Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Plans and dreams and hopes

Is it possible to love someone you've never met? A little boy that I've loved since I first read his story on The New York Times died last week.

I have loved Ronan since that sad evening I learned that he had Tay-Sachs, a fatal genetic disorder, an incurable disease. His mommy, Emily Rapp, said she didn't expect Ronan to reach his third birthday. True enough, Ronan died aged 2 years and 11 months. He's just a few months older than my Vito. Maybe that's why I'm so affected.

After I read the article, I spent many nights weeping over Ronan as I read Emily's blog. Finally, Vince told me to stop reading his story because I was then 2 months pregnant with little wee Wiggle and Vince didn't want me so upset. "It might affect the baby," he said.

So I put away Emily's blog, rose above my grief, went about my life, enjoyed my Vito, gave birth to Iñigo, ended my magazine career, began a new one, but Ronan stayed with me. In very many ways, Emily and Ronan's story changed how I parent.

Many parents ask me what our plans are for Vito and Iñigo—where will they go to school, have we checked out preschools, have we bought education plans, what do we want them to be when they grow up. Do we feed them organic food, are we enrolling them in music classes, dance classes, gym classes. When I just smile and say, "Oh, I don't really think about those things," a lot of the parents are dismayed at me. I guess, because of this blog, I have inadvertently built this image that I am a parent who wants nothing but the very best for her children, and for me to say that I don't really think—and therefore don't really care—about those things destroys that image.

I am a mommy who does want the best for my little boys. But I have learned from Ronan's life and from my mother's death that there is only one thing certain—that the future ends in death and I must love the people in my life today, while they are still here, while I am still here. I didn't do that for my mother. It is my only regret.

I don't plan too far ahead. I think it's a waste of energy. My plans for my sons involve only what they will eat for their next meal, if they'll go to the playground, if they'll take a bath. So if the plan was to eat squash but the kids suddenly decided they wanted nuggets, then nuggets it is. I spoil my children silly because I always have this terrible thought that this will not last forever. Happily, Vince doesn't have my baggage. So he's the normal parent—he insists on a routine, he piles the grocery cart with yogurt and bananas for the boys, he checks the developmental milestones, he does Papa Preschool, he mulls over good schools, he saves for the rainy day, he dreams, he plans, he hopes. I am grateful my boys have their father.

I do nurture dreams, but they are dreams that my boys will grow up to be wonderful men, happy with their choices, whatever they may be. I tell Vince, "I only have one dream actually, that I will like my kids and that they will like me." Yes. I love my kids, sure, but I also want to like them when they grow up. For example, I know my parents loved me but they didn't really like me—I was way too different from what they thought a daughter, a woman, would be. They didn't understand me, and you can't like what you can't understand. But they loved me, and that's all that really matters.

My hopes are only concrete in this: I hope desperately that Vito and Iñigo will be safe and healthy. I am very specific when I pray: "Protect them. Keep them safe from harm. Make them invisible to evil. Don't let accidents and sicknesses touch their bodies." Then I launch into a long list of what I hope God will protect them from: open windows, slippery floors, table corners and edges, the bath water, sick kids on the playground, accidents brought on by their exploring, impatience of their yayas and even their parents, and so on. Other than that rather specific list, I have learned to let go of every other hope. My dreams for my boys are vague. My plans are only for the here and now, and the plan is to love them every moment.

So I'm a strange mother that way. Maybe some of you think I'm a bad mother that way. But my sons are happy and healthy. They like shouting with joy. The days are always reverberating with exuberant shrieks. They are always tumbling all over me, Vince, each other, laughing. And their happiness and health are enough to convince me I am a good mother. For now. I'll worry about tomorrow tomorrow.


* * * * * * *
If you would like to help fund research on finding a cure for Tay-Sachs disease, kindly donate here.

Good-bye, dear Ronan. Thank you for teaching me to love my sons.


*photos from Emily Rapp's blog, Little Seal 

20 comments:

  1. Hi Frances, this post is very heartwarming. I parent just like you. Before i had my Elijah, i had so many dreams and plans too, and then my son was born. 5 hours after his birth we were thrust into the "unknown". He had his life saving heart transplant when he was 8 months and 5 days old. We are now living our new normal, while we nurture hopes and goal. We live for the now and enjoying every moment. God Bless your family.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I just read your blog and you are such an inspiration! So much joy and triumph and love! God bless your Elijah and your upcoming little bundle, too! =)

      Delete
  2. I just read her feature in Vogue today and was so sad :(

    ReplyDelete
  3. We're the opposite! I parent like Vince while Stan parents like you. I think it is great that there is a balance in the family. I think it is every parent's fear that their children pass on before them. I want to be buried by my children and not bury them. I pray for their safety, well-being, happiness and contentment all the time too! Parenthood really changes our goals, priorities and lifestyle ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, that's why I think it's great that God designed families to have 2 parents =D And even though Vince and I are different, we are united in our love for our kids so we don't fight over our parenting styles. There are certain things we definitely are one about—no hitting, no rude behavior, no ice cream before meals haha. Everything else is negotiable!

      Delete
  4. Got here from a shared link. I just want you to know I was touched by your post. God bless :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. This post is really heartwarming. :) I don't find you weird at all. For me, there's no surefire formula for parenting. We work on what works for our children and our family. Like you, I pray every day for safety and good health for my kids. I don't plan too far ahead because I vow to myself that whatever they decide to do in life later on, I'll be there with my full support. So, let's keep at it! :)

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hi Frances, your right why complicate thing for our babies for their future for now what should matter is HEALTH and their happiness if they have this two everything will follow:)

    ReplyDelete
  7. hi frances. your post was very touching. it is never easy to have to bury a child. it's been five years since we lost our son but the pain is still there. it taught us to both cherish the now and plan for the future kaya nga we don't invest on material things but rather experiences hence the constant traveling together. we know that these will never be taken away from our girls.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Such a lovely post
    As a mom I always want the best for my kids
    but at the back of my mind
    I know I can never be sure that they would enjoy what I've been preparing for them
    So as I think about their future, I still see to it that we enjoy the present that is already here to cherish

    ReplyDelete
  9. I totally agree with you Frances. To people around me, I seem like the mom who's got very high expectations for her kids to succeed, so most of the time they're surprised when when I say, I really don't have an idea what they'll end up taking in college, or if they will even finish college for that matter. Na-weird-an ata sa kin yung teachers nila when I said I wanted a nice pre-school graduation kasi I'm not even sure if they'll even finish high school, or if I'll live to see the day. Masakit lang sa tenga, but that's reality e. I have 3 girls and all of them were born premature at 6/7 months. So I know in my heart that it was really just by God's grace that they are now alive and healthy. So on why I don't have long term plans, it's because I believe that they've already fought the hardest battle in their lives, they can just go on and enjoy the rest of it! But what I just always tell my girls is that I've given you the freedom to choose, just make sure you make the best of those choices. :)

    ReplyDelete
  10. i loved reading this post...prayer really is our best "weapon" for all those worries and what ifs...i loved what you said that "the plan is to love them every moment" because at the end of the day, that's what matters most that they feel loved and cherished:)

    ReplyDelete
  11. Nice post... Me naman as a stay-at-home-mom (and wife). In some ways we are same because the things I worry is of TOMORROW... of the the future of my girls, yes, especially that as much as possible I want them to finish their studies. Yun lang naman ang worry ko, that sana they will be able to finish school.. and then they could do anything they want, because I believe as a PARENT I gave them the tools, like teaching them right things from the wrong ones, telling them my stories when I was their age and all, I taught them to pray as well. If my kids wanted to eat foods that people usually call"junk foods" I let them be, kasi I have this thinking na, MINSAN LANG NAMAN EH... (hahaha! sana ndi ako bad mom)... And same here I always pray to the good Lord to look after my daughters. that they will be good people when they are "older" and that they will love each other... thanks for this post... :)

    ReplyDelete
  12. Such an honest and touching post! That's why I love your blog!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Very very touching. I wish I can be like you and be honest with my feelings. Society dictates so much from mothers like having the future all planned out... but in doing so we sometimes forget to cherish our kids, at the present...

    I haven't got our future planned out yet like Vince and I sometimes feel like I'm being a bad mom because of this...

    Kaye

    ReplyDelete
  14. I wanted to share this link with you,http://www.handsfreemama.com. This blogger's resolution of just "being there at the moment" echoes the thoughts in your entry. I share your sentiments as well.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I cried. :'( Nagdawalang isip ako kung babasahin ko ba blog and look for pictures of ronan, dahil alam ko i will cry my heart out. I ended up reading the blog and browsing pictures of ronan and even searched the disease. :( I dont know what to say :(

    This is overwhelming post. Thank you Ms. Frances for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Di ko nakayang tapusin tingnan ang mga pictures ni Ronan. Ang sakit sa puso :((( Nasa ofis ako and napapaluha ako everytime i see his pictures. Grabe i want to go home and hug my son.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I came across your blog now and saw this post. I am not a mother yet but reading ronan's story and yours, how you get affected, how it broke your heart makes me wanna cry. Aaaaaaaaaah :-| </3

    ReplyDelete
  18. I really love your blog..specially this article! It touches my heart!!!

    ReplyDelete

This is all pretty new to me so please feel free to share your mommy wisdom!