By Karen M. Soriano

FOR MANY of you who might not know yet, I am a single mother to a five year old boy, whose name I researched and got from the Bible: Elijah Matthew Soriano, born on December 21, 2002, at exactly 11:15 a.m., weighed 7 lbs 8 oz., measured 52 cm. long, black hair and dark brown eyes. I would probably sound bias, but he was the most handsome baby in the nursery.

I stayed home for 10 months just so I can nurture and nourish him. I am a very hands-on mother up to this day. All the nanny was assigned to do was to hand wash his clothes, wash and sterilize his bottles. I jotted down all his “firsts”… First sponge bath, smile, laugh, rollover, when he first crawled, sat up by himself, stood up, first step, first tooth, first word (which was Mama, said on August 17, 2003), clapped hands, etc… And just last night (November 2, 2008), he learned to read a 4-letter word by himself while I was messaging my dear friend Teng on Facebook. He read “WHAT” but pronounced it as “wahhhhht” because he was confused with the silent “h.”

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The columnist and her son Elijah. The boy loves to sing Frank Sinatra.

We both laughed so heartily while I was teary-eyed as usual. I realized, my baby boy, whom I carried in my womb for 39 weeks and 5/7 days is growing up so fast. We have come a long way…

Being a mother is more than just providing for and feeding them or teaching them their ABCs and 123s. It’s about nurturing your child, teaching them values and principles that will help them through life till the day they pass, as what our parents have done for us. It’s about guiding them with the decisions that they make and being there to support them when they start rolling with the punches of life, to raise them to be God loving, spiritual, to be aware and sensitive to their surroundings and to maximize their innate talents and capabilities that they have been blessed with and honed through time.

I am a single mother by choice… And after 5 years, I can honestly say, it was the gutsiest, and so far the best decision I have made in my life. It was not so much that I was not prepared to marry, but rather, after being with his father for so long, I realized, he was not the kind of man I envisioned myself to grow old with. Although for Elijah’s sake, we remain friends to this day, we have both welcomed and heartedly accepted that we are better off as that. Elijah, at his tender age of 5, has surprisingly accepted that too, so far with not much qualms. I constantly reassure him that Mommy and Daddy are friends and that we both love him no matter what.

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Elijah when he was still a little baby.

I firmly believe that the child should never be used as the reason for staying in the relationship; they should not be used as the tie that binds for it is the immense love that the partners have for one another that trusses the union. It’s not the child who makes the relationship work and should not be used for leverage.

I didn’t want Elijah to be a product of a broken home; I didn’t want to put my child through that kind of emotional turmoil. Although I knew I would be faced with so many questions when he’s of age, it was a challenge I was willing to take rather than sacrificing our happiness and well being. I figured … how can I make my son happy if I, myself, was not genuinely happy?

I believe in the sanctity of matrimony, it is not something you jump into just because of an untimely pregnancy, in some instances it was the logical thing to do, some pressured into it, or to raise your “quality of living”. Marriage is a step you decide to take to celebrate your love for another, it is a vow that you make with God that you will love and stick it out with one another no matter what… that your love for your partner will not be wavered even if you know the worst thing about him/her. It’s about respect, trust, and acceptance. It’s not just about being there for one another during the good times, but more importantly being there to work through the rough patches as well.

But there are limits as to what one is willing to put up with… and there are givens about a person that we have to accept and live with. Issues that bothered and upset us about our partner early on, are the same issues that will upset and bother us even more when we are married.

Trying to continue to love someone and putting on a happy face (when one is truly not) is not something I can do nor endure for the rest of my life… I am after all entitled to be truly happy too.

Being a single mother is not easy, though it doesn’t mean to say that I enjoy being a mother any less. I enjoy and embrace motherhood just as much as any mother would, married or not. It took a lot of courage, fortitude and wisdom to make that choice from the very beginning, and it’s something that I take pride in. It is a blessing in disguise, for I discovered strength in me that I never would have imagined I had.

I thank God everyday for the strong support system I and most importantly Elijah have…My FAMILY (from my Grandparents, parents, siblings, cousins) and even friends. I wouldn’t have been able to survive such an ordeal without them.

Lij and I are just patiently waiting for the man who will love and accept us whole. But For now and even since the day he was born we are happy and content. We are the best buddies, each others favorite play mate, movie partner (provided it’s for General Patronage), shopping companion and even travel companion.

This is not a prescription of sort for people who are or were in the same situation as I, but rather just a sharing of my life experience. There is no one definite way of living one’s life. It’s a case to case basis. I just live mine the best way I know how for myself and Elijah but never forgetting to seek guidance from someone’s wisdom greater than my own and praying for the choices that I make as well.

I can’t wait for him to grow up so I can introduce him to farming trees, which I am very interested about.