“Find and treasure opportunities to spend quality time with your daughter. Right now she hangs a lot with you but when she becomes a teenager, you will find difficulty tagging her along.”
I heard those lines from several parents who already have grownup kids. And a lot of them would give that advice repeatedly.
Last December 11, my daughter officially became a teenager. And that advice came to mind.
I’ll be honest with all of you. One of the considerations why I left my previous employer (more than two years ago) was because I had business trips several times a year. A lot of these would stretch to several weeks per engagement. So when a job opportunity was offered to me where I don’t need to jet-set, I immediately accepted. Well it was not the sole reason but included as a major consideration.
I did it because of one particular conversation with my daughter.
Several years back, while watching television with her, she just looked at me and asked if I was bound out of the country again in the next couple of days. I said, “Yes”. She probably overheard me talking with her mom about my business trip to Ecuador. Then, she just blurted, with teary eyes, that she would like to go with me whether I was bound for Poland or China – wherever it was she would like to tag with me.
Hearing her broken voice while saying those words seared my heart.
I immediately recalled one advice from her pre-elementary school teacher — Teacher Beth of JILL Station. She told us to take really good care of our daughter as she is our only princess and a treasure that no amount can be levied on. And hearing those from her triggered me to actively look for a job that was based in Manila.
Now I am based in Manila minus the jet-setting, which I don’t regret. Because I am now part of a really good organization that stretches me a lot, and providing me with learning that I think I would never get if I have decided to remain where I was. And the best part is that I get to spend more quality time with my daughter.
Going back to my daughter…
She just turned 13 this year.
Seeing her grow into how she is now makes me really happy with how things are turning out. She is athletic – actively plays soccer, climbs mountains with me and hangs out with her mom (Wanna) as she plays basketball. (Maybe when she turns 18 I’ll bring her to dragon boat, and let her paddle with me.) I see her also every night working really hard on her school work without the need for me to push her. And she is active in her school’s theater arts club.
And on her birthday, she was part of the main cast in all the transitory acts in-between presentations during the Don Bosco School of Manila’s gratitude day celebration. Seeing her performed well and enjoying in the process reminded me of how lucky we are as parents of this teenager. Also, I was so happy seeing her having fun with theater as I used to enjoy participating in so many school plays way back in high school. Especially that I had unforgettable memories (bloopers) with school plays in which my classmates would always find time to remind me during gatherings.
By the way, I am proud of her not just because of her achievements. More than her laurels, she is also a caring and a loving daughter that we all would hope to see in our kids. She would always go the extra mile just to make us – her parents – feel okay that a therapist mentioned that she actually sounds more mature than us.
Our Yuni is now a teenager!
I am actually excited with what life has stored for her. Now, as I took a cue from Wanna, I let Yuni be as she pursues what will make her happy. It does not mean, of course, absolute freedom. I would chide her (or give reminders) if needed. But for now, I am letting her take her own path as we, too, try to pursue what (probably) was set aside when she came early in our lives (as young parents).
I am also not afraid that she would prefer tagging with her friends instead of me, as long as she goes mountain climbing and hiking with me. =)
Now, I have not regretted making the decision to just work here in Manila, especially with how things are working out. I would say that I am excited for the things that would come to all of us. Each of us taking our paths separately and Yuni reaching a new milestone (a teenager). There are plenty of road bumps along the way. However, these are just really minuscule compared to what is waiting in our own destinations.
These thoughts excite me a lot.
Friends, I am sharing this to you not because I would like to brag about my teenager. It is because I would like to remind all of you that a lot is in store for us – and the people around us. Let the people you love grow on their own pace and in their own terms (with your REASONABLE GUIDANCE). Remember that at the end of the day that is their lives, not yours.
As a better alternative, you should just focus on your lives. Reflect on how you can reduce the gap with how far you are from where you want to be.
That is a more productive use of your time.
PS: I am strongly suggesting for you to read these blog entries: