Early in the morning, the sun has yet to reveal itself to the world. The only sound in the room is the clicking of the clock and the faint snoring coming from the bedroom. In the wee hours of the morning, Katie woke up and crawled next to me in bed. Our bed, like an open door is always free for creeping angels wanting to bask in a cuddled slumber. Looking at her angelic face, I smiled, stirred to make some room and let her weary head fall back to my open arms. She slept unstirringly, while I was left looking at the ceiling trying to get some more zzz’s but it seems to elude me. That’s when it happens…
In the stillness of the night I found myself conjuring visions of what I would like a perfect family to be. A happy and healthy family, children all grown up-having lives of their own, going after their passions, stirring and making waves, me and Boris retiring to the Philippines, being financially secure and successful. The last thought stumped me, what is exactly the measure of “my” success. For the past few months after resigning from a job that I thought would relaunch myself to a career her in the Netherlands, I have been in limbo over what I would do professionally. I have always been ambitious, driven to excel and to make somebody out of myself and now I find myself conflicted of what to do, what to pursue and where to put my creative energy to good use.
That’s when it hits me like a brick. For more than a decade I have defined myself based on how far I get on the professional ladder. Work was life and life was work. When Boris came, the idea of setting down and having a family gave my life the icing on the cake. I knew I would be a good wife and mother. I dreamt of filling in those roles since I was a child playing pretend with our neighborhood buddies. I can still recall how we would round up small items, build our “house”at the side of the street and make concoctions out of leaves, water, soil and whatever we can get our hands on without being reprimanded of course. We would spend hours playing and I would spend hours being the mommy taking care of the family. When was the last time I spent such a long period focusing on that role? It has been years since my life became a part of someone else’s life and has taken a different route. But when was the last time that I really thought of being the BEST mom and wife to my family in the same driven force as I had with my career? Sadly enough, the answer is NEVER.
I took in the partner and mother roles like it was a bonus to the life that I curved out for myself. Thinking foolishly that life will go on as I envisioned it to be, easy peasy- me working, me being a wife, me being a mother- all compartmentalized images but not part of the whole. But I know a lot of mothers if not all will agree with me in saying “If only we were readied to the realizations that balancing these roles are never easy.” Like all those Princesses who after finding their Prince Charming, we thought life would stay at the “and-they-lived-happily-ever-after” zone. But that was the folly of fairy tales and being brought up to it. It skipped out the part that Sleeping Beauty and Prince Charming would often argue because they are beginning to realize that to make a marriage work they need to know each other more than just that one powerful first kiss. We were not privy to the fact that Cinderella still spent as much time cleaning, mopping, dusting, caring for the household, juggling through the chores, and at the same time holding on to three little Princesses, one at each arm, the other holding on to her legs and begging to be just with “Mommy”. We were also never told that after escaping her stepmother’s fury, Snow White came to the castle of her Prince only to find herself adjusting to her new in-laws who treat her civilly but have never really opened their arms to the addition of the family. After all Prince Charming took a vacation, was away for a while and then came back announcing “hey Mom and Dad, here is my wife Snow White!”and that was the start of another life for Snow White- caught between trying to fit in with her husband’s family and not knowing how.
These are the juicy secrets left out from us. Hence we were never really told and readied and our minds were filled with “When I grow up I will be this and that.” Most of my youth, my answer was consistent, “when I grow up I will be a pediatrician!”. Somewhere along the way I made a decision that changed my career path to being an educator. Looking back now, I wish someone had prepared me for this difficult transition from being a career driven lady to a family centered woman. Somehow I wish that stories told to me before bedtime and those I read in books as a child gave me a glimpse of what adults in relationships go through.
But it is never too late for such dreams. So now in the early hours of the morning while everyone is still asleep, in the time zone which I call, “when mothers dream” I find myself saying… “as I continue to grow, I will be the BEST MOTHER AND WIFE to my children and husband that I can ever be!”
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