“Where are you going?” he asks.
“To Makati,” I reply.
“Where in Makati?” he pushes.
"What will you do there?” he probes.
“Have lunch with my old friends from my old office,” I say.
“What time are you coming home?”
“Before five PM,” I estimate.
“Okay, please make sure you're home by five.”
That isn't my husband conducting an inquest. It's any of my two sons (a third one is married and lives abroad), both at the age of reason. They ask questions as soon as they see me with my lipstick on. They forget that they were once tiny babies floating in my womb, helpless and totally dependent on me.
Now grown, my sons think they have earned the right to run my life.
I could get used to it. A mother basks in the glory of attention, even if it means answering a slew of questions and making sure she's home by five.
Such are the medals of motherhood, a special role that begins with an announcement: “I'm pregnant.”
Suddenly, the whole world is behind your back, giving opinions and advice, much like bees swarming over honey. If it is your first baby, you can't tell whether they're valid or not, but you listen to them all because, what do you know?
Let me share some of the opinions I got during my first pregnancy:
“You look more beautiful now, your baby is a girl.” “Don't drink too much water or the baby will drown.” “Avoid spicy food, or your baby would be born with bumps on his face.” “Don't buy stuff before the baby's born, or you'll miscarry.” “Refrain from raising your arms above your head, or the umbilical cord will get wrapped around his neck.” “If you have intense itch on your tummy, your baby is hairy.”
Mine was a delicate and difficult pregnancy so I couldn't take these to heart. Which was just as well; I found out soon enough that they are myths.
My baby is a boy. He didn't drown from my drinking too much water. My eating spicy food produced not one bump on his face. I didn't miscarry. I often raised my arms above my head but he came out free of his umbilical cord. Despite my super itchy tummy, he isn't hairy.
There were, however, five pieces of advice from my own mother, which I discovered later were quotes from authorities. I heeded them because she made sure I did:
1. “Be joyful always. In everything give thanks.” Paul in the Bible
2. “Listen to music. It will stimulate your baby's creative thinking.” Mozart's mom
3. “Don't miss any of your pre-natal check ups.” Dr. Benjamin Spock, an American Pediatrician who wrote Baby and Child Care, the biggest best-seller in my time
4. “Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.” Food and Nutrition Research Institute
5. “Pray for a healthy baby and safe delivery every day.” Her mother (my grandma)
I listened because, well, she birthed me and I was about to become a mom like her.
Now that the boys I birthed myself have minds of their own and have become inquisitors, I look back to those years when they were tiny acrobats in my tummy, tumbling and kicking at all hours, making me feel the bounty and miracle of life.
Today, I feast my eyes on them (only when they're not looking) and ask myself, “What did I do to deserve such caring young men?”
And I am reminded that difficult and delicate pregnancies notwithstanding, I had been inordinately blessed and bemedaled. God's most special gift or prize to a mother are babies to care for—babies who, in later years, mature into young men (or women) who will care for her in return.
Two words encapsulate it all—happy endings.
(Today being Mother's Day, I am posting my Happy Endings column in Moms and Kids magazine, last quarter issue 2010, as a tribute to those enjoying the grace of motherhood.)