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.

What does it take to be a good mom?

I’ve been a mother for almost 16 years, and I have to tell you that there have been good days and there have been bad days. There have been times when I’ve been overwhelmed with joy. And there have been times when I’ve been sickened with frustration.

What does it take to be a good mom? This is one question that I always ask myself. The basics are easy enough: feed them, clothe them, shelter them, provide them with good education, teach them about faith, and shower them with love. I make sure that they grow in a psychologically and financially stable environment so they can be free to explore their various hobbies, interests, and passions.

But as a mother of twin teen boys and two young girls, I ask myself, what does it take to be the best mom? That’s because I always value excellence in everything I do, especially when it comes to parenting. And so, I read books, learn from other parents, and pray for guidance.

But what I’ve learned through all those years is that I can only try my best. For example, my children say that I don’t spend enough time with them. But as far as I could tell, I spend all my non-working hours with them. We not only see plays and watch movies, we also engage in sports. They say I’m too strict when it comes to rules. But then, I am only doing so to instill a sense of discipline and responsibility in them. I try to make them realize that there are consequences to their actions—or inactions.

I’ve realized that there is no one way to raise a child. One child is different from the next. And so, what worked for Angel may not do so for Meggy. Although I also get complaints on that: “You’re unfair!”

And so I keep trying. I keep working at being the best mom I can be because when I see my four children, I know that all my efforts have been worth it.

Super Working Mother

By Gina Abuyuan


I recently did a story on Emerson Yao, managing director of the Lucerne Group. Of the third generation of a family of watch retailers, the transformation of the family business is credited to him and his brother Ivan. Now, Lucerne is more than just a retailer. It deals directly with over 50 watch houses, is known for its high profile tie-ups featuring the Philippines as a brand, and strong recall events.

Emerson and Ivan didn’t have a mentor. Their father passed away early. “I was just out of college. There was only one store at that time—my grandfather started it all. My dad was a very simple man. He just had one or two watches. I remember him only wearing one. When he passed away, he left us the store, and that’s it.

“But he taught us a lot of other stuff. Being thrifty, being nice to people, humility, and all that—those are the cornerstone of our success. My father worked seven days a week, 365 days a year. Every day he was in the shop. So when he passed away, that was the only way we knew how to run our business. So we followed him. Looking back, if not because of that kind of a mindset, we couldn’t get to where we are today.”

I was thinking the same thing just a few days ago: If it weren’t for my mom, I would probably be a half-assed, irresponsible good-for-nothing. Don’t get me wrong—there was indeed a stage of my life when I indeed did nothing but party, but being my mom’s daughter made sure I rose beyond and above that.

As early as I can remember, my mom, Lirio T. Abuyuan, was a worker. She was continuously striving to improve her career and her options. When we were young, she packed us all up and moved us all (including my dad) to Wisconsin, where she pursued a PhD. When my dad had to come back to the Philippines, she became a de facto single mom—and having been one as well, I can say she did a pretty good job.

When we came back to the Philippines, I remember her leaving every morning, looking smart in her tailored suits, pumps, and briefcase. I used to love running my hands up and down her stockinged legs, and told myself that someday, I’d have my chance to wear nice nylon stockings too.

She worked long hours but made sure she had time to tutor me and my sister, and eventually, my brother. She threw mean parties at home for her colleagues (she still does, occasionally, for family, and the spreads are always unique and memorable). While holding a relatively high position in government (Assistant Secretary of DENR), she outspokenly turned downed and showed her disgust at people who tried to bribe her. Boy, did she earn a lot of enemies for that—to retaliate, they spread nasty rumors about her, but she stood her ground. When I grew old enough to wear makeup and attend parties and balls, I didn’t have to bother to go to the salon—she would do my hair and makeup herself, and she did it so well that all my friends said she should have opened a salon.

Sure, my mom and I have been at loggerheads too many times than I care to count or recall. But that’s what happens when two strong women clash—and where did I get that strength? From her. That’s also what happens when a mother allows her daughter to think critically and argue her point. (As a mom, I’m learning this freedom is a double-edged sword when it comes to raising kids, but hey, I’d rather have them know how to make a case than just roll over and take it.)

Like Emerson Yao, I don’t know how else I would have gone about doing what I do, working the way I do, if I hadn’t seen my mom build her career and juggle being a mother, wife, and homemaker. People have asked me how I can have the energy to do so many things at the same time. I usually answer with a shrug. A few days ago, and as I write this, I have a concrete answer: because I saw my mom do it.

She’s still the champion, of course. I don’t even come close, considering my age. Aside from still working on projects for the private sector, she goes to the gym, goes ballroom dancing, has time for her derma, travel, takes her grandkids out, and is now developing her own brand of longganisa. Mental, I tell you. Absolutely mental.



mother’s day article