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Things I know for sure

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28/43. Aug. 6 was Mama’s birthday. She would have turned 77.

During the first years of our marriage, and especially during the difficult first few months of becoming a mother, I would visit the cemetery a lot or just cry/talk to Mama.

Many days, I feel very awkward as a wife and mother. After all, I was single for 35 years, and was ready to be single for the rest of my life when I met my husband.

There have been a lot of days when I just say to myself: Nganong ni-enter?!

Our mother was a dedicated wife and mother. The kind who would pack Papa’s bags whenever he would travel. Cooked meals all day. Kept the house immaculately clean. Managed the finances. Made sure we had everything we needed for school, weeks before the deadline (dili magkirig-kirig like me).All these while teaching independence, spirituality, and grace. The traditional and modern woman, rolled into one formidable package.

Sometimes, I laugh when I talk to my Mama during difficult times. “Ma, nganong nagkakidlay naman ko as a wife and mother when I have so many privileges you didn’t have when you were raising three kids?”

Mama always had make-up on. Her hair was never messy. She wore simple clothes but she always looked put- together.

She was also the quiet force behind many family traditions. The regular nature trips meant Mama’s cooking. The magical Christmases meant Mama’s one million trips to the mall to buy gifts for everybody, and to always prepare a feast.

If my sisters won’t come home for holidays, I bet Leiana’s memories of Christmas will be filled with takeout food, decors that are probably put up by other people, and I can’t guarantee putting up a Christmas tree (too exhausting to pack and store it afterwards).

Most days, I am an awkward wife and mother — definitely not put-together.

But I always just try my very best. It may not be up to Mama’s standards but I’m sure she would have been the first to say: You are doing great, anak! (Even when she would probably decorate our house for me every Christmas.)

 

*****

 

29/43. We talked about politics and religion all the time when we were growing up.

So when society suddenly demanded that “we should not talk about politics and religion”, I ignored it.

It is only in talking about these things that we can assess how we feel about them, what our privileges are, how much we know and don’t know.

Because we talked about religion at the dinner table, I can remain Catholic despite my strong support for gay marriage and the Reproductive Health bill.

Not because I believe that my religion allows for gay marriage and contraceptives — it doesn’t despite the compassionate language that the Pope uses. My religion doesn’t allow it. My God of compassion does.

But I remain a Catholic because I agree with many of its teachings, and being able to pray the rosary is a source of strength and comfort in my life.

Because we talked about politics growing up, I listened  but didn’t take Papa’s advice  when I decided to work with a politician.

“Dai, maglisud ka ana kay black and white ra ba kaayo ka ug world view,” he warned.

I decided to work with a politician, not for a politician.

I gave advice based on law but also diligently flagged issues that would be catastrophic to him as a politician, or beneficial. I learned a lot from my politician- boss, and am humbled that he continues to call when he needs insights. Both on law and politics.

So I highly recommend talking about politics and religion. Yes, even on first dates. Kay simbako BBM loyalist diay ng imong atbang!

 

*****

 

30/43. My husband will never be my best friend.

And in our love story, that’s perfectly okay because love stories have many faces.

Aside from being your most reliable ally and critic, a best friend will be the best company in things you love doing.

For me, these are rock concerts and road trips. My husband and I have never been to a rock concert together. He doesn’t even like rock music that much, and vetoed my dream, with the support of Catholic Church rules, of walking down the aisle to a Bon Jovi song.

My husband is the worst road trip partner because he doesn’t like talking while driving (he says he gets distracted), and doesn’t really appreciate the value of a well-curated road trip playlist. Instead, we listen to audio books in our road trips.

I don’t expect my husband to be with me in all gatherings. Friends, it’s not you. It’s him. Social interaction is exhausting for him. He can’t have too much.

I don’t always expect my husband to say yes to spontaneous trips. He likes well-planned vacations. He likes organized trips, and packs a very very very organized suitcase.

Meanwhile, I take a few spontaneous vacations, and then just inform him — like my trip to Boracay with my UP Law School best friends.

Marrying a man you’ve only known for less than five years before you bind yourself to forever is very very very hard. It takes a lot of communication, understanding, patience…for each other.

It’s essentially dating a stranger, and then living with him. The culture shock is jarring. The urge to punch his face comes up every so often.

As a gentle and kind husband, I’m sure he also feels this way many times as I am not the easiest wife in the world.

My husband turned a year older on Sept. 13. He didn’t  have a party. That, too, would have been exhausting for him.

But he spent time with me and our tiny human. And we shared a solid steak meal.

And that’s more than enough. Because that is our love story.

Happy birthday, husband. (This level of attention would embarrass you, I’m sure.)

____________________________________

Author’s email: goldabenjamin@gmail.com

 

 

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