On Mother’s Day (of All Days)

My dearest budding Liberace,


If my father, a man with profound hearing loss, can play both the guitar and the piano, I have no doubt you and your perfectly normal, not quite forty-year-old hearing will emerge from your piano lessons triumphant. Unless you are secretly prepping for a recital at the Luce, why  stress yourself out so much? It’s nothing to be scared of.


Is this the time in our lives where we claw ourselves out of whatever adult rut we’ve found ourselves stuck in, and force ourselves to learn something new? Should we get a red convertible with a retractable roof? We are nearly forty. If we don’t start now, then when?


I had a small epiphany of sorts last night. I was reading an essay by this woman whose husband came out as a trans woman; while she still loved him, because she identifies as straight, their marriage couldn’t last, so they separated but shared visitation rights with their child, whom she bore after numerous failed IVF attempts. She wrote about how her doctor kept referring to her pregnancy as “geriatric”, since she was already forty. I thought about my choice of not having children, and how I would feel once the not having of children is no longer something borne out of free will, but something enforced by age. I don’t like it. It makes me itchy. This is not to say I am going to go out and get pregnant just to stick two middle fingers up at the world by proving I can; it’s just to say that I don’t like the idea of no longer having a choice. But it’s too late, anyway. It was too late when I turned thirty-two and my mother said not to bother, because “it could be ‘special’.” My mother, ladies and gentlemen.

You are right about things being different now. Now we can tell whether the baby will have developmental issues, and the woman gets a choice whether or not to proceed. Planned Parenthood at its finest! But even with that option in  play, there are still some things one should no longer do at this age, unless one is Jennifer Lopez. Or Madonna. Whether or not I like having a choice is moot, because nature always wins. It wins in the air above the Schiphol airport. It wins when you turn 40 (and what is 39 but a hop, skip and a jump away?). The last of my ova are just hanging out, knitting sweaters, waiting for the resurrection. Why fight it? Is motherhood,  which I’m not even sure I want, and am definitely sure I’m not fit for, really the hill I want to die on?


A woman’s ability to bear children has an expiration date. Unlike piano lessons, which can be entered into at any time.

They say it’s never too late to learn something new. They also say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Ano ba talaga, Tito Bhoy?

I believe you when you say you are fine.

You’re fine. 


I believe you.


I do.


I believe… in life after love, after love, after love,

Nikka

It’s Your Day, Mommy

This is still the song that comes to mind whenever Mother’s Day rolls around. My best friend and colleague says it’s likely because my taste in music is unevolved. (I know, how dare he?) I prefer to think it’s because its message is clear, strong and still resonates after all these years. The truth usually does.

“Mama” is the exploration of a changing perspective. It’s the gradual dawning of understanding that Mother knew best… or did what she did with the unshakeable belief that she knew best. It was never just about us; it was always about the greater good. It’s gaining the ability to truly laugh, without any remnants of resentment at the foibles of our mothers and accept them for who they are. Maybe even forgive them for whatever psychological scars they’ve inflicted on our nascent childhoods, and ask for our own redemption for all the crap we’ve ever put them through.

What rite of passage defines one’s entry into adulthood? First job? First bill paid? First time to move out?

I think the true rite of passage into adulthood is the one where we stop blaming our parents for every slight, real or perceived, and take hold of the life we have fashioned for ourselves. It’s the moment we accept that it’s the decisions we make – external circumstances bedamned – that shape the life we currently live, that’s when we truly grow up. This is why we can thank the mothers that we do have – because they are just like us. They may be clueless, they may be flawed, but they are courageous. You can listen to all the advice and read all the parenting books in the known universe, but no one knows what they’re really getting themselves into when they decide to be parents. Our parents took the plunge and did it anyway. The craziest, most insanely dangerous leap to take, and the one with the most lasting after-effects. It’s a leap I’ve never even been able to bring myself to make, but our mothers did that for us. And that’s all we can really ask for from them, isn’t it?