i don't have much recollection of how it was when i was still a child. she's been a career woman ever since i can remember. we practically grew up with nannies. and although she did spend quality time with us when i was still a child i thought she didn't do much as a mom. but i didn't resent it. never. i just thought that she was atypical.
i didn't hear stories of her childhood or how she and my dad got together. and i don't remember my mom saying "i love you" to anyone of us siblings.
of the few recollections i have: my mom used to rub my hands with sugar or vinegar to make them smooth. she still thinks up to now that i have hideous hands. i also remember how, exhausted from day's work, she stayed up all night with me as i sat on a basin of warm water to cure my urinary problem. or how she taught me to use sanitary napkin when i had my menarche. it's only when i became a mom myself that i realized and appreciated those things she did for me, to me, and with me.
when i decided to devote my life to activism all she asked was if i was ready to leave them, which i answered with a question, "are you ready for me to leave?" my mom knew from the start that if i made a decision there was no stopping me. and so she let go.
not so many years later, i was back to being her daughter. i started visiting them in the province. from then till now she looks forward to my visits. she always cooks my favorite dishes. after all, i am the prodigal daughter.
i guess the years that separated us has somehow put her in a time warp. i've already metamorphosed from a bratty child who abhored chores to a responsible and independent mom (but still hates some household chores). to this day, when she asks me or i offer to do something for her she never fails to give me step-by-step instructions how to do things. like when she wanted me to cook. she would start by saying, "there's pre-sauted garlic, onion, pork, tomatoes in the freezer (mind you, my mom could have invented ajinomoto ginisa mix). take it out. thaw. heat the frying pan..." this she never fails to tell me. she would stop when i tell her, with a very recognizable sound of irritation, "mom, i know the basics of cooking."
this morning, she asked me to buy toner for their photocopying machine and have it dispatched through the bus liner plying manila to our town. i called her to ask the address of our house, she gave me instructions..."talk to the dispatcher, tell him blah-blah, write your dad's name on a piece of paper..." and before she could tell me my dad's full name i said, "mom, i'll figure out what to do when i get there, just give me the address."
my mom's never stopped being my mom. sometimes i think she's trying to make up for those times when she spent most her waking hours earning a living. and maybe because of all her children i'm the only one she's have the least time to be with that she still thinks i'm that helpless little girl and forgets that i've become the most independent. but while it annoyed me then, i've learned to appreciate it now. she laughed when i interrupted her instructions, i laughed too. i shook my head and just told myself, well, that's my mom."
and as i've said, i've never heard it from my mom, when i said "i love you", she was embarrased and lovingly said, "thank you."