By Gina Abuyuan
I would probably now own a Mac Air, have a year’s worth of rent paid, and a lilac Gucci handbag made of the most sublime, buttery leather if I were paid a peso every time I’ve been told/asked:
* “I-feature mo naman ako,” (“Can you do a feature on me?”) when people learn I edit a magazine (well, when I did);
* “Masakit?” (“Did it hurt?”) when they see the tattoo on my wrist; and
* “May lahi kayo?” (“Is it in your genes?”) when people learn I have twins.
And I would probably be now driven around in a mini-van if I gave myself a peso every time I promised myself: “I will not get dramatic about my being a working mom”—and broke it.
Don’t get me wrong—I love being a working mother. I love the adrenaline and challenge it gives me; I love being paid for what I love to do. But sometimes, the stress gets the better of me. I retreat into my selfish, self-centered world and resent the fact that other people (my sister, for instance, who I love dearly, again please don’t get me wrong) have got it easy: their husbands bring home bacon (a full slab at that!), all they’ve got to worry about is the kids’ baon, bring them to and pick them up from school, and make sure dinner is ready when hubby arrives.
But is it really that easy? I once was left sans yaya, when my twin boys were still babies, and a whole day taking care of them left me more sapped than 48 hours putting my then-magazine to bed. I marvel at the energy of my partner’s ex-wife, B, who’s chosen to be a homemaker to her current husband and two daughters. She’s up at dawn, cooks the family’s meals, drives the kids to school, hangs out in the mall while waiting for them to get out of class, drives them back home, takes care of her husband, and drives them to extracurricular activities during the weekends.
One time, when we were corresponding about her son’s schooling and she had missed an e-mail or two, she was profuse in her apologies. She was so busy, she said, but probably not as busy as I was, an editor. I stopped her right there. No way, I told her. It’s OK. Nothing can be busier than a full-time mom and homemaker.
So, yes, I do get emotionally frayed sometimes, especially when deadlines are piling up, editorial assistants are calling, and texting non-stop to follow up on stories, book clients are asking (“but no pressure! Just asking!”) if the copy is ready, and public relations practitioners are requesting for interviews “at the most convenient time.”
But, as I remind myself, that just like B and my sister, I made a choice. I made a choice to be a working mother. Not just a 9 to 5 pencil-pusher, mind you, but the type of worker who needs to hustle and have the ability to speak/write/understand different voices. Sure, I can un-make that choice, but that will mean going against who I am, what I was meant to do, and what I’m happy doing–occasional dramatics notwithstanding.