“As we come close to April, March is always a month full of courage and inspiration. International Women's Day must not always be just a day, but it must be a way of life for everyone. Fight and uphold women's rights... There is no such thing as beautiful in this world but to have equality and freedom."
I love and enjoy being a woman, despite the pains and the hardship of being one. I've talked and written stories about women's discrimination and oppression and I always felt there are never ending stories about the personal and social suffering and struggle of women. Most of my women stories were always related to political issues because I believe all these suffering are rooted in our social, economic and political structures.
Today, I want to write about motherhood. Uh, uh! Sounds not so political but motherhood is a topic that would always trigger long stories of joys and difficulties of every mother I met. "This is a tough job!” every mother would say. Everyone would also agree with me that motherhood is such an exceptional task of bearing the burden of raising healthy and happy kids that will be a pride of every parent, families and community as well.
I remember when I was still at a very young age until my teen- age life, my mother used to tell us, "You can only understand what is meant to be a mother, when you yourself become one." Now, I understand... It’s difficult, really difficult…
It's a gargantuan responsibility and it’s emotionally draining in times when we lost our authority on our kids. We felt scared being challenged when we are confronted with our kids’ assertiveness starting at their early age; when we felt we are pushed to the wall because we don’t know how to handle them anymore and when we don’t know how to answer their arguments and convince them scientifically on our own opinions. We felt helpless and confused and finally give in to their demands.
With the fast technology development, kids are more expose to advance knowledge which we parents are left behind. It takes so much effort to understand our children's behaviors and learn our own counter-behaviors to make us better parents. We are caught with our own inadequacies of knowledge and experience and in the end found ourselves losing our patience and fighting with our own kids.
When my daughter was still a baby up to her pre-school age, I usually said to my friends "I really enjoyed being a mother and wanted to have more children.” I felt I’m the only one appreciating motherhood. It always made me wonder why most of the mothers I met expressed heavy burden in raising their children.
There was a time in school while waiting for my daughter, a mother friend told me, “There’s no mother that doesn’t have complaints about children.” I just smiled and responded to her, “There’s no child that doesn’t complain about their mothers.”
We both laughed.
I understand that raising kids is dynamic and we are always confronted by our own limiting beliefs and practices in every stage of our child's development not to include the financial limitations, advancement of technologies and the social environment. It’s always a challenge learning to deal with them and always an inspiration knowing how to handle their ups and downs without any power struggle from them.
In the Philippines, parenting is always a mother’s burden. Fathers exercise parenting usually on the issues of discipline and economic provision. My husband is the one making a living for us, while I’m the one raising our daughter at the same time doing activism work. It’s sad that our source of living is far from the place we are residing and that my husband had to be away taking care of our livelihood while I take care of our daughter. My daughter is missing her father. We all miss each other.
It’s worse for Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) who suffered homesickness, isolation, discrimination, abuses and maltreatment without government support abroad. Their children grew up longing for their love and attention resulting to drug addiction and dropping out from schools. The mothers felt do much pain of guilt and frustrations due to their absence. Our government doesn’t feel this way. They are more inclined to send more Filipinos abroad, feeling numbed and callous of the agony of every Filipino away from their families.
Maybe if our government will provide many job and livelihood opportunities domestically by developing our natural resources; investing and nationalizing our basic industries we don’t have to go far places and find our living. We didn’t need to live separate lives just to eat three times a day, send our children to schools, have access to medical care and shelter over our heads. Women will enjoy time taking care of their own children rather than other children as babysitters.
Maybe if we have government programs that cater to women and children care, we don’t have women raising children singlehandedly while earning a living. We don’t have children that suffer absences of parents; we don’t have women crying for the death of her child due to poverty; we don’t have girl children and teen-agers engage in survival sex.
Maybe if we have a government that nationalize our basic utilities such as water, power, oil rather than privatizing… women and their families will not suffers high prices of basic services and commodities instead everyone will enjoy cheaper prices, accessibility to social services and live comfortably and securely.
Having this kind of government and socio-economic system, we will celebrate International Women’s Day with song, dances and laughter of freedom. There will be no more women activists marching the streets shouting against war and terror, no more women workers demanding for just wages , no more women victims of violence , no more women martyrs , no more women widows and orphans children …