By Gina Abuyuan
It started mid-last year, me taking my daughter to the mall, allowing her and her friends to walk around without me or other parents chaperoning them. I’d sit by myself in a coffee shop armed with my laptop and a grandé, trying to look cool. But each time they’d rush by—a gaggle of adolescent girls, their male companions ambling awkwardly after them—I’d shoot straight up, my neck craning, try to see what they were up to, what they were doing.
My partner, who spent two years overseas and did not see the more gentle parts of this transition—from playdates to Mom-daughter dates to barkada dates—still feels a little crestfallen when S asks him to drive her to this mall and that. “May sarili nang lakad,” he says, his mouth in an upside-down U. “I never thought this day would come, and that I’d feel this way.”
But who ever is? I spent the majority of my time away from my boys until only last year, due to a variety of (stupid) reasons—too much work, too much partying, too many problems in my love life—and now, not only do I regret it, I find myself trying to make up for lost time by squeezing every possible iota of cuteness out of them while it still exists. But they’re already seven. Pretty soon, they’ll have to get circumcised, want their own time away from Mommy, and will be reminding me to buy extra razors. I don’t think I’ll ever be ready for that.
Some parents don’t want to let go because of sheer over-protectiveness. I don’t think that’s the case with me. No one wants their children hurt or harmed, but disappointment and pain is a way of life, and shapes character.
Some don’t want to let go because, to put it simply, they don’t trust their kids. They believe Mom/Dad knows best, and that kids will never be able to take care of themselves on their own. This isn’t the case with me either; a huge part of a parent’s role is to bring up their child/children so they be self-sufficient, are equipped with the smarts and skills to deal with difficulties and live life the best way they want to. Any action or belief contrary to that is disempowering and unfair to the child—and the parent.
So what has me still mulling over S and her teenage shows of independence? What is it that has me poised breathless, almost on the brink of fear? Maybe it’s the thought of her leaving me. Maybe it’s the thought of her choosing her friends, and eventually, her boyfriends and spouse over me. I’ve gone through the cycle. I’ve got good reason to be afraid, haha.
Of course, I know I’m getting ahead of myself more than a decade here, but still. You get to think about a whole lot of junk while you’re sitting in a café, nursing a grandé.