To my mother

I had the privilege of being raised by a single mother. While this means I experienced childhood quite differently from most of my friends, I wouldn’t want to change a thing.

My mother, you see, was the kind of woman who worked so hard to make sure she did more than make ends meet; single parent meant single income most of the time, and she did what she could to augment it. Without saying anything, she taught me the value of hard work and money.

At her day job, she wore many hats and worked long hours. On the days that she  got to leave the office on time, she went to Avon and Tupperware to fill orders she’d taken from friends. And somehow, between that and raising us, she managed to get an MBA.

Now that I’m older, I realize she must have always been exhausted. And yet, whenever she came home and I was still awake, she’d put off sleeping so she could tuck me in and read me a bedtime story of my choosing.

This nightly ritual made me fall in love with books, and now I can’t imagine who I’d be if reading weren’t a big part of my life.

Apart from that, my mother was also the first to teach me not to subscribe to gender stereotypes.

I watched her unscrew tight jar lids and change car tires as if, some would say, she were a man. Not once did she say she wished we had a guy around to help us, and not once did she make me feel like I’d need one to survive.

She had a pixie cut even when that wasn’t in vogue and she let my sisters and I cut our hair “devastatingly” short. She let us wander into the boys’ section of the toy store and didn’t tell us that the toy cars and Lego bricks we wanted were not appropriate for us.

Nothing was prohibited simply because of the genitals we were born with (or without), and our ambitions were never limited by our gender.

She repeatedly trampled, perhaps unwittingly, on the patriarchy. And that kept me from buying into the common Philippine belief that a woman should only be demure and always defer to the men around her.

To my mother, thank you for proving that a woman can be a fighter, a provider, and as bull headed as the next man. Thank you for showing the world that women can be complex, multi-faceted individuals without any limits.

Thank you for teaching me that being a woman is not a weakness.

Artwork used in this post: 

Portrait of my mother from when she was younger

Watercolor, 7.5″ x 10″

 

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