your all to make sure they turn out okay?
I don’t mind not being admired for what I do if it means that it increases the probability that my kids will not have to be locked up by a complete stranger.
I know that being there for my child a lot won’t ensure that my kid won’t get locked up in the middle of a physical crisis or keep him or her from making some weird decisions in life as he or she reaches the age of reason and beyond. But like in my old preparations for my life’s goals, I just want to make sure that I gave it everything I’ve got so that I will not have regrets later in life that I made my child/children the casualties of my poor life decisions.
My single and career-driven friends think I am nuts for thinking the way that I do now but, really, I’ve seen enough of absent and semi-absent parents in this lifetime, and I know that it is not the kind of life I want my future family to have. I may not be the expert cook with well-mowed lawns that rival those of the Del Monte ketchup commercials of my youth. But I am quite willing to give up a lot of things just to make sure that this works, because I don’t want a trial and error parenting style and make guinea pigs of my kids.
I’ve been a guinea pig for far too long and I know what it’s like.
I still don’t know. The word future just looms like a dark cloud but I know that the silver lining is up there somewhere. The partner in life is not really forcing me to quit my job or find an alternative means of earning money for the family-building thing we’ve got going soon. But I know that he is not the type to force me to do things, in general. He’s not the possessive and controlling type of person, but I still find myself willing to give up anything just to make sure he gets the very best from me and the kids.
Enough about future thinking. Back to the present for now. I think I still have some time to brew these ideas. I hope that whatever the future brings, I make the right decision that will allow me to sleep soundly night after night after it…