“What are your plans?”
All throughout my pregnancy, it was a question I dreaded. When posed by well-meaning relatives, this question usually followed assumptions that I would (or already have) quit my corporate job to stay home with the baby. Colleagues would ask me, (almost) complete strangers would ask me, I felt even the baby growing inside me was asking: “What next? How do we manage now?”
During the first furtive months after the baby was born, I was wary of bringing up the subject of childcare. Perhaps, it was just hormones, but I had feared that my husband would be offended. I did not want to quit my job. I was not ready to be a housewife.
There was the question of finances and time management. He was a hemodialysis nurse who worked long hours, on call even on weekends. I work in PR. Where hours are also long but flexible. I did not know how discuss all these things with him without hurting his feelings. (I had been warned by my mom about managing the “male ego” – such a fragile thing it is!).
I began to realize that despite the progressive ideals my husband and I shared, practicing the openness such ideals required was tricky. I could go on and on about this but the bottom line is: marriage and a child changes things.
I started to panic as my maternity leave dwindled (what would I have done if I did not have a C-section and had an even shorter time to regroup?). The question of who would be giving the baby long term, hands on care remained unaddressed.
Over dinner one night, my Mom asked us the dreaded “Anong plano ninyo? (What are your plans?)” question. I felt cornered. I looked to my husband for support.
Tears were in my eyes as my mom kept talking about choosing the best option for the baby, about putting the needs of the baby first, and of sacrifice. I agreed with her. But I felt hurt that my husband just kept his silence. I did not know how to answer the question but by then, I was determined: I would resign if need be.
I went to bed with a heavy heart. I felt selfish for still wanting to keep my career and sad as I knew quitting the “race” was becoming inevitable. The weight of what was “expected” and “normal” was, quite frankly, becoming unbearable. I closed my eyes despondently.
As I was drifting off to sleep, I heard my husband’s voice. I startled and turned to him. In his soft quiet way he said: “Ako na ang mag-aalaga kay Gab.” (I will take care of Gab.) I looked at him in surprise. And he assured me that I heard him right. We spent the night alternately crying, embracing and laughing…the gap between us suddenly gone.
My husband was Dad enough to make a decision not all men are strong enough make.
Thank you, Rom. Thank you for choosing what is best for our family over what society dictates as “normal”. Thank you for being man enough to stand against the kantyaw (crude jokes) and the quizzical looks.
Thank you. I am so proud of you, fiercely proud of you. I love you.
Happy Father’s Day to you, a genuine Man of the House.