Monday, June 26, 2006

To a mother, to a friend

It is not easy being a single mum. That I cannot know, but can only imagine. But that you do know, for that is what you are. Circumstances made it happen, and decisions along the way shaped the outcome. It’s not a role easily played, but it has been done before, and undoubtedly many will also do the same.

I’ve seen how you have trailed many moments of uncertainty and doubt, been tormented by decisions and indecisions that will change the rest of your life. I’ve seen and heard the cries, the complaints, the calls for help. People came and helped, but others could only help you so much. You were the one who managed to survive so many months of pregnancy despite all odds. And all the tears, the sorrows, the sleepless nights, restless days were finally rewarded with the touch of soft little hands, the bright big eyes of a beautiful new life.

I can see your sonny’s arrival has significantly brightened your days. He is cute, his smile can melt your heart, his touch can assure you that it was all worth it. When I see you hold him in your arms, when I see you labour to squeeze every drop of your motherly affection for him to drink, I realise the meaning of unconditional love.

But behind those loving scenes lie a world of reality, laden with responsibility. Every need, every desire, every cry, every struggle your son faces needs to be listened to. For he is helpless without you, and he can only grow with you by his side every step of the way. Who knows who he will become, what he may yet accomplish in the life ahead of him. Other people may give him blessings on the way, some may even give him hints here and there, but you, and only you can shape his character, his strength and his confidence. You are the one he sees when he opens his eyes, you are the one he reaches for when he is in need, and you will remain the one closest to him forever in his life.

So you must be strong. For a child is for life, and his life depends much on your life, just as much as his happiness and wellbeing depends much on your own happiness and wellbeing. I have not doubt you can offer him love, but a child needs more than just love along. He needs a caring environment, constant attention, he needs to know that there is safety and refuge wherever he goes and whatever he does. And this is where you come in, for you, and only you can give him all that. From the moment he was born you became responsible for two.

Babies are sensitive little beings, and they react to the slightest changes and sounds. And your sonny is no more different. When you are happy, he is happy. When you are sad, he is sad. When you are crying, he may also shed tears, deep inside. When you feel depressed, his face may just frown and become blue. Like sponges a baby will absorb every sound, every sight, every movement, every mood around him, and these will in turn shape his development and wellbeing. Not only are you a parent, you will be conducting an orchestra that will tune his life to the person he is yet to be.

I cannot know what it means to be a single mum, but I can imagine. The fears of raising a child alone, the uncertainties juggling with a life of study, the loneliness and longing for someone to share and appreciate your feelings, the many more negatives that make this new role you’ve had to forcibly take on that are the more terrifying. Whatever difficulties you may be facing, it is unfair for your sonny to suffer too as a result. For he is innocent, and he only came to this world because you wanted him to. So you are the one who can show him that this is a world worth living in, worth fighting for, and worth loving. Love him, and he can show you true love in return; love to a degree you’ve never been able to realise, but you’ve always longed for.

You must be brave and bold enough to overcome bumps on the road. The moment you made the decision to bring a life into this world, into your world, that decision was coupled with responsibility. And raising child is perhaps the greatest one anyone can shoulder. People can come and help, but others can only help you so much. Watching a child grow is perhaps the most joyous experience in life, so I’ve heard. And now you’ve been given that opportunity, an opportunity I hope you will take seriously and note of every step of the way. And your sonny will not be the only one growing, for you too will grow with him. Grow, and mature.

Perhaps you feel an unbearable burden, or that your own young life that is just about to blossom has so dramatically been change by the arrival of a new life. That may be true, but you must be able to cope. Emotionally, physically, mentally it will be a great trial, but in the process you will develop yourself, and hopefully see that many things you’ve been clinging onto are no more important than the responsibility lying in your arms.

You need not do this all alone. When you are down and miserable look around you, and see what you have already. All this time so many from near and far have come to your aid. They don’t ask to be thanked or forever remembered as great martyrs or angles, and only hope that you and your newborn will be safe and healthy. Whatever difficulties you may be facing, remember these people and what they have done.

You’re a parent now, and soon you will realise what it means to be a parent. It’s a full-time job with no end, no time-outs, no escape. But it can also be a rewarding experience to see your own child grow into a unique individual.

You too became one such individual, but remember the ones who made in all possible. For a parent’s love is endless, asks little in return, gives only the best she can offer, takes only what her child can give, and is content already her child is happy and well. See this, and remember it. For soon the same episode playing now will be replayed again.

I wish you and your sonny well and happiness in the journey you’ve already begun together. May it be filled with pleasant surprises, happiness, prosperity and growth. For you, and for him.

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