Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Mother-in-Law

April had been an extra chaotic month this year. Not only because events had tailgated one after the other at work. More so because my mother-in-law had come home for her biennial back-to-Pinas vacation. And when she's here, the rate of "tribal activities" shoot up and the Marikina house comes alive again to welcome all of us back under its roof. While we actually make it a point to get together as a family on important occasions, family assemblies somehow become more special, more meaningful, more prioritized and definitely more frequent when my mother-in-law's around. So, last month, after a full day in the office, I would make a detour to Marikina to clock in and join the clan till late before driving home to Quezon City.

It was an exhausting  routine. But none of us had cause for complaint. It was a joy to see our mother-in-law revelling in her grandchildren. Well, spoiling is more like it. And truth be told, even the adults enjoyed a little of that spoiling, too. It specially warmed my heart to know that she often consulted with Yayay to find out what I'd like for dinner. Or have her fuss over me to taste this or that dish. Or to see her set aside little munchies for us to bring home.

Yes, she does make us all feel very much loved and cared for. And I embrace knowing this, specially when I look back to my early years as a daughter-in-law. Then, spending time with my husband's mom, while not exactly dreaded, was not such a pleasant prospect, either. I felt like I was always under her scrutiny and I had to make sure that I passed judgment and impressed her. Mealtimes were a time of great hypocrisy as I ate and pretended to love vegetables and fish! After-mealtimes were a showcase of my housewifely expertise as I joined my two other sisters-in-law in the kitchen in washing the dishes and cleaning up. Her every comment was a command I lost no time heeding.

I don't remember when the compulsion to impress and dazzle her with my star daughter-in-law qualities ceased. As years passed, I found myself feeling more and more comfortable being with her. Somehow, the fear and the awkwardness vanished. During family get-togethers, I no longer had to force myself to eat anything I didn't want as my favorite meat dishes began appearing on her menu. I no longer felt uncomfortable about not being able to help out in the kitchen and learned to defer to my sisters-in-law's expertise in that area. By just being myself and accepting who she is and who I am, genuine respect, trust, affection settled in. Even the  unimaginable happened. I actually looked forward to seeing her and being in her company. When she migrated to the US, I terribly missed her.

That's why her homecomings have become a major event for us. She brings the family closer together. To the littles ones, she's the grandma with the magic wand that makes things extra special and makes their "worldly" wishes come true. To the adults, she's the mother that allowed us to feel, at least for a little while, just kids again.

And to me, she is the mother-in-law who has become simply, truly, my Nanay.

Bellarocca Moment, May 24, 2009

As I gazed at nature's most exquisite display of sea, sun and mountain, I could not help but sigh. And that sigh was a humble prayer, a silent wish. No poetic litanies. No spellbinding aria. Yet I know that at that moment, that sigh made it to God's listening ears. And it was all He needed to hear.

A sigh of thankfulness for God's faithfulness. Like the waves, trials and challenges had come, gone, oftentimes lingered. Like the sea, God's unfathomable faithfulness had pulled me through and brought me to shores of safety.

A sigh of humility and acceptance and trust. I cannot know and control everything. But God knows. And He is in control. No matter how confusing and heartbreaking certain things may be sometimes, God is making me go through them for a reason. And while I may not be privy to His reason, I can completely trust that everything will turn out right. That God has my best interest in mind, all the time. Just as the sun bows down and gives in to the coming of nighttime, so must I. Not bowing down blindly. But submitting based on knowing that my God who is greater than the sun, the daytime and nighttime has everything under control, under His care.

A sigh of hope. God promised that "weeping may happen for a night, but joy always comes in the morning". This "evening" will soon fade and give in to the coming of a new day. The sun shall return and burst into glorious sunrise...tomorrow. There is always tomorrow.

A sigh was all God needed to hear.

A sigh was all I needed to do.

And everything felt right with the world.