Women are like trees, growing slowly over time. So many rings creating layers of maturity as their branches spread and reach out to the sky. Motherhood prunes those branches. Sometimes it prunes the back hard and painfully. But if you let go and trust in the good of what it means to be a mother, you can trust in the knowledge learned from the hard lessons, then faith and belief will carry you through. And in the end, you will grow fuller and more beautiful from the sometimes harsh, pruning of motherhood. ~P. R. Newton
My life has been full of ups and downs, twists, and turns. For quite some time, I was torn between getting a job to help my husband earn a living and giving it up after to take my responsibility as a mother. I have my reasons. The circumstance that happened to me and my family, these past 15 years have led me to the situation that I was in right now. And people seem to have not understood. They never get tired of asking these unsolicited questions? Why do you have to give up your job? Don’t you want a career? Why do you stay at home, you’re doing nothing? You can still get a job and have someone take care of the kids.
A lot of your colleagues are now successful, but look at you? Such a waste.
I always get these remarks from old friends when I bumped into them in the streets, from relatives during family gatherings and classmates from way back. Who are you people to criticize me? You don’t even have the slightest idea what the hell I’ve been through in my life. I have my reasons; I need to make a choice.
Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to be a man of value ~Albert Einstein
I need to take care of my kids personally
Both of my children are asthmatic, they got it from me. Alexys, my eldest was a little over 2 years old when she acute bronchitis. While Beatrix, my youngest was 8 months or so when she suffered from acute stomatitis and bronchitis. In both cases, I was working in a call center. You know how it is, 8-10 hours of graveyard shift plus 4 hours of travel time to and from Manila. I live in Cavite; it was very exhausting. Although I can only spare a few hours of my time before and after work to check on my kids, I endured it. I had to. I have no choice but to get a nanny to take care of them for me because I need to work to earn a living. My husband needs back up he was just a technician. We were renting, we have bills to pay and kids to feed.
I don’t belittle the capacity of hired nannies to take care of babies. I have had quite a few that are reliable and trustworthy. It’s just that those two nannies who happened to be in charge of my kids during those times screwed up big time. One would always leave Alexys for hours in her crib, crying. My baby’s sweat and urine would dry up on her back without her nanny checking on it regularly. The other one doesn’t care to clean and sterilized Bea’s feeding bottles thoroughly and was even caught re-using a soiled bottle to feed her thus causing her to acquire bacterial infection called stomatitis.
It’s my daughter’s health we’re talking about. As much as I need my job, my children need me more. And there goes my job.
When you are a mother, you are never really alone in your thoughts. A mother always has to think twice once for herself and once for her child ~ Sophia Loren
A spine injury that turned my life around
Middle of July 2008, I had an accident. The tricycle driver that I hired unconsciously maneuvered his trike while I was still trying to get off. Because I was caught off guard, I lost my balance. My hip was bumped back and forth to the side of the trike and I fell to the ground. Stunned, I saw the driver immediately got off his seat and helped me to get up. He apologized for his mistake, and I said it’s okay. I knew it was not his intention to hurt me so I forgave him, maybe he was just preoccupied at that time that why it happened. Three weeks after, I was rushed to the hospital due to severe lower back pains and I couldn’t move my left leg. The doctor who told me after the MRI scan that I have a slipped disc L4/L5 and S1 disc degeneration, it could probably be the aftermath of my accident.
For 4 years, I’ve been in and out of the hospital for pain management and endless therapy. Fast forward November 2011, I was in the office when my lumbar spine finally snapped. The pain was excruciating! I can still remember it vividly, people carrying me on my swivel chair while I was gasping in pain and brought me to the hospital. I knew right there and then that I had to give up my job, again! Two months later, I was already in the operating room. My ortho had to put titanium plates and screws in my L4/L5 permanently. It was inevitable and long overdue.
From this time on, I would have to accept that I have more physical limitations than others. But I know, this too shall pass. God must have had a very good reason why this happened to me. That I have to figure out.
She had the choice to sulk in the disaster or find beauty even from the ashes ~ S.S. Jubilee
The child with special needs
True enough, God indeed has a reason! In my two years of recovery, we found out that Bea has a special gift. She already knew the alphabets, colors, shapes. She bored. So, what’s next? I started doing flashcards of letters and various syllables so that she can form small words. I tried to challenge her. She liked it. Very good baby! Days went by, I just saw her scribbling those letters and words on her own and she would show it to me. She was just 3 at that time, I taught it was just normal because I was teaching her alongside Alexys who was in first grade at that time. I made her some flashcards again. Now of different flags of the world and we tried to memorized them together. Funny that I tend to forget most of them, because you know, I get confused by the design and the colors – but Bea would nail it. She can even describe how a certain flag would like when asked.
Teacher Cora, Bea’s teacher in kindergarten noticed something about her. She gave me a referral letter and suggested that we should visit a Developmental Pedia in PGH to assess my little girl. Why teacher? “Hmm, I just want the doctor to validate my observations Mommy?” I got scared, what’s there to validate? Is there something wrong with my daughter? Oh Lord please, I hope it’s not bad news! We went to PGH Dep Pedia Department as suggested. Bea was interviewed by several interns and then later residents and lastly their consultant Dr. Ybanes if I remember it right. What she told me after all the assessments were unexpected.
“Mommy, your daughter Bea is a special child. You are very lucky you know? I seldom get a case like her here, normally it’s on the other side of the spectrum. But with her, she can learn fast and reason things out beyond her age. What will you do, if I tell you that her learnability now is comparable to that of a grade three student?” I was stunned. I don’t know what to say. “But you see, Mommy that’s the problem? Bea is only four and you cannot send her to a regular school. Anything that is more or less needs special attention. I suggest you send her to a progressive school where she studies with other kids like her,,,, blah blah blah” “Doc, I have to be honest. We don’t have the means to send to her to that kind of school. What other options do we have?” “I can’t enroll her now to grade 3, were in a regular school. They might bully her; she stills a baby”. “Well, you can try home-schooling. She can learn at her own pace and you will be her teacher”. “Okay, Doc, we will do that.”
Perhaps, my surgery is just a diversion. It’s God’s way of telling me that, I need to slow you down. Your children need you; Bea needs you!
Only God can turn a MESS into a message, a TEST into a testimony, a TRIAL into a triumph, a VICTIM into a victory ~GirlsFromParis -Tumbler
Choosing my children over my career in those trying times is something that I will never regret for the rest of my life. I am very thankful that I was there and witness their every milestones. I got to cook and eat with them, teach them, guide them and most of all take care of them whenever they are sick. So many memories together that I wouldn’t trade for the world. They are the very reason why I strive to survive in life. In my life – they always come first!
For quite some time, I have been slowly orienting the kids of my need to go back to work. Luckily, they are now big enough to understand. They know that whatever I decide to do in the future, I always consider them. I still want to give them quality time and needed attention until they are fully grown-ups.
It’s good to know that full-time stay at moms like me now have better options to earn and pursue a career within the comforts of our home. I’ve discussed it with them, and they are considerate about it. Now, that is something we are all looking forward to!
~ MS Penilla