I write this post as a response to mbak Yoyen’s blog post about Mother’s Day, titled “Not all mothers are created equal”.
Today is Mother’s Day. In the Netherlands, Mother’s Day (Moederdag) is identical with sending flowers and gifts to your mother, telling her how special she really is. Pretty similar to Indonesian version of Mother’s Day which falls every December 22nd.
Well, if you have a mother, that’s easy peasy. Even if you live so far away from her, you can call her and send her a Happy Mother’s Day message. But what happens if you are motherless?
Moreover, what happens if you are motherless and you don’t know your mother from birth?
The feeling is indescribably awful and painful. It’s the kind of feeling you wish had not existed. Exhibit A: the one who is writing this piece.
Flashback to 1991. I was only 9 days old when my mother passed away. According to doctors, she had complication. I was born premature, and thus I had to be put inside an incubator for a whole month inside a special room, where the doctors could watch me 24/7. According to my grandma, my mother had never seen me. I had never seen her either. Well, my grandma stopped on the part where she wrote a note to my mom that she planned to take her to Baskin Robbins and had ice cream once she had healed (it’s my mother’s favorite ice cream joint), and my mother could only nod because she could not speak at all. She was so sick. On the 9th day after she gave birth to me, she passed away. Her body was brought to her hometown in West Java and she was buried there. On the other hand, I had to be inside the hospital for a month (more or less) before the doctors could discharge me. Still, I was a sick baby. I had complications on my liver and my bowel movement, basically nearly every single pivotal organs in my body. Doctors had even gave my dad a warning that I wouldn’t last for even one year. Thank goodness I had this fighting spirit within me, thus I am still alive until now.
Enough about me, let’s talk more about my mother. I had never known her personally. When I was a kid, my dad and my whole family lied to me by saying that she’s working out of town. But then, I eavesdropped to a conversation between my nanny and another person in my kindergarten where my nanny told that person that my mom had actually passed away. I was so pissed off back then. I felt being lied to. Thus, I asked permission to my nanny if I could call her ‘mom’ from that point. She agreed, my family agreed, and until now, she’s the person who is close enough to be my mother.
But still, it’s so different. My concept of a mother was, is, and always will be, someone who gives birth to me. My nanny is technically not my mother. She is just someone else who gives the feeling of being nurtured, loved, and cared, like a mother to her son/daughter. I don’t feel sorry at all for not considering her as my real mother, because the fact is she never will be. And don’t ask me about my step mother because we don’t really have a good relationship between us. Maybe because I don’t live with her, so I don’t know her that well. She’s just someone who, according to law, is my mother. She will be the one who sits with me and my future husband in my wedding day. But she will never be my real mother.
I guess I have given you enough background that perfectly states why I consider myself as a motherless child. Moreover, a child who is motherless and had never seen her real mother, and never will be, because she’s already gone. Maybe there were a lot of other people who share the same story as me, but most of them have known their mother. Maybe their mother pass away when they were in elementary school, or high school, or college. They know their mothers. They have felt the love and care their mothers gave to them when they were still alive. Me? I don’t know her at all. I don’t know whether she was caring, how she liked her fried chicken, what her favorite ice cream flavour was, etc. She’s just… this really vague concept.
It’s saddening, actually. That super weird feeling when I meet someone new and they turn out to know my mother and they say “you look just like your mother”. That weird feeling when I attend family gatherings from my mother’s side, and they keep calling me by my mother’s name, just because I have my mother’s name as well in my full name. I just want to yell angrily at them, saying that I don’t know her and I’m very sad and sorry for that fact. It’s like being compared to someone whom you don’t know and you have no memory about.
However, I have met my mother, once. It was in a dream, happened when I was 12 years old. I can still remember the dream very vividly, as if they really happened. I dreamed I was in my elementary school’s great hall, and in the room, they were having a parent-teacher meeting. I saw my teachers and many parents of my friends, and then I saw her. She was perfectly depicted as the picture which was hung in my bedroom. She was very beautiful. Her shoulder-length hair was perfectly combed, and she wore a very professional-looking shirt. She looked very clean and well-mannered. When we had eye contact, she smiled. I smiled, because I knew she was my mother. My real mother. After that, I saw her from a far, talking to my teacher in the room. And then I woke up. I cried because I could finally see her. Until now, I have never got another dream about her. Not even once.
So yeah, if you are a motherless child, you’re on the same boat. If you want to be somber on this day, be somber. There is nothing to worry about. If you want to talk about your late mother to a random person, talk. Assure them that they’re so lucky to have their mothers still alive. Moreover, if you are a motherless child and you haven’t seen your mother since birth, I feel you. Let’s cry together and be strong together. Our mothers are looking at us from whatever place they belong right now. We might not know them, but one thing I know for sure: they know us.