Monday, June 29, 2009

Children are beautiful

Note: The following article appeared in the 'Youngblood' column of the June 27, 2009 edition of the Philippine Daily Inquirer. The author is Ms. Maria Lovella P. Naces, 22, who is studying for her master’s in sociology and anthropology at Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan. It is being posted here with her permission.
Children are beautiful
By Maria Lovella P. Naces
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 00:07:00 06/27/2009

“TITA GING, I’M SCARED,” said my niece who was standing beside me.

I was in the middle of a Facebook game, so I hesitated to entertain her at first. “Why are you scared?” I asked, without taking my eyes off the computer screen.

“I don’t know,” she replied.

I turned around to look at her and saw a little tear on her right eye. I smiled and tried to reassure her, “It’s OK, langga. I’m here.” I then logged out of my account and turned off my computer, hugged her tight and smiled.

I wasn’t this patient with kids before. I was more like the evasive adult. But now I am proud to say I am the good aunt.

I unexpectedly became a tita when I was still a teenager. My sister got pregnant at a young age, and got married soon afterwards. As was expected, the suddenness of everything left us quite unprepared for all the changes that was about to come. I was a teenager and I didn’t know what to expect or what to do with our new responsibilities. Nevertheless, I tried to manage.

Our new life was challenging. We had to take turns looking after the new baby, carrying her, feeding her, making her stop crying and putting her to sleep. But the bigger load of taking care of her fell on my sister and her young husband. I would see them trying to make the baby sleep in the wee hours of morning. Sometimes I would hear my sister singing a lullaby at 3 a.m. as her baby continued crying.

Some of our neighbors noted that life for us was not easy. They were partly right. My sister had to juggle school and work with taking care of the baby. At one point she had to stop schooling for a couple of semesters.

I could sense other people shaking their heads at our situation. One neighbor openly expressed her disapproval to my mother. But our family remained strong and we welcomed the new-born with open arms.

I was a teenager then. There was a time when I was still in denial about being a tita. Titas and titos were the siblings of my parents. They were old, while I was young. I can’t be a tita, I repeated to myself, shrugging off responsibility and often staying out of the house.

But one day out of curiosity, I decided to try to see what was in the child’s mind. That afternoon I was busy writing a school requirement when my niece interrupted me and talked to me. Instead of calling the child’s yaya (maid) or anyone else, I stopped what I was doing and faced her. Patience, I said to myself.

Little did I know that that single decision would change me. I looked into her eyes and instantly saw the beauty that was in her. It is the same king of beauty that I find in every child I encounter since then.

From that day, I simply listened with patience, talked with sincerity, played with her and read her stories. I was always excited to go home and see her by our door. This new-found feeling was different, and it was fun. I couldn’t believe the happiness and excitement I was feeling. This must be how it feels to be a mother, I thought to myself.

Sometimes when I think about her, I cannot contain my happiness and I would smile to myself. Sometimes when she is asleep, I would embrace her little body and would not allow even a mosquito to touch her skin.

Nobody ever told me that being a mother or just having a child was this beautiful. In fact, society said it’s extremely difficult and should be avoided until one is well prepared for it. Sometimes on TV or in the movies, I see characters who are scared of the responsibility of having a kid. I hear stories about fathers running away from their babies. Society seems to dislike the idea of parenthood to the point of referring to unplanned conception as an “accident.” I find it mean for people to consider someone so beautiful as an “unwanted person.” It is as if having a baby is a great misfortune that people should avoid.

This is the trouble with the Reproductive Health Bill. Much as I try to understand, I am concerned over how the bill considers conception as a whole. I have read it for my school report and it disturbs me to think that society would be so reluctant to welcome a human being who is about to be born. The drive to promote “informed choice,” proper birth spacing, etc. in order to avoid unplanned parenthood seems to make having a baby something scary.

The proponents of the bill say that contraception (which is actually contra conception) is the solution to our economic problems. Because the country is overpopulated, they say, therefore we should have fewer children.

I don’t agree with their solution. Why should the people adjust to the economy? Let the economy adjust to the people.

I feel offended. As someone who loves her, I feel hurt for my niece. She is what they consider an “unplanned one.” The people promoting the bill look at my niece or all those born or about to be born like her as a burden to the country and a liability. They say we need this bill because it prevents people like her from being born.

Why would anybody prevent anyone as beautiful as a child to come into this world? Regardless of who the parents are or how the conception happened, a child is separate from the parents. Every child is beautiful.

The bill also wants to promote sex education to teach adolescents, mothers, fathers about “safe sex.” Safe from what? From conceiving a child? Why? But why give more importance to the pleasure of sex than the pleasure of becoming a parent? We are becoming more like the Westerners. We have forgotten that to Filipinos, a big family is a better family.

It is really nice to be a tita. I am now excited about becoming a mother myself and making my life more meaningful by giving love to the little ones who would come into my life. Becoming a parent is better than having a “carefree” existence. Becoming a parent is like finding true love, where anything you give is always reciprocated with little hugs and kisses. All this I have, and I couldn’t ask for more.

1 comment:

John-D Borra said...

Willy, thanks for sharing this. Wisdom from the mouth of babes. This is why Jesus said in Matthew 11:25 "I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike."

Sometimes, our "adult" justifications make a simple issue more complex than it needs to be.

Good read!