Sophia was around three years and something months old when I finally felt that she knew what her father does, why he's away most of the time and why a lot of men call him "sir".
It was December of 2009 when she first rode the plane and traveled with me and her nanny to the South to spend the holidays with her soldier dad. Unlike today when nails can already be a subject of a beautiful photograph, this momma-in-the-moment forgot to have a photo of her in front of or inside the plane for posterity. Oh well.
The journey with my then chubby 15-month-old baby girl was a breeze. She slept the whole time, giggled to everyone who said "hi", and when we arrived, her father lovingly held his unica hija. Was the feeling mutual? Did she reciprocate the affection given? She did nothing and said nothing (of course). Ha! Our tiny trooper just smiled showing her 8 (or was it 12?) milk teeth and remained her cute bubbly self the entire vacation. We did not complain. For us, it was more than enough.
Earlier was totally a different scenario, though.
The husband was home to see a doctor. He was home but he needed to be in a hospital. Don't you just hate how that sounded? Ugh. I did! I super did. In the aim to appease my beau, I pretended to be the silly, jocular me... but my internal organs were holding a box of Kleenex (or Joy or Tisyu). Anywaaaaay, it still was a great day. Our boisterous laughter and chismisan filled the house. The kitchen was busy from breakfast 'till dinner. There were kisses, serious talks, seductive words, financial matters and goodbyes. I'd like to think that I have already mastered the art of saying "'till we meet again" to my soldier.
However, my sweet six-year-old has just began.
I felt the heaviness in her heart when we hugged, especially when she said "aww Nanay, I already miss Tatay. I forgot to tell him to call me all the time." And so we did, after her pre-bedtime bath. R just said his first few words but my little lady was already starting to well her eyes with tears of loneliness. What a sight to behold. My preschool popstar was trying to hold back her tears, trying her best to be strong.
It's really getting pretty tougher each day.
I have my own 'battle' to fight as a wife to my Army husband but I had to set it aside to make sure that our daughter understands the situation. This seemed to be a recording but still, I told her the 'usuals':
1) it's part of the job;
2) he'll come home soon; and
3) he's doing this for us and the country.
I was expecting her to say something like, "I don't need a hero 'Nay, I need Tatay." But instead, she said, "sige po. Let's call him again tomorrow if we're not doing a lot of things."
Shucks. That lump in the throat I was controlling since then finally balled into tears. This time, I gave in. I wept.
I wept not only because I felt sad and touched for what my daughter said about our set-up, I wept also because at her age, she already needs to sacrifice. She sacrifices her innocent days knowing she has a father, who can't be with her. She sacrifices her supposed time to play with her number one playmate. She sacrifices her chance to a happier everyday.
Truly, she serves the country as the daughter of a soldier.
I salute you all, children of the Armed Forces of the Philippines!
May your relationship with your military parents continue to thrive
through love and understanding.
through love and understanding.
Let's hope for a better country in the coming years.