While waiting for our carwash boy to finish with his job, my sister all of a sudden popped a very serious question:
Natatakot ka bang tumanda mag-isa? (Are you afraid of growing old alone?)
Without thinking for a second I replied, Oo naman. Of course.
Probing why she asked, she recounted a recent meeting with a very good friend of hers.
Her friend holds a senior position in a very prominent company. He stays in a condo unit in the Makati area during the week and he goes home to his rest house somewhere in the south during weekends. He pretty much lives on his own, with no other family member or spouse to take care of or care for him. For some time now, he was pondering whether to adopt a kid or not. He was cognizant of the myriad issues that go with such an endeavor but the answer to his dilemma soon arrived to him.
One day, he inadvertently sideswiped a vagabond. After having her minor injuries treated, he took the child home since the kid apparently had no family members to care for her while DSWD was closed due to that particular long weekend. He tried to take care of that girl that best way he could but he soon discovered that he had no fathering instincts. He eventually brought the child to a halfway house for streetchildren where he visits every so often, acting as an ‘uncle’ to the kid.
My sister soon after asked me if I, too, thought about my possible future of living alone and solving that ‘situation’ by having kids. It isn’t the first time I’ve been confronted with this question. And the number of times I’ve thought about it is equivalent to the number of times I’ve decided for or against having kids- only to change my mind the next time I’d see either a tender father-son moment or kids racing down the path to hell.
But what I told my sister is this:
I am too selfish to be a dad. I am too selfish with regard to my time, my money, my future. For starters, the nature of my current occupation involves working odds hours, driving to distant locales at a moment’s notice. My patients are not just an individual or two; rather, I practically take care of communities. The little I earn are *just enough* to makes ends meet. And I’m praying to God that I don’t live beyond sixty. In my life’s map, kids practically don’t have space.
Plus, in the course of the last five years or so, I’ve discovered that I’m not a ‘kid’ person. I’m not the huggy-feely-lift-a-kid-i-just-met-off-the-ground-or-take-him-from-his-mom-so-i-can-cuddle-him kind of person. Having said that, though, I think I make a cool uncle or an older cousin. Not a dad definitely. I think I tend to be overly indulgent which is fatal if applied as a parenting tactic.
The obverse side is my fuse at times can be terribly short. And when kids get too rowdy or go hungry or thirsty all the time, at odd times or they have no concept of personal space or they ask too many questions or they get to be too honest- I’m sure my patience will only get shorter.
I still have commitment issues to resolve within me as well. From mere piano lessons to taking care of aquarium fish to doing daily exercise to staying in med school- each was a challenge that often pushed me to the brink of just giving up on them just like *that*. So having a kid is a no-no- unless kids have a ‘can-be-returned, can-be-exchanged’ tag sewn on them.
Then again I see kids and dads in their Kodak moments- priceless moments of pure joy only a child can bring to his father.
Whenever I would corner a friend of mine who at my/our age already has a kid, my most favorite question to ask is if their kid could really make all their day’s aches and pains go away. They’ve unanimously testified that indeed their kids make EVERYTHING worthwhile. (Wow- maybe them kids would put doctors out of business!)
The little antics they showcase either on cue or when you least expect them. The toothy/toothless grin they flash just when you’re scolding them. The hand-made cards complete with misspelled words and frizzy blue hair that’s supposed to be yours. Glowing comments made by his teachers and the parents of his classmates. Medals you harvest each recognition day ceremony. Wet kisses and lung-squeezing hugs when you get home. Crazy forwarded emails and text messages at odd hours of the day. Willing listener to the (tall) tales of your youth. Ever-ready driver to the mall or church. Giver of sound advice, fashion consultant, ardent fan, pillar of strength, source of love, inspiration for living, prayer partner.
At the beginning of writing this, I was SO sure that I’d rather not contribute to the population growth of the planet. Now I’m not so sure…
Thank God my parents chose to have me. And I thank God that my father, in particular, isn’t as fickle as I am. If I will be equivalent to just 1/10th of how good you, Pop, have been to us, God would not have created me in vain…