I keep saying this to all my no-kids friends, of which there are plentier than plenty, since I was almost the first of all my friends put together to get married: You will never know what it takes to be a parent until you become one.
“Your life will change when you have a kid” is an understatement. Though superficially, my life now seems not too different from the one I used to have pre-baby, that’s all it is, superficially.
The very first thing I learned when I had the baby was, it’s possible to love something so much that nothing else comes close, and you will do everything, anything to make your life and that thing you love so much, work. It’s even possible to forget all other loves you once had. That was how it was for me.
When I read this article, I cried, bitterly.
In the past few years, I didn’t think it was possible to go through a lot. One after another, painful life events hit me. My mother was diagnosed with, and died of multiple organ failure from complications of, lung cancer. A drunk motorcyclist hit the right side of my car as I was turning into a gas station, and died. In a little more than 24 hours, my car was hit badly while parked at a lot, I fell down the fire exit, was left by my plane, took a 12-hour bus trip to get home, only to be engaged in the most physical fight I have ever been through that had me running to the police station and the hospital. A man forced himself into my hotel room while I was sleeping and I found myself running barefoot in the street at three in the morning. My father decided to not care about his old family and start a new one, with a woman forty years younger and of course, we did not approve of. I lost almost a million pesos in a passion cause. I saw a lot of hospitals, police stations and court rooms. I spent my birthday, Christmas, and New Year, without family or friends. And that’s just really the short story of all the things that happened to me in one year.
If all those weren’t enough to change me, I don’t know what could.
So, when some of my oldest, most-loved, friends decided I wasn’t worthy to be called their friend anymore, I cried. But in the end I realized that some people change, and some people don’t.
My life revolves around my child. But I take efforts to see and be with my friends no matter what, or support them in their activities in the littlest ways possible, even if it’s just showing up at their house and staying for an hour. Let’s go to the movies, let’s have coffee, let’s go out and have dinner, let’s go to this gig or that gig, let’s attend this kiddie birthday party, so on and so forth. I had time for that. I made time.
I made time despite the fact that I have a toddler, and no nanny or househelp.
So if a friend thinks I like being a victim, or I’m too caught up in my own life, or that I am too selfish, it’s time to end the friendship.
There are many things I learned when I had the baby. You will never know how patient you can be until you have a child. You will become a little less, if not a lot, selfish. You will be very good at multi-tasking. You will know who your real friends are.
It took me some time to realize that it’s possible to be so far out ahead that you leave your friends behind without your knowing it. When suddenly, their jokes are not as funny, or their way of passing time is nothing but a waste of it, or the things they talk about are senseless.
One of them was so busy with this supposed-competitive friendship that she failed to realize all these happened many years ago and that it never really occurred to me that this friendship was nothing different from all the other friendships I had. With all that’s happening to me, what did I care about her ex whom she cannot seem to get over with, who was never-really-my-ex-eleven-years-ago and I have not seen or talked to since then? She has blocked me on all her social networks, and of course, I have noticed, but did I have time to care? I’m too busy just trying to make my own life work, while working, and caring for, running and looking after, my toddler; as well as teaching her how to talk, eat, dress, sleep properly, have manners, and get along with and be appreciative of other people as well as things.
Sure, she and other people may think that they know what I’m talking about or going through, but why not experience it for yourself?
One multi-national company director refuses to promote or hire a manager who has not gone through all of the following:
1. Had one, or both, parents pass away.
2. Gotten married.
3. Had kids.
Call it biased, or preposterous at worst, but it takes all of those to become a good manager. Those are the life experiences that shape who you are and make you more understanding, more mature, and more rounded through and through. To have known such pain and such joy, in all its extremes.
One of my most cherished best friends gave up on me recently, and I cried until I realized, he’s only met my daughter once, in Boracay. I bring my daughter with me nearly everywhere and has met every single one of the characters in my life, for a godfather, they’ve never really interacted.
Not having a nanny is a personal choice. I say that again and again and again. It’s not something you have to feel sorry for me for. It makes things so much harder everyday, for me, and sometimes, for people around me too because they have to help me out every now and then, but it’s something I am passionately doing because:
1. I want to prove that it can be done.
I was once told by a Fil-Am friend, “You don’t know hard it is to raise kids here in America. There in the Philippines, everything is just too easy, you have nannies and house helpers all around.”
Yes, I grew up surrounded by nannies and house helpers. I sometimes think they were, regrettably, there more than my mother was.
2. I want to be able to say, twenty or thirty years from now, that I have never missed anything in my child’s life.
3. At this age, I want to be able to have better control of what she sees, says, does, and with whom she does them with.
When Kim, in Miss Saigon, tells her son, I swear I’ll give my life for you, I cry each and every time.
Though it’s not anyone’s fault half of my friends are unmarried and childless, I can’t help but wish they would be more understanding of parents like us. It’s easy to be judgmental, but when the tests of friendship were drawn, people put in stuff about work and romantic love, and kind of just forgot about babies and parenthood.