When I was 25

My daughter, an only child, celebrated her 25th birthday last Friday. We had a luxurious buffet lunch at Sofitel Hotel, a treat that stretched the limits of our bankbook, but it was her special day. Estelle brought along her boyfriend, Ulysses, while I was with my best friend and partner, Fort. Imaginary diets shelved, we changed plates as frequently as we changed topics of conversation. Every nook and corner of the buffet display was the subject of gustatory curiosity.

I look at my daughter, all grown up, a businesswoman at 25, and I thought, how time flies. I remember when she was really but a child, smelling powder fresh, her tiny hand swallowed up by my own palm. I remember wheeling her stroller to a nearby park, looking for shade under the leafy canopy of towering trees. Life was so much simpler then; I was a lot thinner too. Her smile, then and now, remains my sunrise.

It is difficult not to compare her at 25, with what I was at 25. I had her when I was 23, so she was only two years old when I landed my very first job at the age of 25. I remember how I struggled while straddling two roles – that of being a working mom. I remember being unsure of my own capabilities, though knowing that I wanted to be a writer and was starting to be one – but still uncertain about coming into my own.

The certainty then and now was my longing to come home, wherever I was, after a long and hectic day. Home is where the family is. Home is where Estelle and I intersect and swap stories about a day spent apart. Home is where sunrise and sunset come together.

Unlike me at 25, my daughter is self-assured though filled with questions. She has her own network of friends and associates; a work record that spanned two employers compared to my starting out as a researcher in the Senate; and is multi-skilled and intellectually agile, compared to my timid self.

I do remember that at 25 and married with child, there were still more questions than answers that beset me, and though proud to earn my keep, I was also very tentative about reaching out and making friends beyond the people I already knew due to family and school ties.

My daughter is the exact opposite of my timid life at 25. She is the vice-president for membership of a Toastmaster’s Club in Makati; a sole proprietor of her own training company named Biz Whiz Consultancy, and an accomplished speaker and debater often invited to serve as a judge or adjudicator in international and national debate tournaments. Her contacts directory is like Iced Tea in a popular restaurant – bottomless and thus, always full.

Sometimes, when we swap stories at night while waiting for sleep to claim us, she would giggle and I would see the Estelle in the park, under the canopy of leafy trees, riding comfortably in her stroller. Sometimes, when we swap stories, I felt that in our mother-daughter relationship, I was the child and she the all-knowing practical adult.

When I was 25, the world was slower, and larger, and time seemed to be less demanding and intrusive. Today, everything seems to be done, said, and written in a hurry. We text, not write; we eat in fast-food chains, rather than enjoy a sit-down meal; photographs no longer need to be developed; and music need not be bought. Information is cascaded, downloaded, or twittered. People across distances don’t call, they Skype. You don’t go out to choose between a hardbound and paperback book – you visit Amazon and read the latest bestseller on your Kindle or Ipad. No one dials up now – have coffee, power-up your laptop, and wait for the Wi-Fi to kick in.

My daughter turned 25 and I am proud of her for having the courage to design her own life. I am proud of her for taking chances, for building a life filled with friends and colleagues, and for admitting when she’s scared and why, so that she could be less fearful.

When I was 25, I didn’t know that my two-year old daughter would grow up to be such an accomplished and responsible person. Her heart is kind; her mind is sharp; and her laughter is infectious. Then and now, I marvel at how the world continues to change with the shifting of generations. Now, I look back at my own generation, and am proud to have been a part of it, and have survived its myriad changes.  Dear Reader, no matter what age you are in, be amazed and grateful for the gift of life and family, and may you see in your loved ones’ smiles, the sunrise of life and love. (Send comments to toots.ople@yahoo.com)

Author: Susan Ople

Susan "Toots" Ople is the President of the Blas F. Ople Policy and Training Institute. She's an OFW and labor advocate based in the Philippines.

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  • clysly

    This goes to show how great a mother you are for honing this wonderful daughter in Estelle. We’re doing the same thing for Thaddeus, our son. Ingat Toots and best regards.


    Clysly and family

  • girly garcia

    This is such a beautiful piece, Toots. I know exactly how you feel. I, too, am a single mother who survived the myriad changes of our generation. My sunshine is in the smiles of my two sons, Angelo and Gabriel. High five!

  • hi five girly! 🙂

  • thanks clysly! Thaddeus is a lucky child. 🙂