Archive for July, 2008

Malaya’s Gifts

In between feedings and nappy changes and planning for a baptism, some time must be spent to make the official blog entry on Motherhood. (There should have been one on Pregnancy – but too late now.) Some effort must be made, despite the feeling that there simply aren’t the right words. I punch in keys, then hit backspace, in an erratic one-step-forward-two-steps-back rhythm, which only supports my belief that there are no words for this, and yet strengthens my resolve to finally just say something and take license to wax poetic about this state of grace.

So here it goes…

When I look at the world around me, the worry of bringing up a child in such a shabby and confusing place is appeased only by the deepened conviction that more must be done to make it better and that I must be a part of that change. Before, that conviction came from somewhere unknown and intangible, perhaps even a self-serving need for validation. But now, grand notions of a designated role in the betterment of the planet are gone, replaced by a grounded and more purposeful desire to do something simply because it is what needs to be done. This little human being has affirmed my right to Be, and with this comes a certain freedom that I have never felt before. Which is why I named her Malaya, for it is freedom that is her first gift to me, and it will always be my greatest wish for her.

To say that things have changed for me would be an understatement. It is certainly a new world out there, daunting and unfamiliar yet more promising and joyous than it has ever been.  At the end of it (or should I say the beginning?), I am the same, yet different. I am me, but so much more, so much “other,” so much “beyond.”

Already, Malaya has made me a better person. Her father, too. It is true what they say, that new life brings with it healing. Old wounds don’t seem to hurt as much, and nothing gives you a new perspective better than having your own child. Also, our daughter is surrounded by so much love. Family and friends shower her with affection and provide us with unflinching support. When you find yourself amidst that much love, you just can’t help but be better, if only to show your appreciation. I think that now, finally, I’m ready to forgive my own parents for whatever sins I felt they committed against me, but more importantly, I think I’m ready to forgive myself for my own sins against them and to start to rebuild our relationship. I could sense the same is true for JP. Because of Malaya, we are more forgiving, forever humbled and deeply grateful persons. This way, our daughter has saved us. See, already she has gifted her Tatay and me with more than we could ever thank her for.

I look at her lovely face and see bits of myself, her father, her lolos and lolas, and various other characters in her life… Yet I see her – just her – and can’t wait to get to know the unique and beautiful human being that she will be. I watch her sleep in her Tatay’s arms and I am overwhelmed by the realization that my whole world, the entire universe even, can fit into that few square feet of space. That these two people can quite literally “mean everything to me” is the cliche that I live now, and without regret. And while like most parents, I am most afraid of not doing a good job of being a parent, of not deserving the wondrous gift that is my daughter, the fear that she could mirror the worst in me is only outdone by the hope that she will become more than the best in me.

She is Jiana Malaya Jalijali Mateo, born July 5, 2008, at 6:56 AM. I look into her eyes, at barely four weeks old still searching and unfocused, and see the entire future, uncertain as it is, and know that there will always be one true thing – that she is mine, and that I am hers, forever.

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