Friday ‘outings’

Our typical Friday night-outs spill onto Saturday’s early hours. I would normally be attentive until around twelve midnight, but one o’clock in the morning would find me smoking way too much and consistently refusing alcohol. The sessions I look forward to are the sobering dose of coffee after. Last Friday’s perks were snippets of talk about mothering and carving time for one’s self. Me and my companions were in the throes of raising grade-school children while struggling to establish a career we claim as ours. We were worried that our sons are growing up too soon. We realized the need for creative ways to explain life’s more complex matters and that the circumstances that demand these will soon flood our lives. My own twelve year old is vacillating between childhood and adolescence. While he looks forward to his very own rite-of-passage, he still cuddles up like a child (more than my five-year old). Our sons are at various stages of discovery, another friend’s sixteen year old is basking in puppy love. Thoughts about mothering, the fears of being left out of our children’s sphere of influence flew back and forth above the San Mig beer bottles. Our words pierced the cloud of cigarette smoke veiling our vision. To conclude a threateningly unwieldy conversation, I said that mothering indeed, has very different paths. One of the most significant women in my life herself is not a biological mom but has superb mothering skills. My aunt has been around remarkably strong women she takes after them. I believe it is the same strength she draws from when she brought me up, and numerous other nieces and nephews. It is difficult to insist on any one formula for motherhood, though filtering through suggestions is a welcome task. There were times I envied friends who can afford to work at home, and be 24/7 with their children. However, I long ago realized that I have an innate need for mobility and that kind of situation would leave me feeling stranded. I spent close to a year in Thailand and many acquaintances (not the close friends I already have or the new ones I made) were baffled by the choice to be away. Typically patient, I would painstakingly explain the reasons for the choice. Midway through the grant period, I was getting irritated by the questions and took on the mask of disdain. I refused to explain things and to the insistent few, I just said that it was a choice, period. After all, to make sweeping judgements on women and the choices we make would be to disregard the pains of women who struggled before us – for they made many things possible here, this – our time.

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