I woke up Sunday morning to my cat rubbing her broad side against my toes, followed by a hearty “Happy Mothers’ Day!” from my three kids. I was ushered to the dining room like a queen where a kid-made breakfast of freshly-squeezed OJ and chocolate pancakes was waiting. A package wrapped in a green kerchief and ribbon contained a hand-made greeting card and gift certificates to The Spa. The trouble the little ones went through for me made my jaded heart melt like butter on a hot ensaymada. The world waxes lyrical every second Sunday of May for the mothers of the world. Volumes are written about how mothers have changed the world through their children. Not enough has been said about how motherhood changes the woman.
In my almost twenty years of mommy-ness, I learned that “the motherhood card” is a pseduo-superpower and should only be used for good. I should use my position to teach the truth even when scaring kids into behaving with lores of mumu and of bumbays sounds like a good idea. If my kids ask about tricky subjects like religion and sex, I have to tell them what I know to be true and leave room for them to think about it and discover the truth for themselves. I must admit though that Santa Claus has been my Waterloo.
My kids teach me something new everyday. My children have taught me patience — I successfully ignored a tantrum in a car from Cavite to Quezon City once. My children have taught me time management — juggling myself, my marriage, our home, corporate life, and my kids is now a seamless act. My children remind me everyday to take better care of myself — they give me a preview of the possibilities I want to be around for when they become realities. My children have taught me resilience and hope — my autistic son reminds me that no matter what happened yesterday, today can be an opportunity for bigger and better things.
I have no doubt that motherhood has changed me — the obvious hip readjustments and belly stretch marks considered. I strain to imagine a world where I was a childless person. I would very likely have the same education and professional achievement; not a better person and not worse — just different. I can remember specific moments in my life when my decisions were altered because my kids were always in my head. I drive better now; no longer the inconsiderate reckless mess I was in the 1980s. I am still in the Philippines, having willingly given up opportunities to move abroad — again, because I want my kids to feel that the Philippines is their home. I work harder at being engaged in the community, even when naps are oh-so-tempting; because I want my kids to contribute to the family, as well as to a bigger world.
Mothers affect their children in unique ways. Similarly, each child makes singular dents on moms. We were changed in different ways — you can argue whether it was for the better or for the worse. What is undeniable is that we are changed forever.