Consider This! : Chapter 1 – On Family

3 Feb

Note: I changed the title from “On Being Part of a Family” to “On Family”.  This is the first draft of chapter 1 of the book I’m writing entitled “Consider This!  Mommy’s Personal Manifesto, 33 Rules/Guidelines”.

Dear Lorin,

I am the second child in the family.  I have an older sister, a younger brother, and a younger sister.  My parents – your grandparents – have been married for more than 35 years.  We are not as close as I would like to be.  You could say that we take the rule of etiquette “Respect other people’s privacy” a little too seriously.  Ha ha.  But I couldn’t ask for a better family to belong to.  I love my parents and my siblings.  Although sometimes I don’t like them.  Shhh!  But I’m sure sometimes they feel that way about me, too.  Loving and liking are very different.  And it’s normal because even if we belong to the same family, we are still individuals.  We have different personalities, temperaments, attitudes, and beliefs.

This month, your father and I will be celebrating our 5th wedding anniversary together.  Hooray!  He was in Mozambique, South Africa during our anniversary last year.  He was there on a six-month work contract.  During his absence, I turned 32 and you turned 2.  Christmas, New Year, and Valentines’ Day also went by.  My, that was difficult.  I didn’t feel like celebrating at all, I felt more like crying.  For you, especially.  I admit it was partly my fault.  I encouraged your father to work abroad.  Was it worth it?  It did help ease some of our financial burden, yes.  But it sure came with a hefty price tag.  Your father missed an opportunity to watch you grow before his very eyes.  A parent’s source of joy – six months of it – gone forever.  Before you were born, we lived apart for about a year.  It was difficult but it was nothing compared to hearing you ask where your father was and hearing your father say he missed you so much.  I don’t want to go through that again.

In a few years or more, we will receive a notice that the processing of our application for permanence residence to Canada will be started.  We wanted to migrate to Canada because we want a better life.  That was in 2007.  My views of what a better life is have changed since then.  If it’s important to me that all three of us stay together, it’s just as important to me now that we stay here in the Philippines.  So that you get to know and spend time with your grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and other relatives.  We are neighbors with my parents and my brother and his family.  One of my greatest fantasies is that my sisters and their families also live in the same neighborhood.  So that you can play and develop close relationships with your cousins, each of whom are like you – an only child.  Only child.

I have never asked you if you want a sister or a brother.  I want to tell you now that I’m sorry but you may not know the kind of love a sibling has for his or her sibling.   Because right now, my decision is to not have any more children.  Not in our current condition.  It is unfair to bring another child to this world knowing that we don’t have the means or resources to take care of him or her the way he or she deserves and the way we want to.  That would be thoughtless and irresponsible of us.  When and if I decided to have another child, I want to take care of him or her myself, and to breastfeed for longer than I have breastfed  you.  We never had a yaya or maid, and we don’t plan on hiring any ever.  Right now, my plate is full with my day job, taking care of you, handling family responsibilities, doing household chores (shared with your father, of course), and pursuing a writing career.  We also have all our financial resources tied.  We are living on only 2/3 of our income because we are paying for a loan.  When you were born, we have the means and resources to take care of you.  Any future child of us deserves no less.

I also think that a child, as a member of a family, deserves to be heard.  I don’t believe in the saying “Children should be seen and not heard”.  Because you will not be a child forever.  You will grow up and may want to have a family of your own.  If you want to remain single, that’s also your choice.  But you still need certain life skills to live on your own.  You need to know how to manage a household, deal with your family and handle finances.   That’s why it’s important for you to be involved in family matters.  You will have a hand in decision-making because your thoughts and opinions matter.  As a member of this family, you have a say on everything that concerns it.  But as the saying goes: “With great power comes great responsibility.”  Don’t worry, I’m only talking about household chores.  When you’re older, we expect you to do your share.

There are also other expectations I will have from you as part of this family.  Know where to draw the line between being honest to other people and keeping our family’s privacy.  Also, remember that every family is unique.  So do not compare.  Do not think that we are better than some or worse than others.  Just know that we are living our lives the way we want to, whether it conforms to society’s expectations or not.  We don’t keep up with the Joneses.  We live our lives the way we see fit.  We don’t have to explain or make excuses.  We are who we are.

Our family is my number one priority.  I think about our family whenever I make decisions.  I consider how every decision will affect us.  Whether we will benefit from it.  And if not, our family shouldn’t be adversely affected by it, at the very least.  My time, energy, and resources go to our family first.  My relationship with you and your father takes precedence over all other relationships that I have.  Over our relatives and over my friends.  I don’t mind not getting any mommy’s night or day out. I don’t mind spending every single day with with you and your father.  I don’t mind staying home all day.  As long as I have a few pockets of quiet time alone, I’m okay.



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