HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE – Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) – June 17, 2018 – 12:00am
I have been a father for 39 years now. Let me tell you, it has been quite a ride.
Being a dad is a multi-faceted job. From the time they are newly born up to age three is a very important phase because that’s when kids are most physically vulnerable. You pretty much do primitive nanny work. I do not belittle this. The work is important and crucial. You help clean them up. You rock them to sleep when mama is too tired. You make formula milk, or feed them breast milk from a bottle. You check once in a while if they are still breathing. You take turns with Mama in taking care of them.
You also make sure they are physically safe from insects or from airborne sicknesses. You make sure they are alive and healthy. You buy food, diapers, medicines, clothes, bibs, tiny shoes that they outgrow very quickly. You bring them to the doctor for their inoculations. All these, and much more. The payback for all the exhaustion and sleepless nights you spend taking care of them is when you see them smile, turn around by themselves, chuckle, crawl, stand, walk, run, and learn other physical skills.
My three kids started pre-school when they were three years old. They were active, curious kids who were always looking for things to do and learn. I personally taught them to read and write, and do math. Throughout grade school to college, they learned their academics quite easily, for the most part.
All that seemed like many decades ago. My daughter Erica is now 39 and has a 14-yearold daughter. Ala is 35 years old, wife to John Buencamino and is a first-time mother to Zadie. Mio is single, a hard-working man who will be turning 30 this September.
Some 13 years, ago, we moved to Australia. Since then they have learned to become very independent. They all earn their own money and pretty much live their own lives.
The three of them all get along easily, often beautifully, although there are times when they disagree and even have shouting matches. That’s normal. I am glad that, somehow, they are able to fix things.
One of the things Lydia and I had impressed upon them from the start is the sense of belonging to this family. They are close to each other and to us, their parents. Throughout their growing years, we constantly told them to look after each other. And thank God they do watch out for each other. When my eldest Erica went through her depression, we were all available and ready to talk or be there if she wanted to open up to us. I am always happy when Erica takes on her ate role and gives advice to her younger sibs. She can be very reassuring to younger sister when Ala has questions about her baby Zadie’s health, eating and sleeping habits, etc. Ala invites Mio to lunches and dinners at her place just to see how he is doing. Mio can be very protective of his sisters, and delights in being a good uncle to their children.
While they have their own secrets, our kids are pretty transparent and upfront when they express themselves to each other. When one of them goes through a breakup, the other two are there for some emotional support.
Our kids often talk to Lydia and me about their lives, their issues with their partners, their dreams and a host of other things. They like to run their plans by us to hear our comments or seek advice. We always lend a listening ear. I am always happy to know where they are at every moment of their life stages.
Erica is now living in Paris with her daughter Ananda. In a few years, my grandchild will probably be very European in her ways.
Ala and Mio have been living in Australia for sometime now. They almost think, talk and act like Aussies. They know their place in this new country. They work hard and I’m pretty sure they, too, will come up in the world. They are great, responsible and reliable adults.
When they ask for fatherly advice, I listen and readily give them my thoughts on the matter, although I do not expect them to follow everything I say. They know that. They must follow their own paths. If they want help, I will certainly be there. I trust they will decide what is best for them. If they suffer pain, I know they will recover.
I remember the time I was in my mid to late thirties. I felt that life was waiting for me to decide what I wanted to be. I felt fearful and challenged at the same time. I was full of doubts about my capabilities. But I began to notice that when I tried hard enough, I would often get somewhere close to achieving what I wanted. Sometimes, I even exceeded my own expectations. As a parent, I feel that they are in this stage now and are discovering their true capabilities.
I have written two songs for my kids. One is Batang-bata ka pa. The other is called, Live Your Own Life. In both songs I mentioned that they will have to learn and discover their own truth. Here’s a passage from Live Your Own Life:
Don’t take my word or anyone else’s
What’s right for me may not be right for you
I have my own dreams. I live my own story
And someday soon you’ll be living yours, too.
So… Enjoy your own joys.
Gain from your own pain
Dream your own dreams
Dance to your own song
It’s the only way to go
It’s the only road you’ll ever know.
Live your own life (feel it so you know it’s real).
Hold on to your own truth (live life without any fear)
Decide your own fate (with bated breath the world awaits)
Make your own mark (All you gotta do is start)
Everything you need is inside of you
You’re the fire and breath of your own soul..
I knew that when I became a dad that there wouldn’t be a day that would pass when I would not think of my children. Although they are grown-up now, they are still in my thoughts daily. I can’t help it. That’s what being a father is like.
As parents, it is true that we raise our kids in our own image and likeness. We only know what we know and where we come from. We do our best. Hopefully, our own parents raised us well.
Now that they are adults, I delight in watching them become who they are as they create and recreate themselves.
No matter how much I try to detach from them, it seems impossible. I love them too much and so the caring and concern will never stop even when I don’t express these daily to them. I quote writer Reed Markham, who said, “Being a great father is like shaving. No matter how good you shaved today, you have to do it again tomorrow.”
Your children may outgrow you, but you will never outgrow being their father.
Read more at https://www.philstar.com/lifestyle/sunday-life/2018/06/17/1825186/why-being-dad-shaving#VS3UoCPHcu7QPQhJ.99