Dear Future Kids: You Will Never Be My Retirement Plan
by Maria Romero, November 16, 2018 1:43pm
Art by Rejoice Celadiña
I’m gonna tell you an incredible story that isn’t about how I met your father. And oh no, you’re not being punished for something because this isn't gonna take a while.
Years ago, before I become your mother, I have this whole other life. It was way back in 2018 and I was just starting to make it as a writer in Manila. I wasn’t exactly following life routines then but when I have no work, you can usually find me daydreaming about what could’ve happened to Ted Mosby and the two kids if Tracy McConnell didn’t die. Occasionally, you can also find me in gigs and concerts living my best life and wishing I could take you to see my favorite bands, too.
I have to say, it was the most daunting phase of my life with all the confusions and fear that come with the thought of making it at the finish line someday. And by the finish line, I meant a stable life with you and your father and my patterned lawn I religiously take care of. This may sound too idealistic but unlike some people of my generation, I always wanted to raise kids.
At the young age of 21, I’d be lying to say if the thought of you didn’t come along. As of writing, I literally have no idea of what you look like and the kind of life you would lead. Would we share the same love for punk music? Would you also love FRIENDS? Would you suck at dancing, too? And to tell you honestly, picturing your faces sends shivers in my spines. I know you’d have beautiful faces as beautiful as your hearts.
But before everything goes too far, I want you to know I was raised in an imperfect, and sometimes toxic, family culture. And there were repercussions that come with it. But don’t worry, I’m not passing that on to you.
Pleased understand that I grew up in the traditional patriarchal setting, mother and father busting their bodies out just so we can eat three times a day and attend to a decent school. And us, the children, who study the hardest to finish school with flying colors so we could pay them back. Unfortunately, we’re more like a retirement plan; a way out of poverty.
I grew up with the thought that I have to save money just so my parents would be lying in the most comfortable bed when their twilight comes. That’s not entirely wrong but I lost myself with that thought and I almost forgot I have a life, too. So I promise, I will never be the kind of mother who would cause your secret mental breakdown at 2:00 am. And as early as now, I’m trying my hardest to save as much as I can. You’re never going to be my retirement plan, honey, because I know how much that sucks.
The Filipino family culture is definitely spattered with all the toxicity that the world has to offer but it also taught us to stand up even stronger. That time when a Tita said I’m way too fat during dinner made me love my body even more. Or that moment when my relatives told me about an out-of-town trip I never really did because the neighbour told them so made me more adventurous. I have a long list of all the things that pushed me to rock bottom on those younger days. But I look back at those memories fondly because those shaped me to become the person I am today.
With this, I'll let you experience pain so you'll appreciate happiness. I'll allow you to go to school with a meager allowance so you’ll learn to appreciate how hard we earn that money. Sometimes I won’t allow you to sleep over at your best friend's house so you’ll understand that freedom comes with a price.
But don’t worry because I’m continually learning from life. And just so you know kids, I will mess up. And that’s for sure. But I swear, I’ll be the coolest one you’ll ever have!