The Philippine Star
The year is half over. I have been married five months. My friends at Sunshine Place feel I have disappeared. We are still honeymooning and yes, in the final stages of moving house. We still live together but in two places — his and mine. His is on the 26th floor, mine is on the 19th, and on the 30th is his daughter Lala.
Being married to Loy, who has eight children, five of them girls, sometimes makes me feel young again. My daughters are all in their 50s. Only his eldest daughter is in her 50s; the rest are in their 40s with children who are either in puberty or fast approaching it. For me the toughest part of motherhood was my daughters’ reaching and going through puberty. It was tough because I did not know anything about it. In retrospect, my puberty — when I turned 12 onwards — was mild compared to my daughters’.
When I went through puberty the issue was boys. My mother mothered me through the telephone (now called the landline) because she worked during the day and taught at night. While we shared a room we hardly saw each other weekdays. When I turned 13 I had a lot of boys calling and we would talk on the phone for hours, forcing my mother to call my grandaunt’s house, one house away from ours, to send a maid to tell me to hang up. That was the worst part of my puberty.
When my daughters reached puberty the environment had changed. Now there were drugs that were either popped or smoked. There was sex. When I think back it was the most terrible part of my life because I knew nothing about puberty. I didn’t imagine it would be so puzzling, so difficult to understand. I remember sitting in the principal’s office in controlled panic as she told me she could not accept my daughter for the next school year. “What am I supposed to do?” I asked. “Hold on until she is 15 or 16. By then the hardest part of puberty will have passed and you can have adult conversations with her.” She was right and I am grateful to her to this day.
This is a lesson I learned that I now gladly share with
Loy’s daughters, young mothers whose daughters face puberty. Puberty is the time when your child — whether she knows it or not — is being propelled by her hormones to craft her independence. She wants to grow up, to stop being a child, to redesign her relationship with you. Neither you nor I can advise you about what form of rebellion this will take. It depends on the personality of your daughter. But whatever form it takes, I guarantee you it will drive you up the wall. You will also have to get a grip on yourself and begin to craft the kind of mother you want to be after your child has successfully grown up and moved out of your house because that time will definitely come.
Last night Loy and I were at the restaurant of one of his daughters, Natasha, in Metrowalk. It’s a Japanese restaurant called Nommu and every Wednesday night is an open mic night. That means anyone who wants to sing can sing. Alvin David is a wonderful pianist and a group of people will often come over to sing, dance and have fun. You should check it out. It’s really pleasant and the food is good. It’s a relaxed, friendly place.
Loy loves to sing and he sings marvelously. We went with his oldest daughter Marrielle and there we met Lala, who had just arrived from Spain, and Natasha. The three sisters spent the night talking and giggling together, reminding me of my own three daughters when they were young, when they were over their puberty. They are great dancers, especially Lala who has great moves. She reminded me of one of my daughters who once took my black feather boa and danced provocatively in front of my friends. I love being with my stepchildren. They create new memories for me and bring back forgotten memories of my children when they were younger.
You know, it’s wonderful to be married at this late date. For one thing you discover what it is to honeymoon again. It’s HONEYMOON, all bold capital letters. Occasionally you go out and sing and dance together. Stepchildren are wonderful to talk and laugh with especially Loy’s because they don’t make you feel like a cruel stepmother. Instead, your relationship makes you think the word means “just a step away from being a mother.” That’s great! I have many children and I didn’t have to go through the angst of childbirth to have them all.
And just in case you think I’ve forgotten my own children, I want to remind you that Panjee has another wonderful Resilience Advantage seminar coming up.
For more information email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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