Like mother like daughter? I realized only too late that moms don't always know best.
Nineteen ninety six. I was 25. My mom had been pressuring me to get married already because I was getting old. She went as far as frankly asking my boyfriend at the time as to his plans for me. Not pleased with the vague response, she was nagging me until I told her that whoever comes along offering me marriage, him I will marry.
April 1996. I was talked by my officemates to join our regional inter-office beauty pageant. I won, qualifying myself for the nationals in Dagupan City, Pangasinan, which sounded exotic to me at the time. There I met a guy I never thought would be my future husband (I never corrected him mispronouncing my name Jo-an instead of Joan because I was thinking I would never see him ever again anyway. Later all my in-laws call me Jo-an while my side of the family and friends knowingly call me Joan. This annoyance I converted into a barometer as to how well people know me by the way they pronounce my name).
May 1996. I got for myself a nightly long distance caller form Pangasinan. He came over to Bacolod for the first time in June 1996, the start of our whirlwind romance.
July 1996, my boyfriend got involved in a carnapping case in Dagupan City and was choking the words through tears over my analogue remote-control-like cellphone. He didn't really say anything about the carnapping but he was sying things like he was ruined, there was no future for him, and that it would be better off for him to die. I was thinking suicide. So I rushed to see him in Dagupan. He was no longer suicidal but I was told about the hot car his social worker aunt purchased in his name. He was too happy to see me that he offered marriage. That was my cue!
August 1996. We quickly got married before a judge in Dagupan City, witnessed and financed only by his relatives. My mom was promised a church wedding for her only daughter, but it never happened until now.
September 1996. Bar Exams. I was already conceiving.
October to December 1996. I was detailed for three months in Dagupan City Trial Court. My detail order to end at the close of the year, I had to go back to Bacolod or lose my job. And Bacolod is a bigger city than Dagupan, and I would be needing my side of the family when I give birth.
May 1997. Our first daughter was born. My husband was jokingly saying that she will be our one and only child. That there won't be any other. Up to this day, Bea is my one and only.
September 1997. Thank goodness the carnapping case did not get into his NBI files, my husband was accepted into the Philippine National Police.
He started out as a good policeman with high and noble ideals. He served faithfully and enjoyed his job so much. With my influence in the local courts, he became popular and unlike other policeman, he instantly became well-known and grew in confidence with the clerks of courts up to the judges and later to mayors and congressmen.
2006. He became more and more scarce, always at work, his once noisy cell phone became too quiet and suspiciously empty. My woman's intuition felt that there was something wrong, like an itch you cannot scratch.
2009. The pieces of the puzzle started falling in place. He had a lot of explaining to do. But instead, he ran. He had no relatives in Bacolod or Negros. Many people tried to intervene to help hold the once admirable marriage together. A pastor, my office chief, a judge, a general, but my husband always had excuses to wriggle himself out of the conference. He just won't talk.
My mother? She refused to help. She said it was my life, and "life is what we make it", she could not solve my problems. And she was scared to death my policeman husband might shoot her. Same with my father. They're both afraid of guns. I'm afraid of guns, too, the reason why I used to tell myself, "I would never marry a policeman or a soldier." Or a nurse, or a seaman, or anyone whose job requires him to be away a lot from his family like my father used to.
Now it's turning out that mother is not like daughter after all. We had long unsettled issues (that will be tackled in a separate blog). The short of it is that she has unresolved issues with her late mother and now she's bringing everything down on me. I don't want that animosity handed down to my daughter.
When my daughter turned 12 on May 2009, she celebrated her birthday by opening her first solo exhibit. A milestone one might say. But her father never showed up. He never called, nor texted, nor sent a gift. Days and weeks and months passed, he became scarcer and scarcer. Even his friends and office chief didn't know how to contact him anymore.
His new direct superior called my attention about a Camp Crame Tracer looking for unaccounted short and long arms in the name of my husband, who allegedly kept promising his chief to report to work regarding this matter. He never did.
August 17, 2009. The police inspector was constrained to issue a memorandum for my husband to show cause why he should not be declared on AWOL. To no avail.
September 15, 2009. A second memorandum was issued declaring him absent without leave and dropped from the rolls of the PNP.
The day after I sent a message to a cousin-in-law on Facebook, the enraged aunt called from Dagupan City. She cursed and cursed and blamed Bacolod for everything and threatened to kill her nephew for having caused this embarrassment. Irate and irrational, she was shouting over the phone over her nephew's ruined future all because of Bacolod, thus she couldn't care less about ruining her own future as she was already old and that she could kill her nephew anytime if she sees him. The messages in my Facebook inbox were just as passionate and fiery.
But like my husband, she, they, did not show up. As if I have awakened from a nightmare, that they were just like bubbles that disappeared, but I still have a child as living proof that half of their blood forever runs in her veins.
In all this dark valley, my mother is never on my side. My father would like to help me in whatever little way that he can, but he is afraid of my mother's equally volanic anger.
But that's another story.
Like mother like daughter? Following her whirlwind romance turned out to be not a good idea. I was just not my mother's daughter. While she is still stuck in a marriage wherein to make her happy, she must always be the sole controlling figure, I am happily liberated in a marriage that is otherwise unhappy.
Nowadays, there are so many successful and contented single women in their thirties. My only consolation that I was once told by my mother that I was already too old to be single at 25, is that I have the best daughter in the world.
To her, I would not advise rushing into marriage. It is still best to know your man, to be friends with him, so that if love flies out of the window, you can still be friends forever.