• Tugging at my apron strings

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    Alice Bustos-Orosa

    Alice Bustos-Orosa

    The boon of writing this column for almost eight years now has been the chance to chronicle my children’s lives through the years. These days, being inadvertently busier with my career, it’s been much harder to put my children’s little moments on paper, often forgetting amusing moments spent with them.

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    It was so much easier to recall those years when they were young kids, like the very first day I brought my daughter Beatrice to school. How she clung to us then as she stepped into the gates, with pleading eyes, waiting for the assurance that we’d be there the moment the bell rang by midday. Now, here she is, the girl who turned a pre-teen too fast, too soon.

    I felt exactly the same way with our son, Santi, who a decade ago, had us both in near tears on his first day of school, putting up a brave front. He now stands a foot above me and is often embarrassed when I try to hug him around other people.

    My kids often tease me that I act like the inimitable and domineering mom Claire in the sitcom Modern Family, with my hubby unwittingly acting out the part of her better half Phil. Such insights into how my parenting skills must be like often leave me feeling dumbfounded.

    It’s interesting though how my friends and I share similar experiences with our adolescents, and how we all are teased endlessly about being “Tiger Moms.”

    More than ever, I realize that childhood is really just an ethereal moment. Perhaps, every parent feels this way. Oddly, I’ve never really been completely self-assured, often being in doubt about my mothering. I wonder if every parent wonders if one can ever make the best decision for one’s children—whether it’s choosing the right school, directing them towards a possible career path, or even making friends.

    This year, with our son Santi, moving on to university, his dad and I have begun to question ourselves yet again. Are we overthinking things for him, planning too much for him, when ultimately he will make decisions all his own?

    Accepting that our children are grown-ups—individuals who need to take risks and to learn their own life lessons—is a phase we find ourselves in right now.

    I guess that as our children are inching into independence, it is both strangely heartening and discomfiting how smarter, sharper and even shrewder their sense of humor has become. In those end-of-day moments when we’re all together, I’m often both amused and astonished at how spontaneous and insightful they have become. Perhaps, that was and still is what my husband and I subconsciously raised our children to be—outspoken, incisive and independent. But how do we find the perfect balance for them to be outspoken but still respectful, independent but compassionate, and incisive yet empathetic?

    I’ve learned that through the years, one can never be critical of other’s parenting skills. To each his own at best. All families have differing circumstances and to judge one as being a worst or a better parent than another simply does not make sense. Even psychologists know that. As we try at best to shape our children’s character, in turn, their character shapes us as well.

    There probably is never a moment when I’ve completely felt that I’ve reached the bar of perfect parenting. And if at all, when my apron strings finally come untied, I will definitely miss those days when my children still held on to my hand, and will look back at those fleeting moments with warmth and fondness.

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