MANILA, Philippines – I’m a mom of a one-year-old toddler and another baby coming this September. I know my experience as a mom is just a speck when compared to other long-time mothers; but despite being fairly new in this role, it has changed me in so many ways I can talk endlessly about it.
One of my major realizations is that motherhood has made me more compassionate.
When I found out I was pregnant, it was like a button immediately switched on inside me. That same button switched off some things from my previous life, too, like community involvement.
I stopped volunteering and limited myself to “light” charity as my OB had advised me to limit my exposure. I shunned reading the papers as I easily became depressed with the sad realities of our society. I warded off writing because, every time I wrote, it would bring out the activist in me.
That switch pushed me to surround myself with everything positive and focus on taking care of myself, my baby and my family.
When my baby Arya finally came, my whole world started to revolve around her. She was my first, my “most precious” and I devoted all my time and spent every opportunity to take care of her myself.
But the more I grew into my new role as a mother, the more my “peace” was disturbed. I could no longer hold the bubble I had created for myself, and the world I had held off came crashing in. Because I already had my own child, every sick, impoverished, hungry, lost, maltreated and abandoned child I saw and heard about cast a shroud on my own small world.
A child crying for whatever reason was already a thorn that stabbed my heart. Being in a Third World country, it was something I couldn’t escape.
When my baby cried in hunger, it was a crime to even allow her to feel it in the first place. Every person in the house would panic and would do his or her share to feed my baby the soonest. Each time this happened, I would immediately attend to my baby, but half my mind also wandered to what it must be like for babies in the streets, in the slums. Did she get to eat? Did her mom have enough to feed her? Did she just go back to sleep, try to self-soothe and forget her empty stomach? How was she going to survive with so many siblings her mom had to care for?
When my baby was sick for the smallest of reasons — a cold or a rash — we would rush her to the doctor and give her everything she needed to get better. But on the way to the hospital, I would see malnourished and scarred children whose condition was much worse. The worst part was that they may never be attended to by a doctor or even by their own parents. My mind and heart couldn’t help but wander to these places and people.
It’s so hard to stop.
When you’re a mom, you see your child in every child you meet. Every child out there, through a twist of fate, could have been your own. Through a sudden turn of events, it could be yours who is in dire need. When you look at children in the streets, you know and feel their suffering because you have your own child and understand a child’s needs. When, if before you saw them as just another group of street children, possibly even members of gangs and syndicates, as a mom you see them in a different light.
They are children who should have loving parents to care for them. They should be in a safe home, wearing clean clothes, taking their milk and vitamins and sleeping in cozy beds — not in the streets. They should have toys and books to stimulate and develop their minds. Every discomfort of theirs should be attended to immediately.
Motherhood can’t stop us from being involved in the lives of people outside our family. Motherhood can’t stop us from doing our share in the world. With motherhood comes a responsibility that encompasses the universe of our home. Charity begins at home because it shouldn’t end there. You are a mother and the home that you have to build is the world.
As a mother, there is this invisible thread that connects you to every child. With the recent news of rampant child kidnapping, child trafficking, babies thrown away here and there as if they’re pieces of trash, with my Facebook News Feed flooded with pictures of missing children, I always fear for the safety of my own child.
At the same time, I pray for these children every day as if they’re my own. Whether you’re a mom or not, I hope we make it our mission to ensure that every child in every corner of the world is loved and protected, is enjoying the carefree days of childhood, is given the opportunity to be the best they can be, and is provided with everything they need for a dignified life.
It doesn’t end with children. Suddenly, every person you meet is also a child with a mom whose fervent prayer is for the flesh of her flesh and the blood of her blood to be treated kindly by others. The Golden Rule has changed for me ever since I became a mother: “Do unto others what you would want them to do unto your own child.”
Motherhood will easily make your heart bigger, making room in it for more people; motherhood will open your arms wide. Compassion defines motherhood and this is one of the many reasons why motherhood is a true gift. – Rappler.com
Sarah Bautista-Abano is a working mom. She works full-time in a food and beverage company but is still a hands-on mom to her first daughter, Arya. She co-authored her first book, “Under the January Moon,” with her husband, published by Central Books Publishing, Inc. in 2011. Proceeds from the book went to two organizations who handle youth in poverty-stricken areas.
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