Uncle J. said to me rather earnestly not too long ago, “I feel sorry for you. Look at you now. You gave up your life and your church work for so long and now your everyday is just spent wrapped up with the two of them.”
It took me a few weeks to say to him how offended I really was by that statement. It took me that long because he’s a dear friend and I know what he really meant to say was something along the lines of: How your life has changed!
Even so, I eventually made sure to let him know how wrong he was.
My life may have changed in many ways that I had never foreseen – that I would stop working, that I could feel passionately for being a mother, that I could choose this differently.
Most of all, I had never imagined that I could fall in love so much more completely than I thought I already did, until you, Matthew, came along… and then I was surprised that I could fall in love just as completely all over again, when you, Emma, came.
You see, I was always that 18-year-old girl who cherished my ideals (naive ones included), my inner voice, futile hopes and wishes for the world, and a lot of tormented emotions… even as I grew up, fell in love, had my heart crushed, came face to face with how ugly some people can really be despite their holy facade, had my heart shattered (again, and again…), got married and held my father – the grandfather you never met, the grandfather who would have doted you guys to bits – as he breathed his last.
You see, I only became a woman when you, Matthew was born. I guess I was always a late bloomer.
Overnight, or rather, in the space of a few hours between them pulling you out from my womb, with me still being just concerned that all I felt was nausea and zero motherly love in that operating theatre, to when you showed up in your little crib all swaddled in white, I transited from girl to woman.
Almost spontaneously and very naturally and quickly after that first proper meeting between us (both of you), I felt like a mother.
And yet, it is funny how it’s only rather recently, as you are now almost two and almost four, that I fully understand that I’ve become a mother. In between the midnight wakings, nursing and now feeding with meals I cook (once, I never cooked), being present in between playtimes and naptimes, managing the power of scoldings and threats, towing the line between insistence and encouragement, accepting my successes and failures to be a loving mother everyday, understanding how to turn self-doubt into motivation to do better… it is in the midst of walking this fine line that I realise I have become a mother.
It is in questioning everything I’ve ever believed and recreating narratives of my life, that I’ve reclaimed what it is I truly do believe (all my naive ideals, hopes and wishes for the world, futile as they may be, my inner voice and my heartbeats), discarded the familiar but now useless fears, finally deciphered what paths I want to take in life, and written the manifesto for life as I wish it to be, especially now that you’re both here to live it.
Four years. That’s how long, or how short, it took. And this is just the beginning.
Not too long ago, I hadn’t realised this phase of life could end.
These days, you, Matthew, are already shaking off my hand as you ready to take off, and you Emma, while still happy to let your brother lead, are already ever ready to follow him in everything he does.
Your father and I cannot understand how you buds are already “all grown up” and moving away from us ever so stealthily and steadily.
And so I told Uncle J.: It’s only been four short years. I’m already now reclaiming the life I knew. I’m back serving at church though it took me a while to claw my way back, and I’m writing for work again. They don’t need me around as much as they used to. Already! Four years. That was no sacrifice. Merely the blink of an eye.
I watch you kids run and I take my handy iPhone to snap my pictures.
You didn’t even turn around once to see if your dad and I were still behind.
You moved your way – forward – so quickly.
I wish you guys would slow down.
I wish you guys would never slow down.
I wish I can always be able to catch up.
I wish I won’t.
Even if I can.
Ever aware that we are advancing fast towards the day you won’t need me around anymore, and still believing that that should be the correct way to go, I remain, the mother whose heartbeat has found its course,