Long Distance Relationship with our Son: Mother’s Day

©Moira Garcia Gallaga

It’s Mother’s Day and first off, I would just like to greet my fellow mothers out there on this special day a very happy Mother’s Day! On this occasion where motherhood is celebrated and given due recognition, I can’t help but dwell on my experience and feeling of what it is like being a Mom.

Just as each individual person is unique, so are mothers. We may have a common experience of bringing a person to life, but we mothers come in all shape, character, temperament, style, etc. So I figured I would share with you my thoughts and experience as a mother.

I am blessed with one son and as a Mom, one nagging worry always at the back of my head is if I had been a good Mom. Did I do right by him, did I raise him up properly? When he was born, I was still working at the Palace, and given the fast-paced, high pressure working environment, it was challenging to balance the demands of work and being a mother. My work involved a lot of overseas travel too, so I did my best to find time for family and my baby boy. When I did have the time, I would make the most of it. That would be the pattern even during our foreign posting in Los Angeles and Washington DC, where from time to time I would be detailed to Summits and Presidential visits.

He was quite a handful growing up. He was a bundle of energy, forever restless and loved to test our limits. As someone with quite a temper, he would take me to the brink on more than one occasion and I had to make an effort to not step over the line. I didn’t realize it then that in my efforts to instill some discipline in him, he was also helping me gain mastery over my temper.

One of the songs in the Mother’s Day playlist he sent yesterday. I like this one and it made me bawl. We raised a compassionate, independent and responsible kid. May I add, a so cool son who is not scared of anything … moved out at 18 and a half years old, living alone overseas at 19 and flying from one country to another just to surf, play futebol. A voracious reader and has experienced life with failures and success. As he said about how he lives his life: failing without a net to catch him; without my parents who can always make things happen; got goals in life, but without a map.

At least I wasn’t alone in the effort. My husband was just as involved, and we worked as a team. Only thing is we sometimes weren’t sure if what we were doing was correct. There are many books, articles and material about parenting, but everyone admits there is no magic formula, no guaranteed method or technique other than just make the best effort you can to prepare your child for life and at a certain point, the rest is up to them and you just have to hope for the best.

After our US posting I resigned from government service and had more time to spend and bond with my son, who was now becoming a teenager. A different set of challenges now. Before it was all about making sure he didn’t get into trouble, or harm himself and others, and teaching him values and how to conduct himself in the world around him. Now this was all about preparing him for the challenges of life, steeling him for the harsh realities of a grownup’s world and building for himself traits and an attitude that would help him achieve stability and security for his future. Well, it appears he had other things in mind and his stubborn streak didn’t make things easier. No surprise there as he got that from both parents. Karma? Hahaha. Yet, there was quite a lot of upsides too, as we got to do things and travel together now that I had more time to spend with him. It was a great opportunity as well to learn more about each other.

He is 20 now and is based far away. Any fears I had that he was going to struggle being by himself and dealing with adulthood in general have been assuaged. From a rambunctious and mischievous little kid, he’s turned out to be a kind, loving and responsible young man. After my most recent visit to him, I could see that he was going to be okay. I’m so proud of him, and I guess that should assure me that I did alright by him as a Mom.

I think that is what it is like being a Mom, looking constantly for signs and assurances that you are on the right track and seeking affirmation that your child loves you and thinks the world of you. Thing is, it is hard and rare to find that assurance and affirmation as they are growing up. It is hard to spot at times in the constant to and fro of the daily interaction. In my experience, it is only once you have let him go and allow them to find themselves on their own that you will finally get that assurance you did good. Then when you see that bright spark in his eyes and the joy he projects when he meets you after a prolonged absence, that’s your affirmation right there.

09 May 2021

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