[Mother’s Day] Kulit!

Julienne Joven
Oh, Mother! We can get crazy, too, you know.

ALL IN THE FAMILY. 'Kulit' runs in Julienne Joven's family. Photo from Julienne Joven

MANILA, Philippines – On a normal day, I receive around 10 text messages from my mother. Whenever I don’t respond quickly enough, I receive an additional 3 missed calls.

Most of these texts ask whether or not I have reached home or ask about my current whereabouts. Sometimes, my mother even asks whether or not I have safely crossed the road, completely ignoring the fact that her FX just left me a few minutes ago.

I suppose my experience, on a macro point of view, is not an uncommon one. After all, it is a truth universally acknowledged that a single mother can be in possession of endless kulit (persistence).

And I don’t mean that badgering is a completely bad thing. Though I admit it may have produced the worst of moments in my relationship with my mother, it has indeed brought out the most heroic, most touching moments, too.

Part 1: Typhoon Ondoy

One of the most heroic things my mother has done is to brave Ondoy on foot.

The flood was rushing way above sidewalk level, and there she was, as stubborn as always, announcing that she had to go out and fetch my sister who got stranded in school.

My father and mother even had a heated argument regarding the situation. My sister could sleep in school for the night, if that was what was needed, my father said. But my mother could not rest if any one of us was missing.

She felt that way most of the time, if not always. No wonder she hates allowing us to sleepovers.

Again, she completely ignored the fact that there was a monstrous-sized flood outside our home.

She just had to. She was a mother, after all, and it just so happened that it was her daughter out there, perhaps facing the wild storm alone.

Part 2: Sidewalk scene

But it’s really the simple things in which my mother shows her persistence.

DID SHE KNOW BACK then? My mother (front row, 2nd from right) in her younger years, thoughtless of motherhood and the 'kulit' needed to be one. Photo from Julienne Joven

Sometimes, along the sidewalks of Ortigas, you may see a mother and daughter having a little tug-of-war over the bags they carry. 

Normal logic tells you they’re fighting because they want to carry the lighter packages.

However, the opposite may just be true.

My mother and I do this so often, it’s hilarious. She doesn’t want me to carry heavy loads because she claims she’s used to carrying groceries.

I don’t want her to carry heavy loads because of the exact same reason: her hands are too overworked!

We end up each holding one arm of a plastic bag, neither letting go.

As the saying goes, two heads are better than one. Or two hands, in this case.

Part 3: Shopping girlfriend

Most kids would pester their parents for money. Heck, they even come up with ridiculous “lambing” (affection) plans to get on their parents’ good side.

But on another note, once they get the money, they learn to earn it, handle it, and pay for their own wants.

In our family, we do learn these things, too. However, sometimes I think my mother jumped out of “Once on This Island” the musical, singing, “Mama Will Provide.” She deliberately ignores our attempts to pay for our wants.

We children want to learn to earn our purchases and rejoice in our gains. We are ashamed of asking for unnecessary things that our mother eventually pays for. Whenever we attempt to pay for them, she brushes us aside saying, “What are mothers for?”

So we get creative. We stuff the money in her wallet when she’s away. We put it in her drawers, in places she wouldn’t even dream of checking. And then we hope that one day, she finds the cash and assumes it is some long-forgotten wad of bills she saved.

Most of the time, she finds it and sneakily puts it in our wallets. Kulit!

Knowing my mother for the almost 20 years of my life, I know she does this because she wants to feel the satisfaction of giving us things she had wanted in her childhood. These are things she promised herself she would enjoy one day, and things she promised that her children would never find in want.

This is why we go on random dates: to the Mind Museum, the mall sale, the contact lens store, the salon, etc. She tells us she’s booked the weekend; heck, she even surprised us with the Palawan vacation she planned last year!

Part 4: Stubborn or steadfast?

I assume almost all mothers have it in their instinct to be makulit. They can nag you about work, pester you about grades, and continue to interrogate you on whether or not you were dating that new boy you were with. 

But I don’t think I ever want my mother to stop being makulit. What would I want anyway with an indifferent mother who never cared whether I crossed the street safely; whether I was sleeping soundly under a terrible typhoon; whether I could enjoy the same luxuries other children could?

I guess she can be as makulit as she wants. Well, except when it comes to chores, that is. – Rappler.com


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