If you spend five minutes talking to me, I’m guaranteed to bring up my mother. If you’ve also ever stalked me on the gram, you’re bound to have seen endless shots of me and her on adventures together or just some posts celebrating how fabulous she is. Well, this is just one of the many more declarations of adoration for the beautiful lady that gave me life. I cherish her to the moon and back.
If I had to sum up my mother in one word it would be: hard-working. Hailing from an impoverished part of the Philippines, she has spent the majority of her life working non-stop from a very young age. Coming from an extremely low income background in a such an underdeveloped country, it meant that she wasn’t able to have a chance at education as her family couldn’t afford it. Yet, despite not being able to achieve her dreams, she managed to fight to gain good jobs and move all the way across the world, swapping sunny Cebu for the rainy lands of Wales, in order to ensure that her future offspring, aka yours truly, could lead the best life possible.
We are stupidly close, speaking on the phone everyday and making sure one another gets home safely to and from work and in my case, university. I distinctly remember when I first moved to Bristol, I would make the hour and a half journey back home nearly every weekend to see her (and do some laundry – what? the washing machines in halls were dire, I swear!) and then I would return back to my flat armed with an abundance of Tupperware full of egg fried rice. Little things like this make my heart swell and remind me how truly blessed I am to have such a caring woman in my life. I mean, nothing beats seeing the elated smile on her face at finally being reunited with rice after a week and a half without it when we stumbled upon a Wagamamas in Stockholm! I know, literally feeding into Asian stereotypes and blah blah blah, but we love our rice in this family! Breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Trust me, I’m not being hyperbolic when I say that my mother is an exceptional human being. Alright, I’m certainly biased because I mean, she’s my mother, but she radiates this extreme positivity and headstrong, can-do attitude that even outsiders can see how brilliant she is. Whether it be in day to day life dealings with friends and family or at her work in a dementia care home, it’s evident straight away how pro-actively and unconditionally she loves and cares for everyone. She’s not one of those people who just preaches about love, respect and admiration, but doesn’t truly come through in the end. My mum is the embodiment of true selflessness.
I don’t think there’s a more resilient human being out there. She may be 4ft 11, but she’s one impeccably strong Asian mama. Now, I’ve always been a mummy’s girl – except when I wanted something, then I temporarily switched sides because dad would 100% buy it for me 😉. Growing up, I hated being separated from either of my parents, but legend has it that I would bawl my eyes out if my mother even went to the loo or to do gardening without bringing me. While that doesn’t happen as frequently anymore, we’re still two peas in a pod.
My father passing away really strengthened our relationship. All throughout his battle with cancer and later illnesses, she was up most nights tending to my dad. She woke up very early in the morning before either of us to prepare breakfast before heading to work, and stayed up late to ensure not just his health and comfort, but also mine. She’s an unwavering pillar of sheer loyalty and strength, putting everyone else’s needs above her own. When my dad died, we had to lean heavily on each other in order to salvage ourselves from being utterly consumed by grief entirely. Without question, I stepped up to support her, sometimes taking on the strong, grown-up role to get her through the anguish.
Photography by the incredible Emily Chow. Thank you to LIBRARY Private Member’s Club London for the fab cocktails and for kindly having us!
Quite honestly, we’re all each other has left in the world. With my dad gone, her family 7,000 miles away and me being an only child, it’s only natural that we’ve stuck together and are such good friends. Don’t me wrong, we argue like hell, but we’re always able to patch things up in the end and I think that’s a testament to not just the incredible bond we’ve built over the years, but also her forgiving nature. She’s one of those very few people who doesn’t hold grudges… most of the time.
It’s been a hard few months for me. I always joke that I’m terrible narcissist and sometimes I worry it can seem that way when I write, especially on here, as everything is so wrapped up in me and what I’m going through. It feels almost self-indulgent at times even though I think opening up about personal experiences with mental illness is extremely important as I know firsthand that seeing someone else speak about their own struggles can feel incredibly reassuring.
However, everything both online and offline recently has focused on me and my innermost emotions and while I do make jest of it, I find it terribly hard being the centre of attention, but I had to be because I was incredibly depressed. I have no doubt that was extremely distressing for my mother to watch me go through this intense low and suddenly change into a different person before her eyes. For the longest time, I was a shell of my former self. I was on a strong dosage of an antidepressant that made me very dissociative and numb, I literally couldn’t even laugh or cry!
I know not everyone is fortunate to have prominent and consistent mother figures in their life which makes me extra lucky and thankful to have one as brilliantly supportive as mine. Not only has she stood by me and encouraged me to follow my dreams no matter what – even if they aren’t the conventional norm expected of an Asian kid (the amount of doctor/lawyer disappointment jokes I’ve heard pursuing this writing career is ridiculous!) as well being a shoulder to cry on in the darkest of times recently. She has given up time and always put me first. Knowing I can rely on her for anything truly makes me feel blessed. Literally, she’s always a phone call away and my number one go to gal whether it be good news or sad news.
I don’t need a knight in shining armour to rescue me. Why? Because I have a mother who will take a taxi at 3am from Swansea to Manchester, spending £600, to save her daughter from boy troubles (true story). If that’s not proof of a mother’s staunch dedication, I don’t know what it is. I promise when I’m a hotshot author, I’ll pay you back, mama!
That being said, there’s little I can do to ever repay all the time and perseverance she has put into raising me and she’s done a mighty fine job if I do say so myself haha. If it wasn’t for her determination, I wouldn’t be here and have half the brilliant opportunities that I do. I sincerely owe everything to her. Every day she inspires me to be a stronger, better woman and I am continuously in awe of her.
Thank you, Mum, for everything you do!