Monday, December 5, 2011

Bringing Back The Sparklers

There’s a Christmas Eve from my childhood that I can still remember clearly. I was six or seven years old back then. I was standing on a small chair, looking out the window, and Mama was standing behind me, her arms forming a little fence around me to make sure I didn’t fall off. We were each holding one of those cheap sparklers, the kind that burned out thirty seconds after being lit. I was holding my sparkler up, beaming as I watched the pretty sparks fly every which way into the night.

Then I looked up at Mama and, with all the excitement and silliness of the little child that I was, greeted her, “Merry Christmas Ma!” Mama smiled and answered, “Merry Christmas, anak.” Her arms closed around me and hugged me tight and she bent down to kiss me on the head.

Almost twenty years have passed since then, but it is still one of the moments in my life that I cherish the most. That was the time when my relationship with Mama was still built firmly on unblemished trust. The small space within her arms was my sanctuary. I knew she wouldn’t let me fall off the chair no matter how much I jumped around while pretending that my sparklers were a rocket ship zooming around in space. Back then, she was all that I needed.

But I grew up and, as I’ve found out too many times, growing up complicates a lot of things. I’m not really sure how it started, but I became more and more distant from Mama as I grew up. I was determined to explore life on my own. This is my life and I will live it the way I want it to, I always said to myself.

Mama has this idea of what success is:  I have to graduate from school (it doesn’t matter which school as long as I graduate on time), I have to find a job and stay there for at least five years because it’s difficult to find a job, I have to work abroad so that I can earn more, and finally, I have to find a wife and start my own family. It’s her life mission to help me do all of those, she said it’s the only way she can leave this world with peace of mind.

So far, I have not followed any of her plans. It took me six and a half years to graduate from college because I absolutely refused to study at any other school. I quit my first job after two years and I have told Mama that my new job isn’t going to be forever either, much to her dismay. I do not feel the need to work abroad yet because I’d much rather go back to school and take up masters. As for the wife and family thing, well, I’m gay so that’s not going to happen.

The fact that I have lived my life differently from how she had planned scares Mama. She thinks I’m wasting away and that I’ll be one of those has-beens left penniless and alone when they grow old. She tries desperately to steer me back on track, which I see as a slap at my character because I see myself as neither aimless nor as a failure. My plans may not be as clear-cut as hers but they do exist, and I think I’ve been doing pretty well on my own.

I can no longer count how many times Mama and I fought about my decisions, my life in general actually. It’s no longer the same as when we were still on that window, when what she wanted for me was also what I wanted. I know that she only wants me to be safe, but the walls that she built to protect me already feel like a prison. I’m different now, I’m no longer the frail, naïve, innocent little boy I used to be. I need Mama in my life and I will always consider her advices, but I have to make my own decisions now. Even if I don’t do what she wants me to do, it doesn’t mean that I don’t need her anymore.

I guess it’s hard for Mama to trust me simply because it’s hard to trust someone you barely know. I’ve been living away from home for twelve years now and, looking back, I realize that I’ve been doing my best to stay out of Mama’s reach. It’s not her fault that she doesn’t know me anymore, I brought this on us. I have made sure that she had as little involvement in my life as possible. I guess you can call it part of my teenage rebellion years or whatever. I’ve never been able to catch with her since, even until now. Honestly, readers of this blog probably know more about me than Mama does.

This Christmas eve, I’m buying Mama and me a box of those sparklers. As we light those sparklers, I’ll tell her about how the queue for the jeepney going home gets insanely long during rush hour, which is why I prefer to go home late. I’ll brag that I have every bit of alcohol tolerance that she has. I’ll show her that I already eat patatas, munggo and upo. I’ll take her to Starbucks and tell her how I sometimes imagine what it would be like to drink pa-sosyal coffee with her. I will tell her about how I went to Baguio for a boy, fell in love and got my heart broken after a few weeks, though I’ll probably leave out that I drank for a week after the breakup. Then I’ll tell her about my new boyfriend, this amazing guy who gave me chocolates and vitamins for my birthday.

Hopefully, that will do as a first step towards catching up. In spite of all the fights that we’ve been in, and no matter how it may seem otherwise, I love her with all my heart. I want to go back to those times when we had unquestioning trust for each other. I don’t know how many years of life either of us still has, and I don’t want to waste one more moment of it. She is my mother and I am her son. I don’t want us to be strangers anymore.


  1. Beautiful entry. Jap. Beautiful.

  2. Touching story, Nishi! Can relate to this in so many ways. I was a self-proclaimed Mama's boy when I was a kid.

  3. That sounds sweet. At least you have a momma that has not lost her mind. Mine is severely mentally ill and hears voices. She hasn't been able to hold an intelligent conversation in years. She has no sense of time passing or half the time who I am. The voices in her head say mean/horrible things that aren't true and she's always arguing with them. So enjoy those sparklers.

  4. Niceeeee. For a change walang kasamang murahan tong entry na to about your Momma.
    Wish you luck.

  5. amf. sobra akong nahipo pare...

    Dahil sa entry mo, paborito na kitang blogger!

    - Pilyo

  6. moms will always be moms and we, their kids, will always be a kid in their eyes and hearts. khalil gibran's 'on children' gently admonishes parents on how to handle their growing-up children. scathing but at the same liberating for everyone.

    goodluck, nishi.

  7. this post was deeply touching. Wish more mothers can read this... a lot can will probably relate. Definitely seems that there is a lesson here somewhere. :)

  8. awwww... how sweet. momma loving. and to think the last i read about her is the one about the blackberry. tama ba? lol

  9. a touching story.. tengene dad! pinaiyak mo ko.. huhuhu.. :'(

  10. wow. this touches my soul. my mom has the same dreams for me but you know what, i'm going for it because it's what i also like for myself. but i like the fact that you never lost the love for your mom. continue to love and treasure her and i am sure whatever decisions you make in your life, she will still love you the way she loved you when you were a little boy.

  11. Ang sweet naman, nasuka ako. Etchos! Jap, love ko din mama ko kaya nakakarelate ako. Made me feel like a child again. (Sasabihin ko sana "Made me feel like crawling back into her womb again" pero kadiri yun)