Wednesday, May 30, 2007

How Do You Know How to be a Mother?

It's been several days since the Solemn Dedication and Consecration of the Shrine of St. Therese, May 17 to be exact, but up to today, I still haven't found my groove in getting back to work, nor found my mojo for digiscrapping and blogging. It seemed that all the pressure and stress leading to that event had died down all of a sudden and left me lost and disoriented. After having been the focus of months of preparation, it ended in one single day. I am relieved but I miss the 'stress', the adrenaline rush and the thrill of organizing an event. So, now, I'm slowly picking up the pieces and trying to find my old rhythm.

Mommy Nonie sent me pictures of her grandparents, a family portrait and a beach outing. She wanted us (the sisterhood) to clean and polish it since most of the pictures had 'age spots' and creases already. Lai cleaned the family portrait (thanks Sis!) and I was left with three. I decided to do it myself. After the Inauguration, I worked on that since Mom was asking me to rush it all in time for her Mom's birthday this July 17. Her voice cracked a bit when she said it's the first time they'll be celebrating their Mom's birthday after so many years. Although I could not relate, I can only imagine what it must have been like to lose a Mom during those growing up years.

My Mom's mom, therefore my grandmother, died when she gave birth to Mom's youngest sister, Auntie Aning. Mom was the eldest of the brood of seven. Since she was the oldest, she probably had the most memories of Mommy Anita.

During our casual talks, she would fondly speak of how her mother used to sew only the "in" clothes for her. Her Mom was a trendsetter and was, even in their time, a feminist. She was very capable and able - managing her time between work and raising a family. Mom also said she was very pretty; robust but pretty. Judging from the pictures, I have to agree.

When her Mom passed away, their siblings were 'distributed' and willingly taken in by their Uncles and Aunts - brothers and sisters of Angkong Teodoro and Ama Anita. They grew up with family but not their own. Mom practically grew up with her grandmother. Angko (my grand aunt Engracia, sister of Angkong) is considered by my Mom as a mother to her too. So, although she didn't grow up in a typical family setting, I'd like to believe she grew up surrounded with love too. (Thank God for relatives!!!)

Now that I am a mother, I look back at how my own Mom raised me. How did she know what to do, how to raise us, what to teach, what discipline style to use? I can only imagine what it must have been like for my Mom. She didn't grow up with a mother to take care of her, no mom to help her decide what clothes to wear, no Mom to talk to when suitors came knocking, no Mom to share joys and heartaches with. There was no mom who can guide her and set an example of how to raise children, no mom to protect her when the world becomes too harsh. And yet, despite not having her own mother as an example of how to be a Mom, she still managed to become such a great Mom to us and even to our friends.

When we were younger, she would feed us breakfast one minute, then be off to our office (which was just next door) the next minute. She would bring us to and pick us up from our schools. She was my hairstylist when I was below ten years old. She used to cut it as if she had the pope's round hat on my head as her pattern. My hair looked like a bagul (coconut) and being that I wasn't exactly the prettiest girl then, I was usually mistaken for a boy in my kindergarten days.

She was the disciplinarian, and me being somehow the one who needed the most discipline, was always the one being scolded (which led my young mind to think I was adopted! hehehe). So to me, she was my Hitler, yet I was sooo attached to her. When she'd leave town a few days, I would cry every single day. I used to have this nightmare as a kid of her leaving us, oh how my heart broke to think about it then.

Things took a turn for the better in my teen age years. I think maybe Mom thought she had house-trained me well enough already. We weren't just mother and daughter; we were friends.

Through the years, especially after God called back my Dad, Mom and I became the best of friends. She was my fashion consultant, my constant companion, my harshest critic and loyal adviser. I talked to her about anything and everything. We travelled together, dined, shopped, watched movies, plays and concerts, ballroom danced, and so much more. In her trying moments, I was her sounding board.

Not exactly graduated from being a mom, she is also now a beloved grand mother to Miggy, Audrey and Bric. But as she always says, you never stop being a mother... even when all of us are married, even if we're miles apart.

Mommy Nonie learned how to be a Mom when she had us. I, too, will have my turn to learn more about motherhood as I continue my journey with Bric and our future kids. There are no clear cut rules nor black and white guidelines when it comes to raising your children. Having lived with, and having been raised by my Mom has armed me with a free demonstration on how to be a mother. I just know I will be a better Mom because I have Mom's example to copy from.

Motherhood isn't only learned by example. Nor can it be mastered through textbooks or lectures from so-called psychologists or experts. Motherhood can be taught, theoretically. But in actuality, to be a mother, one just has to trust her inner voice, listen closely to her own and her child's heart, and let her maternal instincts take over.

I asked Mom how she knew how to raise us. She simply replied: You just have to raise them with LOVE. All the rest will follow.

That will be how I intend to raise our children.