what mothers do

“and that’s why i stopped painting.”

she’s not complaining, see. she’s just stating a fact, her face serene and voice calm. she is telling me how one of her daughters had, some time back, taken over her home office, slowly moving in her things for her business—costumes for children’s parties, props, magic wands, and gilded crowns—until all that remained of the space where she once had her computer and paints and easels, was a corner. a little crowded nook which she seldom bothers with anymore, if at all.

i think we all do that to our moms, push them in a corner without meaning to, slowly erase what they were or what made them, THEM, before they had us and had to put up with our dads and our dramas and our whiny demands.

we push them in a corner and end up calling them terrible things—“malabo”, “deadma”, “psycho”—while we never wonder why there’s always toilet paper beside the seat, why and how new toothpaste and soap miraculously appear to replace the old, why we never run out of juice (well, almost).

we forget there are things on her mind—things like painting and writing and singing and maybe, hidden deeper, that man who raced cars and came back after six months to ask her to marry him, and whose heart she broke because she was already engaged—aside from our grand plans and experiments. there are the deadlines and targets and looking for a new maid and our next birthday party. 

“but mom will understand,” we say, “because that’s what moms do.”

of course.

i sat across my mother last Mother’s Day, while i said a clumsy prayer of thanks and blessings before dinner. she had a small smile on her face, looking content and not at all minding at that i didn’t know what to say next. i think she was just so happy that i agreed to say grace, when all her attempts to make me attend mass and holy week retreats have failed. moms are like that; you give them a smidgeon when they actually want the whole pot, but they’re ok with that. it takes little to fill a mother’s heart.

moms are also a very forgiving lot.

so my friend continues with her story, and it unfolds into her talking about her other daughter’s painting—“she got it from me”—about how it borders on the dark, but how expressive and moving it can be. once again, the mother pulls back, her children take over.

i look at her, this beautiful woman. so individual and so quietly strong. 

i cannot wait until she paints again.

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