Wednesday, May 09, 2007

My Darling Angie

“You have only one daughter? I bet she must be a spoilt girl.” A chat friend said to me around three years ago.
“I assume I don’t spoil her although she is my only daughter.” I responded.
As far as I remember, I have never spoilt Angie since she was a little. What I have done to her is just common things other mothers do toward their children: preparing her meals, making some drinks she wants, washing her clothes and iron them, etc.
I have taken her to school and pick her up from school since she went to kindergarten. At that time, her kindergarten was located quite close from home, around 500meters. Different from other kids who cried when their mothers/nannies/baby sitters left them at school during the first days, Angie didn’t cry. She was confident enough. Why I lingered at school during her first days at school, well, I think it is perhaps similar to other parents who are excited when their children enter the following stage in their lives. I was excited to see Angie start going to school. I was amazed to see my only daughter grow up so that I wanted to see her routines at school. But after the excitement was over, of course I didn’t linger at her kindergarten anymore.
Graduating from kindergarten, during her school holiday, Angie took an English course. I wanted her exposed to English since she was very young. Since the first day, I only took her to the English course, and then I was off to my office, without lingering there.
Her elementary school was located quite far from home, perhaps around 3 kilometers. I found another excitement too in her first days at elementary school so I remember twice or three times I lingered for some minutes in front of the school, only to see her joining the raising flag ceremony and doing some sports at school, wearing her elementary school uniform.
I agree with what people say that excitement we have from being a parent is really special, different from other excitements we get from other experiences in our lives. Seeing someone having flesh and blood coming from us grow up really cannot be substituted by any other things. This is absolutely my opinion. 
The same excitement I felt when Angie went to the junior high and senior high school. Seeing her wearing her different uniform (from elementary school to junior high and then senior high school) is really exciting for me. The different uniform she wears reminds me how time flies, she grows up. And I do too. LOL.
Btw, when she was in elementary school fifth grade, I decided to pursue my study out of town. At first, I planned to take her with me to Yogya, but she refused. She enjoyed her friendship with her classmates and some neighbors, one thing that she was worried she wouldn’t find in Yogya. During the first semesters, I went home only for one or two nights after staying for two or three weeks in Yogya. She did not complain.
FYI, although I claim myself as a feminist, thinking that a woman can do anything, can pursue anything without being burdened by any other thing (such as responsibility as a mother who has to take care of the children most of the time, according to the conventional patriarchal views), I could not deny that deep inside my heart I sometimes felt a bit guilty to leave Angie for two or three weeks without taking care of her by myself. Therefore, when I went back to Semarang, I would do my best to do anything to please her, to tie the emotional bonds between us. One thing that I always loved doing was to prepare her meals, spoon feed her while we ate together from one plate. I must say that it was one of my favorite time.
There was one main reason why I loved spoon-feeding her when she was a little. Angie didn’t like eating vegetables. To make her eat vegetables, I had to spoon-feed her, to talk to her while doing it so that she wasn’t really aware that I put the vegetables into her mouth. Tricky mom, eh? LOL.
Meanwhile, my mom doesn’t like to see me spoon-feeding Angie. “Angie is too big to be spoon-fed. Let her eat by herself. She cannot be independent for that.”
I cannot just leave this habit, though. As I have written above, I always love the feeling I have when doing it, to tie the emotional bonds between Angie and me. Therefore, we often do it secretly so that my mom doesn’t see us doing it. LOL. Especially in the morning, I always spoon-feed her in our bedroom while she prepares her books before going to school. Or when she has assessments from school, I spoon-feed her while she is studying.
I have finished my Graduate Program. I no longer need to leave Angie for quite a long time. But I still cannot forget the somewhat guilty feeling to leave her to pursue my study out of town. That’s why although she is sixteen years old now, I still prepare her meals, make some drinks she wants, such as a cup of coffee, tea, cappuccino, etc. I really love and enjoy doing it. But of course when I come home from work feeling tired, I will not do it. I even ask her to help me do this and that.
There is still another somewhat guilty feeling I keep in my heart: my decision to leave Angie’s dad because I feel that I deserve to choose what kind of life I want to have. This decision of course influences Angie’s life too. She has to live with single parent, one thing that is not really coveted in patriarchal culture that still adores a happy nuclear family consisting of mother and father plus the children. Frankly speaking I am still haunted by the consensus that a mother is supposed to sacrifice her happiness for the children. I am not like that. I choose what kind of life I want to lead, I don’t want to sacrifice my happiness, and I want Angie to understand my choice. As a very understanding daughter, Angie doesn’t complain about it. She lets me choose. And me? I keep preparing her meals and drinks everyday.
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