Friday, February 05, 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,
F.

23 comments:

  1. my son is asthmatic also, thsi year he didn't have any attach. i guess it's because he swims everyday. did you get over your asthma?

    i hope your mom is happy with the unconditional love that you've given her.

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  2. Frances, your post touches my heart deeply. Hats off to your mom for raising wonderful kids like you! Well you're not a kid no more but you were raised to be independent and its one of the best gift a parent can give to their kids! I am sure your mom is looking down, happy, and contented seeing how well she raised you!!! :) Enjoy motherhood soon!!!! :)

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  3. Go, mader, you're on the right track :)Mwah!

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  4. RJsMama, nope, but it's not as bad anymore because i'm religiously taking my asthma meds.

    AskMe, ya, I believe independence is the best thing parents can give their kids.

    Jing!!! Miss you =(

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  5. Oh Frances, what a heartbreakingly beautiful post x

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  6. awwww i love this post. kakaiyak!!

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  7. This post made me tear up and I was reading this in the office. Thanks for such an inspirational post. Taught me a thing or two about being selfless.

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  8. *tear*

    This post is just too touching. And sweet.

    And I agree. Coddling children isn't the best way to go. I grew up with thrifty parents. I used to resent the fact that they didn't buy me the things I wanted even though we could afford it. I had to prove to them that I deserved it first. But now I appreciate it because I realized that it helped me not take everything for granted. It made me appreciate the value of hard work.

    Being the best parents you could be is not just what you do but what you don't do. =)

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  9. what a lovely post! I remember I started reading your blog right after your mother had passed and I from the love you convey in your posts I am sure she was a wonderful mother.
    I agree with you on so many of these points - children these days are quite literally 'spoiled' by parents who raise them to think the world is all about them!

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  10. you are a darling. this post made me cry. i miss my mom. she's fine, she's just living halfway across the world.

    i was also brought up your way. well, not the leaving alone part. but my mom was always working. she didn't have time to breastfeed, read us books, make crafts and make lambing. but she tried her best - like bake birthday cakes. my dad was the nurturing one. and i used to not understand (and even feel bad) why my mom wasn't the nurturing home maker type. but now i know... i wouldn't have turned out this way (nor my siblings) if it weren't for the way they disciplined us and showed us love.

    you are going to be an excellent mother frances. you and vince, will rock as parents. with the kind of love and sensitivity you have now, loving a baby/child will come so naturally. i am excited to hear your stories... and share the kind of depth of love only a parent can experience. can't wait.

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  11. A wonderful tribute to your Mama... yes, Jelly Bean is blessed to have a mom who was raised by a woman who lived by Proverbs 31:30 "Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised."

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  12. Hi Frances. This is a really sweet letter to your mom. I feel like I knew her. You're mom is smiling down on you from heaven.

    In most hospitals these days, they encourage patients to have watchers, especially if the patient is a child.

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  13. I was so touched by this entry, Fran. Your mum must have been such a wonderful person. She kinda reminds me of my mum, who as only one philosophy on parenting:

    "If you want your kid's life to be miserable, make life easy for them now." :)

    I'm sure you and Vince would be awesome parents. :D

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  14. im sure your mom is very proud of you. have a safe prengnancy :)

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  15. A touching & lovely post, F. You have a tough but loving mama, and she's blessed with wonderful kids! Moms raise their kids differently, but one thing I'm sure is that mommy's love is always best & unconditional.

    Goodluck on your motherhood! Hugs*

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  16. Grabe Frances...

    Tumula ang aking mga luha habang binabasa ko ang post na ito. Im at work pa naman.

    Ive learned something from your Mom too, minsan ang hirap intindihin pag ganon ang nakalakihan mo.

    But im sure she must be very proud of you, Kuya Tedz and Jacqui.

    xoxo to you and hubby and Jelly bean

    bheng

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  17. You right so beautifully and lovingly about your mom. I am convinced, you are an awesome mother to Jelly Bean :) Ngayon pa lang, kahit di pa sya lumalabas, swerte na sya sa parents nya :)

    My parents were similar to yours, in a way. They allowed us space to be ourselves, to make mistakes and learn our lessons. We were pretty much free. I always felt they were there, but I was never one to really feel as if I had to run to them for help. Kaya siguro my mom wasn't really in the loop about my heartaches, or didn't know ALL of my school friends (neighbors syempre kilala lahat). Haha, and they never did my homework for me.

    Hays.

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  18. Daphne, well, Mama didn't go visit because Papa did. My dad was the nurturing one, too! But you know how it is--moms are expected to drop everything for their kids while dads are considered saints if they so much as play with them. We moms, so much is expected of us!

    Tani, there really should be watchers! I think my parents were too trusting or naive =D

    Thanks, everyone! It's so nice to read about your moms, too =)

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  19. Your post made me cry, Frances. I only met your mom once but I feel as if I know her through your stories. I know you must miss her so much.

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  20. this post is so touching. i miss my mom now. she lives in the province with my little sister but in a few months time, we'll be together here in manila already. somehow my mom is like yours, she raised us in such a way that we (siblings) grew up independent but family-oriented, tough but loving persons. i know you're gonna be a great mom soon. i just do. :)

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  21. "... you were there for me by not being there all the time..." I love this line Frances. =) I can say the same for my mom. And like you, I would have never been this strong if it were the other way around.

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  22. just wanted to encourage you to enter the "dear mama" contest on www.momsarehuman.com. Deadline to enter is March 17. Winner takes a great gift basket full of great stuff - including $150 Target gift card and LOTS more!

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  23. This made me weep:

    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!

    Don't mind other people. Do what you feel is best. Parenting is very personal and we do what we know. And from what I've read so far about your mama, I'm sure you'll be a good one too. Pay no mind to what other people say.

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