When the longing is real, my mother always tells me: “Look at us! The daughter I could not send to the market, fearing something bad will happen, is now on the other side of the world. The daughter I half-heartedly sent to school, fearing other kids might push or bully her (I was a very tiny child) now lives all by herself, with no relative nearby to look after her. How come?”
“Moooooom I have friends here you know, I am not alone or anything. And my fists are pretty strong.”
“I knooow, I know. You are a badass.”
Most of my friends are with their families, or at least with their mothers now, but I am not. Most of my mother’s friends are with their children now, having fancy dinners or enjoying the sunny Sunday, but she is not. When I boarded my plane, my mother and I both knew moments of melancholy like this would be unavoidable. But we both agreed to bear these emotions, because I knew all those opportunities were awaiting me in a land far, far away. And she knew it would be cruel to deprive me of a better shot at life. Maybe we cannot celebrate Mother’s Day with a fancy bottle of wine at a fancy restaurant, but we celebrate it with the sacrifices we made for one another, hopes and dreams we have for one another.
At times like this, I have the not-so-rare opportunity to reflect on my relationship with her and how much we mean to each other. Our relationship is not a typical, and certainly not an easy one (not to mention the fact that we are both Geminis). There were times where I had to be the mother and her the child that needed guidance and reassurance. And there were times I cruelly blamed her for things she had no control over and maybe even made her feel guilty and insufficient – only because I did not know who else to blame. Although these memories feel like a burden from time to time, admitting these raw emotions and primitive acts against the person who is the most dear to me helps me find the power to self-criticize when my gut frantically warns me about my mistakes.
I think this is not one-sided. Admitting my mistakes and pushing her to do the same helped us develop our relationship beyond one of a mother and her child. We, in some sense, grew up and matured together like siblings. We both learned very recently that letting go of someone dear is the ultimate display of love, despite the urging desire to be selfish. I think we are far from done though – we are still growing up, learning from and consolidating each other when we need guidance the most. And I am grateful for having such a great companion by my side, either physically or mentally, in this life-long journey.