I remember a rainy afternoon. I was sitting next to the window, drinking hot chocolate as an alternative to coffee because I was pregnant with my fourth child. I stared outside and watched the raindrops falling to the ground. I could hear my three other children laughing and playing in the living room.
On some days that would be a normal scenario; on others they’d be fighting and shouting and running around like wild horses. On rare occasions they’d get along just fine for hours, being kind to one another until nighttime, and sleep peacefully together—and the sight of it would make me joyful.
With three kids at home, a four-year gap separating each from the others, I concluded that their yelling and bickering—though annoying, moving me to pray for peace for even only an hour—were but normal. But I’d be scared by their silence, and think that something bad might have happened. Worried, I’d call out their names one by one until they all answered (and answered for the youngest who could not yet speak clearly), and I’d sigh in relief. Or I’d panic when they get injured—the sight of a wound, lump, or burn makes me cringe—and I’d run to the rescue, motherly instinct in full force.
I can’t quite imagine my children growing up and eventually becoming adults. Their leaving home to pursue higher education, having their own families, and myself visiting my grandkids seem too distant to contemplate. But that is what it all comes down to, right?
As a parent, I’d be the happiest once my children are through with their studies, find stable jobs they love and careers that would provide them with the personal and professional growth they need, passions that would keep them going in life, healthy relationships that would make them happy, and loving families that would complete them in the way they completed me. That is perhaps the only desire that my heart holds dearly and my daily prayer to God.
While a part of me desperately clamors to keep them near me, I know that I will not matter to them in the future as much as I do now. I know that in time they will not need me in the way they did when they were learning to walk, talk, read, write, and eat on their own—those times when it felt like I was their world and I constantly heard them calling my name, seeking my attention, my help.
There were times when I could not fully be there for them, or I’d put them on hold because I had work, or a TV series/show to finish, a game to win, or sleep to indulge in. Then I’d feel guilty for not putting them first, in the same manner that remorse would engulf me every time I shouted at them for their disrespect, punish them for their disobedience, and ignore them when they had to be taught a lesson the hard way.
Yet, at the end of the day, a mother will always be a mother, making it easy for me to forgive them, ask for their forgiveness, too, and sometimes even be the first to surrender.
Inasmuch as I’m excited to see them grow into the individuals that they are meant to become—great in every sense—I succumb to nostalgic moments: What happened to the babies I carried in my arms and sang a lullaby to at bedtime, and whose first rollover, coo, crawl, step, and everything else I documented? What happened to the toddlers who were scared to go to school, and who needed cuddling to be able to sleep at night, and who’d kiss and hug me whenever, wherever?
I suppose every parent has experienced this dilemma, and I suppose we all miss how our children used to be. There is this contradictory feeling of wanting one’s children to be the way they are forever, that even if they become grown women and men, they will remain one’s babies for as long as one lives. That in some parallel universe perhaps, or in the corner of one’s most cherished memories, there is that juncture where nothing ever changes.
It would never be easy to let go of one’s children when the time comes for them to seek their freedom, to be able to make life choices without one’s parental intervention or knowledge. How difficult it would be to watch them from afar, thinking to oneself that they are not making the best decisions but wanting them to learn on their own, and to keep one’s distance while they struggle, but taking comfort in one’s having taught them well and strengthened them enough to meet every challenge.
One remains hopeful that they will persevere because nothing worth having ever comes without a price.
As a parent, one will always yearn for what is best for one’s children even if it means being a bystander at some point in their lives. What remains constant is the unconditional love, so that one will be always there for them when their world seems to be crumbling, and everyone they value becomes a disappointment.
A parent’s love never falters, never lessens, never recedes. Simply put, a child may outgrow their parent but a parent will never cease to claim their child as their own, forever and always.
I will love you forever. I will like you always. As long as I am living, my babies you will be—Markief, Schiavie, Brie and Sarri.
Read more: Let us embrace the 4 Ls of life