Raising two sons and a daughter while the father is away

Raising two sons and a daughter can be complicated and extremely hard but not actually as difficult with the help of my husband who dotes on the children, my parents who really love their grandchildren (perhaps more than their children) and my mother-in-law who has always been there for me in the absence of a babysitter or house help.

True, there were tough times when I almost surrendered to impatience and wish I could resign as a mother but realizes that motherhood is a permanent position with a job description that calls for the flexing of the muscles, extending of patience till it reaches the heavens, wit that is always challenged and intelligence far more than Einstein’s.

While the two older boys – almost four years apart – were toddlers, they both told me: “Nanay pakakasalan kita paglaki ko (Mother, I will marry you when I grow up).” Same thing with our daughter who also told me when she was about two years old: “Ikaw ang gusto kong asawa paglaki ko (I want you to be my wife when I grow up),” to which I replied: “Hindi puwede. Nanay mo ako (You cannot. I am your Mother.)” My daughter retorted: “Sige, si Tatay na lang. (Then I will marry Father).” To which I answered: “Hindi puwede. Tatay mo siya (You cannot. He is your Father.)”

Unrelenting to be unmarried, my toddler daughter quipped: “E, di si Kuya na lang (I will marry my big brother then).” I was almost laughing when I told her: “Hindi puwede, kapatid mo siya (You cannot marry your brother).” Finally exasperated, this daughter realized: “E, di hindi rin puwede si Diko?” (Then I cannot marry my other brother?).” Yes, I said, explaining to her that she cannot marry anyone in the family.

“Hindi na lang ako mag-aasawa (Then I will no longer get married),” she finally resigned.

The boys’ and her concept of the family at tender age revolved around us five – father, mother and siblings – who eat, play, work and live under one roof. Nothing more, nothing less. So much so that when my husband went abroad to work, the five of us were all devastated. Separation is the most painful feeling for a child (and adults too).

We all dread the day when my husband was scheduled to fly back to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia to work as an editor in an English newspaper there. He has been leaving the Philippines yearly for 13 years but we never became used to it. Once we lost sight of him when he boards the tricycle (my husband is so used to simple living that even when he is already earning dollars he prefers to take public transport), the two boys would go to their room hurriedly. The eldest son would lie on his bed facing the wall; the second son would bury his face in the pillow, sobbing. The daughter waits for an airplane to pass by and waves goodbye thinking that her father is always in every airplane.

As for me, I tell myself that nothing and nobody can break our family. The husband writes almost every day and play puzzles and whatever games that can be had on paper with the two boys. The toddler daughter writes back to his father in scribbles telling him how she misses him and asks him when he is coming home again.

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