Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Mother Is A Verb And Not A Noun

My mom and I didn't really see eye to eye while I was growing up. I guess I had the typical middle child syndrome. I was the poster kid for the middle child. I was aloof, the middle child who just wanted to be left alone and didn't want to be fussed over. I was also the biggest drama queen in the house, being the eldest daughter. I yearned for independence very early on and I wasn't affectionate. I was content to be alone and I was very moody.

I was also raised by a nanny who acted like my second mom. She started taking care of me when I was only a week old and she stayed with us until I was pregnant with my daughter. (That's a total of 22 years, by the way, if you really want to do the math) She was my Nanay and she was - still is - part of our family. She has long since retired and has gone back to the town in Iloilo where I was born. She's now in her late 60s and plagued with eyesight problems and arthritis. She was afflicted with polio when she was little girl so one leg is smaller and shorter than the other. She walks with a limp. I now only see her when we go and visit my grandparents in Iloilo.

Indeed, there were times when I felt closer to my Nanay than to my Mommy. Oh, my mom's story isn't one about a career-driven woman who was a negligent and emotionally detached mom. Hers isn't also a tale about an OFW mother who left her kids with relatives and caregivers. My mom isn't like that. She was very hands-on (she was a stay-at-home mom), but up to now, I honestly do not know why we really weren't close.

I learned to fully appreciate my mommy when I became a mom myself. What they say is really true. When I gave birth to my very healthy infant daughter, my mom was there. She was one of the first people who saw her. She even saw her first before the husband did because he had to be woken up and told, "Your wife gave birth! The baby's out!" Yes, he was sleeping while I was in labor. Tsk, tsk.

Since our little one was thankfully very healthy when she came out, she was 'roomed in' with me less than 24 hours after my harrowing experience of popping a teeny human being out. The nurses brought her in, swaddled in white and looking like an angel. The husband and I were breathless with joy. There were breastfeeding instructions from the supportive 'lactation expert'. Yes, there is such a thing. I'm not making it up. Then off they went. We fawned over our newborn daughter and dutifully marveled at how perfect she was. However, in the middle of a loving debate over who she looked like, she started to cry. Wait, not cry. Scratch that. She wailed. She howled. She was a tiny bawling Sisa searching for Crispin and Basilio. We were helpless. We felt like utter failures. Less than 48 hours out of the womb, she had reduced two grownups into hapless, clueless underdogs.We were parents for only a few hours and we couldn't soothe her. I kid you not when I say she cried for three hours. We tried everything, too. Tearfully and emotionally, I called my mom. She arrived after 30 minutes.

When she calmly entered the room, she just washed her hands and took the baby in her arms. And just like that, our daughter gave a whimper and promptly fell asleep. It took less than five minutes, I swear. You might say the baby was just plain exhausted after crying her little lungs out for hours. Whatever. You can say whatever you want, but I seriously think that my daughter just felt it. She felt cocooned. She just felt safe. It was magic.

I knew from thereon that my mom will be indispensable. She will always just be there, whether I need her or not. That's what moms are for. If I can be just half the mom my mom is, I'll be really happy and proud.

I'm lucky to have my mom. I'm lucky to have my Nanay, too. I'm lucky and blessed to have so much love. It's Mother's Day on Sunday and my daughter and I are finishing up our Mother's Day cards for my mom and Nanay.

Cheers to the our moms (biological or otherwise) - the strong and loving women who say they don't really care for pie anyway, when there are five slices of it and five hungry children.

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