[DETOURS] My phoenix mom

Editor’s note: In celebration of mother’s day, we called for essays that talk about how mothers have influenced our life’s greatest detours. In this piece, Angelica Magsino talks about her mom’s challenging detour to online teaching. You, too, can share your Detours essays. Here’s how.

I admire mothers the most. Aside from being the masters of multi-tasking and having the strongest muscles in the body, they have the strongest minds and hearts. They are like phoenixes who would always rise from the scorching challenges of life – from giving birth to their children to riding the life-changing roller coaster of experiences their children would go through.

I see my mom as the “mom for all seasons.” My mom is the youngest among seven siblings. She was raised in the beautiful province of Taysan, Batangas. She did everything in her power to finish her studies like babysitting my cousins.

Why “mom for all seasons?” She is not just my maternal mother; she also became the second mother to her students and my cousins. I do not know how she gets her feet and mind together whenever her ‘adopted' children call for help. May it be through video calls or home visits (during the pre-COVID 19 period), she would always have time for them. They would even invite my mom to their weddings and birthday parties! I cannot thank them enough for the love they’ve been showing to my mom.

At times, I often think she does not have any weaknesses because she was just always amazing. However, when COVID came, it changed her usual iron exterior to a softer façade. As a seasoned teacher who was used to traditional classroom set-ups, she has not mastered technology; she would often have problems dealing with video conference platforms and become confused about managing an online learning management system. 

I know how much she loves to teach, even if she is a retired teacher already. However, whenever she finishes her classes, her usual smile would turn to frowns. She would always ask for assistance whenever her Zoom account is not working well or when she needs to check her student’s works through Google classroom.

It even came to a point that during my online class (yep, she influenced me this much), she went to my room asking why her Zoom account was acting weird. As her only stand-by technician, I would have to excuse myself from my students and help her out. After fixing her problem, she would always apologize, “sorry anak ha, I have no idea kasi how this works…” I would smile, tell her it's okay, then I would come back running to my room and resume my class.

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I do ask her every day if she still enjoys teaching even through this new normal set-up. She would always respond that it’s okay, that at her age, she can still impart her knowledge to her students. However, a certain incident urged me to tell her, “mom, you need to rest.”

It happened during one of her online classes. She was having technical problems yet again. I wasn’t sure if her laptop was just ready to retire or the internet connection wasn’t just cooperative as usual. She went to my room, asked for help. I immediately excused myself and paused my own online class. 

Before I could check what went wrong, I asked her to put her account on mute and turn off the video cam. She did so and told her students to wait while we fixed the problem. While I was seated and trying to detect what made her Zoom freeze, mom told me that she would go and get something. I thought everything was okay when suddenly one of her students, who seemed to have forgotten his microphone was unmuted, remarked that my mom is too old to fix her device. That made my blood boil immediately! I was about to say something back when my mom came and told me it’s okay.

I was amazed. She let it go and explained that students nowadays are different. I do know that, however, I could see how this is not easy for everyone, especially to those who would still work despite the difficulties of technology.

But that incident was such a humbling experience for me, too. I realized that we should be kind to everyone. Instead of putting people – especially our teachers – down due to their lack of knowledge about technology, wouldn’t it be better to teach them and be patient with them? Life during a pandemic is challenging but we can make it a bit easier just by being kind. 

I hope I can be like my mom. Her well of understanding and patience is as deep as the ocean. However, I want her to rest and do whatever she wants. But if she still insists, then I shall support her – no matter the circumstance is.

I salute all teachers and moms who have been patient and understanding towards us, their students, and their children. I pray that you never lose your courage and understanding towards us. And for us students and children, let us give back the best gift they deserve – our love. – Rappler.com

Angelica Magsino is a teacher at Edustria Incorporated in Lipa City, Batangas. Her dream was to become a writer but was influenced by her mom to become an educator. She also loves Japanese pop culture.