By Eireen Manikan
We have an ONLY child. I put the emphasis because he is the only in almost anything in our family. Aside from the obvious, he is the only nephew on both sides which makes him the only grandson on both sides and since we had him quite late, the only one whose arrival in the family was so anticipated I don’t know if I’d die of excitement or constipation the moment we knew we were having him. And so the story starts…
On my side, I have two strong-willed sisters who have wonderful careers and who became self-sufficient at early ages. They know what they want, and they work hard to have it, not having to depend on other men to get it for them. On my husband’s side, I have admirable siblings who are also enjoying their respective careers and have found their niches in their respective industries.
The moment we learned we (it was a family affair) were carrying RM, it was like being caught in a wonderful bullet-train ride, no-stops all-go kind of thing with everyone planning and being excited about the birth, baptismal and first birthday party. While seeing myself not-so quietly ballooning, I was constantly quizzed if I was eating right, what vitamins I’m having, why I love to wear tight-fitting clothes which might constrict the baby, and if I’ve already began thinking about what kind of education will be provided for him. I felt so loved and glowed in the fact that everyone dear to me doted on this wonderboy as much as his Daddy and I did.
Certainly, the day came for welcoming him. And the sleepless nights coupled with post-partum sadness began. He was and still is amazing, don’t get me wrong, I can still stare at him for hours and wonder about his greatness, but at that time, tiredness and constant draining overcame me and then I began to notice the militia-like concentration my family had on this baby…only up to a point. Where I was ecstatic in the way they spoiled RM with their love emotionally and materially, I was starting to get irritated with their opinions and personal views about how I and my husband should do things with RM.
“Why is he not getting this? And that?”, “Why are you like this and that?”, “You ought to do this and that” have become common conversation pieces which would only end up with me harboring resentment and they, feeling a certain disappointment in seeing their prince not raised the way they would have wanted. “Are you here 24/7?!, are you present in all his hiccups, rants, unceasing crying and middle-of-the-night exhibitions?!, Good grief! You are only here like what? Let’s see you spending all your waking and sleeping moments with this boy” was my dream rant to all of them.
Such is this piece all about. There seems to be a slight disconnect between parents and wonderful family members who, in their strong love and care want to be parents of the children…from afar. I am not saying they will not take on the responsibility when needed, I am certain they will, so certain in fact that they are already practicing even when we are present. I am also not ungrateful. These loving aunts and uncle who gave our child what we couldn’t or wouldn’t (like a piece of property in a metro area and the latest game gadget I wouldn’t buy) but more significant are the hugs and kisses that Daddy and I can only give as much. The advises and guidance they show that we would have forgotten to say and their PRESENCE when we are sadly, absent.
To all the valuable piblings out there, this is a gentle reminder to love your nibling with all your might by all means but be extra sensitive about HOW you do it. If you feel your sibling has fallen short, a loving reminder will not hurt but a profound understanding will be invaluable. (Maybe the parent was extra tired that time, maybe they are faced with other problems and maybe they are really lost and must learn it on their own). The best manifestation of pibling love is to show your nibling that you trust their folks and that you will always be there for them and behind their parents.
To the parents undergoing PMS and getting irritable just like me, with no offense meant to our siblings…let’s hang in there and take this as a good problem. This is much better than not having anyone at all to share the joy and challenges with. That is probably why I never had the heart to confront or articulately express some of these thoughts to them and opted for the cowardly way: publicly writing about it with the hope that they don’t get to read it. In all the times I replied: Yep, got it!
I never really added: We do, because we have you.