What’s this life for?
I find myself asking that question again after so many years of assuming that I’ve found the meaning to mine.
The first time I asked myself that question was on my first job, a few months after graduation. I was an office assistant to an office that didn’t really need assisting. There were only 2 other people besides me, the boss and the assistant boss. It was a non-government funded organization that funded most of our weekend snorkelling, my friends’ scuba diving sessions while I waited and ate on the boat or shore, and the mostly work-related (sometimes not) island hopping. It was an adventure that has yet to be equalled by all my other jobs. However, the fun only lasted a few weeks every few months or so. Most of the time, I sat on my office desk contemplating the eternal question. If it rained, I sat looking out the window and counting each raindrop that fell on the glass wall beside me. If it was sunny, I kept my chair turned a bit sideways so my boss wouldn’t notice me snoozing.
So, being the discontent that I was, and knowing my value as a member of the much-publicized youth, I decided to leave that idle office life. I had thought I found the answer to my question when I finally made it to the big bad urban jungle: Metro Manila. There I toiled, managed my own bills, accumulated my own debts. Life in the big city was never easy. Each day was a test of survival, and a strain not only to the physical, but also to the emotional and mental aspects of my being. I got hired after only a week of job-hunting, and so began my odyssey, the life of a single lady, earning my keep and enjoying every luxury I thought I deserved. From that moment on, I was never out a job for more than 2 months if I could help it, and was never out of friends and a social circle to amuse myself with. So I assumed that my life finally had meaning.
But everything changed when I got pregnant. Then I got pregnant again.
Priorities changed. I wasn’t me anymore. I became an extension of my daughters’ futures. I became the person in charge of their well-being. Late night drinking sessions with work buddies turned into late-night sessions with a feeding bottle.
Sometimes I find myself wondering: Do I really have kids now? Seems to me I haven’t had enough of my own childhood, yet now I have 2 little people depending on me to make their childhood as fun and stress-free as possible, else they end up as fixated as I am. But having kids has made me see that childhood can still be enjoyed at any age, no exception. And I had thought that I loved my older daughter too much that any other child I’d have after her would fade in comparison. I didn’t want to get pregnant again because I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to give the new baby as much love as I do my eldest. But that’s where I was wrong. Having 2 kids now has made see the beauty of love and of how it can be multiplied a million times without anyone getting less than the other. If its love, it’s love, no matter how many people you’d have to give it to. There’s not 1 apple of my eye, because there are 2.
So, I left my day job to care for my kids. During the first few weeks of my unemployment, when people would ask me where I work, I used to be so ashamed of my answer : I’m not working, I’m just a housewife. But then, I realized, why be ashamed? There is no shame in giving up a good career to ensure that my kids grow up to be good people. It wasn’t an easy decision to make, and it took months to finally convince myself, but it had to be made. And it was never easy to give up a career that I’ve painstakingly built over the years since College graduation. So now, when asked, I only have one clear answer: I work for my kids, I’m a homemaker.
Truly, I have been luckier than most. At barely 24years old, I had already found the meaning to my life. It came in a 6lb., 7oz bundle of joy. 4 years later, at 28, a new meaning has been given at 7lbs., 4oz. Office life defined me as a person in need of too many material things, a person with no patience to tolerate the follies of others. Each day I spent there was a challenge to my intellect, constantly trying to best my peers, and sometimes even my superiors. I have exchanged years of intellectual stimulation, of busy days at the office, to these quiet days at home caring for 2 perfect, beautiful little people. Being a full-time mom has been making me miss my carefree single lady days, and all those places I used to go to at a moment’s notice, the impulsive shopping sprees, and all that freedom.
But I do not regret a single thing for I now understand that every single office-hour I gave up means another loving hour in my daughters’ memories. That every silly joke I used to share with my office friends is another silly childhood joke my kids share with me. These, my daughters – their naughtiness, their silliness, their simple joys and simple needs, their smiles – these are what I am here for. Finally, I have the answers to the eternal question. Two very simple answers that, when uttered, can mean so very much. Ayla and Inara. Maybe, I might go back to the corporate world again once my kids are old enough to not miss me every minute. But that’s far from my priorities right now. For now, I will simply enjoy the little surprises that life – and my kids – present me with. This is their time, their moment. And I will simply enjoy the ride. For now.