I’d like to get a bit personal in this entry and remember the kind of woman my mother is, or was. It’s Mother’s Day so what could be a better way for a daughter to remember her mama from a long distance than to ruminate on her as a woman and mother?
I don’t know if it’s because she has many children, but my mother generally doesn’t have difficulty in letting go of her children – be it to study in a distant city, to get married, or to work and live in foreign shores. She is happy to see us, except for a sister who has been sickly, going places, learning the ropes of life in other places and building a life of our own, even if it means separation from her. She would rather be left behind by her children than see them not able to stand on their own and not accomplishing anything for themselves.
She in a way prepared us for our eventual separation from her by making sure we knew how to take care of ourselves, how to do basic chores and how to be practical and be responsible with money. With five of her six children girls, it was even more important for her that we learned early in life.
Speaking of money, mama was very frugal, and still is. She would hardly spend on something unless it was necessary. She made sure we lived within our means – which meant we would get new dresses and shoes only during important occasions: Christmas, graduation ceremonies and sometimes birthdays. No fuss or extravagance, not that we could afford to be extravagant. Early on she had taught us to value hard-earned money by not giving us any, unless we asked for it and she was satisfied with our reason or “excuse” for asking.
Looking back on it now, it was perfectly understandable ‘cos she worked hard to help earn her family’s keep. Taking home a modest (or should I say meager) income as a full-time teacher, she would use her enterprising skills to augment the family income. There was even a time she was running a small business on top of teaching full time and raising six kids, as well as looking after her ailing mother.
But hard work alone wouldn’t have been able to see her through all such responsibilities. Discipline was also very much part of her character, something she has had since young. That discipline would become well evident in her style of parenting: she was a disciplinarian from head to toe. That meant not sparing the rod, no unnecessary pampering, no tolerance for tantrums and mischief, and nothing in excess.
Back then, it was difficult for me to understand why there had to be many lines that I couldn’t cross and many games that I couldn’t play (literally). But being a mother now, I’m somehow able to see from her position, though I would spare the rod if I could and give the pampering I can give if that means making my little rascal feel more loved.
Mama, for me, was the epitome of a working mother who after a long day at work, had to struggle to attend to her duties as a mother and wife – and as a daughter and sister. I don’t think I could do even half of what she did, or give half of what she gave of herself, and for that, I put her on a pedestal.
I don’t mean to say she was a perfect mother. She wasn’t, but who is? At the end of the day, motherhood is not a race to perfection, but a journey of trial and error and of sharing one’s self, and towards self-discovery. And that journey, though blissful, is full of struggles.
To everyone struggling to be the best mom they can be, or to be a good one at least, cheers to you! And to my ideal of a strong woman, you’re greater than all superheroes/superheroines combined.
Filed in: motherhood