Mother of two Jaymie shares an open letter to her own mama who lives in a different country and who she has not seen in years due to the pandemic
I wish you were here.
Starting my motherhood journey without a village in a foreign country was hard. I wished every day that you were here beside me to share your parenting secrets and more. Although my mother-in-law and my husband helped me with taking care of my firstborn, emotionally I was lost.
Mama, you’ve always been my sturdy tree – the one who kept me grounded in all the tumultuous times in my life. I felt supported physically, but mentally and emotionally I felt weak without you. It might be just the hormones, but I’ve never felt more of a foreigner than during that time.
When you came to visit a month after I gave birth, I felt myself come alive. I felt relieved that, finally, you were beside me. It was a blessing that you were around to help me recover when I had to go back to the hospital for a retained placenta. You made sure I packed my rosary beads and said a prayer of protection before leaving the house. You assured me that you’ll be fine with your grandson, even though you haven’t held a baby in years.
When you had to go back home, I felt anxious in the days leading up to your departure. In this sense, a child will always be a child no matter what age they are.
That’s the downside of immigration. A lot of us must leave our homeland, including our family and friends, to pursue a better future elsewhere. Having to leave your family behind and start a family of your own is a bittersweet experience.
Mama, you’ve always been the first one to celebrate my achievements. So, I wanted you to be the first to know when I received my permanent residency here in Singapore. And when I received the letter for my citizenship ceremony, I felt happy, but wished you were here to witness it. When Alfie started walking, I could only tell you through FaceTime. Thank goodness for modern technology! But it still felt different. I wanted you to be the first with whom I shared my news, just like old times.
Now, with this pandemic, the distance is more pronounced.
When will I see you again, Mama? It doesn’t help that the pandemic has made travel difficult. It’s been two years since we’ve last seen each other. The kids have grown up a lot.
I worry about you and Papa, about the increasing cases in Manila, and when I will see you again. This pandemic has given life to my biggest fears. I’m afraid that if something happens, I won’t be home in time to get to you.
It has also highlighted how different our situation is from most families. When the schools adapted home-based learning (HBL) in May last year, we felt the squeeze. I work in healthcare, and because of the pandemic my workplace had to split us into teams. I could see how exhausted my husband was having to juggle work and HBL then. I thought of how fortunate some of my friends here are to have family support from both sides; to have an option when it came to asking for help. But you taught me to be strong and to soldier on whatever life throws our way.
I pray every day that God will keep you safe. I pray for an end to this pandemic. Most of all, I pray that I get to hug and kiss you again sooner than later. Hopefully, next year.
I love you, Mama. Always.