[Mother’s Day] This one’s for you, Mader!

Jocelyn Andaya
In honoring her mother this Mother's Day, this daughter decides to honor ALL mothers

HATS OFF TO MOM. The author with her mom. In her essay, Jocelyn Andaya chose to honor ALL kinds of moms there are. Photo from Jocelyn Andaya

MANILA, Philippines – This is a tribute to mothers. Quintessential mothers. Mothers with no political pedigree, business savvy, and star status, who broke no glass ceiling, and certainly forked no lightning. Mothers whose ordinariness does not deserve a footnote on any page. Mothers whom fate has been unkind to. At least in the standards of this celebrity-crazed world.  

But to the creatures in the world these mothers inhabit, they are larger than life. They are heroes, through the adoring eyes of their children, daily battling the travails of family life. They are the everyday moms, those who silently labor to take care of the home, raise children, and go to work to put food on the table. They who wake up early morning to prepare breakfast for the family, simultaneously cleaning the house, washing the dishes, putting clothes in the laundry bin while delivering the ‘Sermon on the Mount’ about the importance of studying.

They who had to make a painful decision on whether to go to work or stay at home full time (not that staying at home isn’t work) with the practical side winning out.

These are mothers who had to give up work to take care of a child with special needs, storming the heavens for a clue as to why they had to suffer such predicament but nevertheless refusing to give up on the child.

They are the moms who have to raise children single-handedly, either because husbands are abroad or left them for another woman, or have husbands whose sole responsibility it is to father the children.

They are moms who had to sell their body wares to fend for the family.

They are those who have to suffer physical abuse from husbands and, despite several advice from well-meaning friends to leave the husband, choose to stay, not because they love being battered but because the children are young and need a father figure.

These are mothers who have physical disabilities but despite those limitations are able to still care for a child who suffer a similar disability.

These are mothers who see both the good and the bad in their children but choose to see and believe only the best in them. 

Isn’t that what mothers are supposed to be and do? Perhaps. But we forget that everyone has a choice and mothers choose to be — well — mothers, in the way they know how. There is no college course for motherhood, and sometimes some women plunge right into it never knowing the enormity of what they are doing. Only to find out, belatedly what it entailed and by that time, there is no turning back.

And so they navigate motherhood, experimenting, trying their mighty best to get the best fit as mother, wife, worker, etc. They are not prepared to face such complicated issues of family life.

If they had known, would they have gone on to become mothers?

That’s why theirs is an everyday struggle to keep their head above water, what with having to make both ends meet, discipline and guide the kids, keep chaos at the door, please the husband, and above all, try to keep personal space.

Yes, for theirs is a resoluteness to make a better life for their kids even though they themselves have not tasted any. Theirs is a story, though fit for printing, but devoid of glitz and glamour that so often accompanies those of every celebrity or star, didn’t merit any sidebar on any page. In fact, theirs is a story told from the sidelines, passed around by family members during gatherings. Theirs is a story only discussed during small talks with friends who are in the same situation and who find comfort in their collective struggle. 

Theirs are stories not splashed in the headlines, for who would want to hear of ordinary people’s despondence and daily crosses when these stories mirror theirs as well? 

They are the ordinary mothers, who break no historical record and whose efforts to keep their family intact, and protect their kids, no matter what, are pedestrian to some. 

But it is in this seeming ordinariness that their extraordinariness stands out, in the lengths that they will go to keep their children and raise them well.

This extraordinariness is etched in the creases on their foreheads telling of personal dreams deferred, of longings unrealized, and of needs unmet; but these are immediately erased by the toothy smile that wakens them everyday, affirming the choice they have made. Some would call this situation pathetic, even stupid.

Children call it love and self-sacrifice. 

Though they themselves are broken and bruised from all the struggles, they carefully hold the lives of fragile beings, tenderly molding them, never letting go, trying to protect them from the vagaries of life yet knowing they couldn’t forever shield their children from the harshness of the world. The years may have dimmed their eyesight or slowed their memory, but their hearts still sing for their children, whom they have given their life to and have abandoned their personal dreams for. 

And, in their twilight years, they it is who say, with regret, that there’s no material possession and wealth they will leave behind to their children, except perhaps a good education. Little do they know that their legacy is far more precious than what money can buy; their unwavering and unselfish love to raise their children. This love is made apparent in the examples they have set, by the lessons they have taught, by the sacrifices they have made. 

Yes, their names will not be placed in the who’s who list. But who cares when the magazine will soon turn yellow and decay anyway?

For theirs is a story carved in the hearts and cemented in the memories of their children, never to be defaced nor erased. Forever. They might think their contribution to the history books nil but they are sorely mistaken, for from their sacrifice, struggle and love, they have produced great men, and women, people who made a mark in the world because of ordinary mothers’ daring to raise them. Other children might not turn out to be great but they do feel great because they know what their mothers had to forego to keep them.

ONE HAPPY FAMILY. The author with her mom and siblings. Photo from Jocelyn Andaya

This day belongs to these mothers. These quintessential mothers. This one’s for you, Mader! – Rappler.com

Click on the links below for more mother’s day stories.