I’ve recently seen the movie “Mothers and Daughters” and it was spectacular. It depicts the cheery, loving and also complicated ties between mothers and daughters. This made me reflect on my very own relationship with my mother, and the kind of mother I am to my child.
I was abandoned by both parents, under different circumstances. People do things for reasons we may or may never be able to comprehend in this lifetime.
However, this does not mean that the motives are insignificant. As a matter of fact, based on what I’ve learned from my therapy sessions and a bit of research here and there, abandonment from a parent may lead to serious trauma to a child; knowing the facts is remarkably substantial in the healing process.
As of this writing, my mother lives with my family. I noticed how weird it sounded that I had to differentiate her, my mother, from “my family.” I am not sure if it’s that obvious that it doesn’t come naturally for me to consider her a part of my family. I have never lived with her except during the first seven years of my life. Years after that, her identity, who she is to me, is a blur.
In my younger years, she would come and visit me for a month or few. During those times, I would always be on my toes because the value of her hard work was relentlessly instilled upon me. I was alive and able to attend school all because of her. My life is forever indebted to her and that certainly comes with a price.
The price of course was never monetary in nature, at the time. It was about being an honour student and excelling in various competitions, e.g. elocution and even beauty pageants. On top of that, I was the lone guardian to my dearest grandmother, the love of my life. Yes, that was another major role for me; protecting grandma from my abusive and alcoholic grandfather.
At a very young age, I was a witness to violent fights. I tried very hard to learn how to survive the turmoil happening in my everyday life while making sure I am paying back my mother for her goodness.
As a child, these things never came easy for me to understand besides the fact that I was different from most people. I later on realised how my classmates and friends lived differently; they seemed to have their parents watching over them, and the fights they have at home were mostly with their siblings. Petty indeed. Oh, and that too, I do not have siblings from my mother but later on found out I have ten more from my father’s.
I also remember our neighbours who became my friends, big sisters, sympathisers; their households were never like ours that’s in constant chaos day and night.
I think I was forced to learn the skill of pretending that everything is alright in order to keep up. I had to play it cool and never show anyone what a troubled child I was; I had to blend in and do it very well.
Amidst the drama, I felt obliged to take care of the only person who matters to me – my grandma. For all those who thought how lucky my life has been to have a very caring grandma, just so you know that I took care of her too, every single day, more than anyone could ever imagine.
I was her confidante; her shield (from knives and plates that were thrown at her by her loving husband); her coach (I was the only one who can push her to see a doctor or to speak to someone she didn’t like, mostly relatives); her make-up artist; nail technician; her nurse (who took care of her when she’s ill and looked after her diet); and many others.
She was the mother I’ve known, and could it be that I was a “mother” to her too?
Now, that my biological mother lives with me, I can sum up in one word how it’s like – agonising. We’ve had countless fights, bid goodbye a lot of times in the past; in fact, the reason we reunited is to please grandma before she passed.
Here we are now, trying to make amends and possibly be together, once and for all. We attempt to rewrite the pages with wonderful things, fill it with memories we’d like to remember for the rest of our lives.
I wish it’s easily done; write a story of how I want my life to be and it will turn exactly like it the very next day.
All these years, I felt I was deprived to live my life and my self-worth depended on someone else’s happiness and approval – my mother’s. I knew deep inside that no matter how hard she tries, I will always be a constant reminder of a poor judgment, weakness and manipulation that she has experienced. In her eyes, I will always be that mistake brought by a love affair between her, a young, innocent country girl lured by a charming lawyer-politician who promised her the world.
I understand how difficult that can be and I sincerely thank her for at least trying to love me.
Love is felt beyond speeches of how much she “suffered” for my sake. Let’s get real and accept the fact that the gesture of being away for work wasn’t entirely for me. She did it for her family too, and most of all, she did it for herself.
At my age, listening to her heroic gesture all over again, is unnecessary. Reminding me includes all the pains I’ve been through in her absence. I think it is cruel to even attempt to utter unless this is the only way she knows how to love me.
My mother and I are trying too hard to be the best fit for one another when we know we actually aren’t. We are at risk of breaking a huge part of ourselves. Maybe, this time, it is not wrong to stop trying.
Some of us can’t be a “mother” to their own children; or the child may be more capable of being the “mother” instead. I think, the “mother” one is truly yearning for could be a sister or father, an aunt or a brother, a friend or a neighbour. They may come in many forms.
Cherish your mothers, whoever they may be. Forgive, love, accept and be at peace if the pages are simply not meant to be rewritten.