I know several couples whom I imagine would make such wonderful parents. With the way they take care of each other, how they light up when they are around their nieces or nephews, or even how they dote on their pets, you can easily picture them as caring moms and dads. Parent pegs, really -- sans the kids.
Some are candid enough to admit that they do want children and have been trying. Those who are asked when they are planning to have kids, there’s that laugh that’s supposed to be a little laugh but ends up a little awkward. Either that or a smile that’s betrayed by a shadow of resignation in their eyes.
To these childless couples, I’m sorry for the number of times you have to deal with being asked over and over again when you’ll finally have a child. I understand how tiresome it is to be quizzed on, whether or not a doctor has checked both of you or, heaven forbid, “Sino sa inyo ang may problema?” I roll my eyes vicariously with you at the myriad of unsolicited advice thrown at you, from the best days to conceive to the most “effective” sexual positions. I know you notice the uneasy exchange of glances right after someone gossips about a pregnancy out of wedlock, followed by the inevitable, “Kung sino may ayaw, siya yung nagkakaroon.” Who would blame you for wanting to ditch reunions and get-togethers to steer clear of such awkwardness?
I especially empathize with working women who are beset with phrases like “take it easy at work,” as though the woman is always the reason why the couple is still childless and that pursuing a career is tantamount to not wanting to become a mom. Never forget that you are not any less of a wife, in-law, and woman just because you are not one.
I cringe for you whenever parent-couples patronize you by saying you’re lucky you don’t have to deal with sleepless nights -- as if that’s supposed to make you feel better. Or, whenever they bring up how they know exactly what you feel whenever they are asked, “Kailan niyo na susundan si [name of first child]?” -- because no, they’re not the same thing. They mean well -- sometimes. Skirting the thin line between empathy and patronizing is tricky for those who genuinely care for you. On the flip side, silence doesn’t mean indifference. Silence here is refusing to err on the side of callousness.
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Never forget that you are not any less of a wife, in-law and woman just because you are not one.
You often wonder how it’s like to have a child. It’s unlike anything you’ve ever imagined doing, both good and bad. Is your life bereft of anything being childless? Yes. You don’t get to experience being a parent. Is your happiness incomplete because you don’t have a baby? No. There is no void to fill if you don’t know what you’re missing out.
As an only child, I’m always asked how it was like growing up without a brother or sister. But how can I explain how life is without siblings when I have no idea what it’s like growing up with them? You can’t compare objects and experiences if you don’t have any basis for comparison. I can’t picture having a happier childhood shared with a sibling. My youth is also nothing remotely close to miserable just because I didn’t have brothers or sisters. So, the concept of equating being my parents’ “one and only” to having a lonely childhood, which most assume is alien to me. Sure, being an only child has probably left out a host of memories in a long list of childhood experiences, but I never felt that supposed gaping hole. Moreover, I never felt deprived of anything.
That’s how I would best describe having a child versus not having one. I was married six years before having my daughter. Though my baby instantly became the sunshine of my life the moment I laid eyes on her, looking back, I never felt my life was incomplete or that my marriage was inadequate in the six years before giving birth. Just because I’m happy now doesn’t mean I was any less content before.
Whenever I hear other parents say that they’ve been happier since they had kids, it makes me wonder if they realize that they’re virtually admitting that they were not-so-happy when it was just them and their spouses. Perhaps for some couples, though, we can chalk it up to semantics -- they probably mean that they have found a new source of fulfillment on top of their already fulfilling married lives.
I’m not writing this to raise any false hopes that a baby will come at the right time. He or she may or may not come at all. But hold on to your love for your partner and his love for you. It is all you need, and the happiness that springs from this is more than enough to make your marriage complete and your family whole. And just maybe, if that little one does arrive, you would’ve provided her with the warmest welcome gift you and your husband or wife have to offer.
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Mom to a 2-month-old daughter, Chrissy Icamina-Dalusong has yet to get used to the label "mom." The Literature major and university paper editor-in-chief from Ateneo de Manila was with Summit Media for 10 years before shifting to the corporate scene. She is now the digital head of a multinational electronics company.