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My mom, I, and all things imperfect

My mom, I, and all things imperfect

When I was younger, I would sometimes wish I have a different mother, far from the one I have. I envied my friends who have a “perfect” mother — prettier, smarter, kinder, and richer. I remember praying to God before sleeping, asking for a replacement. But when I wake up, she’s still my mother, and I her daughter.

When I was about five or six years old, I remember saying that I wish I had my bestfriend’s mother instead of her – straight to her face. Back then, I did not understand how painful it must been; but I remember her telling me, “Can you promise not to wish that again?” I did not know why she told me that, but I know better than to argue. I saw her shed a tear or two and thought, maybe I did a bad thing.

I did not like her very much when I was growing up. Sometime she’s so strict and mean; but sometimes she’s so calm and peaceful like she’s a different person. How can I describe my mom? She has a short temper and has tendencies to become violent. But, at the same time, she is the most loving, caring, loyal, honest, helpful, and most importantly, strong woman I know. Of course, I did not see these good traits of her before; I was too occupied dreaming about a perfect mother I would never have.

When I was younger, I felt like she finds satisfaction embarrassing me in front of our family members, my teachers, and my friends. I felt like she always needs to look out for me, meddle in my life, decide for me, and save me in every dilemma even if I don’t want or need her to do so. She does not want to leave me alone and it made me angrier and angrier.

Over the years, our relationship had been tested countless times. I would cause her pain, she would cause me pain. We would make one another cry. Sometimes we would cry upfront; sometimes, we would cry behind each other’s backs, when we think the other one would not notice – and that’s one of the worst ways to cry.

When I graduated from High School, we were told to write letters to our parents and tell them what we want to say. I wrote my letter and gave them to my mother. In that letter, I told her, “I forgive you.”

But, it did not end there. Our fights continued. Things have worsen, before they got better. But in each and every fight, she will always tell me, “Someday you will be a mother, and you will finally understand.”

As both of us grow up and as more years pass in our lives, we learned to understand one another. I saw my mother in a completely different light, or maybe I saw her for who she truly is all this time.

We discovered how we truly and deeply loved one another all along; we just didn’t know how to show that love. And, we just didn’t know how to receive one another’s love.

For my mom, her love was about waking up early to cook breakfast and pack my lunch, skimping so she can buy me decent clothes and some toys, pretending to be Santa Claus and leaving chocolates in my socks during Christmas, attending parents-teachers association meetings, never missing a school activity, selling different stuff to get me to school, and kissing me when she thinks I’m sleeping.

For me, my love was about studying hard to get good grades because I know she would be happy to see I excel in class, massaging her body when she’s tired, not changing the television channel when her favorite shows are on, helping clean the house, and not eating all the food so she can have something when she’s hungry.

Little by little, I realized everything my mother had done for me. When my anger turned to gratitude and joy, I stopped looking for perfect, because there is nothing greater than what I have in front of me.

I asked my mom a few times if she ever forgave me for all the pain I caused her. She told me, “There’s nothing to forgive because she never held a grudge.” I asked her, if she ever regretted me or wished she had a different daughter. She told me, “I never did. You are my daughter. Someday you will be a mother, and you will finally understand.”

I may not understand everything, but I know better now.

We are two women with similarities. We are both beautiful and smart, passionate and courageous, loving and giving, and strong and determined.

We are also two women with differences. We have different preferences, ways of thinking, opinions, principles, experiences, and beliefs.

We are two women – both imperfect, but never less.

Setting Goals for the 21st-Century Filipina

Setting Goals for the 21st-Century Filipina

By Rowena Diocton

Wala ka pang boyfriend? (You don’t have a boyfriend yet?)” and “Kailan ka magpapakasal? (When are you getting married?)” are only two of the typical questions Filipino women are asked during family reunions. Because of this, many Filipinas dread going to reunions or reading their aunts’ comments on social media.

Despite the hype on women’s empowerment, some Filipinas stay bound to self-limiting beliefs, such as that women should scramble to get married and have children. Their dreams are limited to boxes in the spectrum of “child rearing,” “budgeting,” and “housekeeping.”

They are also expected to marry earlier than men. On average, most Filipino women get married at 24, while men get married at 27, according to the World Economic Forum Gender Gap Index 2015. The report also reveals that five out of 100 women (5%) marry between 15 and 19 years of age.

Even societies abroad generally view Filipino women with less regard than they’re worth. “Dating,” “marriage,” and “scandals” are only a few of the top results when you type “Filipina,” “Filipino woman,” or “Pinay” on a quick Google search. It seems the world seeks Filipinas either to marry or to spend a good time with. Somehow, their other contributions to the world are buried.

It’s already 2017, so why are a number of Filipinas still stuck in this outdated box? Here are four ways to step up and join the ranks of the 21st-century Filipina superwomen this year.

Be Part of Positive Social Change

If Concepcion Felix-Calderon and Pura Villanueva Kalaw of Asociacion Femenista Filipina had sat idly by during the first half of the 20th century, Filipino women wouldn’t be enjoying the right to vote that we do today. We need to be part of something bigger than ourselves. So ask yourself:  What can I offer to society to make it more just?

Rethink the Way You Treat Your Body

In Asia, social and economic growth has sadly coincided with the rise of eating disorders. Access to social media sites has allowed real-time body-shaming comments against celebrities like Jessy Mendiola and Ina Raymundo. This year, resolve to embrace a more positive body image and join body positive movements like plump.ph and #blackgirlmagic—and start something confidently beautiful within yourself.

Dip into the Wealth of Available Data

At least 4.66 billion Web pages were reportedly online as of mid-March 2016. Roughly 130 million books have been written as of 2010, according to Google. Anyone can now take massive open online courses at her own time, thanks to sites like Coursera, Edx, Khan Academy, TED-Ed, Udacity, Udemy, Lynda, and a lot more. Using available information, why not join important discourses that can affect the Filipina way of life and let your opinion be heard?

Sit at the Career Table

In several countries in the Asia Pacific, men often get 15% to 30% more in annual base pay than women, with females excluded in part due to the nature of the job, manager bias, and workforce policies. While it’s vital that organizations address the disparity, we can also play our part.

In 2010, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg discussed the reasons why there are too few women leaders. Filipina career women should take Sandberg’s cue and learn to negotiate for ourselves at work, delegate equal tasks to our partners at home, and kick ass at work even as we plan for a family.

While one year may not be enough to produce a radical change in you or in society, this year is a good place to start taking gradual steps. Your elders may keep asking you about your single or family life, but this time you’ll have a fuller answer to give. Your male colleagues may still get paid more, but you’re already taking on the training needed to move up. Trying and not reaching your goals is not failure; what can set you up for failure is not having holistic and resilient goals toward self-empowerment.

Photo: Ali Edwards