Fear and independence

February 7, 2013

Three months ago, I decided to brave traveling with Lia alone. What started out as a short tricycle ride home from the pedia became a weekly mother-and-child leisure activity.

The tricycle ride home that started it all.
Sundays are a special time for me and Lia. While the husband is out exploring Bulacan on a bike with his friends, I bring Lia to cafes, the grocery, the city. Anywhere but here.

First mother-and-daughter-only secret trip to the town poblacion:
Ukay-ukay, plaza, church and other sights.
As an exclusively breastfeeding mom to an irritable, persistent infant, it is never easy, what with all the contraptions and diaper bag I have to lug around. Trips had to be scheduled before Lia's AM nap time, and when it's nap time, there has to be a spot where I can arrange her in a sling so she can breastfeed. As she nurses till she falls asleep, I go along my business: boarding the bus, paying the bills, doing the groceries, amusing myself with sights.

This is probably the most I can carry when commuting alone with the baby.
Six grocery and ukay bags, a messenger bag for our stuff and a baby on a sling.
Breakfast at Brewlacan with Lia two weekends ago.

Traveling with an infant challenges a woman like no other, but the payback is tremendous. There's that pride, that fulfillment as I walk down the streets with bags on hand, a baby in front, and a bag slinging across the sides. In those short sneak-outs to the city, I found my long-disrupted right to lone mobility and public commute - something that I immensely enjoy no matter how taxing. This is apart from the joy of seeing Lia's chirpy jerks and gleeful eyes while she skims through the various sights of the world from her place in the carrier.
Barely a year old and she's already been on-board various transport modes:
Buses, ferry, jeepney, pedicab, tricycle, tranvia, LRT and taxis.
Maybe a carriage and a plane next time.

Independence is something I value most, simply because I was raised not to bother others with my every need. I had been going to and from school alone since I was six years old, and began working summer jobs at 15. At 17, I worked as a crew in an Italian food joint after class. Whatever I needed - from food to toiletries - I've mostly funded myself  for the past decade. And a few months prior to marriage, I lived entirely on my own away from the comfort of family.

First lone mum-and-daughter commute to Manila. December 2012.

This is a value that I want to pass down to my daughter. Because let's admit it, no matter how we say it's the 21st century and there's gender equality, women's capabilities  - especially fending for themselves or traveling alone - are still largely undermined. Our perception of ourselves restricted by standards, and our abilities and confidence placed under a certain mistrust - sometimes even by immediate family.

Lia goes to Corregidor!
But more than that, I feel that I owe it to Lia. As a parent, I believe that the best gift we can give to our kids is the freedom to be themselves, and to allow them to discover the world at its rawest, revolting and inspiring as it is. These are the pillars of wiser, resilient, better-adjusted children.

If you want a child to act like an adult, treat her like one, so goes the adage. But how can that be possible if we ourselves are afraid of venturing out in the world on our own? If we have to rely on husbands, fathers or brothers to drive us from point A to B each single time? What can a child learn if we have to put everything to abandon, on hold, waiting for the perfect time? If we had to meddle with our children's every affair, fearful that they might do the wrong thing? Are we teaching them to be safe and responsible? Or are we fostering fear, dependence and lack of faith in themselves?

Mum-and-daughter merienda at a nearby Greenwich.
The choices we make today influence our children and shape their future, no matter how young they are. And I will not the make that calculating choice of taking the too-safe route so I can sleep better at night while my child grows naive and unsure. My daughter was born a woman, and I refuse to believe that her freedom and abilities have limitations just because she is one.

Andy said...

Nice read! I can totally relate. I know how difficult it is to bring a child to places, alone. Ako, I really have a hard time kapag kami lang ng baby ko ang mag-ma-mall or magsisimba. My Gwen is one year and eight months old already and she's so malikot and lakad ng lakad, kaya sobrang hirap isama sa galaan, hays! :)

Filipina Explorer said...

Thanks Andy :) Have you tried those cute little animal backpack harnesses so kahit takbo-takbo si baby you don't have to chase as much? I'm planning to buy one myself kasi si Lia nagsisimula na rin maglakad and she hates strollers.

Bebengisms| Denise Rayala said...

I love traveling with my daughter, too! Especially when we take the metro train.Don't worry momma, things will be a lot better when she turns four! :)

Filipina Explorer said...

Way to go, mom!
Four...Ang tagal pa nun ah! Hahaha!

Roxi Santiago said...

Ang lakas mo, Mommy! I can't even hold Jacob for a long time so I always bring a stroller which doesn't make for 'light' travel. I've only gone out with him a few times, but to the mall lang and I was driving. It was hard because he'd be in his carseat at the back and when he wakes up from his nap, he'd cry his lungs out until I get him. Usually would cost me to valet park than look for a parking myself. Ngarag!

Mitch Ryan said...

It's difficult to travel with kids. I was just lucky that Summer loved the idea of flying, so traveling back home last November was not so tiring.

Filipina Explorer said...

True! Traveling with kids are a real challenge, but it's also one of the most rewarding things a mom can do alone in a lifetime. You're lucky to have a kid who supports your love for it!

Filipina Explorer said...

Thanks, Roxi :) Now that's something I haven't done yet, and if I knew how to drive, it's probably drive me nuts too to have a child yelling out the backseat all the time!

Faye Paras said...

hooray to you commuting momma! i am one too and proud to claim it! i've mastered the art of commuting with what used to be an infant now a preschooler. :) i truly enjoyed reading this post and i wish you more commuting adventures with your little one :)

Filipina Explorer said...

Aaw...thank you for the kind words, Faye. Kudos to you, too! Here's to more extensive public commutes for all us adventurous mommas!

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