published 10 May, The Standard
Mother’s Day is usually spent
in tribute to biological mothers -- those who lovingly raised and nurtured their children after carrying them for nine months and then bringing them into the world.
This year I would like to
remember those who are not moms -- not our own, at least -- who nonetheless act (or acted) as though they were.
Grandmothers and other family
I for one was a Lola’s girl,
raised by my mother’s mother. I lived in her house and played by her rules. Because Mom had remarried and established another home, I grew up under the strict but loving supervision of my Lola Deling.
Plenty of other children grow
up this way. Because their own mothers and fathers are away for a whole lot of reasons, their grandmothers ( or aunts/sisters/cousins) step up to the role of not only caring for them and making sure all basic needs are met. More importantly, they guide them and impart to them the right values.
Workers who care for the
children of others
When my sister was a toddler,
a sure way to make her cry -- no, get hysterical -- was to tell her that her yaya, Ate Malou, was going away to get married.
In a country where household
help is common place, and where helpers are often treated as an extension of family, the ates and the yayas sometimes spend more time with the children and know them better than their own parents do.
Ate Malou was single at the
time she was caring for my sister. But think of the other women, with children of their own, who go away -- to the big city or in another country altogether -- to care for the children of others while wondering whether their own kids are loved and cared for back home.
Just recently I was overjoyed
to discover that at my age I still had a godmother. My Ninang Vangie was Mom’s colleague and dear friend in the late 1980s and early 90s, and she stood as one of my confirmation sponsors. I attended their group’s reunion last month, and I felt I could just sit there and observe and take their animated conversation in. These were people who knew my Mom in the way I did not know her (I was 16 when she passed on); it was like a portal to another world.
It’s been many years, but i
instantly remembered Ninang Vangie and felt instantly close to her. We sat together for awhile as I updated her on what had become of that chubby little girl she used to see, and she dished out precious advice on how to go about my personal and professional life.
I should go and see her again
for lunch or coffee soon.
Our children’s godmothers -
My children’s ninangs are
mostly people I’ve known and kept up friendships with for decades. When we get together, there are automatic updates on how our kids are doing. Sometimes my children would be embarrassed that I divulge details of their private lives to these women -- but no, I say, their ninangs are family.
You love your godmother not
because of the trinkets they give you at Christmas, but because you know that they are indeed your second set of parents. Because I’ve known my friends so long, they are like me, they can stand for me, and they have the best interests of my kids in mind.
The mothers of our friends
The mother of one of my best
friends passed on this week. My friend flew back from Canada, where she lives and works, for the wake and funeral. I found myself profoundly saddened at the death of Tita Myrna -- and my other friends’ parents who have gone ahead.
We’ve known our friends’
mothers perhaps as long as we’ ve known our friends themselves. Since most of my friends are girls I’ve known since grade school, it follows that I’ve been seeing their mothers as well, on and off, since those years. Every shared occasion -- first communion, recognition day, graduation -- they were there. They received me warmly in their homes, shared their food, asked me about my life, gave advice on how to proceed, and treated me as their own daughter.
Yes, hearing about a friend’s
parent’s death is like losing a parent all over again.
Mothers, biological or
otherwise, are gems. Here’s to being reminded of how precious they are, today and every day.