7 Sparkling Lessons From An Unconventional Mom | Pinay.com
My mother is a beautiful, complex creature like no other. She wasn’t like most moms, not prone to exhibiting sappy affections or wearing aprons. When we were newborns, she rarely carried us in her arms, afraid that we would accidentally slip off her fingers. The carrying was left to the nursemaids, but the nurturing she did herself in the most unconventional but still loving way. And she carried us through life this way. Even after she’s passed, she continues to carry us with her memory, memories that inspire and if nothing else, makes us smile.
Lesson 1: Make treasure out of trash
My mother was a packrat. During trips to the United States to visit family, she’d return with balikbayan boxes of stuff she’d hoarded mostly from dollar stores. Amidst the packed towels and trinkets, I’d find pine cones. I simply dismissed it as part of her “hoarding” tendency, then I later discovered that they were pinecones that she’d picked up during her many walks with her grandkids. They’d collect pinecones, stones, and whatever “treasures” they could find, making an adventure of their walk. It was one of the things that my sister-in-law most remembered about her. I know now that the treasure was really in the memory. These seemingly insignificant objects that we tend to ignore have created a cherished memory for my family, more valuable than any precious stone. She had found joy in what had fallen or what nature had rejected. My son never had the privilege of walking with his grandmother, but he had “inherited” that interest in looking for treasures during our walks.
Lesson 2: Don’t let life bully you
“Be good” and “Don’t start a fight,” are some of the usual reminders a mother would give her child when sending her off to school. Not my mother. What would stand out even to this day was: “if somebody pushes you, push back” and always, “fight back.” She is by no means a war freak but when it comes to her children she can put up a good fight. We are not to be pushovers, she said. She taught us to always fight back like she did, never allowing life to beat her down. Even on her deathbed, she wouldn’t let pneumonia beat her, holding on much longer than the doctors expected.
Lesson 3: Don’t be afraid to experiment
My mother cooked with orange juice, the powdered kind. She’d use it in almost any dish—adobo and even pasta. In fact she’d use anything she could find in the pantry as long as it’s edible. Did it do wonders to the dish? Most times, no. Other times she’d come up with something brilliant. She was never afraid to experiment and was the same way with almost any project, using things that we would normally never think of. I try to be that creative and would sometimes come up with surprising results. I guess the point is the fun in trying.
Lesson 4: Walk that extra mile
She loved to walk, whether it be for a religious pilgrimage or a shopping spree. She could walk the whole length of Nathan Road in Hong Kong till sundown and bring me to tears in exhaustion. And through all the miles covered, I never heard her complain. That kind of resilience she took with her to almost any life marathon she endeavored. No matter how hard life was, she kept on walking.
Lesson 5: Slowly but surely
My mother drove an orange 1976 Mitsubishi Gallant in her better years. Back then it was a notorious car on the road not only because of the happy color but also because it ran at a snail’s pace. A five-minute drive would take her about 20 minutes, especially when she was driving us to school. She took her time to say the least, but she always got us there—safe. She was always cautious, maybe unsure about certain things, but she never backed down and was always willing to try no matter how slow her pace was. And however she did it, she always got there.
Lesson 6: Get it over with
When we were younger, she had her ovaries, fallopian tubes, and almost everything in there removed to address a serious ailment. Nothing was spared except for her strong and stubborn beating heart. Through every procedure, she never hesitated or entertained fear, because she didn’t want to deal with the waiting and knew that the sooner it was done, the better. “I’d tell the doctors to get it over and done with,” she would always say proudly, like the veteran that she was.
Lesson 7: Enjoy life with people you like
She loved her jewelry, an occasional cocktail, and dancing the night away. But during her golden years, she grew tired of hanging out with her amigas. The domestic concerns of middle class housewives suddenly seemed so banal. Mahjong and chismis offered little amusement. She grew tired of keeping up. Instead, she took an interest to making friends with the household help, taking the younger ones in her wing. And occasionally, she’d share a drink with them or two. (Mothers do so much for their children. Read related story: “Pinay Mothers Speak on Special Day.”)
Sparkling Tips is a series of guides to help Pinay.com readers navigate life. These guides are in our tool box to share and to pick up now and then when we need to be reminded of how to go about living in comfort and beauty.