Friday, February 23, 2007

Mom and me

My mom has retired recently, and right now she’s building her ‘retirement’ house in her hometown. I have been quite anxious the whole time prior to her retirement since I don’t know how she would cope with idle life, and to add that I’m no longer with her and she doesn’t have any grandchildren yet to preoccupy her retirement years. My mom, ever the workaholic all her life, might find retirement utterly dull and dismal.

Since I am so far away from her, I try to communicate with her everyday, and I’m doing the best I could to entertain her. My mom and I have always been close, we’re great friends and she’s incredibly supportive of me. And she’s even more supportive of me and my hubby now. When I got married and left home, it bothered me a bit when people’s reaction was that of disbelief and disappointment because I was going to live at my in-laws home and leave her behind. There was an increased bafflement in other folk’s reaction when I left to join my hubby in a more distant place- in another country. I know that in true Pinoy culture- an only child like me must never abandon a single mom like her.

But my mom is far too independent and able to yield to being an emotional sandbag. She knows it would be difficult- but it’s all for the best. My mom is doing fine right now, she has a lot more time to take it easy. No more early morning rituals to work, no more tiresome commute, no more deadlines for her, no more meetings to attend to, no more paperworks, no more boorish subordinates to tell off. Best thing is- she has more time to attend to the two attention-seeking dogs. But I guess, this time mom also has more time to miss me.

I am writing this as a reflection to a feature series “Trading Places” in NBC nightly news, running two weeks now, about taking care of aging parents. My mom, at 63, is still active and healthy and doesn’t need that much help at home except, maybe, for major and heavy housework. What I am a little worried about is that unlike before when we lived in the same city, I could call her anytime and see her frequently. Just the sense of being close by, I know, can make a significant difference for mom. And since I am continents away, I could not be there for her the way I want to be.

This is the bane of being an only child. I think being an only child is best only when you’re young. But when it’s time for parents to be taken care of, you have all the responsibilities all to yourself. You have no support, the kind which only siblings can possibly put forth. And I feel so alone. I have no brother or sister whom I can depend to take turn of taking care of mom when I couldn’t be there. For years, I basked and gloated in the glory of being an only child. But it hit me- hard, that the payoff of being an only child is NOT an extended revelry and self-centeredness.

I can’t help but get a little envious of others who have more than two siblings. They have more fun and more support when they’re older. This is not to say I spurn the reality of who I am. But I guess, now I can say that I wish I had more siblings. It would have been different. But I guess mom and I are destined to be just the two of us. I wish I had more, but I cannot complain. I wish I can make mom happy, even when I am far away.

I’m proud of my mom. Three months since retirement, she recently told me that she has gotten the tempo of doing nothing. But she’s not entirely doing nothing- now that she has plenty of time, the two dogs get baths first thing everyday now. That will keep mom preoccupied for a while. I wish I could give her a dozen grandchildren. I am working hard so that when the time comes, I could easily give her the care that she deserves.

To Mummy, this is an early Mother’s Day ode for you…..

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