A four-year-old girl was busy drawing on the floor when her mom approached her and said: “Mama will be gone for a few days, okay? Do not forget to be a good girl. I love you.”
The little girl, still focused on her drawing, nodded as her mom kissed her on the forehead and bid her goodbye. However, the moment she heard the familiar sound of the trolley bag’s wheels slowly fade away, the little girl ran out the front door and started looking for her mother. The chubby little girl then clung onto her mom, bawled her eyes out and screamed in a tiny high-pitched voice: “Bring me with you!”
I was that little girl.
Mama is a flight attendant working for Cathay Pacific Airways; she travels and explores the world. Imagine that—being paid to travel and see the world. Though it sounds like music to your ears, there is so much more to it than what it seems.
For the last couple of years, my normal routine with Mama would be this: She would come home after days from another side of the world and I would immediately set aside time for her so we could catch up. We would have lunch, browse through novels and magazines in bookstores, and shed a tear or two while watching the latest romantic movie. We would eat dessert or talk through cups of coffee. Sometimes if I were lucky, she would surprise me by opening her suitcase and handing me something from her latest assignment.
Any stranger would be jealous of our relationship today. It is true that our relationship is wonderful compared to other mother-daughter relationships, but we have not always had this kind of relationship.
Going back to nursery, when you are around six years old, the questions asked were about favorites, birthdays, age, family, and the like. Listening to my classmates’ answers about their families, I compared their answers to mine.
“What does mama do?” the teacher would ask. It was finally my turn to answer. “Mama travels the world, she is a flight attendant.” My classmates would turn to me and say, “What’s that? Where’s her office?”
I would then have a difficult time explaining to them what mama’s work was like because in their eyes, I was different. I was different in a sense that my mom did not exactly do office work, or she does not regularly come home for dinner.
I then entered grade school. Back then, my schoolmates found the idea of having a flight attendant mom interesting. My feeling of missing her would kick in from time to time, but I had grown accustomed to such feelings.
Trips to Hong Kong were nothing new to me, our family made it seem like they were accessible in a snap. Having a place in Hong Kong, it was a second home to us. Usually, we would go there just to eat and shop in a span of three days.
Mama would try her best to schedule her days off during special events in school. As a self-proclaimed stage mother, the most exceptional of all, she fixed my hair and made sure that my uniform was well-ironed. As her daughter looked for her face in the crowd, mama would clap the hardest and would have the biggest smile among all parents.
During birthday parties, I would always seek Mama’s help and approval on what clothes to wear. I would also ask for her advice about the opposite sex and how to deal with my peers.
Then, there were also days when Mama was off on a flight. I pondered on the idea that I could not depend on Mama to be always there for me. Though I knew she would willingly do anything for me, I forced myself to make my own.
When I was in high school, I claimed to have my own life. I liked proving to others that I was not a child anymore; I claimed to be mature. I learned to be independent through the years by taking care of myself and looking after my dad and brother. I made my own plans, and I concentrated on my academics and extra-curricular activities.
During my spare time, I would enjoy the luxury of sleep or the company of my friends. Despite being offered to travel with Mama during long weekends or vacations, I would answer her that there will always be a next time.
Eventually, I experienced the pressures of being a high school student. She and I would often fight about how I managed my time. I would argue that she was being unreasonable, and that it was unfair that she she wanted me to do well in my academics and extra-curricular activities, but scold me for not having enough rest; she would protest that I would rather spend my time with friends rather than family.
On other days, we end up arguing when I ask her for advice. I usually end up feeling bitter, and I would give her the silent treatment for the rest of the day since I wouldn not get my way. My attitude would frustrate her and her reaction to my attitude would frustrate me too. On one instance, an outburst of emotions led us to a cold war—we did not speak to each other for days, even before she left for a flight.
The time spent apart made me realize how selfish and immature I was. I realized that mama always wanted what was best for me, just like any parent would, despite how unreasonable they may have seemed at times. In any case, I finally realized that Mama’s work as a flight attendant was not all that glamorous.
Papa and I talked about how difficult it was for her to make all the sacrifices for the family. I did not know that instead of resting after a long flight, Mama would catch the first plane back to Manila to see us immediately. I did not think about Mama’s feelings when she forced herself to be patient with me whenever I said hurtful things to her.
I did not know what Mama’s intentions were when she asked me to travel with her. All those times, she just wanted me to experience what she is experiencing, and she wanted me to see life from a different perspective.
I thought Mama always had the liberty to enjoy traveling the world alone, but instead, she chose to take this path and travel with her family.
Yes, it is true that my eyes were closed shut all this time.
Since then, my eyes were opened. I am seeing life in a different light because of Mama and the wonders of travelling. I grew up inspired by how Mama did it all. I am proud to say that I was brought up and molded into a hardworking, curious, strange, creative and family-oriented daughter because of Mama.
I now grasp the opportunity of travelling with Mama; seeing and exploring the world with a grateful, curious, and adventure-seeking heart.
Who would have thought that at the end of the day, all I needed was a mother to travel around the world with and back, for me to grow up to be a grateful, humble, and happy girl who sees life in a brighter and more beautiful perspective than before?