A salute for all mothers
He leaves. He arrives. He leaves. The cycle goes on and on.
Mornings will not be mornings if not for the daily reprimand of my mother. Regardless of having just closed my eyes as the roosters began crowing and wishing that I could go back to sleep, I have to push myself out of bed eventually because of the nonstop alarm clock that is the woman who gave life to me. As time went by, it transformed into music to my ears.
Once upon a time, it was not like this. I would wake up to either a note suspended by a little refrigerator magnet or a relative ready to assist me for the day. My Mama and Papa had gone to work again—for my future, they would say.
When I was six years old, a little white bundle, which wheezed and cried nonstop, arrived at our home. My parents decided that in order to take care of the both of us, my Mama had to stop working. That was the day that she selflessly gave up her career, and the day that my Papa decided to work overseas.
Without much success, humans always attempt to cast away tears and painful memories. The truth is, as time goes by the suffering and the wounds go away but there are always scars to remind us and relive the ache. I saw my Papa walk away with heavy steps, pulling at his luggage. All I felt was emptiness inside me. A piece of me disappeared. My heart was divided, and a chunk fell off.
Being a child of an overseas Filipino worker is in itself devastating. We receive phone calls once or twice a month even if we are longing to hear his voice constantly. We face the inevitable truth that his life is always on a ledge: It would take only one accident or rough seas to completely take him from us.
Just like my Papa, many other Filipinos venture to the great unknown, leaving their loved ones behind, to seek greater opportunities and, frankly, to earn more than what local jobs can offer. We idolize and appreciate their strength and bravery to endure the challenges and alienation on foreign lands. We hold in the highest esteem their resiliency and capability to perform their respective tasks despite the isolation from their family. But the question is: What about those they leave behind?
Yes, our family experienced a gradual upward shift in our finances and achieved a more comfortable life. But no, we were not happy. We were never a complete family during the beloved yearend season—never on Christmas Day or New Year’s Day. Birthdays and other occasions had to be celebrated lacking one member.
My Mama has become the light and the posts of the household. She prepares three full meals every day, sends me and my brother to school, manages our finances, cleans the house, washes our clothes, and does other chores—and goes through the very same cycle the next day. My Papa’s absence has meant that she would have to raise her children alone and, at the same time, cope with the loneliness brought by her distance from her other half.
I remember those pesky forms that I had to accomplish, which includes descriptions of my parents’ occupations. I’d put “housewife” for my Mama and then deal with the question: “Your mom is only a housewife?” In contrast with my classmates who have doctors, lawyers, or businesswomen for mothers, I am the proudest daughter among the lot. The “only a housewife” label does not prove her to be a lesser woman. Sacrificing one’s own fulfillment for the sake of one’s loved ones is the greatest act a person can do.
“Only a housewife” also means that my mother works more than eight hours a day with no reservations, in order to make sure that her children acquire the best. It is not a matter that should be ridiculed or understated.
Normally, we label our mothers as “The Greatest Mom in the World.” We give them flowers and gifts to tell them how special they are. Moments like these should remind us that our mothers have dedicated their lives to nurture and cherish us, and they do not ask for anything in return but to see their children achieve their dreams. My Mama used to tell me that flowers or gifts were not necessary, and that a hug would suffice. I know now that the greatest gift is not material things. As Antoine de Saint-Exupery wrote, “What is essential is invisible to the eye.”
The quintessence of being a woman is the ability to give love and amplify it. Sure, Mama can be frustrating and loud at times. She can bring down the whole house, metaphorically, when she is infuriated. But as the oldest and most truthful saying goes, mothers know best. A mother’s love is the greatest present one can receive in one’s life.
Leonora and Ronald Taruc, this one’s for you. To all the mothers out there, I salute and thank all of you. We celebrate your gallantry and fearlessness in facing life’s challenges. The human race would not exist, would not be capable of love, if not for your greatness. The legacy of all mothers will live forever in our hearts.
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Floriane T. Taruc, 16, of Daet, Camarines Norte, is an incoming Grade 11 student and editor in chief of the Echo, the official student publication of Vinzons Pilot High School.
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