Free Apprenticeship to Motherhood
How I Became an Instant Mom
Exactly 21 years ago today, I experienced my apprenticeship to motherhood. I didn’t enroll to any motherhood program but got the hands-on training by default when my Mom gave birth at home, but had to be rushed to the hospital due to continuous bleeding. Apparently, she had to deal with a post-eclampsia attack and had to struggle from death away from her newborn and from us all.
Being the eldest daughter (I was almost 16 years old then), I was tasked to take care of my newborn sister and two other siblings, while my older brother accompanied my mother in the hospital (Dad was working overseas then). It was a whole week ordeal of becoming an instant Mom of the house on top of the fright of losing our own Mom.
Six years before that, I had my little share of taking care of my newborn baby brother. Fortunately for my Mom, she gave birth during the summer school break so at 10 years old, I was washing my new brother’s cloth diapers with all the wee-wee and poop on it, yuck!!! I washed and sterilized his feeding bottles and prepared milk for him whenever my Mom needs me to, but it was her alone who woke up at night to respond to his every cry. Lessons were given, there were a few hands-on exercises, but I was always on the sideline. Therefore, it was still not a full-blown apprenticeship.
Some Articles I Wrote on Childcare
- Essential Newborn Care Protocol: a Must Know for Parents and Would-Be Parents | PARENTING JOURNEY
The current practice of handling newborns contributes to the high incidence of neonatal death and illnesses in the country. Doctors are introducing a new way of caring for newborns in the first few minutes of life, which could cut by almost half the
- Childbirth Preparation Tips
With the desire to be of help in this very significant stage of every womans parenting journey, I am sharing tips on childbirth preparations that I found useful when I was on the same boat four times! ...
Going back to the real apprenticeship, my knees were still trembling from washing blood-soaked blankets and towels when I took on the task of substitute mother to this cute baby and two others, ages 12 and 6. Forced by circumstances, this journey began. Seven sleepless nights of feeding the baby, changing cloth diapers and countless checking if she is ok and answering the relentless question in my head…is she still breathing?
During the day, I give her bath, squirt alcohol on her umbilical cord and remove dry blood around it, gently massage her body, hand wash and iron cloth diapers, sterilize feeding bottles, clean the house and cook food for the rest of us. I made sure my other siblings were both doing fine as well. Luckily, they were good kids who are also helping in every little way they can.
I have to mention that a neighbor volunteered to accompany us and be of help. Thank God I grew up in a friendly neighborhood. It was difficult not to accept the favor at that point though I know that it was too much trouble on their part. On the third day, I got braver to cut short the goodwill by saying we can manage on our own. Indeed we managed everything with our own sweat, tears and the meager allowance we have. Tough times indeed, but sweetest when finally our Mom came home alive...not actually well enough but alive.
Best 16th Birthday Gift
She came home the night before my birthday. It was indeed the best birthday gift from God. I wished for my Mom to be home alive not only for my newborn sister but for all of us who will never stop loving and needing a mother even when we are older. On my birthday, my older brother cooked spaghetti not just because it’s my birthday but also to celebrate our Mom’s new life and for a job well done while they were away. It took my Mom few more weeks before she was up and about in caring for her new baby.
The connection that formed between me and my baby sister did not end there. Every morning, I carry her out of the house for the morning sunshine. I buy her whatever she needs coming from my stipend and book allowance as a student...feeding bottle, baby clothes, powder, soap, lotion, cereals, milk, you name it. It was indeed a pleasurable feeling I cannot explain.
When her first birthday arrived, I had no money to spend for a big celebration but I had coins to buy her a cone of what we refer to as ’flavor of the road', ice cream peddled by a cart vendor. It was very momentous as she laughed and licked, laughed and licked... It was on her 7th birthday that a real celebration took place because I already have a job then.
The times she was sick and our Mom cannot leave her work, I am with my sister at home or in the hospital to give her medicine and/or sponge bath and feed her. Every night I put her to sleep and it became a habit that she sleeps on top of me, even when she was already 10!... aaargh she was heavy!
Knowing that it was difficult for my parents to provide a better education for an additional child, I volunteered to shoulder her educational expenses for as long as I can. I sent her to school and fetch her whenever my schedule allowed. I attend school meetings and other school affairs for her. Her classmates and their parents even thought that I am her real Mom. Well, she could have been my daughter had I married at 15. One parent even suspected that my sister is really my daughter out of wedlock hidden under our parents' name...how ridiculous!
I was the one who taught her to read and to value education. Those born without a silver spoon should get good education. Now twenty-one years later, she graduated from the University, and currently preparing for her board exam and for the rest of life’s challenges. She’s on her own and I am confident that she can manage.
While people continuously learn and improve, what I learned from this apprenticeship gave me an edge in raising my own children. To this, I am grateful to my Mom who taught me the basics in child rearing while upholding high standards in work quality. Though some of the circumstances around were disheartening, I am thankful for the opportunity to care for and love a child before I have had my own.
To my other siblings, this doesn’t mean that I loved you less. I will do the same for each of you if it happened that you were the newborn child at that point in my life. With each of you, there exists a unique connection.
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