Ronna Bonifacio | My Mateo
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My Mateo

Say hello to my son, Mateo.

And to me too, since I’ve been out a while. Hehe! In my defense, I was busy cooking up a human and then bringing it out into the world.

Mateo was born on May 30 and it was nine days before we were scheduled to give birth. I’ll share my birth story in another post, but suffice to say, our newest bundle of joy decided to surprise everyone and couldn’t seem to wait to see the world.

Photo by Ronan Capili

This post is actually a late Father’s Day post, because I want to share a little about why we named our son Mateo. He is actually the second Mateo of my life. The first was my father, who passed on almost ten years ago. When I was younger, I couldn’t understand why some people would name their children after their parents but after my Dad’s death, I finally understood.

My Dad was part of the Baby Boomer generation. He was 50 years old when I was born so he grew up in a world that was so different from the one I was growing up in and as a teenager, it kept me from understanding some of his principles. Now that the world my children are growing up in is even different from what I knew in the early `90s, my Dad’s no-nonsense ways have never been wiser.

His words and lessons have become more important to me in the past decade, maybe because he passed right before I began fumbling my way through early adulthood. Honest hard work was on the top of his list. My dad loved his work as an engineer. He built his own company and went to work every day, including half of Saturdays. On Sundays, he would usually take my brother and I out for breakfast while my mom paid a visit to her parents and siblings in the province. He was a man’s man—he took particular care of our cars, would fix anything broken at home, from a remote control toy to a faulty door knob, but he was also not one to shy from domestic responsibilities when needed. He could cook and clean.

Photo by Ronan Capili

He modeled real manhood to me without me even knowing it. During one of the last conversations I had with him, perhaps because he knew his body was beginning to ail, he instructed me to marry a man who would respect me and take care of me the way he did. And I think I did good on that.

When we were choosing names for our baby, I wanted to name our son Mateo because I wanted to honor my Dad now that I am beginning to understand what it took for him to raise us. At times I feel that the gratitude I expressed on his deathbed was not enough, because I didn’t fully know or understand just how kind or selfless he was to me. I can’t say I want to remember him, because I never forgot. Even ten years after his passing, my Dad still continues to teach me how to be a good parent, a good worker, and a good person. All those lessons he would have to repeat to me as a hard-headed child still ring in my ears today.

If you’re a father, please know that you don’t toil in vain. Maybe it won’t come into fruition tomorrow, but your prayers, lessons, constant reminders, and modeling will one day pay off. Maybe it’ll take more years than you expected before you see it. Please take it from a child who wasn’t able to grasp the full value of her Dad’s life and legacy at that time, it’s the tiresome and mundane duties of fatherhood that will mold your children’s lives. Even–and perhaps especially–when you’re no longer here.

Photo by Ronan CapiliAll newborn photos by Ronan Capili

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