I’ve been a mother for almost thirty years and a daughter for fifty years. As a daughter, I’m pretty sure I’ve disappointed my mother many times. However, as a mother, I’m certain I’ve unintentionaly failed my children in ways I’m not even aware of.
Even though my sons didn’t receive any training to be my teacher, the life lessons I’ve learned by being their mother, have been priceless. One day I hope to put those lessons on paper.
Recently, I met an amazing woman who not only brought tears to my eyes, but opened my heart to feeling more blessed than I had ever felt previously, for receiving the gift of being a mother and for recognizing that you don’t need to conceive and give birth to a baby in order to be a mother to someone.
Malaya’s Secret Confession
Malaya: When I was preparing to come to North America, I imagined what my life would eventually become. I would dream about being in a green and white heritage house with a big front and back yard. The inviting manicured lawn was surrounded by equally seductive flowers, shrubs and trees. I had seen this on the TV and stole the image for my own fantasies.
Whenever I open the double doors and enter the house, I’m greeted with the distant laughter of children playing. A few seconds later, a handsome man runs down the stairs to embrace me, look into my eyes, tell me how beautiful I am to him, and seals the moment with a passionate kiss. I know you’re giggling because a version of this fairytale fantasy belongs to millions of girls all over the world.
At age 19, I left my parents and siblings in The Philippines to be a nanny to family with a newborn in Michigan. When I stepped off of the the plane in January, I honestly felt I wasn’t going to survive the week because of the freezing weather. The awkward ride from the airport to the house felt long, partly because I didn’t understand English as well as I believed.
When I first met Jaden, a three-month blue-eyed blond-haired baby girl, I felt my nervousness building into anxiety. What had I done? I had left the warmth of my homeland to care for someone else’s child, in a place where for months it’s too cold for humans, just so I can earn and send some money to my family so they can have a better life in The Philippines. I knew very little about caring for a baby. I thought all they needed was a clean bottom, a full belly, and lots of sleep.
My first day on the job began only hours after orientation. I got used to the diapers, the timed formula making, bottle washing, cleaning, cooking, and laundry. But I never got used to the lack of sleep. I was up several times during the night for almost two years before Jaden gave into sleeping.
Something happened to me slowly during my time with Jaden that I wasn’t aware of until it was too late. I got so excited when she successfully sat up, when she successfully picked up cheerios and got them into her mouth, when she crawled and experienced freedom. At ten months when she first took her first steps, that’s when I realized I was hooked. I behaved like a parent whose child had won an olympic gold medal. I frightened her with my cheering and sobbing tears. As soon as she fell seconds later, I swooped her up, began to kiss her and tell her how great she was. It was that moment when I realized that for the first time, I was in love.
It felt like my heart had been blown open and I felt enormous indescribable joy… and then shortly afterwards, I felt excruciating pain at the thought of losing this treasured emotion.
The months that followed I felt my connection to Jaden deepen with unforgettable memories of potty training, playing together with dolls and dressing up in costumes, bedtime stories, colds and flus, scrapes and band aid rituals, ice cream days in the park chasing butterflies. My days were full and at night, I would sink into my pillow and pass out from exhaustion.
The family welcomed another baby girl. Having three years of experience under my belt, I was much more organized. I ran the home like a well-oiled machine.
Eight years 6 months and thirteen days later, I was faced with the reality that I was no longer needed. It was painful for everybody, although, I hadn’t truly known the loss I would go through. I know I didn’t give birth to the girls or pay for any of their physical needs. But I felt like they were mine because I loved and cared for them as if they were mine. When I said my final good byes I felt like the only people that mattered most to me in the world, were being taken away.
I have seen them a few times since then; at their high school and university graduations, and both of their weddings. I have never asked them but wonder if they remember their time with me at he beginning of their lives. I wonder if they loved me even fractionally like I loved them. I didn’t read any books of dos and don’ts of child caring/parenting before my role as a nanny. I don’t have any fancy education or training like the nannies you see on TV these days. But I’d like to believe, I made a damn good mother to two baby girls who have grown up to be pretty phenomenal women.
Reporting confessions one blog post at a time