Tag Archives: Mother

Special three!

blog anniversary 2

Today, 8th May is a special day. For three main reasons:

We celebrate the Ascension of our Lord Jesus. The church commemorates the day He went back to heaven, after which He sent us His helper- The Holy Spirit. A day (Pentecost) we’ll be celebrating next Sunday. The caring God He is, He ensured we would never be alone.

During mass the mass the priest told us about this man who died and went to heaven. When he got there, God showed him the life he’d led when he was on earth. The man watched as his life was displayed before him. He realized that all through there were footprints left behind. There were two pairs of footprints. However, he realized that at a time in his life when he had been going through so much tribulation, there was only one pair of footprints.

Turning to Jesus he asked him, “You left me at a time when I needed you most. Why?”

“Never did I leave your side,” Jesus replied. “Those two footprints you see are mine. I carried you, when you couldn’t walk on your own.”

The man was speechless.

I bet if we had a conversation with Jesus we would ask him the same. ‘Why he left us when we needed him most’. Sometimes I feel like I’m alone. But obviously that’s never the case; because we’re never alone. God’s always there with us. We just need to believe that and push on, even when we feel like life couldn’t get worse.

Today as we celebrate the Ascension of Christ, we should remember that we are never alone. God made sure of that. If ever we get to a point where we feel alone, we should just trust that He’s right there with us and push on.

Ascension

The second reason why this is a very special day is the fact that today we’re celebrating our beloved mothers. I wish all the mothers out there the happiest of mothers’ day. Personally I celebrate my mom. She’s impacted my life so greatly. The suffering she’s gone through so my sisters and I can make it in life has taught me a lot. She sacrificed, and still continues to sacrifice her happiness so we could at least have a shot at life.

It hasn’t been easy one bit, but from her experiences I understand what motherhood is all about; or at least I think I do. One thing I know without a  shadow of a doubt is that being a mother is a full time job and given that it’s not something a woman can just delegate, it’s just about the hardest job in the world.

I remember this post I once read about a mother’s job. Can’t remember the exact details but in a nutshell, a mother’s job is like a ‘medley’ of jobs. A mother is a care-giver; she’s a teacher; she’s a doctor… a mother is many things. If God-forbid I didn’t have my mom, I couldn’t possibly start to imagine where I would be right now… she’s been there to help me through difficult times; seeming strong even when everything around me was crumbling…

Because of her, I have felt the healing touch of a mother’s love. I acknowledge that no one’s perfect and for that, even she has had her own shortcomings. Even so, I couldn’t have asked for a better mom. I love her, and I cherish her.

Happy mothers’ day to all the mothers.

happy mothers' day

The third reason why this day is special is because today I’m celebrating my blog’s third anniversary. It’s really hard to believe that this blog is now three years old, and counting… I haven’t been blogging much lately but I’m so grateful to all my readers; for your patience and understanding, especially where I go for weeks before replying to comments. It’s never intentional. There’s so much going on in my life right now…

blog anniversary

I cherish you all. Because without you, I wouldn’t have the motivation to write…much as I find it therapeutic. Thank you for your continued support, and encouragement.

So today, I celebrate the Ascension of Christ, all mothers in the world, my blog’s third anniversary and my readers. Such a special day!

 

Love you beer… The confrontation: Part 2

alcoholism

If something unsettles you, it’s better to address it and just get done with it, because waiting for it to happen is much worse… That’s what I was thinking the entire time I was watching dad. He’s really not the forgiving/forgetting type. Even if he doesn’t confront someone for something they did, he will eventually. I was waiting for the façade to come down; for him to finally confront me, problem is, I didn’t know how long it would take before he got tired of pretending everything was hunky-dory.

Two and a half hours later, he came back, visibly drunk. Mom had already gone to bed. He went straight to the bedroom. He didn’t ask for food, and no one asked if he was hungry. When he is drunk we prefer to let him be because talking to him would be opening sluice-gates to incessant carping. The night was too serene to ruin it with drunken ramblings.

Relieved that he was safely home, my sisters and I sat down to watch the fifth season of the vampire diaries. At eleven forty five, almost an hour later, dad walked into the living room and without a word he left the house.

At around two in the morning, my sisters went to bed and shortly after, mom woke up. She was stressed dad was out that late. Seeming distraught, she asked what time he had left. Seeing her so troubled reminded me what had led me to text dad on Tuesday morning; when he starts drinking, he can’t seem to stop, until he runs out of money.

By the time I went to bed at four, my old man was nowhere in sight. After saying my night prayers, I went to check on mom and found she had already gone to bed. Empathizing with her, I switched the lights off and went to bed.

Sunday morning, my alarm went off at seven forty five, and though I was sleepy, I knew I had to wake up to prep for church; however, sleep overpowered me and I drifted back into slumber, until my small sister came to wake me up at eight thirty. I didn’t have much time to prepare so I got up, prayed and got out of bed.

I didn’t know what time dad had come but my big sister told me he’d come in the morning. I wasn’t surprised; that seems to be something he is doing a lot lately. Mom had already left for the mid-morning mass, my big sister wanted to sleep in after a gruelling week interning and attending classes, and dad didn’t pick up when I tried calling him; he was in a deep sleep.

I took the car keys and asked my big sister to tell him I took the car. I knew he wouldn’t be too pleased but seeing as he couldn’t drive, I knew it was a necessary risk as my small sister and I were already getting late for church.

When we got back home later in the afternoon, dad had just woken up. He didn’t complain I had taken the car; instead he just greeted us, and left, again. He came back at around seven in the evening, took some more money and left again. He showed up two hours later, looking pretty much at ease.

Mom and I left to go sign in at the gate. It’s a security measure taken to keep tabs on all residents/non-residents, who come into the estate. When I drove in earlier, I hadn’t signed in because I had thought dad would, but then he didn’t. After signing in, we walked back to the house, and found loud music playing.

Other than the fact that it’s against estate policy, it was just too loud. I gestured to my dad, to turn the volume down.

“It’s too loud?” He shouted.

I nodded, and he acquiescently turned it down. A while later, he rose and left for the bedroom. Minutes later, he walked back to the living room, headed for the main door. Mom couldn’t take it anymore. She walked to him and asked him, evidently shocked, “You’re leaving again, at this time?”

“I’m not talking to you, unless you want us to fight,” he barked.

“Just tell us if there’s someone you can’t stand in this house. You’ve been drinking since you came. You spent the whole night out, and now you want to leave again.”

“I was listening to music and you said it was too loud, so now I’m leaving.” He threatened to hit her, but then mom told him if he dared she would call the cops on him. It wouldn’t be his first time to spend the night behind bars; eight year ago, he was at it, disrupting peace in the house when mom called the police and they took him away.

When the police came in that night I was at the verge of hitting him on the head with a soda bottle, in defence. I shudder at the thought of what could have happened had the police not showed up in time. It’s a dreadful night I try to forget.

Just like that, everything turned chaotic, everyone talking at the top of their voices, and finally dad managed to get whatever had been troubling him off his chest.

“You started this,” he yelled at me. “You are your mother’s accomplice. Don’t send me those silly texts again.”

“You need to get help dad,” I shouted. “You have a drinking problem.”

“I’ve had it with you,” he snarled.

Love you beer… The confrontation: Part 1

alcoholism 2

After texting dad, asking him to reconsider his love for beer, we didn’t get to talk and he never texted back. In preparation for his arrival, I wrote down a short essay, ‘Why I think you might have a drinking problem’, listing all the things he does that have led me to the conclusion he is an alcoholic, and furthermore attaching some receipt he’d drunkenly left lying around to support my findings.

It might sound extreme that I went to such an extent but I figured if he started accusing me of ‘calling him an alcoholic’, even though I hadn’t said it like that, he wouldn’t give me a chance to explain. On the other hand I also figured, if he didn’t rip the papers in anger, curiosity would get him to read them.

He had already asked mom to tell me to stop sending him silly texts, so I sought of had an inkling what mood he was in. I hoped to convince him my complaints weren’t just based on hearsay or things I had just concocted.

He was supposed to come home Friday evening but instead, he texted mom around eight at night, telling her he was in bed; he wasn’t coming. I know he gets lonely out there because he goes for a whole week without seeing us but somehow, as much as I empathized with him, I felt relieved he wasn’t coming.

It’s been a while since he failed to come home on weekend. The only time he doesn’t come is when he has so much work he needs to finish up in the office, especially after being on leave. So when mom told me he wasn’t coming, I imagined it had something to do with the text.

Based on previous incidents, I assumed it had gone two ways: either he had felt so ashamed that I had candidly pointed out he had a drinking problem and would try to make up for his shortcomings, or he had gotten so furious and would spend each minute of his time home threatening to snap my neck.

Well, I’m not sure he is capable of actually causing me such physical harm but nowadays there’s no telling what he can/can’t do when he’s under the influence. When the beer goes to his head he does crazy things. I hadn’t seen him since I texted him that Tuesday morning, but I knew things wouldn’t be all rainbows and unicorns when he came.

alcoholism 3

Saturday afternoon, my small sister told my big sister and me dad had called mom; he was on his way, coming home. I had imagined he would be coming the following weekend. Somehow I felt disappointed. The uncertainty made me tense up for a while, but then I reminded myself why I had sent him that text in the first place; he’s drinking a lot, and someone had to tell him.

While we were waiting for him, my big sister got a call from a friend; a lecturer she had grown to like had been MIA for a while. Reason being that he had been involved in an accident and no one knew of his whereabouts. Distressed, she called him up but his phone was off. That only had her more worried.

It was while I was comforting her, telling her not to worry and all, that dad came. When I opened the door, I didn’t know whether to smile or remain poker faced, but when I extended my hand, he pulled me and hugged me.

That, I had seen coming.

Surprised, I hugged him back. He had beer on his breath, so I assumed he had been drinking before he got home. But I didn’t care; he already knew what I felt about him binge-drinking, and that’s all that really mattered. My big sister was still feeling down and he tried finding out what was wrong with her, though she remained mum. He went straight to the bedroom and came out a few minutes later, before leaving again.

He came back almost two hours later with mom and left again right after. I couldn’t quite figure if he was happy or mad, though he seemed unperturbed; however, I knew there was a storm brewing underneath his cool exterior. It wouldn’t be long before he eventually flipped his lid…

Of sugar and old memories

make someone happy2

Yesterday I served mom a cup of hot tea. It wasn’t exactly oversweet, but it had more sugar than she usually takes.

“You’ve put too much sugar,” she told me, in between sips.

“I know,” I smiled. “Just thought today you should have a sweet cup of tea.” I didn’t tell her, but I didn’t do it intentionally. Sometimes she craves lots of sugar and sometimes she could take her tea sugarless; I just put what I thought was her preferred amount. Turns out I was wrong.

“You do know I don’t take much sugar, don’t you?” She looked at me, setting the cup back on the table.

“Yeah, I know. I don’t either.” She didn’t say anything, but she  focused her gaze on me, urging me to continue. “Nowadays I don’t like my tea with too much sugar.” I didn’t believe I was the one uttering those words. It took me years back; when I was a kid, sugar was my best sin. If I had to confess to something, it would be for taking spoonfuls of sugar without mom’s permission. If I found myself alone in the kitchen, without any adult supervision, I would indulge in my forbidden pastime-eating sugar.

Once, mom and dad took my small sister for a dentist’s appointment. I was left in the house alone with my big sister. With the cats away, I decided to do what I did best in my parent’s absence; eating sugar or whatever sweet thing I could get my hands on. That Saturday I was still seated at the table having my breakfast. Without a second thought I reached for the honey jar, helping myself to a generous amount.

The next day I woke up with very painful tonsillitis. That was the last day I ate plain honey.

“People start craving sweet things when they start aging,” mom said, pulling me out of my musings. “Don’t you remember how my mom used to like sweet things?”

“I do remember.”

“She always wanted to have lots of sugar in her tea.” I looked at her. There was a forlorn look on her face; her mind had drifted off to the past; back to when her mom was still with us. It has been a few months since grams passed away and mom is still trying to come to terms with it. It hasn’t been the easiest thing for her. “I wish I’d let her take all the sugar she wanted.”

I realized she was saying that in remorse. At the time she wouldn’t let grams eat anything unhealthy, but now that she was gone, she regretted not allowing her to indulge in the things she craved, however minute; things that would have made her happy. It’s like in a way she felt that would have made grams’ life better during the time she was alive; it would have made her days pleasant.

“That wouldn’t have worked,” I comforted her, “because then she would have contracted some other illness and that would have killed her still.” She only nodded in agreement.

That short conversation gave me lots to think about. Mom felt guilty for not letting grams have the small things she desired-sugar to be precise. Now that grams was already gone, she imagined allowing her to satiate some of her cravings would have made her happier.

That’s how it is with us humans; we regret things we did/n’t do for the people we love when they aren’t with us anymore; a person realizes they could have treated their partner better when the relationship is no more…

It reminded me of one thing; to cherish those people in our lives. To remember they will not always be with us; because if we keep that in mind we will know what to do to make them happy. It may be something silly or unimportant, but whatever it is, if it makes them happy, give it to them, provided it doesn’t send them to an early grave.

The allure of the forbidden

The other day one of mom’s brothers who’s relationship with his wife is on the rocks at the moment called mom, asking for some advice about what to do about his fifteen year old daughter. Apparently she’s in that stage where hormones override all wits. In his own words, the girl’s spending too much time with men. Naturally he wouldn’t be asking mom for advice, problem is his wife left after a heated fight which left him scarred, physically. He didn’t know how to handle his daughter’s crisis; therefore he resulted to calling mom.

When he called the first time he couldn’t bring himself to explain it so he hang up. Mom was concerned; she wanted to understand the situation so she could help in whatever way she could. Unable to wait for him to call, she called him back. Mom wanted to know what he meant when he said my cousin was spending too much time in the company of men. As it turns out, there was only one guy. The young miss found herself a boyfriend, who’s a few years older; he’s a university student while she’s only in her first year of high school.

It’s that age gap my uncle was particularly concerned about; he was afraid the guy would only use her then dump her. He couldn’t fathom the idea of his daughter knocked up and heartbroken. Maybe I’m weird, because I didn’t find the age gap an issue. The guy’s a few years older, true; but then most of my friend’s back in high school dated guys who were already in college too. The issue therefore felt normal. Nonetheless, I understood his fatherly concern.

He was in a quandary; what was he supposed to do? His idea was to do whatever it took to keep the two lovebirds apart. From my perspective, trying to pull them apart would only bring them together. There’s just something about the forbidden; I would love to believe it all started with Eve, when she ate the forbidden fruit, before convincing Adam to partake of it.

the forbidden fruit

One of my high school teachers seemed to have understood the whole concept-the allure of the forbidden. When he was on duty he’d say the opposite of what he meant. During an assembly, instead of asking students to be quiet when they went back to class, he’d just be like, “Go make noise.” Funny thing was students never made noise in class.

I watched an episode of ‘I hate my teenage daughter’, where the two moms were helping their daughters pick out dresses for a father-daughter cotillion (dance). They knew if they said they liked any outfits their kids wouldn’t pick them. Therefore when they saw the dresses they wanted their daughters to wear, one said, “I hate that dress, go take it off.” And the other one said to her daughter, “Who is that Brazilian prostitute? And what has she done with my daughter?” Just like they had assumed, their daughters were thrilled. “These are the ones”, they giggled.

I don’t know what’s with teens and defiance. I was a teen once and I remember feeling like I hated mom because we couldn’t quite agree on anything. I also remember feeling like I was always misunderstood. Nowadays we’re so tight; we’re almost like best friends. I’m not sure if it’s the decision I made to just stop arguing with mom because I’d gotten tired of always being at loggerheads with her, but our relationship improved remarkably. Maybe I just grew up.

I haven’t the basic tips on how to raise teenagers as I don’t have any kids yet, but what I know is that it’s better to show them you understand them. Chances are if my uncle gives my cousin the impression he trusts her, she’ll end the relationship sooner than later if the guy’s got some lousy schemes up his sleeves; but whatever the outcome, she’ll know her dad’s got her back.

If you ask me, many kids mess because they try to do things behind their parents’ backs. With relationships for instance, it’s better to just sit them down and tell them of all the dangers they risk if they engage in premarital sex, than to forbid them from being in relationships. I couldn’t believe my ears when I heard on radio earlier this week that kids should be given contraceptives as they start having sex from as early as eight. Yes, eight years; that’s how much we’ve evolved. Babies are no longer babies; they’re not playing with dollies and toy cars anymore; that’s the harsh reality.

Last I checked, all my cousins from my paternal side took alcohol. Dad and his siblings never seem to care when any of us drinks. One of dad’s brothers is always very enthusiastic to have my cousins and I drink. He always insists, “I’d rather buy you drinks and have you drink here where I can see you than have you drinking behind my back.” That’s the kind of environment we grew up in. Ironically, my sisters and I are almost teetotallers. We figured out on our own that drinking has consequences.

When it comes to dealing with young people, I think it’s better to be proactive, than to be reactive; but that’s just my opinion.

 

 

Journey to the past

live life to the fullest

I’ve been trying to retrace my steps with anxiety; I wanted to get a clear insight into how/when it started. As I took my journey back to the past, I realized that the first time I suffered an anxiety attack I was twelve, while in boarding school. It was dark, in the middle of the night. Everyone was asleep, but somehow I couldn’t sleep. I can’t remember what I was thinking exactly, but I started breathing fast as my heartbeat rose. Slowly, as the hours passed, a dull ache developed in my chest. I felt like I had been running for hours.

I’m thinking whatever was going on in my mind that night was nothing pleasant; I know this because most of my thoughts while I was in boarding school revolved around me transferring to a day school near my home. I was never really comfortable staying away from home. I constantly worried about mom an awful lot; if she was doing okay, because everytime I went back home on holidays my small sister would tell me how she and dad had fought.

I was young at the time, but I remember feeling like our (my sisters and I) presence kind of eased the situation because we would stop them from getting into frequent fights. I always worried that maybe dad would hurt mom so bad…it was horrible.

That night I never slept; I tossed and turned in bed, clutching on to my chest. I didn’t know what was happening to me, and that also had me all worried. At day break I went to the sick bay. We didn’t have a dispensary in the school because there was a mission hospital adjacent to the school. The matron who was on duty that day gave me painkillers for my chest pain; they (matrons) only treated minor ailments: headaches, stomachaches sore throats, coughs that didn’t seem severe…

Normally if one was feeling unwell they would go for their morning, afternoon and evening dose of whatever medication (students weren’t allowed to be in possession of any medication). If whatever ailment didn’t subside after three days, they would ask one to visit the hospital on the fourth day.

The pain in my chest seemed to worsen with each day. On the fourth day I was referred to hospital. After our daily morning assembly that day, everyone who had been referred to the hospital, myself included, waited outside the headmistress’ office so she could give us permission to leave the school compound.  

Eventually I found myself sitted in front of a doctor, telling him how I was feeling. “My heart is beating faster than usual, and my chest pains a lot.” I don’t even remember if I underwent any tests, but I was diagnosed with ‘heart skip’. I didn’t dwell much on the diagnosis; all my mind registered was that I was suffering from a heart condition.

Subsequently, when I went back to school, I pulled out of every activity which I considered strenuous; all games and the weekly manual cleaning didn’t survive the cut. I have always been a sporty person, so I felt a sense of great loss descend upon me when I sat out of a P.E lesson later that day, because I was ‘sick’.

After being diagnosed with ‘heart skip’, the remaining part of that term felt quite miserable. I couldn’t run around the school compound. I couldn’t take part in the games I loved. My life just felt mundane. I was living like ‘Jill’; all work and no play. Nonetheless, all those precautions I took didn’t help my ‘condition’ much. In any case, it seemed to worsen. When I finished my prescription the situation hadn’t improved; I went back for review.

That term I went to the hospital so many times, the headmistress-a distant relative-nicknamed me a hospital tourist; even so, she didn’t bar me from seeking treatment. After two reviews and more medication, nothing had changed; I even felt much worse.

When schools closed, mom came to pick me up. She was incensed, that no one had cared to tell her I was unwell. She couldn’t do much at the time though; there were no teachers around as they had all retreated to their quarters. Early the next morning she took me to our family doctor, who had my chest X-rayed. It didn’t reveal anything. Mom asked about my earlier diagnosis-heart skip- but the doctor said there was no such thing in the medical field. Apparently the pills I’d been taking were just vitamin pills.

The next term I went back to school, I resumed all the activities I had ditched the previous term. Life felt normal once more. The knowledge that I wasn’t really sick psyched me up and all the chest pain became history.

 

 

Sweeping issues under the carpet

A few days ago I watched my two sisters arguing. My big sister, who’s an aspiring fashion designer, makes clothes for me and my little sister when she’s not too busy with school; currently we’re her muses. We had a cultural event in our church and one of the requirements was to go dressed in some cultural outfit. They only announced it a week to the actual day so we only had a few days to find suitable outfits.

I already knew what I wanted; we bought the fabric and in four days mine was complete. My baby sister however, couldn’t decide what she wanted. It was difficult trying to choose a design that would be ready in only two days. While sampling a few designs, it just so happened that she and my big sister couldn’t agree on one.

That little, seemingly minute conversation spiraled out of control and before long, one was hurt, the other one was furious. I was caught in the middle, trying to help them come to a consensus. By the time we went to bed that night they were not talking to each other.

That argument reminded me of previous fights between mom and dad. That’s how it’s always been between them; going to bed with matters unresolved. When they wake up the next day they try to ‘ignore’ what happened-depending on the magnitude of their fight. The small issues are deftly swept under the carpet. They just go about with their lives like nothing happened, until the same issue springs up later in another argument, seeming much more intense than before.

When we were small, my big siz took on the role of chief mediator. When mom and dad weren’t talking because they just couldn’t see things from the same perspective, she would ask us to jointly intervene. I didn’t have the patience for it but since she had requested, I would agree to it. We would sit both of them down at different times, trying to understand why they had fought.

On most occasions we would talk to dad when he was sober, so it wasn’t that bad; it actually felt like a breakthrough because sometimes he helped us understand why he had lashed out at mom. Apparently he wasn’t always the guilty one.

After getting dad’s side of the story, we would wait for mom to come home from work then we would get her side of it. We would then help them see it from the other’s perspective; when all was said and done, they would be hugging and kissing, happy to be on speaking terms again.

Those days were such happy days for us; it’s every kid’s dream to see their parents happy; we were no exception. That’s how I got to understand that communication is key. People could fight over the most trivial of issues because somehow a point went misunderstood, then got blown out of proportion. In an attempt to reconcile, sometimes we choose to sweep the issues under the carpet, but I realized that is hardly a solution because eventually the same issue will graduate into something dreadful, which could have been avoided in the first place.

communication is key

About our outfits, I had a talk with each one of my sisters separately, and just like we used to do with mom and dad, I helped them understand what the other meant. My big sister tried to make a dress similar to the one our baby siz wanted, but tried to simplify the complicated parts so she could finish making it on time. When Sunday came, we went to church happy in our beautiful custom made outfits.

 

 

Almost Aborted

pregnant

When one of my cousins was twenty years old, she got pregnant. She wasn’t married at the time and she hadn’t introduced any particular guy to her family, so it came as a shock to everyone. Her mom was the one who was most affected; her daughter’s situation would subject her to people’s ridicule. She wasn’t prepared to go through all that; so she asked her to get an abortion.

My cousin was distraught; she was not prepared to have her baby aborted. She refused. When the row was going on, one of our cousins, who she was closest to, found out and started telling everyone. She turned her back against her too, disregarding the tight relationship they had before the ‘tiny one’ came into the picture. Before long, everyone in the family knew my cousin was pregnant. It was a difficult time for her; everyone turned against her. They felt she had committed a grave mistake. Some relatives rejoiced; not for good reasons though, but because the girl everyone considered holy had been knocked up by someone no one in the family had been formally introduced to.

Naturally, my sisters and I aren’t so close to her because she-like the rest of the family-always snubs us; we don’t fit in her social circle; I don’t find that an issue anymore-it’s just ludicrous (I fail to comprehend how people could put so much importance on material possessions). After everyone got wind of her undesirable situation, she was alienated, without a single person she could count on. Even the cousins she ganged up with to make our lives impossible ditched her. If they weren’t dissing her, speculating who her baby daddy was and all, they were celebrating her ‘misfortune’. She was all alone.

The situation felt especially difficult for her because she was a girl with a quiet demeanor, while her mom’s the kind of woman who criticizes others easily. My aunt feared people would unleash their wrath upon her, serving her a dose of her own medicine. She was disturbed. Before it became public knowledge, she had talked to mom about her predicament; she had a solution to obliterate the tragedy, but her daughter was too unwavering to comply. She asked mom to convince my cousin to terminate the pregnancy.

Mom wanted to help, but the idea of an abortion didn’t sit well with her. Instead she had a talk with my cousin, asking her what she wanted. She wanted to keep her baby. Subsequently, mom tried convincing my aunt an abortion wasn’t the solution; my cousin wasn’t willing to go through with it.

That infuriated my aunt. How would she face people? The same people she had always been too quick to judge? Eventually, she kicked my cousin out. We live in the same estate, only in different courts, and luckily mom had gone to see how they were holding up when she was thrown out. We took her in. Funny thing is, we were among the first people to hear it because when my aunt found out she told mom about it, reeling with shock, but we never breathed a word of it; it wasn’t our place to tell; plus we’ve been in that situation-having people make us subject of their scuttlebutt with reckless abandon-too many times to want to inflict the same pain on anyone. I also believe in the golden rule; treating people the way I’d like others to treat me…

When she came home, it was around Christmas. After the fight with her mom, her eyes were red; she had been crying. All we wanted was to make her settle in; no one questioned her about it. She would tell us if she deemed it fit. For the period she stayed with us, none of us brought the issue up, and apparently she didn’t see it right to let us in on it.

We were ignoring a gargantuan elephant in the house; sometimes surprised, we’d be tempted to innocently point out her feet were swollen as it was too obvious or that her face was glowing but then we’d bite our tongues real quick; she hadn’t told us she had a bun in the oven and we didn’t want to offend her. She had too much on her plate; if our willful ‘ignorance’ afforded her some false impression of privacy, we would give her just that.

At some point we wanted to suggest we take her shopping so she could buy some cute dresses because she was always in jeans and over-sized shirts, but we couldn’t. We had do act dumb. It was difficult, but for her peace of mind we refrained from saying or doing anything which would allude to the ‘little’ elephant we were all trying to ignore. I doubt I ever told her, but the thought that she refused to abort even when the whole world seemed to be against her made me admire her greatly.

Opposites Attract

opposites attract

I’ll never understand some things; not because I’m daft, but simply because those are some of nature’s machinations-but I know there’s a scientific explanation to it. Have you ever met two people who are completely different and you wonder how they ended up together?

When my sisters and I were small, my baby sister didn’t understand what was going on between mom and dad; fighting and all… She would constantly ask mom innocently, “Can’t we just look for another dad?” She was too young to comprehend the fact that the two were bound together by holy matrimony; it wasn’t just something mom could fix with the snap of her fingers…but that’s how kids are; they think their parents are super heroes.

She obviously felt dad wasn’t her ideal father, and she felt we would be much happier if mom found us another dad. If only it was that easy. If I had a choice, I would have gladly kicked dad to the curb on mom’s behalf long ago. I fail to understand how she put up with his abuse for so long, but everytime I remind myself, she was brought up in a very religious setting. She was going to join a convent; it was during the early stages of her formation, when she met dad and fell head-over-heels in love with him, plus she was a catechist… and the church preaches strongly against divorce…you know, ‘what God has put together, let no man put asunder’…

That in a nutshell defines my parents; virtuous mom (she’s no saint though) and a phenomenally mean dad (especially when he’s ‘under the influence’), and that is precisely what I don’t understand. They’re so different; completely opposite.

I know more than enough married couples, and there seems to be something common. It’s like nature went out looking for the extreme opposites and put them together to even things out. For instance, there are these family friends we have. We haven’t seen each other for a while since they moved to Australia a few years ago, but their family was a contrast to ours-last I checked.

The mom was the domineering control freak while the husband was so humble. The kids loved the father more. Then I have these four cousins, who have different fathers because their mom cheats on their loyal dad an awful lot. I’m not sure they know it; it’s an open secret.

I just can’t seem to trace any family with two ‘good’ parents. One of mom’s nephews- he’s almost her age- calls her a lot to ask for advice because his wife cheats on him brazenly.  He set up a business for her, lavishes her with gifts… he’s most women’s ideal husband. Lately he’s not been calling, so mom figured she should check up on him because the last time they talked he didn’t feel fine.

She rang him today. Apparently, his two kids-barely teenagers-threw their mom out. They asked her to take some time off to figure out what she wants to do with their father. I’ve never met her honestly, but from the description I get of her, she drinks a lot, doesn’t visit her kids in school, spends nights out, away from home… He, on the other hand is a quiet, laid-back guy.

That got me thinking; those kids wish for a better mom, like my sisters and I were wishing for a better dad. It almost feels obvious, if the wife is good, the husband is the villain of the piece…and if the husband is good, the wife is wicked… Opposites attract, literally; but for what it’s worth, I hope I’m wrong.

MATTERS PARENTING-FROM A DAUGHTER’S PERSPECTIVE

parent  Everytime I talk about matters parenting, I always feel like I’m doing parents a major disservice; mainly because I haven’t walked down that road yet. Nevertheless, I feel I know reasonably much about parenting; I’ve watched my parents raising three daughters- me included- and even though I’ve only been watching from the sidelines, I formed my own opinion on the matter. If I may put in my two cents worth, parents should use a relatively soft approach on their kids. This however doesn’t mean they should be lenient; overlooking mistakes and all… Fundamentally, the idea is for parents to understand their children; to walk a mile in their shoes, so they can simply get the rationale of their complexities.

For this to be successful, parents would basically be required to lay the ground rules, which would be used to guide members of the family on what is/not allowed. Parents would also be required to put their feet down, just to ensure that the rules are adhered to.

The term ‘rules’, I realize, brings out the idea as a scheme by parents to tyrannize their children, but that is not it. The rules imply to simple things that are done in the home; for instance, sitting at the table together for meals, doing chores, running  errands… etc. Setting of rules would help parents keep their children in check, and this would help them identify any snags that would arise in relation to that.

In case you’re wondering how I came to this, I mentioned in down memory lane: my childhood sweetheart that I went to boarding school. I was only eleven at the time and I detested it with every ounce of my being. My mom thought it was the best idea though; there were many distractions at home and she felt boarding would counter all that. True to her suppositions, it did just that. She only intended for me to get good grades, which I did…

Looking at the bigger picture though, I impute most of the barneys I had with her as a teenager to that simple fact that she shipped me off to boarding school. See, when I went there I was quite young; at such a pliable age. It was then that I learnt how to spread a bed impeccably, do my own laundry… most importantly, I also learnt how to verbalize my emotions. Before I enrolled there, I was just an introverted girl; I kept to myself a lot. I didn’t bother standing up to other students because I knew all I had to do was squeal on them and my mom would take up the matter with the concerned teachers; I wasn’t bratty though, just that I didn’t find it necessary to engage in squabbles when my mom could easily intervene.  Every once in a while though, I’d find myself in messy fights with boys in my classroom and that would have my mom summoned in school. In the teachers’ presence she would vindicate me, so much so that I always got off the hook easily.  I don’t remember being chastised by any of the teachers on any one of those accounts; but when I got back home, she would set things straight. She would scold me sternly or give me whatever punishment she thought suited the nature of my transgression. She’s always been zero-tolerant to impertinence.

Sometimes teachers would find themselves at the receiving end of my mom’s backlash. If you ask me, they deserved it all… they were brutal! Students who arrived to school late were caned mercilessly with peeled tree branches, which only made it twice as painful. At times they would cut hosepipes into pieces of considerable length and those too would be used to inflict pain on us. Some teachers even went ahead to fill the hollows in the pipes with stems, to intensify the lashes so that whoever they landed on would never be tempted to repeat whatever had brought them there in the first place. My mom hated seeing us (my sisters and I) bruised or with our knuckles swollen because a teacher had hit us with a ruler, so she took it upon herself to discipline us. She didn’t want us to turn out unscrupulous, but at the same time she didn’t want others to maim us alleging corrective measures; therefore she made sure we grew up straight to prevent us from getting in trouble with them. She chose to personally, nip our wrong doings in the bud.

When I went to boarding school I didn’t have my mom to defend me. I only had my big sister who had gone there a year before I did. She’s only a year and a half older than I am. The good thing about my new school was that caning was prohibited. The headmistress was a distant grandma; a strict disciplinarian, who pervaded fear in the other teachers as much as she did students. From the movies I watched as a kid, she was the angelic version of Miss Tranchbul in the movie, Matilda. She embodied perfection. Stained tunics with hanging hems or torn pockets weren’t tolerated; socks and blouses had to be dazzling white; those with discoloured ones were punished. Seeing as the school was catholic sponsored, she made it unmistakable that masses were not optional. That regardless, didn’t exorcize the little ‘demons’ in the school; some of the older girls were brutes. Consequently, I learnt how to defend myself. Slowly, the introvert I was developed into an outspoken lass… no one would mess with me again.

Out of those eight years that I was in boarding school, six of them I spent in school while the holidays only summed up to two years only. During those six years a lot happened; that’s when I learnt who I was…I became distinctly aware of my emotions, formed my own independent opinion of things. I’m not sure if it was just sheer ignorance, but my parents didn’t seem to realize I had changed. Many are the times I felt my actions were misconstrued and anything I said only ignited fights. Whenever I talked with my mom a certain phrase invariably popped up, “You don’t understand me!”  Disappointingly, my parents never made any efforts to understand the ‘new’ me. I only learnt to adjust to my surrounding when I got tired of fighting.

That ‘phase’ I was in, as many parents would refer to it, is a crucial stage in children’s lives; that’s when parents who previously  were awfully close with their children find themselves so detached, feeling like total strangers. Not all parents send their children to boarding school, but the same scenario plays itself out when parents are too busy working that they seldom spend time with them. Sometimes parents fail to realize that kids grow up fast. A month, or even a week could be enough for a child’s perceptions to be realigned; even a day’s occurrence-if incubated- could slowly change a person.

In light of this, I feel that parents would achieve much if they focused more on trying to understand why their children  act the way they do as opposed to just jumping into conclusions- that they’re only going through a phase -and consequently grounding them or giving punishments…