The past three weeks had been crazy hectic with the neverending article and PR assignments six days a week. Seven if I’m super lucky (If you’re a regular reader, you’ve probably noticed that from the erratic posting frequency). I get calls to revise or add in a few paragraphs even when I’m out or in the toilet. In between my daily 12 to 13-hour work , there are household chores to attend to, dishes to cook, two Rottweilers to feed and a hyperactive toddler who wouldn’t take no for an answer.
That, coupled with the silly decision to leave Lia’s soiled cloth diapers in a pail sealed in a moist and warm part of the toilet for a week became the perfect recipe for moldy disaster. You could imagine the sheer horror of opening a pail of cloth diapers brimming with three-inch threadlike white growths, with heads resembling a spermatozoa.
The husband found out and asked for them to be disposed. Just the thought made me tear up. Not only because some of these were presents and the others I spent nearly P4,000 on, but because I was deeply attached to them. These weren’t just clothes that hold poop and pee. They were part of my daughter’s everyday life for a year. She wore them when she was just learning to sit up to the time she’s sprinting across the living room. They were a memoir of how things were once.
I received a lot of shoulda, coulda, woulda comments from fellow cloth diapering moms who suggested a combination of Lysol, boiled water, bleach, sunlight and other germ and mold extinguishers. “I drop everything in an instant for my baby,” said one. A few of them commented that like me, they are maid-less working moms who breastfeed and yet they manage.
During Lia’s pedia visit last weekend, I was seated next to a mother with a charming three-year old boy who kept biting her arm. With absolute composure, she firmly said, “No biting.” Never snapped. Not once. I was envious.
For the life of mine, I cannot stay that calm when Lia exhibits her tempest – which is every ten minutes of her waking hour.
Since she became a toddler – and I am not proud to say this – yelling has become part of my daily routine. She’s in that stage where she’s growing more defiant, demanding and explorative each day. I know she’s not doing that to piss me off; she’s beginning to establish her autonomy, a separate living entity with her own desires and needs. But still I cannot stop yelling out of stress and frustration. Not that it stops her from doing what she wants anyway.
|Motherhood is not always a breeze.|
That same day, I was word-whipped by my family and the MIL on how perhaps, I am letting Lia have it her way more than I should. That she’s too attached and too demanding. That despite what other breastfeeding moms say, it’s not normal for a 15-month old to wake up every one to two hours during the night to nurse. And that perhaps, I should start disciplining her even f it means resorting to more drastic measures.
The oft-traditional consensus is she’s just a child; a mother must always assume her authority.
I am at a crossroads where big decisions are looming over the horizon. These recent events made me think that maybe it is time to end some journeys that we started, like cloth diapering for instance. Obviously there is a need to free up some time so I squeeze in other pressing matters. Gradually weaning Lia from the breast has also started to dawn upon me.
|How many of you moms wished your daughter could stay this small forever?|
When I started breastfeeding, I didn’t establish an end date to avoid disappointments. The two-year mark was what I would ideally prefer, but I tried to take it one day at a time. Because mommas, no matter how Shakira says it’s addicting, breastfeeding has its challenges. Teething, plugged ducts, toddlers becoming too attached that they MUST go wherever the breast goes.
But more than that, all that weekend hullaballoo made me question my qualifications as a mother. Motherhood is not something I enjoy 100 percent of the time. There. I said it. Nearly half the time, I feel like I’m tiptoeing on a guided wire, trying to balance motherhood with all homely duties and work.
It’s almost second nature for women to critique others and compare their parenting styles with those of others. The society’s rigid and oftentimes impossible standards of motherhood has me second guessing myself a few times.
But what I keep reminding myself is as mothers we take bits and pieces of advice along the way and carve our own paths. I don’t think it would be fair for us to compare our children to every other child we come across with. After all, even at conception they already have genes dictating their own unique personalities.
To say that they’re just kids and their needs should be adjusted according to our comfort is undermining the fact that they were born special and entitled to their rights, no matter how small and fragile they are.
But it is also unfair for us to put them and their needs on such a high pedestal and consider ours inferior. Those needs will have to be fulfilled one way or another, lest we want to end up resenting ourselves or our children. It is this balance between those needs and my child’s that I continue to struggle with. Every single day.
And as mothers like me do, my hope is that other mothers would be supportive the very least. If you are a working mom who’s able to manage full-time work, chores, wifely and motherly duties without any sort of help from their in-laws or parents like it’s a walk in the park, then congratulations for being a supermom.
But for those of us on the other side of the fence, I hope you do not expect us to have the same parallel abilities. We can’t simply leave our deadlines at the drop of a hat. We need to feed. Bills and mortgage have to paid too. Instead of condescension and criticism, let us apply a spirit of camaraderie and open-mindedness as we all strive to be the best mother we can be.