I still can't believe I am already the mother of a college freshman. Not even Bea's waking up very early in the middle of summer break to go to her university -- PUP, where she will take up AB Philosophy -- and process her application, scholarship, registration, interviews and schedule really quite convinces me I am this close...and this old.
It does not seem so long ago when I was dealing with the exhausting commute, the thrill (and trepidation) of new beginnings, nostalgia for the sheltered life I used to live, and the promise of the rest of my life. I was most alive and was most self-aware then, especially during my first and fourth years.
And now it's Bea's turn.
I realize I got used to having the kids just across the street (that's where their school was) from the house and me being accessible to them through a single phone call and maybe fifteen steps. They forgot their jug of water? I could bring it. They needed more money for a project? I could hop out of my chores or my writing -- in my housedress and fluffy slippers on particularly hectic days -- and hand it over. Their noses were bleeding? I could fetch them from the clinic in less than a minute. Their teachers wanted to ask something? Wait, let me just put on a more appropriate shirt. It's raining so hard? Let me call a tricycle to ferry them across the street so their shoes and socks don't get wet.
And then I imagine Bea's tortuous trip to and from school. She has to take the trike to McArthur. A jeep to the LRT-Monumento station. Get off at D. Jose, take the long connecting walk to the LRT-2. Take the next train and get off at the third station, Pureza. Walk to the next street. Take a tricycle to campus. Roam the campus on her own. Take the same way back. Deal with the rain and the floods and Manila's unsavory elements.
We don't agree on everything -- God knows we've had trying phases -- but I think Bea agrees that I know best. Now, she would have to know better. She might get lost and I will not be there (to drag her, kicking and screaming) to set her back on course. Am I scared? I am more than scared. I am terrified.
But I would rather be terrified than be comfortable at the expense of a child deprived of the opportunity to chart her own course.