When I gave birth I dread coming back to the office after two months. As a working mother I have this irrational fear that my baby will love my mother or her nanny more than me. I will be gone for most of the day and I will only get to see her, if I’m lucky to get home early, at night. I will not have the chance to hold her for the most part of the day, play with her, feed her, be there when she needs something, and overall associate me with someone who is always there for her. I also know stories of other moms who has experienced this distance when babies prefer their nannies to put them to sleep. I have also experienced this when I was younger because I was a lola’s girl. My mother worked in NFA and I was always with my grandmother from morning until night. When she died it was difficult and was a hindrance to having this same connection with my own mother.
Now it’s my turn.
I know I cannot be beside her round the clock so I have to think of ways to offset my shortcomings and allow us to be closer. Here are some of those things.
Breastfeeding. I know that I should at least try to breastfeed because my cousin, who I think was involved with the DOH at that time, encouraged me to do so. I was indifferent at first because I was a lazy pregnant woman and would prefer to gorge down food than prepare myself with what to expect from this endeavor. When Iya came, I was caught off guard and really had to deal with things based from experience and without the help of the internet. I took it one day at a time and eventually I enjoyed the bonding we had knowing that it is something that only I can do.
Co-sleeping. This happened as a result of convenience because of breastfeeding. The nurse in the hospital gave me an advice that I should learn the side laying position so I can rest and feed my baby at the same time. I let her rest her head on my arms during feeding and it became a habit that even up to now she still sleeps on my arms.
Making the yaya do other things when I’m around. Whenever I’m at home I try to spend time with Iya doing nonsensical things. I try not to be that OC and clean or arrange stuff around the house so I let my yaya do it most of the time. I just enjoy being with her to talk and play even for a short time. I let her yaya finish whatever it is that needs to be done early whenever I get home so I can have her to myself. It’s really tiring to take charge after work (when all I can think about is sleep) but these small pockets of time before sleeping allows me to talk to her about what happened when I was away.
Going out without a yaya on days when we go out as a family. It allowed me to learn how to handle Iya on my own outside the house. I know that for some it’s a natural thing to do but for me it’s not. I find myself asking why I decided not bring her yaya on bad days but I can’t do anything about it so I am always forced to solve problems on my own. It also helped me to read her mind and how to react to get what we both want. It’s tiring though.. so I have to limit the places we go and the length of time when we go out.
Playing special toys with her. She has toys that I let her play only when I’m in the house. Initially I just wanted to be around when she plays with toys that needs to be supervised like those with small parts or parts that she may eat like play doh. This precaution also associated me with these special toys and the fun times she had whenever we play with these things.
Being a person of authority. This is slightly tricky because I am portrayed as the bad guy, the one who decides what she can do most of the time. I guess she finds it necessary to always ask for my permission whenever she wants something beyond the standard things that she can do. And when I do say no I tell her how it becomes a yes to make us both satisfied.
Iya: Nanay pwede bang kumain ng candy?
Me: Oo pero pagkatapos mo kumain ng lunch/dinner at isa lang.
What I’m really saying is yes but with conditions so we both get what we want.
I tell her the truth. I always, always tell her the truth to answer even the most trivial questions. This transparency includes telling her that yayas can come and go but I will always be there for her. Sometimes I tell her “Sige iiwan kita” when she’s not listening to me. To which she will reply, “Ang nanay hindi iniiwan ang baby”. Oo nga naman, my words exactly.