Thursday, May 3, 2012

My mother's daughter

Let me tell you about my mother and why it would be very hard for me to live up to who she is.

My mom came from very humble beginnings. After dinner the other night I stayed at the table (and munched on tortilla chips and salsa hehe) as she told me stories about her youth.

I'll be honest, my ego received a well-deserved beating.

My mother grew up with five other siblings and a mother who didn't have a job. Her mother was also a strong woman, never whined about her hardship, raised her kids, and all they would eat was a ten cent thin slab of butter, which they will all share, spreading it thinly on bread just enough for it to yellow a little, and boiled coffee. My mom would lie about being full to her friends. Only one of her friends knew her status. To be honest I get why their friends found it unbelievable that she and my auntie were poor. They were very beautiful, looked healthy, and their skin was fair and smooth, and in my country, fair white skin was(/is, to be honest) a social status.

Going back to my point, after she had finished highschool, she was devastated thinking that college was not in the cards for her, simply because she didn't have the SIXTY PESOS it took to pay for tuition. Sixty pesos is a dollar (and fourty two cents).


And fourty-two cents.

Anyway, this guy who was courting her throughout highschool (he was a few grades higher. tellin you, my mom was hot stuff), just after being dumped, essentially, made his friend give her an envelope containing the sixty pesos saying that he won't see her again so that she would know that this is not an attempt to make her change her mind, and that she needn't pay her back, and she should pay it forward. (My mom was sixteen, this was DECADES before the movie.)

My mom enrolled herself and started working. At the ripe age of seventeen. She always gave half of her pay to her mom for their family, and even bought dinner at times. Her mother was very grateful.

Meanwhile here I am, delaying graduation for not much reason at all. I had the nerve to feel resentful towards her at times for not reaching out to me or not using proper parenting techniques. For making me feel insecure about my body image. For not being able to do much positive reinforcement.

Basically, problems she worked really hard her whole life for.


This triangle explains everything.

My mother had done such a tremendous job in her life so far, that from a child who grew up barely having anything to eat, having a leaky roof over her head, which is the bottom area in the hierarchy of needs, (not propagating this at all, just using it to illustrate my point) she's gone as far as to have gotten to raise children who have, I'm willing to admit, borderline "first world problems", in a way.

Problems about validation, social justice, discrimination, self-fulfillment, artistic endeavour... Would I even have time to worry about these had she not provided a good home for me even when she hadn't grown up in one?

I now see how amazing that is, and all I have is humility (a bit of shame, really. or a lot), and complete and utter admiration.

But I also honor, that maybe this isn't regressive or neglectful/ungrateful in my part. Maybe it is in fact progressive and merely natural.

People have the tendency to preach and demonize the fact that people like me don't hold things like graduating precious. Personally, I decide time and time again to take my time before I graduate. I keep thinking that value is more important than the label, while for my mom, she had to graduate NO MATTER WHAT. It was a matter of survival to her. A matter of having a chance at life at all. I meanwhile view this differently, something that would have been impossible without her efforts to raise herself up from the life she knew.

I recently realized how I wasn't actually extremely spoiled as a child, looking at actually spoiled children, and resented a little bit that I was brought up to believe so. I was labelled and called materialistic and spoiled and selfish (painful memories really), and even though I still maintain that I probably didn't deserve some of it, now that I'm older and able to really understand the cause-and-effect of the situation, I understand completely how that  could have happened, and I forgive the past. If I lived their lives, I would indeed probably call myself spoiled. But I'm also eternally grateful to my parents to have provided me a kind of life which made it possible for me to even be spoiled. Placing the two circumstances side by side, I was strolling in malls, asking to be bought toys I found pretty. My mother didn't even have food to eat everyday.

I hope that in my own way I also get to raise myself up. In a different wavelength maybe, now that being a social class higher is unnecessary because I already have food to eat, and a sturdy roof over my head. I hope I get to use the resources that my mother and father had made available for me. To make something great even if I don't get to do what is expected (usually the case, hehe).

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