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The Rosebush and the Watermelon Vine, My Mom's Motherhood Journey
Gift for Mom
As a gift for my Mom on Mother's Day, I am publishing through this lens her own motherhood story, which she wrote herself. She is 65 years old and has retired 5 years. She does a lot of gardening to stay fit and keeps her mind active by reading and writing. She is my strongest prayer warrior, and my kids' most loyal follower.
Happy Mother's Day Mama
This lens has 4 Angel Blessings
as of 29 May 2011
My Garden Centrepiece Tells the Story of My Life
The centrepiece of my small garden is a big pot where I planted a rose bush which is a gift from my daughter. Along with the rosebush I dropped some watermelon seeds. In no time, the rose and the watermelon grew together.
My friends wowed the plant arrangement where the rose grew skyward while the watermelon hung down towards the earth. But they doubted if the pot could hold and sustain them both, so they suggested that I give up one of them. Of course I chose to let both live.
Two Plants in a Pot
This potted plant arrangement tells the story of my life as a mother. Like the two plants in my pot, I also decided long ago to take the career of an educator, alongside with motherhood.
My first born came when I was only eighteen years old, and other babies followed at a very close space of 15 months in between. Luckily my husband supported my decision to go back to college even as our family grew bigger.
Balancing my act as a mother, student and part time counter clerk in a hotel entailed much sacrifice. I would sneak into my classes always ten minutes late, and would rush home to my children as soon as I can. Nighttimes were divided between nursing the infant, bottle feeding the older babies, and doing my school assignments. I was young and healthy, so I had the stamina for all these tasks, and I was happy with the arrangement. My scale of attention was 70-30 in favour of my children.
I noticed the rosebush has new buds, and the watermelon vine is dotted with tiny, yellow flowers. Looking at the plants I recall how as a young mom, I was elated by the progress of my children at every stage of their development. The first smile, first tooth, first step, first word, and so on. These were more than enough to ease away all fatigue and sleeplessness.
The Plants Start Shrivelling
Last week the leaves of the plants shrivelled due to extreme cold. I transferred the pot into a more ventilated place and poured warm water into the pot. This brought into remembrance how I would fret when my children had fever, measles or colds. I would miss classes just to nurse them until they get well.
This happiness was mine until my fourth baby, Ditas, was born with a congenital heart disease. Oh what pain I felt for the frail newborn strapped to tubes that intertwined in the incubator. She remained in the hospital for 3 months. My 30% time for school was reduced to 10% because the baby in the hospital took up most of my time.
My Family and Friends Become My Nourishment
I noticed that my plants are starting to get stunted. Maybe the soil nutrients in the pot are depleted. I put in compost and watered the plants with rice washing to help restore the lost nutrients. The plants became healthier and greener after the soil was improved.
During all the times I needed help, particularly during Ditas' confinement, my family and friends, especially my mother and mother-in-law gave me all the help I needed. They were the source of my strength when I was so depressed. After 3 months, Ditas was ready for home care, and we were discharged from the hospital on my graduation day.
We were home, but the suffering of Ditas did not end there. It broke my heart to see her in intense pain when her attacks came. She would pull her knees to close to her chin, and her beautiful eyes dilate in pain. She would be blue all over, and her tears, saliva, mucous, and sweat all mix together as she groaned and gasped for breath. This would last for 30 minutes, and usually happen three times a day. It wounded my heart to watch helplessly. I prayed the pain could be mine.
More babies were born after Ditas. My sixth child Milo, was born with cerebral palsy and the whole left side of his body was incapacitated. It was difficult having a heart patient and more so with cerebral palsy added to the test. Thank God my mother never left us.
The Rose Takes a Beating
The love and support of my mom, family and friends could not suffice. I wrote the then First Lady Imelda Marcos for help. Immediately, she had Ditas scheduled for treatment in Houston, Texas in February of 1973. Unfortunately, because we lived in a very remote area, the First Lady’s staff had a hard time locating our address. They traced us only in March, and the scheduled Houston treatment was given to another patient. Nevertheless, they took us to Manila where we went from hospital to hospital for the intensive check-up of Ditas.
In April, a month after she began her check-ups, she was admitted and scheduled for operation. In the evening before her operation, she said she did not like to be operated on. I persuaded her that it will free her from all pain. She sadly agreed, saying “it’s up to you then”. I felt a chill sweep over me. Before her sedation she kissed and embraced her dad and me long and tight. The following evening, we brought her home in her small, white coffin. She was 4 years old and 8 months. Even in death she shed tears. How I wished then that it was I who died. I was in deep grief and despair.
The Rose Tries to Survive the Weeds
This tragic event changed me completely. The 70-30 attention scale in favour of my family was reset to 80-20 in favour of my career. I asked myself if my daughter would still be alive if I did not insist on the operation. I wondered why Milo had cerebral palsy. Was I a bad mother? Is the lot of my children my punishment? I felt I was a curse to my children. To forget my deep sorrow, I buried myself in my work as a teacher. I stayed out of the house for as long as I could and left the care of my children totally to my kind mother.
I distanced myself from my children. When they asked help in their homework, I would tell them to ask their grandmother. During school occasions and PTA meetings when they needed me, I would ask somebody to stand on my behalf.
I was soon promoted and was offered scholarships one after another, which I gladly accepted just to get away from home.
I would go home to find my girls already sleeping, but my boys slept elsewhere. In my neglect, one of my boys got severely ill with typhoid fever.
Then my ninth child was born with a severe abdominal infection. She was confined in the hospital for two months, and again, I went through the pain of seeing a very delicate infant fastened to tubes in the incubator. When we went home, I was angrier with the world.
I thought it unfair for God to lodge me with severely sick children, as if I were the only mother in the world. And He was not content to give me one, but four.
I again immersed myself into work, giving almost all my attention to it while shunning my responsibilities as a mom. Even my spiritual life was neglected. Fortunately, I was blessed with the best mother I can never emulate.
The Rose and the Watermelon Survive
This morning I saw that the rose was attacked by aphids and the watermelon leaves were white with mildew. I hurried to brush the bush with soap suds and cut away the infected watermelon leaves. In two days time the plants put out new small but healthy buds, and soon were fully recovered.
This reminds me of the time in my life when my mom got fed up with my abandonment and really took me to task. She even threatened to leave me and the children if I didn’t come to my senses and take responsibility over my children. I knew my mother was right, but I was stubborn.
I stormed out of the house angrily, my youngest in pursuit craving for my attention. In her hurry to catch up with me, she missed a step and fell over a 10 feet deep stone wall, bumping her head on a sharp rock. Immediately her face turned blue and became terribly swollen. She looked like a blue balloon with two slits and two dots. I almost lost her.
The accident jolted me back to my right senses. I realized I have allowed the aphids and mildew of my sorrow, despair and anger to destroy me. And I was destroying my family. I shuddered to think of the consequences if I let this go on. Immediately, I worked to restore the love, peace and joy in my home. I had a deep and thorough introspection, and I prayed for strength and guidance and asked for forgiveness.
The Plants Are Pruned in Order to Bear Fruit
The watermelon plant has so many shoots, some of which do not have fruits. Likewise the rosebush has many branches that are thin and unproductive. At first I did not want to prune the plants, reasoning that they might improve. But today, I decided to trim what could be done away with, for the sake of the plants.
I too trimmed my life back then. When my older kids were ready for college in the big city, I was then being groomed for a supervisory position in the Division Office. But I made the decision to give up my career, join my husband in a mining company near the city, and apply for a job there, beginning from scratch.
My friends and colleagues called it a foolish move, to take a leave and think about it. But I decided to cut clean. It was about time I put my family first.
My children grew to be teenagers, and together we went thru trying times. They wanted more freedom while I insisted on discipline. I had all sorts of fear for my children, and I wanted to protect them as much as I could.
More tragedies followed. I lost Milo to a vehicular accident, and my second son died of hemorrhagic stroke. I was heartbroken with deep anguish. No mother could ever be prepared for these times, but I learned to deal with the situations as they come.
I took up activities such as gardening, reading and writing. I got involved in bible studies. All these I did, not to cover up or obliterate the pain, hurt and anger in my heart; I did these so there could be space for love, forgiveness, peace, restoration and reconciliation with my God.
The Plants Bear Fruit
My life as a mom is not all about pain and suffering. These are just spices. The main components of my motherhood are love, joy, peace and contentment. I glory in the love of my husband and my children. I am happy over their academic achievements, like their being scholars of the premier university in my country. My heart swells with pride every time they passed university and government examinations with flying colours. It gave me joy to see my children win in oratorical and dramatic contests, too. As I hear about their success in their jobs and endeavours now that they are adults, it fills me with pride. Most of all, the values they developed and hold dear turned my life full and sweet.
The watermelon vine has fruits ready to be picked in a couple of weeks, and the rosebush is flaunting its peach buds. I will enjoy them while they last, but even now I am teaching my daughters to plant their own pots, paying heed to the many valuable lessons learned from my own garden centrepiece. One day their pots will tell the story of their own love, fears, hopes, trials and rewards.