The little boy’s voice at the other end of the line broke my heart into pieces. There was something different in his cry.
"Mommy? Asan kayo ni Daddy? What are you doing? Please go home na, Mommy… Go home na kayo ni Daddy…" His voice was trembling as he kept on asking what I was doing and begging me to go home together with his Dad.
I was in one of the rooms in our clubhouse facilitating a meeting with our community’s Liturgical Committee when I felt the need to check on my sons who were at home with our maids. It was barely an hour since I asked them to go home after attending anticipated Mass so our eldest son can eat dinner at home. I have just finished leading the worship and running through the agenda of our monthly meeting when I decided to make the call. My son was the one who picked up the phone and when he recognized my voice he started crying. I asked him what he was doing and if he has finished eating his dinner but he kept on saying the same things. I asked him to pass the phone to one of our maids so I can talk to one of them but he wasn’t listening to me anymore. He just kept on crying and he cried even louder. So I told him that I’m coming home already and got off the phone quickly.
I told my husband and our Community Development Officer that I need to go home already because Yanthy kept on crying and was asking me to go home.
I rushed back home and found him still on the phone crying and talking to his Dad. He put the phone down when he realized I was back in the house. I embraced him right away and asked him why he was crying. He was still trembling and sobbing loudly as I embraced him. He started to calm down as I embraced him tighter and longer. When I noticed that he was calmer, I asked him why he cried. At first, he said that he was experiencing pain as he was trying to poop. He must be constipated, I thought. I asked him if he wanted me to accompany him to the potty but he declined. He instead got a toy puzzle and started playing. I told him that if he wants to go to the potty, he can just tell me and I would go with him. He just smiled and continued playing as if nothing happened. I was surprised that suddenly he looked okay.
As I sat there on one of the arm chairs in our living room watching him play, it dawned on me that this little boy could be missing me already. For almost three years, he has been the center of attention in our house. I had been spending most of my waking hours being present to him and all his needs. This has changed a lot when I got pregnant and gave birth to our new baby.
I realized that his surprising reaction to the pain that he felt for being constipated, if it was really that painful, could just be a trigger to the already brewing emotions bottled up inside him. He could be missing me so much already but he could not articulate them into words or he was having a hard time processing what he was going through.
That night, I decided not to come back to the meeting and simply stayed with my sons. I breastfed Mateo when he cried, shortly after his older brother started playing again. Then, I spent the rest of the night cuddling my little boy in bed until he fell asleep. I resisted the temptation to leave his side even as he slept soundly in our bed for I could not bear to see or hear him cry again the way he did when he talked to me that night on the phone.
That cry was different… very different. And it broke my heart that that cry I heard was from my son who missed me and wanted me to be on his side at a time that he was so afraid.
I pray that God would not let that happen again to me and my child. I pray that every time that he’s afraid during his tender years, I would be there to comfort and accompany him. I know that a day will come when he would be afraid again and I wouldn’t be there to hold or embrace him. I pray that it will not happen soon. I pray that the next time it happens, he would be much older and he already knows by heart that though Mommy isn’t at her side, Jesus is and will always be there.
So today, as we celebrate St. Valentine’s feast day, I pray:
Lord, teach me to be sensitive to my children’s needs
And think of them first before my own.
Teach me to prioritize them over the other needs
That to my eyes You’ve shown.
Let me run to them quickly when they call.
Let me warm them with my presence and embrace
For in their young minds, my bosom is still the safest place.