Door to Narnia
It was exam week so the Ruffolo home in Liloan, Cebu was a frantic mess of pad papers, dog-eared textbooks and unwashed lunch boxes.
Mornings are all about sending the six-year-old twins out the door before 6:20 a.m. so they are not late for their 7:45 a.m. class.
They are asleep before 8 p.m. so there is little to no struggle to wake them up at 5 a.m. to start their day. When their favorite carpool driver blows the horn, which signals that the van is outside to pick them up, the twins only need to pick up their backpacks and open the main door.
I demand for kisses from my first graders before they leave. “Bye, Mom/Nanay” or “Bye Dad” follows, which often earns a response of “Have fun in school” or “Be good persons, please.”
Then, it is all about Jeffrey.
He is in Nursery so school does not start until 10 a.m. He’s awake when his Manoy Nicholas and Manang Antoinette are awake. He eats breakfast with them. When the twins leave, he has more or less than two hours to play or do anything he pleases. I work morning shifts on Thursdays and Fridays. On these days, he would come up to me and ‘disturb’ my peace with a glass of water.
“Drink up Mom. You need to hydrate,” he says flashing those white dinosaur teeth.
He does that all the time, a gesture he learned from his Dad.
We often review the capital cities of the countries we “discovered” on our virtual world map before he eats his second breakfast. Then, he is out the door by 9:20 a.m.
At 9:30 a.m., the house is dead quiet except when the husband is around listening to some American radio anchor who goes on an endless tirade about how poorly managed US government offices are.
Otherwise, the only sound that can be heard is the slow hum of the pink stand fan.
The house is a silent sanctuary from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. My husband calls it the “blissful hours” as there are no six-year-old twins asking for their pencils to be sharpened or a four-year-old boy wanting more puto and sikwate for his second breakfast.
On days that I take on the morning shift with my work, these hours are the time to edit and write. On Mondays, which is my other day off, these hours are spent reading or binge-watching Filipino films which make me cry because the characters cry.
I also cry or shed a tear or two every time the children open the door and leave the house. I imagine it as the door to Narnia. When they open it, an entire adventure awaits. It is exciting and I’m often the cheerleader with pompoms prodding them to go and have fun.
Inside my mother’s heart though, I weep.
This weekday routine seems mundane; just one of those many things that happen every day as part of our morning rush.
But seeing them leave means they are growing up. Every time they open that door means they face challenges that shape them as persons. They come home with stories of triumphs and defeats. There are learnings too. Current topics include standing up to bullies, respecting other people’s property and forgiving those who have done us wrong.
Witnessing my children carry their backpacks and then opening the door to start their days in school is an exercise of letting go.
“We’re not babies anymore,” quipped the four-year-old ball of energy who celebrated his birthday last month with firefighters from the Mandaue City Fire Department.
“But we will always love you because you’re Mommy,” said Nicholas.
I guess that’s just it.
Babies grow to become thinking, feeling children who will love you because you are Mommy.
In the process, you also grow to understand why your mother was all emotional when you first joined your school’s field demonstration.
I knew all about the physical changes that will happen to me when I became a mother. Nobody told me that I am going to turn into a mushy being who cries when her offspring recites a poem during school programs or holds a microphone to lead the choral singing.
Before I became a mother, I viewed every experience as a learning adventure. I learned to apply the same view in thriving at motherhood.
So no matter how much of a drama queen I become every time the children leave the house and say goodbye, I will not stop them from opening more doors to discover and explore.
C.S. Lewis, the author of classic children’s series The Chronicles of Narnia, once wrote: “Some journeys take us far from home. Some adventures lead us to our destiny.”
It is my wish that my children open doors that will lead them to fulfill their dreams and whatever future lives they destined themselves to be in.
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