By Tin Bartolome

Posted at Aug 15 2015 02:41 AM | Updated as of Aug 15 2015 10:41 AM

Our priorities vary and change as we age. When I was in high school, my priority was to earn a college degree. Midway through college, I felt I had to continue studying because that would make my degree more useful. Events bigger than myself and my own mistakes may have caused changes in my priorities. But because I believe that I ought to take responsibility for choices that I make, I have few regrets. I also realized that life becomes extremely difficult when I am left with no choice. But this does not mean I cannot pick up the pieces and start over.

When the children started coming, they became top priority. Looking back, I was pretty brave to have given birth without anesthesia. The birth pains were manageable and the episiotomy (that helpful slit that allows the baby to come out) is done when that part is numb (probably from stretching). But getting sewn up—the repair—was excruciating. I was told that unless one got an epidural before childbirth, no anesthesia would work during repair.

The natural consequence of prepared childbirth is breastfeeding. I must say, those pictures of mothers nursing their babies in serene poses do not come easily. One has to go through stages—painful and sometimes bloody! I was alarmed when I saw blood on the lips of my baby—as it turned out, I was the one bleeding because I did not prep myself enough for breastfeeding. Believing in feeding on demand, I had to stay home and stop working for two years. This happened after each childbirth, except for the youngest because I felt I was too old to start over, so I took him with me whenever possible.

I stopped working too when I had to care for an ailing father. But that was only for a few months because he passed away five months after two strokes. This happened when my mother no longer knew who I was because she had Alzheimer’s. Those were also the difficult teenage years of my children, except for the youngest who, at 8 years old, tried acting and needed a chaperone during his tapings. I found out later that people referred to this situation as the “sandwich years”—that period when we find ourselves looking after ageing parents and growing children.

Those times were difficult, but I am grateful for the experience. That situation strengthened my faith and taught me lessons I never imagined I would learn. Having worked freelance for almost thirty years, I developed a system for determining which job or commitment should be attended to first even while my personal life was on a roller coaster. I had to tune in to myself, to harmonize body and spirit, to confront my motivations and assess my strengths and frailties. My endeavors were not always successful but somehow, those changing priorities have enabled me to make decisions, the kind that give me peace of mind.

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.