Today I felt like a total failure of a mom.
I feel terrible for having to spank my son Bori a few times in front of our relatives, after knowing that he pinched the cheek of his 5-month old cousin, causing her to cry. He was initially spanked by his Ninang (Auntie) Duan, my older sister, a spank which I knew meant well – to discipline. But I was so mad at him for what he did that I then said mean things to him. I told him to not go to school this afternoon and that it was pointless for him to study, since he doesn’t know how to listen. I told him no one likes him anymore and everyone hated him for how shameful his actions were. I told him that he’s been doing nothing good lately and that I was tired of him.
We were running late since I arrived late at his Lola Deling’s place where we usually drop him off in the morning before we go to work and then pick him up to send him to school in the afternoon. I remembered that I forgot to help him review for a quiz. I was thinking of helping him out even for the few remaining minutes but he was already running late for school.
I had to go upstairs to iron his polo. I should’ve done that yesterday, I thought. Before that, I was having a lot of trouble feeding him with plain fried fish and rice that I just bought from an eatery on my way there. I should’ve cooked something better, I thought. I was tired, stressed and had so much running through my head that I realized I was angry at myself more than I was at my son.
While I was ironing, I caught him peeking from the door. I just looked back at him with all the mixed emotions inside me. He had that puppy-dog eyes which say a lot that he was sorry. He stroked his hands in the air, asking me to come close.
“May sasabihin po ako,” (I have to tell you something) he said.
“Ikaw ang lumapit dahil ikaw ang may sasabihin,” (You should come right here since you’re the one who has something to say) I replied.
He embraced my upper arm with his scrawny little arms.
“Nakakahiya yung ginawa mo. Mali yun. Bakit mo ginawa yun? Anong naisip mo?” (What you did was really disappointing. It was wrong. Why’d you do that? What were you thinking?) I said.
He replied, “Sorry. Nakakahiya po yung ginawa ko. Alam ko po.” (I’m sorry. What I did was really embarrassing. I know that.)
I wanted to push him away but his arms wrapped around my arm had me to sit steady. But my heart was still heavy that I still couldn’t stop my mouth from pouring all out the hurtful things to my son, yet for every word I drop, a part of my soul was being ripped off of me. I still told him that I hated him, thinking it was what he needs to learn. But still, I felt like I was so wrong that I just wanted to find a reset button to take back everything I said to him.
Her Ninang Duan and I dropped him off to school. Before she headed to her office, Ninang Duan embraced Bori before he could sincerely say sorry, I loved how that went knowing that she really cared for my son as if he was her own.
I then walked him towards his room. The class was already starting, the door was closed and there was no one else around since we did arrive late. We usually part with exchange kisses to the cheeks and a power hug but this time I told him I was still mad. He was slightly pulling down on my arms signifying our exchange kisses.
“Hindi. Galit ako. Para magtanda ka. Ayoko,” (No. I’m still mad. So you’d learn your lesson. I don’t want to.) I said with a poker face.
“Please, Inay,” he said as he tried to hold his tears in.
“Hindi sabi. Pumasok ka na, iiwanan kita dito.” (I said no. Get inside now or I’ll leave you out here.) I said so stupidly that I wanted to kick myself.
“Sorry, Inay,” he said as he batted his eyes to stop his tears and started to walk away.
It was again a first after a long time that I had my heart broken from hurting someone that I love so dearly with all my stupid heart.
My heart fell in pieces to the ground as he walked away after telling me that he was sorry. I should have been the one saying it to him. I should’ve been the one saying sorry for not ironing his clothes. I should’ve been the one saying sorry for causing him to run late for school. I should’ve been the one saying sorry for not being able to cook and feed him with a better meal. I should’ve been the one saying sorry for not being able to help him study for school. I should’ve been the one saying sorry for failing him in so many ways. I should’ve been the one saying sorry.
“Rio,” I called him before he could leave. Lost for words, I just hugged him tightly.
“Anak, I’m sorry ha. Usap na lang tayo mamaya. Love you anak,” (Son, I’m so sorry. Let’s talk about this later. Love you, son,) I said.
“I love you, Inay,” he said without a speck of hesitation.
He batted his eyes again to fend off the tears and tried to pull himself together with a grin. We then finally exchanged our kisses and wrapped things up with a big hug before he went to his class.
I am not a perfect mother, not even close. I might, from time to time, lose my nerves again with my son. But I consider today as an eye opener. Today, my son taught me a greater lesson. He acted as the better person. He was more mature than I am. How? He held me at my worst. He taught me the one thing that I failed to teach him today – how to love unconditionally.
Sometimes, we can easily fool ourselves into thinking that we fail big time as parents when it’s been a rough day and then we suddenly lose it with our kids. But if we take a step back, we’ll see the bigger picture that we were called as parents to endure. We’ve been called not just to teach but also to learn from our children. No wonder why Jesus said that “unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” It’s probably because Jesus knew that a child’s love is, to some extent, unconditional like his and that they effortlessly deal with forgiveness better than us grown-ups.
So, for the parents out there having a rough day, just hang in there! You are doing a great job no matter what kind of kids you are dealing with right now, because your kids love and believe in you unconditionally and so should you.
By Bonzai Melo
Check out more of her work at Bonzai Brew