Parenting is the most important job on the planet next to keeping Gary Busey off the nation's highways. - Dennis Miller
Haligi nang tahanan. That’s what fathers are. Obligations include a roof over ones family’s head, food on the table and education for the children. Taking care of the children’s immediate needs and molding of their character are supposed to be the mother’s responsibility.
I grew up in that kind of environment. My father is the bread winner, always busy, even bringing his work home. A person present but presence never felt. But his dependable, a good provider. It was my mother who’s beside us most of the time. The reason why our affection is tilted more on her favor.
Living in a foreign land, with no one to depend on, this arrangement no longer applies. Everything must be shared, even parenting. We’re both father and mother to our child. I’ve my share of wiping off my daughter’s “poo-pooh”, mopping her “wee-wee” and cleaning her “aah-aah”. I’m her yaya, playmate and servant. Even her first word was “dadi”, much to my wife’s annoyance and perhaps envy.
I want to experience the joy and difficulties of a parent. I want to be there when she makes her first step, when she rides her first bicycle, when she receives her diploma. Someday she’ll leave us and have a family of her own. A time my wife dreads so much. At least I’ll have my memories. A wealth no one can steal nor will ever get lost (unless I get Alzheimer’s disease).
But for most OFWs, this responsibility is reversed. It’s the mother who travels to distant shores to work while the father stays home to take care of the children. They have to withstand those sleepless 12 hour shift and, for some, suffer silently the abuse of their employers. They have to quilt their motherly instinct to guarantee a bright future for their offspring. They have to forego the experience of seeing their children grow, to feel those little hands around their neck, to hear that delightful word “Nanay”. A memory desired so much that they’ll give anything to turn back the hands of time. To these kababayans I dedicate this short but sincere tribute.
Happy Mother’s day.