Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Dear Mama

Yesterday, I was telling some girls at work that when I was younger, I'd be in hospitals so much because of my asthma and my favorite thing to do was to grab my IV bag and visit the other patients and ask them about their lives, which was hell of a lot better to do than stare at my room's ceiling and listen to myself breathe. The girls at work didn't seem fascinated with my story and focused on only one thing: "Why were you alone? Wasn't your mom with you?" And I said, "Oh, Mama never really came to visit me when I was sick. She was only there to pick me up, and that's also because she had to pay the bill."

Mama, they looked at me like I had a terrible mother, and I guess the story did make you sound like one. Yikes! Thinking about it now, I never felt any resentment whenever you and Papa deposited me at the hospital and came back for me when the doctor said I was free to go. For one thing, I knew you had work. I also enjoyed being on my own; in fact, I enjoyed it so much, I couldn't wait to leave home and be independent! And if you hadn't left me alone so much, I wouldn't learn to love reading, to venture out by myself, to talk to strangers (which you never discouraged) and be interested in their stories, to explore a world outside my own, and to be happy with my own company. All those nights in the hospital never felt lonely because I fell asleep immediately--I had a full day chatting with doctors, nurses, patients and their relatives. I saw some really sick people, some of them died when I was there, which was sad because I had just met them, but I was a happy kid and you always told me there was a heaven.

Well, now you're in heaven and I'm glad you're there. Really! I know you had a hard life, Mama, so it's great you're living it up somewhere vastly more wonderful than here. I do miss you, especially now that I'm going to have a baby. I want to raise my child the way you raised me but apparently your way isn't popular anymore. Listening to all the unsolicited advice I get these days, one would think you were a truly terrible mother. "Children should be loved, you should never leave them alone, you shouldn't let them play outside, you shouldn't spank them, you should be their friend, you should feed them organic stuff only, etc ad infinitum nauseum." Mama, kids these days are coddled and treated like emperors, like they were the centers of their parents' universe. You always made it clear to me and my siblings that God was the first in your life, then Papa, then--if there were no other people who needed your help--then and only then do we enter the picture.

I kinda liked knowing that we weren't that special, Mama. For one thing, no one can ever accuse any of your children for being spoiled brats. We're kinda wonderful actually, all smart and talented and strong. People think your children are fantastic, Mama! And we are, we are indeed. So if anyone dare say your way was wrong, well, let's just see what kind of kids they bring up!

I think you understood parenting more than anyone these days. Parenting is for crazy people actually because it's a doomed relationship. From the moment your child takes its first breath, you teach it the skills to do just one thing: Leave you. And you, unlike most parents who just baby their children, you always pushed, pushed, pushed! And look where I am now! I know you're so proud, Mama.

To be honest, I wouldn't be who I am if you had always been there. Well, you were there for me by not being there all the time. Sometimes, I would feel you holding back, sometimes I felt you closed your eyes, sometimes I felt you turned away. All those times made me stronger, because I knew that though you didn't help, you did so consciously, knowing I'd be better if I did it on my own. And I am. I don't know what willpower it took to stop yourself from scooping us into your arms, from not quitting work to be with us, from not defending us when we whined. You were one tough mama! 

At your wake, there were so many people, it was crazy. I met so many people whose lives you changed. I even remember feeling jealous because I had to share you with soooo many people! I remember calling home one day and saying, "Mama, let's go shopping!" And you said, "I have to do counseling and discipleship today. Maybe another time." There was never another time, Mama, because you always chose the less fortunate. I always got angry over that but when you died and I saw how many people mourned you--some of them were crying more than I or Papa or my siblings did--I realized you chose the right thing.

You always did actually. And that entire time we were at the wake, a strange thing happened: We found ourselves comforting others, instead of the other way around. We had taken over your role of comforter and guidance counselor--you kinda didn't give us a choice!--even though we were the ones who lost a mother and a wife. But by stepping into your shoes, we became better human beings.

This reminds me of that story you told us of two sisters, Mary and Martha. Jesus had visited their home and Martha was super busy cleaning and cooking so that Jesus will feel important. Mary sat by His feet and listened to Him speak. Martha got angry and said, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her to help me!" And Jesus said, "Martha, Martha! You are worried and upset about so many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her." (Luke 10:38-42). Now, I always thought this story was stupid and an excuse to be lazy. But when you died, Mama, I got it. It took me 32 years but I finally got it. You always did choose the right thing and now you have been rewarded.

Oh, I'm going to be a great mom! I just know it. Because I had you, and though everyone tells me that there are new ways to raise kids these days, I think I'm going to be just like you--tough, strict, totally no-nonsense and firmly rooted on God's Word. And if I turn out half as good a person as you were, Mama, then my little Jelly Bean is in very good hands.

I miss you,


  1. very touching... you'll sure be a good mom! :D

  2. I agree with Mama! Good luck to both of us!

  3. This is such a nice post, F! My mom is a working woman, too. She loves teaching, and since we were kids I would remember her getting up early so that she can arrive in school before everyone else does. Her commitment to her work meant that we wouldn't have hot packed lunches, that she'll not make it on our school affairs on time, and sometimes even totally ditching them.

    But the great thing about having a mom like yours and mine is that they were the first people who taught us the value of passion for one's job and hard work. They also taught us to be independent, and to grow up fast and take the world head on.

    All the best in your pregnancy, F. I'm sure your mom is totally happy for you and Vince.

  4. muntik na akong maiyak! :(

    - nhe arinsol

  5. teary eyed :'(
    you will be a great mom!
    i like no-nonsense girls! :)


This is all pretty new to me so please feel free to share your mommy wisdom!