For a moment, I was thinking of a morning when my siblings and I had to gather at a table, sit together for breakfast, while Mama on the other hand, had to wait and observe patiently in one corner.
Mama as she stood there watching us had something on her mind: A strange wish that all her children may remain forever young. She fears that our home built by strong connection, of teases and loud laughter would soon turn into a sad and hollow home if all of her children finally reached the maturity stage. Bit by bit, she got it pictured out that one day, sooner or later, we would leave her to find our destined place in this world and though against her will, still she believes it to be inevitable and part of life. She would often quote: “It is sad for a parent, especially mothers –the more emotional one, to see their children leave the house one by one.”
My parents are like newlyweds now; they’re alone at our house. Mama would wait for Papa to come home after work, serve him food and chit chat for a while then sleep. The days have gone humdrum, quiet and sad thus I can empathize how they feel these days. Mama would always sigh and utter during our telephone conversation words like “if only I can turn back time” or “I miss yesterday”.
Back in the time when we were still under one roof, I can vividly recall how she would yell and glare at us, especially at times of our crabbiness. She has this worn-out slipper ready to land on our skin if suddenly, tantrums attack. Often she’s mad when we make fun of her Bougainvillea arrayed in front of our humble abode. Most of the time, it tests her patience that she’d just scratch her head turning the blame to my father on why she was given four stubborn sons. However, at this point of time, she confides how she longed for our stubbornness that sometimes, joking was her way of consoling herself. “It is better to have someone here to get furious with” she jokes.
During our phone conversation, she’d beg us to take a leave from work, take a respite, and go home even for a while. She’d often emphasize on how our work has taken its toll on our family. And by listening to her voice, I could sense on how she missed us. Like her, we also long for the time that we can all be together just like before as we, her children, really miss the things that she’d been doing for us back home.
Mama really takes good care of us. She’s the one who attends to our needs as Papa was always busy looking for business outside. She’s in charge of waking us up in the morning, to fixing our beds, and up to preparing our meals. She tied herself to being a full-time mother, gave up her supposedly teaching career, and taught us instead.
It is said that once a woman became a mother; it is also the time they surrendered themselves to servitude which every single day of their life could mean a struggle, a survival against the stream of responsibility. That’s how they are (out of love and passion) willing to sacrifice. I can’t fathom how deep mothers can be in understanding the needs of their children that if only they can offer their lives they would. Perhaps, it is what they call the duty that is love.
Take my mom for example, an epitome of an unassuming, selfless being who nurtured the four of us. From the day of conception, to the day we were born in this world, she never stopped caring. I still remember on how she would organize our stuff before going to school, stay late at night and check if we’ve done our homework, make sure if we’ve eaten enough, and on how she wishes to own our sickness and be the one inflicted rather than see us suffer.
Mama seems unaware of the innumerable things she has done for the family. Oftentimes, she feels sorry for her shortcomings. For the times that, she and Papa, fail to give us what’s the best unlike other blessed parents can. And for the times like she refused to buy us what’s the hip or the current trend. Mama in behalf of Papa feels sorry for that, for all that.
Now that I’m already an independent working lad, I come to ask myself: Have I really reciprocated the unconditional love my mom has bestowed on me? Though she would always say that her love is not payable by any material bliss as she believes that to care and to love is to be a mother, I feel as if I owe her something in exchange. Something that is big.
Last Christmas, my siblings and I took a break from work and went home to our province. Mama felt so glad that despite of conflicting schedules, we were able to spend the important season with them. Seeing all of us on the same bed, made her welled up in tears. She just can’t contain the overwhelming happiness that stirs her heart.
Yiyun Li a Chinese writer, for a fact, had perfectly described how my mom feels when she wrote that “Being a mother must be the saddest yet the most hopeful thing in the world, falling into a love that, once started, would never end.”