I get worried when friends or relatives who rarely call to seek advice do so. I always assume it’s urgent. But whether it’s really urgent is not for me to say. All I know is that we have to “be there."
A shoulder to cry on
I have often said this and have always meant it: friends are not there to tell us what to do but to be there for us when we need them, as they say, “a shoulder to cry on”.
The last time I said this was when a dear friend began a relationship with someone many of us did not approve of. A mutual friend of ours was so adamant about the relationship, the entire newsroom heard her expression of disappointment! I felt I had to say it to break the tension-filled silence that ensued after her loud comment.
I have come to realize that being there for those we care about is one of the best things we can do for them. Finding oneself alone can be devastating. But the thought that somehow, someone somewhere will listen if we make an effort to reach out is truly comforting. Paying it forward by being there for others completes the cycle.
Just recently, a close friend of ours, my husband’s former student and later research assistant sent him a message asking for advice. He has become like a son to us even before he started a family. He and his wife have stayed in touch even after they had migrated. After a very brief exchange, he thanked my husband and verbalized what we have felt all along: that he looked up to him like a father.
Visibly affected as he read that part of the message, my husband verbalized what we both felt all along: that we had a son starting a life out there who sometimes needed affirmation from someone whose path he wanted to follow. I asked my husband what advice he gave. What he said wasn’t new: that from birth until around seven or eight, children need parents to be with them, not only to establish authority, but to be there for them, something they can no longer do later when the children have become adults.
Careers, income and being there
From the time the children were born until a little over ten years ago, we were both freelance writers and income was erratic. But we risked all that because “being there” for them was most important to us. There were times though, when they’d ask why we kept odd hours (because some meetings were held after dark or tapings would last until the wee hours of the morning). But we seldom missed school family days, moving up ceremonies and graduations—not even music class presentations! I would sew costumes when needed and would sneak a peak, even when they did not want me to.
Later, though, they would assert relative independence and would only come for solace when disappointed or frustrated. This is the time when being there simply means listening to what they have to say and perhaps knowing how to soothe them without being patronizing. The important thing is letting them know that they will be received unconditionally.
When “being there” no longer means being there
The meaning of “being there” for our children does not mean physical presence throughout their lives. Physical presence during their formative years is important, but that changes drastically as they grow up and begin their own lives. As they mature, being there becomes being available when they need us. And when we pass on, it means leaving memories, life lessons and the warmth that came with nurturing.Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.