Being a mother means many things. To a little girl at play, it means cuddling a doll. To a young teenage girl it means marrying a handsome cute boyfriend someday, without any thought of the responsibilities and confinements of being a wife and a mother. But seriously speaking, what really is a mother? Being a mother myself, I can cite several things. It means enduring a nine-month long pregnancy, only to overhear your antagonistic sister in law, at the bedside whispering to a friend, “What an ugly little baby.”
We went to Japan last year. There we were, the three of us: grandma, the first kid, and me. It was first time international travel. Whisking and whirling in and round the airports was nervy and exciting at the same time. Arriving at our hotel, there were oohs and aahs on seeing the electronic flushing bowl. First kid immediately let the warm water swirl in her bottom, giggling at the same time. “Stop it,” I said. She ignored my command. Well, anyway, it’s not our water or electricity; we’re guests so I guess that would be fine. Just then, the Japanese hotel attendant opened the main door. First kid bolted up with her pants down and happened to push the button, with the toilet bowl water squirting into our faces. What a day! That night I couldn’t sleep; I missed my “mosquito net” and discovered that so does First kid. We sat up beside the huge window on our 54th floor. Of course, it was only seven o’clock, one doesn’t sleep that time. We decided to retire early because many activities await us the next day and our interpreter advised us to rest a lot so we can recover from the long flight and adjust to the new climate. It was hot outside when we arrived. Back to our hotel, the moon, oh the moon was soo Red! We went back to bed; First kid had to drink milk to make her feel sleepy. It was now nine pm. It was almost three at dawn when I woke up to sounds of plastic bags. Grandma is fully awake! Busy folding and unfolding her packages, the noisy plastic bags are so awfully noisy. First Kid was awakened too. Grandma made us hear her “witchy” giggle, when I attempted to tell her to stop. She stopped. Only momentarily; and just when we started to doze off, there goes the plastic bags again. Whew! For the length of our stay in Japan, her plastic bags became our alarm clock!
Dad came from a long time travel abroad with a work there and decided to finally settle home with us for good. Second kid then arrived; a frail little thing, but with a lung power the capacity of a PA system. It’s true; I am not kidding. Where does that sound come from? For the first time, we panic whenever Second Kid cries. It seemed that whatever she needs, clearly it cannot wait. Dade (this is how First kid spells the word) is an expert “bottom cleaner.” He always asserts this fact to mom. “I always can do it better than you do,” says dad. Many times, the diaper’s tapes were missing due to his brute strength, and Second kid ended up at times with electrical tape (in color black and yellow!) on her waist.
When it comes to discipline, Dad cannot be equaled. When he spotted First Kid (now prepubescent) picking on her food during lunch time, he could no longer control himself. He took the food and threw it away, placed First Kid inside the room to teach her a lesson. “No eating for the rest of the day,” Dad exclaimed. Then he continued to rant as mom and Second Kid watched on. Second Kid (who’s now one year old) started to act out what she saw her Dade doing. I could not almost contain my laughter, but I did. Dad might rage all the more. First Kid was bellowing in her weeping as she took on Dade’s ranting. So how easy it is to work and live and balance life with two children? Anyway, I decided to send First Kid outside. She stayed inside the car for relief. After a few minutes, dad told her to eat her lunch, breaking his rule for the First Kid not to eat for the rest of the day that day.
School they said is stressful and boring for kids; especially these days of computers. This is an add-on to what is already a laborious responsibility of overseeing children’s studies. The act of regulating the children’s schedule on the use of computer and watching television is to be a consistent and determined effort on parents’ part. However, as they said, the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. There were days when First and Second Kids stayed glued on the tube, especially on weekends. There was no other way to let the First Kid assist in taking care of her baby sister but to allow her to watch her favorite Disney Channel movies alongside the baby (another breaking of the rules). If you turn off the television, Second Kid gets bored, the television has to be turned on so that the two of them will be able to endure together an hour‘s break for dad and mom (an effective way to baby-sit). This means we could do other important things such as reading our emails, writing responsibilities to catch up deadliness, and etc. at times, in the middle of doing something, you hear a cry from the room because Second Kid “wee-weed” or “poo-poohed.” At other times, we would catch First Kid (ten years older) teasing her baby sister and was the real reason for baby’s relentless crying. First Kid, by now, might have been very impatient with the baby. Such is the drawback of not having enough funds to hire a baby sitter or put the kid to a nursery. Maybe, though, that is the advantage of not having adequate finances. All family members pool in their time and energy and other resources to take care of one another.
This, for me, is the meaning of mothering or parenting these days. Times when you want to just give up and feel life is so unbearable. There are the times when you just take things in stride and the result of course is discontentment with other members of the family. Then the next week, you forget that things had been very difficult. No, it’s not that difficult after all.
Being a mother, inspite of its pressures, has its rewards. Whenever I watch my children blossom and grow physically, react to humor we crack to them, or with First Kid work on preparing our dinner, these instances are like incentives I would put on a bank account that can never be exhausted. I know I am building lives. I hope though, that they will not be impatient with me when I start wrapping and unwrapping plastic bags in the wee hours of the morning when I get old.