Writing captions to honor my mother on social media is not a problem, but writing and sharing our story was something I’ve never done before. I have this fear that I won’t give justice to what she’s done. This year, I finally decided to open up and try to tell a little bit about why I’m honoring my mother on a day dedicated for fathers.
My mother had been a single parent early on and it came as a surprise. We had an unfortunate incident of having my father pass away when I was four and when my brother was barely a year old. I can still remember the first night, my mother and I were in bed as she told me intently, “Papa is not coming home anymore.” I honestly do not know if that really happened or was just a trick that my mind made up to cope. From that moment on, she was already juggling a role meant for two.
She had to be strong, not just for herself, but for her two kids. My mother had to pick up the pieces and just go because she had no choice. She was offered opportunities that would need her to leave us for a while, but chose not to pursue them because she can’t stand the fact that she’ll be far away from us at an early age. She always, always chose us.
At 28, which is the same age as she was when we lost my dad, I am getting a better understanding of what she went through. And the more I learn about it, the more in awe I am of the strength that she has. I couldn’t fathom the amount of responsibilities she had to face, not to mention the loss she had to grieve. She had to look for a place to live, she had to go to work, she had to send us through school, and not to mention cater to all the things we need and want. I’m not saying she did that on her own—we had a great support system in the form of my amazing yaya, our relatives, family friends, and our faith—but you gotta give this tough mama credit.
What’s great is that my mom never made us feel there was something lacking, she filled out the role of being a mother and a father. When I look back, I couldn’t really think of a time that I felt there was a void and I believe I can say the same for my brother. We were loved so fiercely and unconditionally that it makes our family whole.
Last year, I asked my cousin to write about her experience as a solo/single parent. And after reading her work, I was able see a little bit of what goes inside my mother’s head. It changes your life, my cousin said. It’ll shift your priorities. And in the end, she said that single parents are so resilient that they will always find a way to make it work. So yeah, now I know a little more and I couldn’t thank my mother enough for all the hard work and sacrifice she went through just so she can give us a great life.
Even until now that she has found her life partner in my stepdad, she still ends up choosing us over anything. I guess that’s just how they love—never stopping, never ending.
Mama, thank you for also being our papa. I love you always and I can only pray to be as awesome as you are as a parent to my future offspring. Happy Father’s Day!
Art by Marian Hukom
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