the bond of motherhood

people feel i need to spend more time with my daughter. sometimes, when i am like most people, i feel i need to spend more time with her.

but then, i realized that when i really think about it, i spent more time talking with my daughter than any working mother i know (and a good bulk of full-time housewives i know). i may not be holding her in my arms when i do it or i may not be able to see her from across the room when we talk but we actually make pretty interesting conversations together. her grandmother (my mother) and she would do a doctor-mother of the patient roleplay for me. she would ask me to read her fairy tale stories. she would do ballet dancing for me. she would show off her new parody of nursery rhymes (yes, at two years old, she knows how to do that). she would ask me what stuff i bought for her and asks me to describe how mickey mouse reacted when i told him she is coming to see him. we would put on make up together and she would assess whether i look prettier than her after that is done.

and because i do not get to see her everyday, i always ensure these conversations are all about the wonderful things about life and about her. i do not take these moments for granted because i do not have a lot of them at my disposal.

peole feel i am missing a lot of my daughter growing up because my work takes me away from her. sometimes when things are rough at work, i thought the same as well. but then, i realized, i have the best job in the world. i work for the most family-oriented boss i have ever known. i can spend longer time with my daughter before and after my frequent business trips. i love my work; it does not make me miserable. it does not make me feel i am giving up something to put food on the table and provide for our future. it allows me to foster even stronger relationship with my family which allows my daughter to grow up in a family that loves and cares for each other. my daughter does not wonder when she wakes up and she sees me sleeping with her; i would see her smile and i know she understood it is that time that Mummy is home again. she does not cry when she wakes up and found me gone; she knows where i am going and she knows i am going back to her. my daughter, at age two, understands the nature of work and why i do it. she does not see it as a threat; she understands it is one of the means to an end.

i never talk to my daughter; i am always talking with her. we talk about her dolls; we talk about Mickey and Dora and Cinderella and Snow White. we talk about the snow in Japan and the scuba diving in Indonesia and the lure of Europe. she doesn’t understand a lot of it but it excites her and she would ask me where else i would like to bring her and i would watch her, over facetime, with that pure innocence and authentic excitement as she grins from ear to ear.

i do not believe you need consistent physical contact to make great relationships. you need consistent positive contact, physical or otherwise. you do not foster great relationship with a kid when all the kid can remember is how many times he got scolded for not doing things as you expected. you do not build a strong relationship with your daughter when most of the time you are around her, you are doing something else- preparing dinner, arguing with her father, complaining about housework, worrying about money, watching television. quality time is not all about being there all the time; it is all about what you do when you are around them and when you are away from them.

i know this is so because my parents have mastered the art of quality time. we came from a poor family and they need to work very hard to make ends meet. they wake up very early to open the store and comes home late. they were rarely in the parents-teachers meeting at school (but who cares about those shit really?). but i have to think really hard of these moments when they are not there with us because the ones i remember easily are those times that count. they have always been there when we need them to. my father worked overseas all his life but he can remember every single name of every friend i have (even if he has not meet them); he remembers the poems i wrote long after i forget them. my mother reared every single one of us while juggling the aftermath of our bankruptcy and the stress of day to day life and she reared us well. she has always been there way after we moved out and started living on our own. she is the rock unto which we all draw our strengths because when we talk, she listens. and when we are loss for words, she offers her wisdom. my parents do not have all the luxury in the world to own their time but they have never made us feel that it was either us or making a living. they never took those moments they can bond with us for granted because they do not have a lot of them at their disposal.

sometimes, when i am away from my daughter, i thought of these things. and because i am away from her a lot, i thought of these more often than i need to. sometimes, my strength wavers and doubt starts creeping in. but then, my iphone would ring and Grape would call.

and then i find happiness again.

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