To be or not to be…a mother.

Grace worked in the call center industry.  She had come from Davao in the hope of a better life for herself and her family.  When she left Mindanao, finishing college became out of the question because her father, the family breadwinner, suffered a stroke and her mother’s sari-sari store did not make enough to support a family of 6. Grace now stays home because she is pregnant; having to contend with vomitting, dizzy spells, the need to lie down most of the time, she can’t work.  I have not met the father of her child though I do know that he is also a customer service representative at one of the well-known call centers in Manila.  He is not around.  He does not want the child.  Grace cries a lot.  What can I do? I was only her trainer.  Do I have the time now to be a friend as well?

In 5 months, another human will enter this world without choice to a young girl who still does not know whether she wants him or her. Penniless and scared, she has chosen to hide from her family and remain in Manila. I remember being 24 years old and I know I was not alone. At the time, my father was helping me to sort my life in Singapore only to find myself in unknown territory – Manila.  You become like it – old, corrupt, and dirty; “Old” because you grow up overnight.  You think you look good with the various brands of cosmetics you have applied and the trendy clothes that are supposed to make you look chic and help you gain more friends but all they do really is mask the unhappiness from the stress that comes from trying to fit in this society. “Corrupt” because you usually lose yourself in an attempt to please others.  The family has been forgotten and nothing matters but “looking good”. “Dirty” because your mind and heart may start to resemble the trash or the stench of urine on any city street.   Grace was my trainee and I give my trainees the same piece of advice: Do what you wish but don’t be stupid enough to get caught. When I think about this bottled anger, I feel I have every reason to ignore her.  After all, she needs to learn life’s lessons no matter how difficult they get.  She is 24 years old afterall.  She cannot work for the time being. Do the words “accountability” and “planning” even exist in her vocabulary.  The father of her child has disappeared.  Now, she fears her father might not take what she has to tell him because her parents are typical Catholics who won’t tolerate her condition. I am still trying to understand why people here just don’t know how to use condoms or contraceptive pills.  Everyone has to do it at some point but the least they can do is be careful unless they have the intention to be parents.  Filipinos already breed like rabbits in the provinces.  It is another headache altogether to bring another human into this world who is unwanted.

The girl has no savings; can’t really work at the moment since she experiences all the worst possible things that any woman can experience during her first trimester.  That makes me wonder how I would be myself when my turn comes…so the girl is penniless and came to me for some financial assistance initially.  I like to think that she deserves to be whipped, to be without family and friends to atone for her sins.  Too many girls in this country are already single mothers.  Officially, more than 70% of women above the age of 30 are single mothers according to the National Statistics Office.  This is a disturbing figure since we are the largest Christian country in the world.  Yes, we are a very Catholic society. We remember to respect the priests, many of whom either have been suspected to molest a child or fathered children with women they sustain from the donations of their respective parishes.  …and at least 40% of the young and single men are now openly homosexuals, which might be one reason for the high number of single mothers because the men who are available are already married or basically individuals that the rest of the family didn’t deem fit enough to marry their daughters but who am I to say that this is still a Third World country with considerable Third World mentality? I’m only 35 years old, single, childless, only half-Filipino with a pro-Singaporean-educated attitude.

I have always wanted to be a mother.  It is just easier said than done since I expect to be the best mother possible.  Which woman does not want to?    I think that would the greatest achievement so I am not quite there yet because I am not married.  I want to be married first before anything else.  It is something that I do not want to compromise even now because I am scared and I believe I would disappoint my family that way.  Afterall, my sister is married (though  maybe not necessarily happily) to someone I happen to consider a good man, husband, and father. Will I be as lucky? …or can I see myself as a single mother like Grace?  Here is a girl who is about to give her child to me as if she were just giving me candy.  Since this is the Philippines, there are always several options available for a price.  The child could be legally mine without any adoption papers required by simply listing me as the mother at the hospital where the baby will be born.  It has been done; one of the “benefits” of living in a Third World country.  It is the easiest and fastest option possible but something that I will have to think through thoroughly.  The decision will be mine but without first discussing this with the whole family.  I am unsure how they will take to  this idea since I am perfectly capable of producing my own children.  You start to weigh morals or principles. You start to assess how happy or how much happier you can be;  more specifically, how much happier the whole family can be.  Of course, if I become mother to Grace’s unborn child, that means my family will have to take him or her as one of their own too.  My mother would prefer to have someone of our own blood to look after and I understand her.  It is a Filipino practice; to adopt a niece, nephew or cousin for the sake of easing the financial burden of the lesser fortunate sibling or relative who simply had too many children.

I am excited at the possibility of becoming a mother so soon but I wonder whether I can accept someone else’s child as my own.

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