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Becoming a mother |

Sunday Lifestyle

Becoming a mother

- Gretchen Edelweiss Filart Dublin -


MANILA, Philippines - Gretchen Edelweiss Filart Dublin works as a writer and copywriter. She maintains a personal blog where she writes about personal travels, literature, recipes and life in general. Her active roles include being a wife, an infanticipating mother, a choco addict, and a surrogate mom to eight cats and dogs.

Caressing my impregnated belly as I wait for my turn in a clinic, I continue to the last few pages of Lualhati Bautista’s Bata, Bata, Pa’no Ka Ginawa?, the incredible story of Lea in the midst of the Marcos dictatorial regime, a mother of two, each endowed with a different father and colorful stories. I find my tears sitting on my cheeks. Because behind this book’s provocativeness, its intimidating feministic voice and unabashed approach to female sexuality and its multidimensional layers, is a soft spot for motherhood — a journey that I will be treading wholly months from now.

They say it’s only when you become a mother that you fully understand how your parents, particularly your mother, feel. And I couldn’t agree more. In my journey through pregnancy, I began to see my mother in a different light, and I’ve learned to appreciate her better, regardless of what has been said and done, or what silly squabbles we’ve had in the past. 

But beyond that, pregnancy has allowed me an exclusive room for magnificent firsts, and contiguous doors that open to incomparable moments of awe and realizations.

In one routine ultrasound checkup, my doctor saw a girl with a kidney, a heart racing to 133 beats per minute, arms that swing, feet that kick, a complete set of nose, eyes and lips. But when I saw her face, a blur of blacks and whites boxed in the tiny sonogram screen, what I saw was a future. One that’s brimming with possibilities, woven into intricate details.

I saw the sleepless nights, nursing her and humming her lullabies as her fragile body tries to fit in a peculiar world. I saw how she would falter and get wounded during her first baby steps. I saw her marching on her graduation. I saw how she would have her heart broken a first time, her somber tears like daggers in my chest. I saw how one day I would, perhaps, walk her down the aisle and how sad it would be to lead her away from us, towards a life of her own.

But I also saw that despite how difficult or taxing all that might be, I couldn’t be more thrilled to finally meet my daughter, to allow her to experience life — raw and tortuous as it is — and help mold the person she will become. I saw how blessed I am to be carrying this tiny, live mass of colossal futures.

When I see a pregnant woman, I see past the dark circles that ring her neck, the long lines of stretch marks that adorn her arms, her enormous belly, her plump feet and hair in disarray. I see in her a life-enchanting aura, one that spells an ethereal sense of duty. A woman who bears nine months of an almost intolerable surge of hormones, a woman who gives up earthly pleasures to ensure the welfare of another. A woman who strives to bring breath to a life with no excuses, so she could love her child unconditionally despite of what he might become, despite the fact, that he soon, will have to detach himself from the life that bore him.

This is one of the many unforgettable lessons that Lea teaches us: that a mother’s greatest way of expressing love for her child is by giving him freedom. The freedom to err, to fall off a bike a first time, to know his rights as a citizen, as a person, and as a child. The freedom to discover who he is without meddling or intervention, the freedom to establish himself, no matter how fragile we mothers think he is.

 “...Hanggang sa ang bata ay hindi na bata kundi ama, o ina. Ano ang ituuro niya ngayon sa kanyang mga anak? Lahat ng dapat niyang matutuhan ngayon pa lang, hindi pagkamasunurin at pagkakimi, kundi pagkibo pag may sasabihin at paglaban pag kailangan. Lahat ng panahon ay hindi panahon ng mga takot at pagtitmpi; lahat ng panahon ay panahon ng pagpapasiya.”

When a woman becomes a mother, she becomes, in all true sense of the word, a full-grown woman. In a lifetime, we women live many lives and walk through hundreds of journeys. Being a mother allows us to fulfill one of those many lives. We are privileged to have this magnificent journey and transformation be reserved and granted exclusively for us.

Pregnancy is not merely a celebration of an imminent life to spring. In mounds of soiled diapers and never-ending checklists lie the exquisite joy of sacrifice and motherhood, of knowing that inside one’s once-tiny belly are the contours of a future, its tip already drawn though still veiled, protected by her tensile membranes from the rest of the world. It is a celebration of being a woman. It is a baptism of fire.

Months from now, my responsibilities will transition from merely being a wife to being a wife and a full-time mother.  Like Lea, I will be called to sculpt a life and stand fearless against the odds. But I am a woman, and I shan’t be wary.

“Hindi ako natatakot. Babae ako at malakas ako. Ako ang tagapagsilang ng sanggol, pambuhay ng sanggol ang dibdib ko.”

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