The Meaning of Sacrifice: A Solo Parents Struggle
Everyone already knows what parenting is. You can simply say, it is raising a child by a parent. A parent must see to it that the child's need is given from infancy to adulthood, must see to it that the child's well-being is developed: physically, emotionally, socially and intellectually. (Maybe you know some more that you may add). The question is, how would a parent become a parent if he/she sacrifices the time and distance that he/she is supposed to be spending with her child? That is my case and I came to a point wondering if I am a good parent or not.
I was raised by a solo parent because my father died when I was still a child. So that wasn't my mom's choice to become a solo parent. Nevertheless, she raised us as to how she knew it must be done. She worked hard for us. I tried to understand her ways, her reasons and her actions. Probably that was one of the reasons why I took Psychology. Now, I am a solo parent, too. It wasn't my choice either but somehow, it was my decision not to marry the father for I saw in him his unwillingness for the responsibility. I opened my heart and life to someone else but it didn't work. (Well, its a different story).
Going back to being a solo parent, my son was with me from birth. He was very fragile and the feeling of being a parent couldn't be described when I saw him. I wanted to give him the best so I followed his pediatrician's advices. His vitamins, regular check-up, vaccines and formula milk were according to pediatrician's suggestions. I was also breastfeeding him. When I came back to work, I would usually go home at noon break to breast feed him. When his care giver arrived, I would sometimes leave some breast milk at the freezer. As a working parent and still young (I guess) at that time, I was still drawn to work. When I got home, he was already asleep. He became very close with my relatives who were living with us, especially with the one who was taking care of him. It pained me whenever he would call me "tita" instead of "mama." So when he turned two and his care giver was about to enroll in college, I decided to be hands-on with him once again. I did not give up my work, though. It was brother who took care of him while I was at the office. After work and during rest days, we would spend time together. I would bring him to malls whenever possible or sometimes we would just watch his favorite tv show or barney. I prepared food and/or milk for him, would give him a good bath, read stories or sometimes would sing until he fall asleep. Sometimes, I would bring him at the office. And that became a usual thing for him when he started to attend classes at a day care center near my office. I got to track his growth and observed his reactions on things he encountered. I got to answer the why's and how's in his mind. Best of all, we became more closer because we were together everyday.
Realizations, Discipline and the Importance of Communication
Disciplining him was really hard for a new mom. But I did what I thought was right for him so he will grow up with obedience and responsible. I was surrounded not just by the advices of other moms around me, but also with a lot of parenting magazines. Sometimes, elders have different opinions and child rearing techniques, especially the traditional ones. You may find yourself arguing with those who were raised traditionally. With all the laws that we have these days, you may also find yourself feeling restricted on how to act when your child is misbehaving in front of people.
I realized a lot of things as my child was growing up. I was able to identify my mistakes in child rearing and accept my weaknesses. It was really difficult. I see to it that I explain everything to my son, every decisions and actions as long as it has something to do with him. I grew up being shy in expressing my ideas. I saw the consequences so I wouldn't want my child to be the same. That is why, I also encourage him to speak up to understand his reasons, to know if he understood mine and most of all, to let him feel that I am here to listen not to judge and/or criticize his actions. Learning from my experience and from the experiences of people I encountered, I realized that disciplining a child isn't just about talking and/or giving punishments. I must give him the chance to realize his actions, think and do something about his mistakes so it will not be committed again. Giving him the chance to express his ideas and emotions is important especially when a child is having a burden or feeling bad about himself or other people who did wrong to him. It will make him feel that someone is there to listen, understand and extend help. Somehow, I feel glad whenever my son would share something to me no matter how important it is, he confides in me and has learned to ask ideas whenever he has to decide on something.
Sacrifice... As I Call It
Now that he is maturing (I believe) I include him in some decision making. When I decided to leave him to my mom at the province (that is 12hrs ride from where I am working) I asked him if he would like it. He didn't hesitate at first because aside from being a "Lola's boy", he liked the new environment. The kids were friendly, he got the chance to play outside the home everyday with them unlike when he was still with me here in the Metro. So I let him stay and study there. It has been three years since then. Being far from him was the hardest part. It was me who experienced separation anxiety, as we call it. And I felt bad when I thought that it was like passing on my responsibility as a mother to my mom. But I have no choice because of the financial crisis that affected us though I am working. The demands here in Manila was too high and I wanted him to have a good education. Schools here in the Metro were so expensive while government schools were crowded. So the best way was to enroll him in the province. But I needed to stay at work because I needed this job. So this is what I call my real sacrifice. I told myself, I can still be a good parent though we're far. I often make a call. Everytime I got the chance to call even if I am at the office, I call. We talk. He shares stories and I always give reminders.
It is hard not being with him whenever he feels sad, angry and/or in tears. I wanted to comfort him just like before,to hug him and assure him that everything will be okay. But all I could do is to talk and give advices. Making him understand the situation, the people he is dealing with, the consequences of his actions, etc. I talk to people who causes him to feel bad. Usually with my mom who rears differently than mine. They say Lola's are spoiler, hence her difficulty in disciplining my growing up child. So she would call me and ask me to talk to him vice versa. I was able to make my son listen and follow me for I was firm with my rules when he was still with me. Even up to now.
The Pros of the Situation
My son knew what kind of a parent I am. I am not a spoiler but from time to time, I give him his desires and let him enjoy his life just like other kids do. I am a strict parent, firm with my rules and my son knew what to do so I wouldn't get mad, because he knew what might happen when I am mad. Still, I explain everything to him as to how and why he should or should not do things. But even if I don't, I know that he wouldn't do things that will harm him. I've known this through his stories and his point of view about his environment. I am glad that he understands more than I expected. But he is still a child and he still needs me as his parent. So this kind of sacrifice that we are in for now will just be for some time. This scenario,however, made me realize that sacrificing may never end for the sake of your love one. However, this may help the person to be more courageous in facing life's disappointments and fears, in making good decisions and actions, and in being responsible in everything.
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