When I was 20, I had a perfect vision of motherhood: perfectly coiffed hair, make up done well, kids who listened and glistened, and a to-do list that has been checked off before the day ends. It was perfect, but it was not the motherhood journey life intended me to have.
In reality, I often find myself in a situation where I’m more clueless than knowledgeable. How do I make him listen? How do I make him eat the quiche I so lovingly prepared for him? How do I kick off the habit of making the TV his babysitter for an hour? How can I make him sleep longer so I can do all the tasks I planned for the day? The 20-year-old-me would have been speechless if she just sees me now.
But despite the occasional tears brought by frustration and fear that comes with raising a child, I would not trade this motherhood journey for a calmer, easier one. I eventually realized that the journey that I have with my son continues to teach me lessons I would not get from anywhere else. My motherhood journey is unique, tailor-made only for me, and it is likewise my journey to patience, sacrifice, and love.
My Motherhood Journey is a Journey to Patience
When my son was first placed on my chest, there came an incomprehensible joy and a solid resolve to become the best parent in the world. Of course, I was so sure that he would have no problem with breastfeeding, and he would be counting numbers and walking like a pro at age 1. But breastfeeding did not come without tears — both from me and from him — and it tested my patience and confidence a lot. The following months saw me Googling endlessly about my concerns — “Why is he not babbling yet? Oh gosh, he should know how to point by now, right?!”
When he started walking at 13 months — after several months of concern why he isn’t making his first steps yet — I realized that the only balm to my concerns was patience. It taught me to wait. Eventually, he learned how to become a breastfeeding pro; he started pointing non-stop, and he became a solid babbler. We still have a long way to go when it comes to milestones, but this motherhood journey taught me that the ride gets easier for my son and me when I learn to practice patience.
My Motherhood Journey is a Journey to Sacrifice
When I was younger, my favorite TV ad was a tuna commercial which featured a mom giving up her share of food for her kids. Then came the slogan I will always remember: “Ganyan magmahal pag nanay ka.” Even though sacrifice was continuously exhibited by my dear mother, I never fully comprehended it until I embarked on this journey called motherhood. Motherhood, to me, became synonymous with sacrifice — sacrificing sleep for a sick child, sacrificing a promising job opportunity because no one would care for the baby, and sacrificing precious “me time” just to make sure all his needs are met. Of course, the call to give up something for my child isn’t an easy one — oh how my heart still yearns for that MAC lipstick I had to let go because Eli isn’t complete with his vaccines yet — but it is something I am willing to do without second thoughts.
My Motherhood Journey is a Journey to Love
In this motherhood experience, I realized that there are two kinds of love — love that hits you like “BAM!” and love that slowly grows. When I first held him, love overcame me — I had to be subtle with those mama tears inside the operating room. But in the months that followed, love developed in a different way. Slowly, I began to love his random breastfeeding moments, his toddler mess, his being too clingy, and, surprisingly, his tantrums. Motherhood also taught me that my son is an example of love — despite having a mom who’s always impatient and exhausted, I am amazed at how he can easily forgive me. Motherhood is indeed a journey to love.
Whenever I look at my son, I am reminded that he isn’t sent to me for me to teach him; he’s given to me to teach me lessons I will never forget. He continues to teach me patience, sacrifice, and love. I am sure that the more he grows up, the more I will learn — and learning more is something I look forward to despite future moments of impatience, self-doubt, and frustrations. This motherhood journey is surely endless and I can’t wait for the many lessons that I will yet learn along the way. Dear 20-year-old self, things didn’t go as planned, but I hope you’re proud.