this didn’t make it to the Mendiola article deadline but I hope my relatives still find it to be a good read. Theme of last year’s annual reunion article was Beginnings and Transitions so I thought this might be apt:
How I Lived Through My Firsts
by JAYPHEN MENDIOLA
I think by now you would know of how much I’ve grown—as a person, as a relative more attached, grateful and closer to most of you, as a daughter, sister and even as a career person. My transition to all this was not smooth but it happened in full grace, all at the right time.
Moving out was one of my proactive efforts to contribute to my growth as a mother and in Mio’s crucial childhood. As much as it pains my parents I know that I have to beg, borrow or steal to fully navigate the ins and outs of this blessing bestowed upon me.
It wasn’t all pain and suffering, you see. I’m way too blessed to even begin feeling api in any way whatsoever. And it all starts with being grateful and appreciating the things I’ve had all this time.
I begin to wonder how I should start pondering on firsts and beginnings as my contribution and I can’t help wonder how my writing could be of help or amusement to my family.
It isn’t much of a bother to realize that “whoops! my blog has probably spoken well enough for me. Too much in fact.” Bu then again, I ought to stick to the theme.
On Being a Mom
I always say that when I got pregnant, I had no idea of how it was gonna be like and how I’d make it. But it was as if Mother Mary was praying over me overnight and the next thing I knew, I woke up and had the wisdom of a mother (or for all you know, my Mom was probably praying over me while I sleep!)
There’s no good way of putting it but to start on the right foot.
Most of the Moms in our family probably learn it the hard way but who doesn’t? It was difficult to imagine having to raise a child on my own but it was probably the happiest days of my life.
Seriously. My whole pregnancy, I fondly recall to be exactly that. What with all three baby showers and being spoiled by the Areneo (not a typo! teehee) was way too overwhelming. But I’m not saying any of you should go through that. (Ako unang sasapak sa pamangkin na tutulad sakin!)
The first time i held Mio, I felt scared that I didn’t feel anything miraculous. I was scared that “what if they handed me the wrong baby? Did anyone see this infant come out of me?! Anybody?!” There was an uncertainty that only faith can reassure me of.
I guess the point where motherhood begins, is when you leave it all up to faith.
You trust that your child will grow up to be a good person because you cannot hope for anything less and all you can do is make sure that you do not compromise what he can have and learn; you have faith that you are led in the right path with your best intentions laid out for the world to notice so that you can provide for him everyday; you fear that if anything happens to you, your child will lose the only thing that holds him down to the ground.
If there’s anything a first hand experience would move me to say, its that being a mom is nothing comparable to any task you can claim. And you begin to accept that your own parents were right. And you regret that you never were able to treat them right.
So hopefully through this writing, all children in our family will reaffirm, if not begin, to appreciate our parents who have gone ahead of us and those who are still with us. Its never too late for parents to get that from us. And besides, its not like we can repay them for anything they’ve done for us in the first place.
On Moving Out
Its the most stupid thing I’ve ever done.
So if you can stay in your parents house, stay there! For as long as possible!
It was a thought I had in my head that I never had the resources or the time to entertain until I put Mio in the decision-making. We walked past our building from the office when he noticed the place and asked me, “is that our condo Mom?”
I had never lived anywhere else besides Filinvest 2. Unlike my siblings, I never had to live in a dorm. I woke up everyday at my Mom’s embrace while she drags me to the banyo with my timba filled with hot water; I came home to dinner and the cats surrounding the table with matching pasalubong from Dad; I had my siblings to turn to to wrap my books or drive me to the clubhouse for anything and all my friends were a stone throw away from my house.
But being a single parents didn’t make it easy in spite of the fact that I know my child is safe and well taken cared of. I had to work twice as hard enough to make money that usually two people do. And it didn’t help that the nature of my work was lugging around a metallic make up case or a maleta of clothes and shoes for a shoot. When I couldn’t get away with using the company car (which is mostly the case especially for rackets) I had to take the cab which costs at least P250 one way. It also wasn’t helpful that no matter how early I start working, I end late and all I can do is lie down for an hour, take a bath and kiss Mio goodbye (or the other way around).
This isn’t how Mio should be raised. My parents were doing a fine job at disciplining him and spoiling him simultaneously (go figure) but that’s the point. They were doing it and I wasn’t. I didn’t want to be the resentful single mom who would one day spat at her son for working her ass off everyday and grow old not knowing her own son. I didn’t want Mio to resent me for working hard. I owe it to Mio to be happy, that’s what I always say. And moving out would explain so much about who his Mom is and what she does. And cuts down the time we spent apart.
Moving out too has taught me so many things in a span of six months. There is a reason why the norm begin in a cycle of two individuals meeting, falling in love, getting married, building a home and having children. Because it is ridiculously difficult having to build a home and work at the same time all by yourself! Ridiculous! If I wasn’t built to be open about most things, I still wouldn’t have a ref and plates and pots and pans I literally asked for (do not do this yourself, not recommended for anybody, ok?)
It was hard to run a household. Period. Budgeting, planning the grocery, bothering about every spec of dust, making sure my son is fed well and safe…. the first week, I wanted to crawl back to my parents’ bedside and cry because it felt like I was a rat living in a condo. I felt so poor and alone until I was ready to present Mio with a decent home and put him in the nearby school.
But to see Mio enjoying every second I am home for lunch, for dinner or to take him to school and fetch him—or even the fact that he now understands what work I do and that I have to leave when I have to (because most of the time I work from the house instead) is worth every hardship it took to build this semi-home away from home. He is more confident and he likes a lot of my friends now and I am sure that he knows his Mommy loves him, he respects me as the head of the house and I can put my foot down and tell him how things are done in our house. That’s enough for me to live on now.
On My First Heartache
I have come to realize was indeed painful. As I grew older, actually just recently, I’ve come to decifer the difference of disappointment and frustration over pain.
My first heartache was masked under a naïve perception of love. It was a throbbing kind of pain from the inside, screaming its way out and shattering everything that felt good inside. It stays there until the memory of how it was inflicted on you blurs in your mind. And then once in awhile, you are reminded of the pain because you are now stronger and hopefully wiser once you remember.
Know the difference of a heartache from frustration. As any stubborn Mendiola would know, it really takes a lot of scolding to realize what’s good for you or not. My first heartache was silly and nothing compared to the last, but each time it hurts, it comes in waves that just take me by surprise. One I wouldn’t want for any of my nieces or children to realize.
Stay close to those who really love you. It takes awhile or a really big blow to decifer who will be there—like when I got pregnant and each time I cry over a boy. But it is well worth it. And let me tell you that it is during these times that you know you only have a few (thankfully our clan is made of at least 80 people, so few for us means a lot already).
If there’s a crisis that takes you back to your first heartache, look further beyond and you’ll see that no heartache feels greater than the warmth and the joy of having a family for you. Go back to the first Christmas morning you remember. That’s a thought I’d like to hold on to.
So the firsts and the lasts in our lives may be less cause for a celebration but the life we live together—I’ve come to learn, is worth everything to be thankful for.