When you started having contractions on the morning of the 14th day of February, I distinctly remember telling you, “Anak, wag naman today!”
It was Valentine’s Day, and I thought, oh how corny it would be for my grandchild to celebrate her birthday to the sound of violins and sonnets, to the sight of a dozen red roses, and the taste of caviar and chocolates. It was all so prosaic.
But there was no stopping our little Sophie. The slight contractions became big ones until finally, sometime in the late afternoon on the very day that Kris Aquino celebrated her 38th birthday, out came Sophie, all pink and wrinkled and already looking like some kind of wonderful.
When you finally brought her home, I remember telling you, “Anak, hindi ako mag-aalaga niyan ha. Matanda na ko para gumising sa gitna ng gabi. I need my beauty sleep.”
I knew you would understand. After all, I had already raised four kids, most of the time on my own. I’ve done the whole changing the diaper and preparing the formula at the dead of the night shtick, and rightly thought “I’m too old for this shit.” To your credit, you never did make me babysit except that time when you went on a field trip with your friends. I remember being very anxious about the whole thing. But as it turns out, taking care of a baby is very much like riding a bike, you never forget it. And guess what? I actually wasn’t too old for that shit.
When you asked your brothers to take care of baby Sophie, I remember telling you, “Anak, don’t do that again. Your brothers are too young. You can’t hold them responsible for such a tiny little creature.”
There again, you proved me wrong. As it turns out, your brothers were excellent babysitters. And oh how they loved baby Sophie! That was one of the things that I was so worried about, actually. When I saw that soft fuzz of pink, I knew instantly that I was in love, but I was worried about your brothers. What if they didn’t feel the same way that I did? I could have saved myself some sleepless nights because your brothers were instantly smitten with the babe born on the feast day of St. Valentine’s.
And as they cared for her, and hugged her, and played with her, I got a glimpse of the fathers that they would eventually become—and I am proud.
When you talked to me about your intention to focus on your work this year, and not to devote too much time on love and other such distractions, I remember telling you, “Anak, OK ‘yan. Focus ka na lang sa trabaho, but don’t close your heart to the possibility of finding someone. It’s hard being a single mom. I mean, I know it can be done. I’m doing it. But if you have the chance, it’s nice to have someone.”
I remember thinking that it was the first time that I said it out loud, that it was nice to have someone. It was a moment of weakness. And then I thought, it’s OK to be weak sometimes. I’m always busy being strong for myself, for my kids, and for my family that I’d forgotten how liberating it is to, sometimes, show a little chink in that armor. Let the guard down a little, see where it goes.
When you brought Sophie into our world, I never thought that our lives would be richer for it. I was surprised at how one little bugger of a chatterbox could make my mornings brighter, my afternoons sweeter. I was surprised at how one wing-clad toddler could teach me about the infinite promise of love, its many incarnations and permutations, its healing grace and its warm embrace.
Thank you, anak, for our sweet, funny Valentine!