Motherhood is the most fulfilling experience of a woman’s life. I was blessed with four wonderful sons and they were all I could ever ask for. With Arthur, Brad, Sid, and Monty, I felt like my life had meaning now. It may be difficult sometimes, I wasn’t going to lie, but it was definitely worth it.
Bukod sa pagiging Mommy ng apat kong anak, I was also busy with our family’s company. Dad had already retired from his job and he was now letting us run the company. Ginagabayan niya pa rin kami sa pagpapatakbo ng kumpanya but majority of his time now was spent travelling with Mama. Minsan sumasama kami lalo na kapag bakasyon ng mga bata pero madalas nagsosolo ang dalawa. Katulad ngayon. They went to Switzerland for the weekend.
I was brushing my hair in front of the vanity mirror after blowdrying it while my three boys were jumping up and down the bed. I had already bathed the triplets and afterwards, asked Ronnie to look after the kids while I took a quick shower. The bathroom was the only privacy I had from them and I couldn’t even enjoy my bath because Ronnie was telling me to hurry as she had something she needed to finish. Pagkalabas ko ng shower ay lumabas na din si Ronnie sa kwarto ko at bumalik sa ginagawa niya. Tinuloy ko na lang ang pagboblowdry ng buhok ko habang binabantayan ang tatlo. My four boys still sleeps next to me. They had their own rooms but they prefer to sleep next to Mommy. Maingay at magulo dito sa kwarto ko. Palagi din nag-aaway ang mga magkakapatid. You know, those petty sibling fights. Nagkalat ang mga laruan at mga musical instruments ng mga bata at kahit anong linis ko, after just thirty minutes, they could to turn my room upside down again. I get a daily dose of headache but that was just a small sacrifice for the unmeasurable happiness they bring to my life. I wanted to enjoy them while they were still babies. With them, I never feel lonely or feel like there was something missing in my life. They made my life complete.
“Mommy, Brad kicked me!” Sid whined.
“I did not! It was an accident! He was on the way!” Brad was quick to defend himself.
“Sabi ni Mommy play nice! You don’t play nice!” Monty scolded Brad. “You’re kicking and hitting me and Sid!”
“I told you to stop jumping on the bed, you three. You’re going to hurt each other.” I carried them down the bed. “Halika na! Bumaba na tayo. Tapos na akong mag-ayos.”
“Are we going to see a movie today, Mommy?” Sid asked.
“Yes, we will.” I answered and kissed the top of his head.
“What movie?” Asked Monty.
“Any movie you want to watch.” I answered.
“And then we’ll go to the toystore and you’d buy us toys?” Brad smiled widely.
“Toys na naman? Puno na yung toy box niyo tsaka di ba nagpromise si Dad na uuwian niya kayo ng toys?” I brushed my fingers through his dark hair.
“If it doesn’t fit in the box anymore, we can donate the old ones to the orphanage.” Sabi ni Sid. We usually donate their toys to Aunt Andi and Uncle Tristan’s orphanage. Mahilig kasi talaga sa laruan ang mga bata. They go crazy whenever we’re inside a toystore.
“After we watch a movie, instead of buying toys, I’m going to let you play in the arcade.” I said, negotiating with the three.
“Okay!” Halos magkakasabay na sagot ng tatlo.
Lumabas na kami ng kwarto at kinatok ko si Ronnie sa kwarto niya. She promised to accompany me today. Hindi ko kaya ang apat na lalaki na ako lang mag-isa kaya kapag wala si Mama at Dad, si Ronnie ang palagi kong kasama.
“Hey boys, are you ready?” Ronnie cheerfully asked her nephews.
“Yeah! We’re going to play at the arcade!” Brad excitedly said.
“Nasaan si Arthur, Ate?” Ronnie asked when she didn’t see him.
“Sandali nga lang, I’m going to go check up on him. Ikaw muna bahala sa tatlo.” I told her. At eight years old, Arthur had learned to be independent. He could take care of himself just fine. He was really growing up and the thought made me kind of sad. Dati ako ang nagpapaligo at nag-aayos sa kanya, ngayon siya na ang gumagawa nun sa sarili niya.
I went to his room and before I even opened his door, he burst out it.
“Art baby, are you ready? Aalis na-” I stopped when I saw him. His eyes were red and his tears soaked in tears. “Bakit umiiyak ka?”
“I can’t find Dr. Daddy’s guitar!” Humihikbings sabi niya. “I looked everywhere but I can’t find it.”
“Oh.” I wiped his tears away and kissed him on the forehead. “Where did you last see it?”
“I can’t remember.” He answered.
“Baka naman na misplace mo lang. Mommy’s going to look for it, okay? Tumahan ka na.” I told him.
“Paano kung wala na talaga yun?” He sobbed.
“No… we’re going to find it.” I promised. His Dr. Daddy’s guitar was his most precious possession. I knew how important that was for him.
While Ronnie kept the triplets busy, Arthur and I went downstairs to look for his guitar. Palagi kasing hawak ni Arthur iyon kaya hindi niya na matandaan kung saan niya nailalapag. He must’ve just misplaced it.
I asked our helpers if they saw Arthur’s guitar and no one did. When we couldn’t find it inside the house, we went out to the garden. Naalala ko kasi nakita ko siyang gamit iyon sa garden habang naglalaro sila ng mga kapatid niya.
We looked around and Arthur was beginning to grow more worried. Halos itaob niya na ang lounging set na nasa garden. Arthur was frantically looking around when I heard a faint strum of a guitar. I paused and followed its sound. It lead me to the toolshed in the far hidden corner of the garden. I went behind it and saw an unfamiliar figure of a man.
The man had tan skin and a well-built body, not heavy like a bodybuilder’s, muscled and toned in a way that looked like he’d done labour work for years. He had an untidy shoulder length hair that covered his face, his head tilted down and he seemed so absorbed with the guitar he had in his hans. He was wearing a white tank top with grey stains on them and a pair of worn out and tattered jeans.
“Who are you? What are you doing here?” I took a step back, ready to run if I needed.
He lifted head up and our gaze met. He smiled at me. His sweet smile surprisingly complimented his ragged features. It made him look harmless. “Ma’am!”
“Sino ka?” I repeated the question, this time my voice more firm.
“Ay pasensya na, Ma’am.” He stood up and he towered over me. He was holding my son’s guitar, the one he’d been crying about. “Ako nga po pala si Soren. Driver, mekaniko, pwede din akong all around boy.”
“Ano’ng ginagawa mo dito at bakit na sa’yo ang gitara ng anak ko?” My brows furrowed.
“Ma’am, inutusan akong pumunta dito para kunin yung mga gamit inaayos namin kotse sa garahe. Nadaanan ko itong gitara sa hardin, wala sa tono kaya ito inaayos ko. Mahilig kasi akong tumugtog, Ma’am. Tumutugtog ako pagpiyesta sa probinsya namin tsaka sa mga bar.” Bumaba ang tingin niya sa gitara.
“That’s mine!” Biglang sumulpot si Arthur mula sa likod ko at tumakbo papunta sa lalaki. He grabbed his guitar from the man’s hand and possessively hugged it. “Bakit na sa’yo ang guitar ng Dr. Daddy ko? Akin ‘to! Binigay niya sa akin ‘to!”
“Arthur…” I touched his shoulder. I understood that he was upset but it was not an excuse to talk like that especially to adults.
“Inaayos ko lang, boy. Hindi ko naman inaangkin.” He chuckled playfully, massaging his nape.
I cocked a brow. “Sa susunod huwag kang mangingialam ng mga gamit dito. Lalo na ang gitara ni Arthur. My son’s name is Arthur, hindi boy. Arthur doesn’t like anyone touching his guitar. Importante sa kanya ang gitarang ito. Regalo iyon ng late husband ko sa kanya.”
“Sorry, ma’am. Hindi na mauulit. Sorry boy- sir Arthur.” Hingi niya ng paumanhin sa akin at sa anak ko.
“This is mine and my Dr. Daddy’s guitar. See! It has our name on it!” He pointed out the carving on the guitar.
“Sorry, sir Arthur. No read, no write ako.” Sabi niya. “Dr. ang Daddy niya, Ma’am?”
“He was a psychiatrist!” Arthur answered for me.
“Ah iyon ba yung doktor ng mga baliw?” He asked.
My eyes widened at what he said. Lalong lumalim ang kunot sa no ni Arthur. My son turned his head ang looked up at me. “Mommy, did you hear what he said? Sabi niya doktor ng mga baliw ang Dr. Daddy ko.”
My jaw clenched and annoyance surged over my whole system. How dare he say that in front of my own son. I took in a deep breath, trying to compose myself.
“Bago ka lang ba dito? Ngayon lang kita nakita.” I said in a flat tone.
“First day ko po ngayon. Kagagaling ko lang sa probinsya kagabi.” Sagot niya.
“If you keep that up, this will be your first and last day working here. Sino ba ang nagpasok sa’yo dito?” I folded my arms over to my chest.
“Si Tiya Melba, yung katulong niyo dito. Tiyahin ko po yun, ma’am.” Sagot niya. “Ako yung papalit na kay Mang Erik. Uuwi na daw kasi siya sa probinsya sa susunod na linggo dahil may sakit yung asawa niya kaya ito.”
“Hoy Soren!” Melba, one of our helps and his Aunt he said, came rushing towards us. “Kanino ka pa hinihintay ni Mang Er-” She paused when she saw me. “Ma’am Drey.”
I gave her a half-hearted smile. This guy right here just ruined our day. “Kayo po ba ang nagpasok sa kanya dito? Alam na po ba ni Dad ito?”
“Opo, ma’am. Alam na ni sir Phoenix na aalis na si Mang Erik kaya pinahap niya kami ng driver na papalit sa kanya. Eh okay naman daw po sa kanya kung ito na lang pamangkin ko. Nagdadrive kasi ito ng mga truck papunta at pabalik sa probinsya at Maynila.”
“I don’t like him.” Arthur said. “Tinawag niyang Doctor ng mga baliw ang Dr. Daddy ko.”
“Naku! Pasensya na, ma’am, Arthur…” Sabi ni Melba bago tumingin sa lalaki. She threw him a sharp glare. “Soren, yang bunganga mo.”
“Pagsabihan mo yan, Melba.” I told her with a stoic face before turning my attention back to my son. “Let’s go. Baka naiinip na ang mga kapatid mo at ang Tita Ronnie mo.”
We went back inside with his guitar. I knew the boys were already driving their Tita Ronnie crazy. They were running around and Ronnie was chasing after them, trying to sit them all down. Arthur sat on the couch and started playing his guitar as if he hadn’t seen it for years.
“Your sons are all pain in the ass!” She complained and then her brows furrowed when she saw me. “O, bakit nakasimangot ka, Ate?”
“Yun kasing bagong driver, mekaniko, all around boy or whatever he is…” My frown grew even deeper.
“Oh, si Tarzan. You’ve already met him na pala.” Ronnie grinned.
“I forgot his name but he looks like Tarzan with his long hair.” Natatawangs abi ni Ronnie.
“He called my sons’ father doktor ng mga baliw’ sa harap ni Arthur.” I shook my head.
“He seemed like a nice guy when I interviewed him earlier.” Ronnie shrugged. “What do you want to do? Fire him and look for another one?”
I shook my head. “No, it’s okay. I mean, what he said wasn’t okay. But I’m going to give him another chance.”
“Aalis na ba tayo or what?” Ronnie asked.
I called the kids and they excitedly ran to me. Hinawakan ko si Monty at Brad habang karga naman ni Ronnie Sid papunta sa front door. Sid had always been Ronnie’s favorite because he was the sweetest amongst the triplets. We sat the triplets on the very back and strapped them in their carseats. Arthur sat on the second row with his guitar. He’d missed his guitar so much that he brought it with him. I slipped inside the driver’s seat and Ronnie sat on the passenger’s side.
“Ate, paano if one day you decide to move out? Can you take care of them by yourself? Hindi ka ba naloloka sa mga anak mo?” Ronnie asked, chuckling while I drove.
“They drive me crazy all the time but they’re the ones holding me together. I’m not going to lie and tell you that I can do it without you or Mama and Dad. It’s difficult raising four sons alone but you made it bearable.” I smiled a smile of gratitude.
“Naisip ko lang Ate, never kang nakipagdate kahit ang dami pa rin nanliligaw sa’yo? Have you ever thought about getting yourself a partner? Yung mamahalin ka, yung tutulong sa’yo sa pagpapalaki kina Arthur at yung makakasama mo sa pagtanda. Like Mama and Dad.” She asked. “Hindi ba you’ve always dreamt of a big family just like ours?”
I shrugged and a smile spread across my lips. “I still have a big family. I have my children, I have Mama and Dad, and I have you and our siblings. Sa ngayon wala pa talaga sa isip ko yan. Ang importante sa akin ay ang mga bata. I just don’t think I’d ever love a man as much as I love my kids. I would always prioritize my children more. I’m doing my best to be a great Mom to them. I’m giving my kids my all and all I ever want is that everyday they know they are the greatest thing that ever happened to me.”
“I admire you so much, Ate. You and Mama.” Hinilig niya ang ulo niya sa akin. “I know how much you’ve been through and here you are, stronger than ever.”
“My love for my kids is what gives me strength. They’re worth everything I’ve been through, Ronnie. Kung mababalik ang panahon at papipiliin ako, I would go through the same pain I’ve been through just so I could have them again in my life. Wala akong babaguhin o iibahin.”
“Mommy, we have a song for you.” Sabi ni Brad. “Di ba Kuya Arthur, you wrote a song for Mommy?”
“It was supposed to be a secret!” I saw Arthur sharply turning his head to his brother through the rearview mirror.
“Oop!” Brad giggled and covered his mouth.
“It was supposed to be for Mommy’s birthday!” Sid frowned at him.
“You and your big fat mouth ruined Mommy’s surprise!” Monty scolded his brother.
“I said sorry.” Brad frowned angrily at his brother.
“O, baka mag-away pa kayo niyan ah.” Ronnie said to the kids.
“Why don’t you just sing the song you made for me? I would love to hear it.” I smiled.
“It’s not your birthday yet.” Sabi ni Monty.
“Come on. We want to hear it.” Pilit ni Ronnie.
“I want to hear it.” Sabi ko.
“Okay, but on your birthday just pretend it’s the first time you heard it.” Arthur giggled.
Ronnie and I laughed along.
He began to strum his guitar and it played a wonderful tune. He was getting better and better.
“We love you, Mommy. You’re the best Mom in the world. You’re always there to make us food. You’re always there to make us feel good. Thank you for kissing our booboos. In a world full of Mommies, you’re the only one we’ll choose…” My sons sang together.
My children are my life. My world revolved around them. Without them, tomorrow wouldn’t be worth the wait and yesterday wouldn’t be worth remembering.