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Four Special Mothers

Mothers are super special in many ways. Only mothers can experience the joy and the pain of giving birth. Only mothers can get to nurse and bond with a baby early on in the baby’s life. Only mothers can give and bring life. Only mothers have these gifts and privileges.

I understand the unique and special role that a mother plays in society. I understand why it is said that a woman achieves her total fulfillment when she becomes a mother. I understand the anguish that a mother experiences when a baby gets sick. I understand the disappointment that a mother feels when a child does not meet her expectations. I understand the feeling of frustration of a mother when she thinks she is a failure as a ‘perfect’ mother.

I understand these roller-coaster feelings because being a mother is hard work. I saw this everyday in my mother. She worked hard as a public school teacher to get us through the challenges of surviving. She made sure that we were not deprived of the basic things in life. Our safety and education were on top of her priorities. She might have been upset or hurt whenever we ignored her advice, but at the end of the day she was not punitive but understanding. My mother was generous to a fault without expecting anything in return. I learned early on in my life that her children’s happiness was also her happiness.

Admittedly, when I was growing up and even as an adult, I never had the chance to share my feelings with my mother. In fact, I never really thanked her for everything she did for me. Not that I did not want to. But I just did not feel the need to express it. It was as if I was socialized to keep my feelings to myself, part of the cultural stereotype of the heroic male – independent, self-reliant, and macho. But I never was emotionally distant from her. Deep inside me, I was grateful for her support, advice, concern, sacrifices, and love.

My mother wanted very much to have a daughter. She wanted a girl who would grow up to become a mother like herself, and experience the joy, meaning, and wonders of motherhood. But fate was not on her side. She had four boys instead. She even adopted a baby girl. But the biological mother got the baby back after a few months. I had never seen my mother feel so sad. But fate has a strange way of making one’s desire come true.

In some of my quiet moments, I would like to think that my mother’s disappointment in not having a girl has been compensated by my wife and two daughters who are all loving mothers in their own right. How I wish I could pick up the phone and call my mother in the great beyond to tell her that her desire to have her own daughter now lives in her granddaughters and their mother.

My mother would be happy to know that my wife belongs to that generation of women whose love for the marginalized is beyond reproach. Her love for our daughters unquestionably reflects her own upbringing. She is generous and leads a life that centers on what is good for the family. She is the most family-centered person I know and a mother who puts the interest of our daughters above everything else.

Now that my two daughters have their own children, I am besotted with how they are becoming to be hands-on mothers. They have naturally developed some impeccable skills in bathing their children, teaching them how to brush their teeth, reading to them before they go to sleep, playing and praying with them. They surround their children with books and counsel them basic good manners and right conduct. They bond with their children while at the same time having fun. They also have gotten from their mom’s genes the importance of cleanliness, discipline, and consistency.

I am astounded when I see my grandchildren enjoy watching TV and build various figures from Lego blocks that look amazingly intricate. At a very young age, they can already communicate what they want and be stubbornly demanding at times. Theirs is a different world from the world I grew up in. I am, however, grateful that my daughters can still discipline them and remain resolute, while at the same time shower them with love.

Describing a mother’s love is virtually difficult. I’ve learned this from my mother and from my wife, and now from my daughters. There is no word to really describe it. If there are words to describe it, they are never enough. Most people will never understand the feelings that a mother has for her children unless they become mothers themselves. A mother’s love can only be understood by those who experience motherhood. One has to be a mother to give this kind of love.

I often get a twinge of sadness during Mother’s Day because I still miss my mother who died almost 21 years ago. But this year is different. I realize I have with me three great mothers – my wife and my two daughters – where I see the love of my mother in them. These are three generations of women, of mothers who will remain special to me.


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