When Domeng and I had our Marriage Encounter Weekend in 2006, Nico was 9 years old and Zoe was 5. In the span of eleven years, Nico and Zoe have grown up being kind, smart and talented young adults. Nico is pursuing an academic career as a Music Pedagogist while Zoe is a Grade 10 student contemplating on taking a college course in Design or Fine Arts. They are our pride and joy. It is my fervent prayer that they find their true passions and when they do, use it to make this world a better place.
While this brief profile of our kids looks good, it is but a small fraction of a bigger picture. One that has the real and unmasked portrait of the struggles they faced in the past and some challenges they still grapple with. I am sure that life will show them many more. When tough times come a calling, I hope that they take it with a prayer in their hearts that God is always by their side.
Of the many things I learned from being a parent to Nico and Zoe, it is that vulnerability is a grace. When I was a young mother, my motto was, when the going gets tough the tough gets going. Months and years after the Marriage Encounter Weekend and Family Encounter Weekends (we attended as a family candidate in 2007 and as auxi family in 2009) this changed to when the going gets tough, it is God who gets it going. I learned to seek help, to ask, even beg for assistance and support from others. First of all, I started being open to Domeng about their needs, my mothering issues and what keeps me awake at night. From my husband, I realized the value of building one’s strength of character, my own and my children’s too.
I also learned that my children are their own persons. I came to respect their decisions, learning styles, moods and temperament. Listening to them is the most enjoyable. Letting them go is the more difficult thing to do. It is not wise to control or impose on them but when I do, as I am not perfect, I face them with an honest apology. I am forgiven so easily. It is there where love rests.
The apples did not fall far from the tree, of course. So many times I see myself in them and I see Domeng too. Often, I am happy to discover these characteristics manifest in real life applications. Sometimes, not so. Nonetheless, this mirroring only makes parenting more meaningful as I resolve to be a better version of myself for their sake and my own too.
Our children are growing up in this new stage of their lives. They need more space and time to fully appreciate and find wisdom in adulting. I remain their mother, of course, but I too grow with them as a person. How my role has shifted from caretaker, to teacher to counselor and now, mentor and life coach! Indeed, our children are God’s gift to us and to the world.