After starting my day with a refreshing Zumba workout, I sat down to enjoy the bit of downtime I have to finally reply to my Mom’s email that has been sitting in my inbox for nearly six weeks now (oops :x). As promised in my previous email to her, I sent her more pictures of Michael Christian Martinez (because she too, thinks he’s cute :P). But other than that, I’m starting to feel like I’m actually enjoying her being my Mom.
(Oh wow, I didn’t realize that this entry was going to end up on the sentimental side again. I guess I do have a thing or two to get off of my chest. Please bear with me.)
That was probably a strange thing to say. But see, while growing up, my Mom worked and she was often out of town (she worked on environmental projects with regards to fisheries and mangroves). She and Dad mostly left us kids under my paternal grandparents’ care. Even when we moved to France where Dad could finally support us all, and Mom could focus on managing the household, I bonded more with my grandmother, and I only knew Mom as a disciplinary figure. It went to a point where physical affection from her was a strange and uncomfortable concept. Anything beyond the “requisite” morning and evening kisses were… alarming. It didn’t help that our Dad and his side of the family isn’t big on physical affection either. We get the occasional head pats, hand-holding and shoulder snugs, but that’s about it. “I love you”s were written but never spoken.
Humorously, I realize that we (my brothers and I) probably fall under the category of “not hugged enough when [we] were kids”. Which is perhaps why, until today, all three of us prefer to sleep with body pillows XD!
Of course, that behavior trickled to how we physically relate to people. I think that we pretty much had a bigger personal bubble than anyone. Getting physically close — holding hands, hugging, shoulder leaning, dancing — was A Big Thing, and thus our perceptions of the physicality of relationships were a bit skewed for quite a long time.
Last year, all three of us came to that realization: that Mom and her side of the family were big on physical affection. Our grandfather Ramon asked for a kiss on the cheek for every little thing: as thank you, as part of an apology, as a greeting; it was a habit handed down to all his six children — Mom, our aunts and uncles — who finally asked the same thing of us children, nieces and nephews.
So, without need for words (you know, that “sibling telepathy” thing), we came to a decision to change that: more hugs, more kisses, more “I love you”s. That seemingly little change actually improved our relationship within the family. We very rarely come into disagreements or even get into fights in the first place (Dad taught us: “Who else do you have in the end, but your family? Why would you hurt them or fight with them?”), since at the least, we have top notch communication channels; but being able to express affection, verbally and physically, just made for an all around better household — and of course, improved our dealing with relationships all around.
Things still turned out well, for all it’s worth. However, I still regret not being able to grow up with Mom. She and Dad really didn’t get along, and I’m not going to contest their decision (I did try, though, via a failed hunger strike lmao). I suppose their staying together would’ve made for an explosive household anyway, and I don’t think my brothers and I would’ve come to our realization in that environment.
Lately, however, despite the lack of physical presence, I’ve been able to communicate with my Mom. It’s only lately that I’ve come to truly open up to her. It took 30 years, but better late than never.
See, I vividly remember the times when Mom tried to get close to us, and make up for the times when she had to leave us to work. There were times that she would forego sleeping with Dad, and would sleep in my room or in my brothers’ and cuddle — and again, back then, like all physical contact, cuddling was in the realm of “LMAO WTF MOM (;ಠ_ಠ)?? IT’S HOT GET OFF??” And whenever she came for a visit, or if Chito and I were in France, she wanted to spend as much time as she could with us.
At first, we found it bothersome, like “MOM PLZ WE’RE ADULTS WE’RE NOT 10 ANYMORE?? WE’VE OUTGROWN THE NUZZLING MOM STAHP.” But like our Dad reminded us: “Parents will never stop seeing their children as kids.”
And I really, deeply, achingly, miss her. I always have.
So, while waiting for her to get her doctors’ clearance to fly, I’ll do what I can to express how much I love her through email. Words on a screen aren’t enough, but that’s the only thing we have. I’m just really thankful for the opportunity to communicate with her and just enjoy being her daughter. I promise that when she comes by, I’ll hug her so tight and it’ll take the force of a hundred elephants to make me let go.