Saturday, September 13, 2008

THE FIRST NINE MONTHS: THINKING ABOUT PARENTHOOD


RF and I didn't plan on becoming a couple. Nor did we plan to become parents. We wanted to have children but were unsure as to if and when we'll actually have them. I was more unsure than RF but towards the end of our first year of marriage, I was already thinking about it. We weren't using protection or any method to avoid pregnancy, but we weren't really going for gold.

I found myself looking at my tummy in the mirror sometimes. I was thinking how my belly, full with child, would look like. Of course, later on I would be sadly disappointed and would shy away from pregnant belly portraits that's still all the rage today because I just looked like a very fat woman who waddled like a very fat duck. But I wouldn't know that then!

I was fantasizing about what I would wear, recalling how my mom would look in her nice, long shifts. Nevermind later that I couldn't possibly wear her old preggy stuff. I was too large and overheated that I wanted shorter, lighter dresses with a bit of cleavage (Ha ha!).

True, fashion concerns are not the meat of it. But everything, no matter how seemingly trivial it is, matters. It contributes about how you feel about the whole thing.

One of the very few things we thought about before we actively tried to have Oona, was if we were ready for parenthood. As individuals, as a couple . . . was our marriage ready to welcome the responsibility and strain of raising another human being?

We had our fights. We had our preferences. We enjoyed our lifestyle. Was our lives big enough to share with someone else?

It does sound selfish, but they're actually realistic and honest questions I felt I had to answer. I wanted the chances of regret anytime in the future to be significantly small. Whether I wanted to or not, I didn't want our future child/children to consciously or subconsciously feel in any way that I blamed their birth for anything I might miss out on.

Exploring my feelings, I knew my life would change profoundly after having a child. I knew there were a lot of things I wouldn't be able to do anymore and a lot of things that would remain dreams. I would give up things, miss out on things and maybe regret things.

What about my career? I felt like a hotshot, with the world at my feet. I had so many dreams, plans . . . isn't motherhood going to stifle me? Wouldn't it hold me back? I run with the wolves, outstripping bulls and facing down everyday mayhem. I loved that life! What would happen to me when I suddenly stopped?

I felt a part of me would die but I had to face and deal with it, lay it to rest for my child's and my sanity's sake. I've read far too many disgruntled mother/housewife stories to want that for myself. Although I have no illusions about the future, even then, I would make damn sure I don't end up unhappy at the very least.

Me, as mother, being unhappy would affect how I would be as a Mom and a wife. I don't want my kids to hate me or wish for a different mother. Which begs the question, what kind of mother would I make? I've heard too many stories of horrible mothers too. What if I wasn't meant to be a mother? I really didn't want to find out when I already had a child that I would be unable to care for and love! Needless to say, I had a lot of angsts.

RF was a lot easier. He swanned gracefully, almost without effort, into the role of Dad. I would say Fatherhood becomes him . . . even the impending Fatherhood gave him an extra Oomph!

We talked about how our plans for the future would change, little knowing that talk barely just covers the possibilities, but it greatly helps.

At least, we nailed down the basics:
1. We love each other no matter what.
2. We're in it together.
3. We'll do our very best, always to the best of our abilities.

There would be less dates, unplanned trips, splurges or even drastic career shifts. Everything would be revolving around the welfare of the child and family, more than the pleasures we used to fantasize about. Very practical, very discipline life, very safe and I feared, very dead-end for me.

Then one night, I was home alone as usual, RF being on his night shift. I realized that despite all this worrying, I was really giving the baby and motherhood matter serious thinking. I wasn't shying away from it at all. For me that was an indication that I cared about the life we were bringing into the family. Family! We were going to be a family, our OWN little fan's club! Terribly exclusive.

I laughed, then I cried. I suddenly felt that I wanted it to be real at that very moment. Did this mean that I was ready? Hahaha. Right. Knowing what I know now, nobody's ever ready for motherhood. I also still believe that there are people who can't be parents but now I know, I'm not one of them.

What I realized then was that my heart felt so full of love and the cup that RF and I share, doth runneth over. (Ugh! Cheeeeeese!!!) There's really so much love to give and it's such a shame to waste on what now look like trivial pursuits that wouldn't make a difference a hundred years from now.

***

A part of me did die, but it was a welcome death. What mattered to me was that I found that a whole new part of me sprung up to live. Being a mother had its own adventures and did I really mind giving up late nights, hungover-sick mornings and going home to an empty house?

There are a myriad ways to fulfill oneself. I still don't know how my life would find expression aside from being wife and mother, but I'm not afraid to find out. I'm actually excited.

But above all else, pouring the love RF and I share to this amazing little girl is all that truly matters to us.

2 comments:

rei said...

Thanks for this, Lay ... I can't say I haven't thought about it, but it didn't seem like the arguments people were giving me for having children really answered my questions.

I should have known you'd answer those questions - even without me asking them!

Mwah. What would I do without you?

Laya Isabelle Garcellano-Florendo said...

Aww shucks rei! :) You are an amazing woman. And I have no greater gift to wish for you but to have a child of your HEART. biology doesn't really matter, you can adopt...so many kids out there need a loving heart. what matters is the space right there that you would both fill for each other. you would make an equally amazing mother! woe betide the pre-school teacher who doesn't approve of your daughter's leopard print shoes or your son's shirt that says "my mom's SUCH a hottie. and she has brains too."