Three months ago, I decided to brave traveling with Lia alone. What started out as a short tricycle ride home from the pedia became a weekly mother-and-child leisure activity.
|The tricycle ride home that started it all.|
Sundays are a special time for me and Lia. While the husband is out exploring Bulacan on a bike with his friends, I bring Lia to cafes, the grocery, the city. Anywhere but here.
|First mother-and-daughter-only secret trip to the town poblacion:
Ukay-ukay, plaza, church and other sights.
As an exclusively breastfeeding mom to an irritable, persistent infant, it is never easy, what with all the contraptions and diaper bag I have to lug around. Trips had to be scheduled before Lia’s AM nap time, and when it’s nap time, there has to be a spot where I can arrange her in a sling so she can breastfeed. As she nurses till she falls asleep, I go along my business: boarding the bus, paying the bills, doing the groceries, amusing myself with sights.
|This is probably the most I can carry when commuting alone with the baby.
Six grocery and ukay bags, a messenger bag for our stuff and a baby on a sling.
Traveling with an infant challenges a woman like no other, but the payback is tremendous. There’s that pride, that fulfillment as I walk down the streets with bags on hand, a baby in front, and a bag slinging across the sides. In those short sneak-outs to the city, I found my long-disrupted right to lone mobility and public commute – something that I immensely enjoy no matter how taxing. This is apart from the joy of seeing Lia’s chirpy jerks and gleeful eyes while she skims through the various sights of the world from her place in the carrier.
|Barely a year old and she’s already been on-board various transport modes:
Buses, ferry, jeepney, pedicab, tricycle, tranvia, LRT and taxis.
Maybe a carriage and a plane next time.
Independence is something I value most, simply because I was raised not to bother others with my every need. I had been going to and from school alone since I was six years old, and began working summer jobs at 15. At 17, I worked as a crew in an Italian food joint after class. Whatever I needed – from food to toiletries – I’ve mostly funded myself for the past decade. And a few months prior to marriage, I lived entirely on my own away from the comfort of family.
This is a value that I want to pass down to my daughter. Because let’s admit it, no matter how we say it’s the 21st century and there’s gender equality, women’s capabilities – especially fending for themselves or traveling alone – are still largely undermined. Our perception of ourselves restricted by standards, and our abilities and confidence placed under a certain mistrust – sometimes even by immediate family.
But more than that, I feel that I owe it to Lia. As a parent, I believe that the best gift we can give to our kids is the freedom to be themselves, and to allow them to discover the world at its rawest, revolting and inspiring as it is. These are the pillars of wiser, resilient, better-adjusted children.
If you want a child to act like an adult, treat her like one, so goes the adage. But how can that be possible if we ourselves are afraid of venturing out in the world on our own? If we have to rely on husbands, fathers or brothers to drive us from point A to B each single time? What can a child learn if we have to put everything to abandon, on hold, waiting for the perfect time? If we had to meddle with our children’s every affair, fearful that they might do the wrong thing? Are we teaching them to be safe and responsible? Or are we fostering fear, dependence and lack of faith in themselves?
The choices we make today influence our children and shape their future, no matter how young they are. And I will not the make that calculating choice of taking the too-safe route so I can sleep better at night while my child grows naive and unsure. My daughter was born a woman, and I refuse to believe that her freedom and abilities have limitations just because she is one.