The inevitable aging of my mother
My birthday is fast approaching, but I wish I had the power to stop time. It’s not that I don’t want to grow older. Even though society taught us, women, to fear approaching our late 20s and hitting our 30s, I have a much bigger fear than my hair turning gray or feeling the symptoms of back pain. What pains me more is to see my once-lively mother growing frailer day by day.
Sometimes, I look at her hair and see the gray greatly concealed underneath its darkness, but her graying eyebrows bluntly reveal the passage of time. The face that held so much pride and grace can barely hide the wrinkles and loosening of her skin, especially on her neck. The shoulders that carried the burden of raising children now tilt forward with exhaustion. The hand she used to hold chalk with as a teacher now grips her bright green cardigan tightly as she shivers from the cold weather. Her feet which were once adorned with the highest heels and carried her weight are now slowing down their pace.My mother who taught me how to walk now holds onto my arm when walking. She, who used to have so much life in her eyes, now struggles to sleep without waking up at midnight. She, who used to nitpick at whatever we did and scream at the top of her lungs, has gone with the flow and lets us decide on our own. She, who used to spend the whole afternoon tending to her garden, now uses siesta to catch up on the sleep she missed. My mother who was once always on the go has stopped in her tracks and settled at home.
These small changes made it glaring that, every day, my mother is getting older. While I’m still at the peak of my life, chasing my dreams and looking ahead of me, life has slowed down for her. She remains in the same spot while I take a step forward every passing day. I have never voiced my fear out loud, but I fear looking over my shoulder and finding her gone.But as the days go by, the fear I buried in the depth of my heart haunts me in my mind. My friends don’t understand because they were raised with a complete family—but not me. It was different, and I could only heavily rely on my mother for comfort and security.
Growing up, I have always stuck to my mother. My most cherished childhood memories were of the times she had no work and could spend the whole day with me at home. Those days were rare, as she chose to teach classes even during the summer break. On Christmas, she was still busy checking test papers and calculating the grades of her students. She would leave for work before we even roused from our sleep, and get home when we were already asleep.
When I was younger, I despised her for it. I despised all the broken promises she couldn’t keep. But the older I got, the more I understood how responsibilities piled up on her. I have become an adult who faced the same burden of going to work and losing time for my loved ones in the process. I now understand the days in which she promised to take us to the mall, but failed to do so because of all the household chores at home. I now understand that the time she spent with us meant having less time for herself during her rest days. Yet she still chose us. It’s no secret to me how she sacrificed everything she had just to see us achieve our dreams, even if it meant giving up her own.So, when I watch her now, I wonder where time has gone. She spent her youth providing for her siblings, and her adulthood providing for us. While I grew older, it slipped my mind that she also grew older with me. Now that her hair has turned gray, her skin has wrinkled with age, and her bones grow weaker every day, my heart hurts when I think about how she has aged.
Indeed, my mother has inevitably aged. She can neither keep up with my pace nor maintain the youthfulness of her face.But her feet can still walk around the busy streets of Divisoria during the Christmas rush. Her waist remains flexible enough to bend as she plants seeds in the soil of her garden. Her shoulders remain strong enough for me to lean on when I sleep, and her face still has the glow I’ve admired since I was five.My mother who taught me my first lessons in life is still a teacher to her grandchildren now. She, who forgets where she places her phone, still remembers the names of her brightest students from the ’90s. She, whose bones have grown weaker, can still dance and twist her hips to the beat. She, who held my hand when I enrolled in college and applied to graduate school, can still strongly return my grip with a squeeze.As I looked at her face and traced every curve and line, I secretly wished I could stop my mother from growing old with time.
Madge Genele Resurreccion, 26, is from De La Salle University.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.