Recently, I was interviewed as an applicant in a school where I am going to teach next. During the initial and final interviews, I CRIED. It was the first time I cried in a JOB INTERVIEW.
What made me cry were the questions about my family. My tears are shallow when people ask me about my family background, especially when they bring up the topic about my mom.
I am a product of a broken family. It has never been easy. I grew up as a strong woman but also aged with a wounded heart. Usually, it is the ‘father’ who leaves their family because of certain reasons. In our case, it is the opposite. I will not elaborate on it anymore. That’s not the point – The point is about how difficult it is to live without a mother.
I grew up with my stepfather. I do not actually consider him that. I treat him as my real father as he treats me as his real daughter. To cut the story short, he did everything to raise me and my brother alone since I was in Grade 2. That was after his separation with my mom. I never saw pain while he was raising us. All I remember is that we were so happy even if we were only 3: him, my brother, and me. I only realized the hardship he was going through when his friends told me his experiences just for us to survive and when he suffered from stroked due to aneurism.
He woke up early in the morning to prepare breakfast, to give us a bath, to prepare us and our things for school, to prepare himself for work, and to bring us to school. After that, he worked morning till evening. He goes one workplace to another. He attended his graduate school classes on Saturdays. He complied his requirements for graduate school during the week. He prepared for his classes because he was a professor. He did the household chores; he cooked for us, did the laundry, cleaned the house, etc. He payed the bills – our tuition fee… He did everything that a mother will do.
However, I did not experience that with my mom. Yes, there were times she helped me; that she was there for me, but most of the time, she wasn’t present when I needed her. Usually when we spend time together, never came the time that she did not get mad or get irritated with me. She wasn’t there when I had my first period. It was my dad who witnessed it. He doesn’t even know what to do that time. All I learned from him was that I needed to put napkin on my undies. During my volleyball competitions, it was my dad who supported me and watched my games. More than that, my mom was not entirely there when I was down. She only came for me when something severe happened to my life. If not for that incident, I guess I wouldn’t have experienced those times I felt that I actually have a mother to defend me.
I even think that maybe it is my fault why my mom is like that. After all, I am an unwanted child at first; because, she was not ready during the time she got pregnant with me. Or maybe, she is like that because I make her feel that I don’t appreciate her. Believe me, I did appreciate the things she had done for me in the past. I tried to reconcile with her. I forgave her for what she did in the past. However, what I could not accept until now is how selfish she is. She would think of herself before us, her children. She has a decent job – a job who pays higher than the work my dad and I have, but she could not give support to us – well, forget about me – to my brothers. I know she has dilemmas of her own, but should her priority be her children?
I have met moms who are financially challenged: moms who sell fish ball, qwek-qwek, and squid ball, and breakfast in front of the school I formerly taught at for a living, yet they were able to give the needs of their children. The other mom (who sells qwek-qwek) actually sends her daughter to a private school. I have friends who are single mothers and literally the only ones who work for their family yet, they are able to send their children to school and give them their other needs. More than giving their children’s needs, those moms are able to be with their children in time of sorrow. Status in life was never a reason for them to NOT FULFILL their responsibilities as a mother. They did all the ways just to support their children. They did it and never stopped being there for their children.
I learned how to do almost everything on my own because I became independent when my father got sick. Of course, I get help, but most of the time, I do things alone. I got used to it already. But, there are times I wanted to give up. There are times that I just wanted to end my life. I could not run to my own mom just like the others. She’s not an OFW, but she’s farther than an OFW parent. I admit, I also make the barriers. I do not talk to her. I do not communicate with her. I just got tired understanding why. I feel like when I have her in my life, she just makes me feel that I wanted to go away from her. Every time I open my arms for her, she just ravages it. The last time was 2 years ago when she publicly humiliated and cursed me in front of my dad, my husband and all the people at a FOOD COURT (long story). Every time I do, she does something that would tear my heart apart. I am not a good daughter to her, but is it my fault? Should it be my fault?
When I became a mom, everything in my life changed: routines, priorities, and my outlook in life.
The first time I held my daughter, I PLEDGED: “Anak, hinding-hindi kita iiwan hanggat nabubuhay ako.”
(“My child, I will not leave you till I am alive.”)
I was always present during the times when my daughter was rushed to the hospital even if it sacrifices the status of my career. I witnessed all her firsts. Before I buy what I want, I make sure I provide her needs. Sometimes, I don’t even get what I want because what I have is only enough for what she needs. But, that’s okay. I’d rather starve than see her starve. I was there for her since day 1. Now that she’s two years old, I continue fulfilling that PLEDGE.
I know that I would experience more difficult challenges as a mother – that I will need to learn more as a mother. But, I will never sacrifice my relationship with my daughter. I will never make her experience the feeling of having an absent mother. I have nothing to be proud of yet, but I will be the best mother I could be to my child.
I will end this blog post with a message for my mom: