Motherhood is a puzzlement
When the children turn five, motherhood begins to change. It’s still wonderful at times but now you probably have more than one child and they often fight about the smallest things.

Motherhood is a puzzlement

FROM MY HEART - Barbara Gonzalez-Ventura (The Philippine Star) - May 12, 2019 - 12:00am

When did I learn about motherhood? Of course, when I had my first baby. She was the prettiest, cuddliest little thing, in my eyes. I breastfed her, changed her diapers, took care of her myself for a long time. I absolutely adored her, spent all night awake watching her when she got her first fever. I thought I would die if anything untoward happened to her. Now, whenever I think about motherhood, I have one conclusion. It is best when your children are small adorable babies who cannot talk, who can only laugh when you nuzzle their little tummies or when you sing them your silliest songs.

When the children turn five, motherhood begins to change. It’s still wonderful at times but now you probably have more than one child and they often fight about the smallest things. This forced me to make a rule: “If you fight, fix it yourselves. If you come telling on each other, I will spank all of you.” I did that once. After that they learned to fix their little fights themselves. There may be some mothers who think I’m heartless but I was a working mother. Sometimes you have to put your foot down hard to give yourself some peace.

Then comes the worst part of motherhood — puberty followed by growing into adulthood. If I could tell you in painful detail how difficult it was to mother adolescents, I would; but my children disapprove of my writing about them. They take it personally. They take offense. How dare their mother write about them!

As a writer, I feel it my duty to share lessons I have learned in life with people who might be in the same situation. Who are the people who have taught me the most lessons? My children, who, I am forced to admit, probably have a love-hate relationship with me. For example, once we thought one was bipolar. That drove me to panic, made me book appointments with every psychiatrist and psychoanalyst in town. Finally it turned out she wasn’t bipolar but had another ailment. Much later I wrote about it and was overwhelmed by the response I got from readers. From as far as Bukidnon, somebody called to ask for the names of psychiatrists in her area. I could tell that column was helpful to many. But my daughter resented it, viewed it as an intrusion into her privacy. “What is wrong with being bipolar?” I asked then. “You are not the only one. It is not your fault. It is genetic.” I wanted her to see the help it gave other people but she made me feel like I was asking too much. I don’t see anything wrong with writing the truth because it is the truth. I write the truth about my life. So it puzzles me when my children are offended when I write about them.  Maybe I should change their names, not to mention their relationship to me. But I find that slightly dishonest and I don’t like being dishonest, no matter how slightly. I guess at my age I must accept that dishonesty is sometimes required by life.  This leads me to my favorite prayer: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the one I can, and the wisdom to know it’s me.”

 Now my children are grown and flown. I have nothing to say about their lives. I only accept and love them as they are. Now I think very often about my mother, who died almost 10 years ago. Not a day has passed since her death that I haven’t thought of her, how lovely and glamorous she was always with her bright red lipstick. How charming and friendly she was. She would always talk to people in elevators causing me much embarrassment. Now what do I do? I also talk to people in elevators. Just like my mother did.

 My mother always took forever to put on her makeup. I get dressed in 20 minutes but she would take hours. Once I visited her in Vancouver, and a young woman in her early 20s came up to my mother and said, “I love your makeup.” My mother was so flattered. Those things just never happen to me.

 Suddenly I realize that now that my mother is gone I treasure her, think about her at least once a day, always smile at a memory. That is the secret to the motherhood puzzle. You have to die to be loved actively. When you go, the “hate” part of the “love-hate” formula is cremated with you. Your children will remember things about you that you have probably forgotten and they will remember you with profound love.

As the king might have said in the movie The King and I,  “Motherhood is a puzzlement.” You do not reap the benefits in life. You reap them only after you’re gone.

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