People ask, “What does your mother do?” It isn’t as frequent as when they ask me about my own job or my plans in life, but it is a question that follows common American mannerisms. I tell them that my mom works in the food service industry in my hometown’s K-12 system, and that back in the Philippines, she was a teacher but didn’t pursue American credentials when she arrived Stateside. She says my father cautioned her against the American classroom, that the students weren’t quite like the Filipino students, that their antics would probably prove to be too jarring or rash or disrespectful. My mother followed that advice, and instead found jobs in which she also found friends, jobs that she stuck with for long stretches of time.
I also describe my mom as someone who probably always knew that she wanted to be a mother. I asked her one time how many kids she had originally wanted, and she said, “Three,” and I replied jokingly, “And instead, you just got me.” I can be a lot to handle, and my mom has always done her best.
When I was a baby, my mom did not have the benefit of having her mom take time off to come help with my arrival. My grandmother, lola, lived in the Philippines, and it wasn’t feasible the same way it’s feasible for many of my friends’ moms now to step in and assist with a brand-new grandbaby. But from what I understand, my mom got help from my dad, their friends, and our extended families in many ways, even if some of that family happened to be thousands of miles away.
My mom is one of the nicest and most caring people I know. (And of course, that drove my angsty, “tough” teenage self crazy because Teen Ardith just couldn’t cope with living with someone who was so nice.)We still argue every now and then, usually about things that don’t really matter, but I love my momma because she’s the only one I’ve got.