My Life as a Machine: A Machine’s Mother

My mother is a completely different being. She is passionate, fiery, and funny. The only problem is when she overlooks so many details, you begin to wonder where half her brain resided in her tiny 5-foot-nothing body. The worse thing about her, passion or not, was her inconsistency in everything she did. Plainly spoken, she was a breathing hypocrit.

She hardly took interest in me unless it were having to do with her finances. I understood her concerns–after all, I was partially raised by her–but I also felt her unnecessary need to hold me at arm’s length. She tried to snuggle up to us, her children, sometimes forgetting that we abandoned her a long ways down the road.

In one instance, my mother’s presence was required at a summer orientation for a college I was to attend briefly. Our only mode of transportation, a boxy Nissan Sentra with three generations of hand-me-down prints, was out of commission for some reason or another. Somehow, my mother booked us a ride with one of her sisters, and she whisked us off to the college where public transportation didn’t exist.

As soon as I stepped out of my aunt’s Toyota Corolla and watched her speed off, I turned to my mother. “Mom, how are we getting back home?”

She just stared at me for a moment, and I watched as the non-existent gears in her head completely crumbled. “I don’t know,” she answered, quickly walking down the sidewalk to who-knows-where. Her sense of direction was horrible.

My entire face burned up and I found the words whirling out of my mouth before I could stop them. “You mean to tell me that we don’t know how we’re getting home?” I snapped, following her. “I mean, how could you not think about that?”

She whirled around, anger flashing in her eyes. I backed off immediately. For a small woman, my mother had a mean temper. Her jaw was already set, and if my immature memory serves me right, her wavy black hair stood out like a witch’s. “Don’t talk to me like that,” she bellowed in a voice I knew meant no negotiations. She turned on her heel and continued to walk towards an ambiguous direction. That day was only one out of many in which my mother completely overlooked the big details.

When I was growing up, I didn’t speak to my mother much. It was a one-way relationship, really. She spoke to us, with her thick Filipino accent, to get this or do that. Her role in the household was purely stereotypical “female work”; she cooked and cleaned and folded clothes, watching soap operas when no one occupied the television.

She didn’t take much interest in us because we were hard-headed, I suppose, but we all knew that her accepting the “wife’s role” in the household caused my brothers and I to treat her as such. Her concerns for us as children, pre-teens, teenagers, and finally, as adults, were limited. It felt fake to be loved by my mother. With her arms stretched out, I hesitated to hug her, and instantly asked myself silently, “Should I hug her?”

I ended up hugging her out of obligation.

In most times, there was a sense of reciprocity in regards to my mother and I. For some reason or another, there was a nagging feeling from her I felt. It seemed she didn’t like me, like there was something wrong with me. I could only assume my brothers were born people and I was born a machine, which seemed about right when it came down to genetics.

There was always this distance my mother placed between us, an invisible barrier, disregarding our blood relation. I didn’t notice the veil of separation until my teen years when my parents separated, and suddenly, my brothers and I were living with a stranger called Mom.

It wasn’t that I disliked my mother so much. I think if she had been more active throughout my childhood and actually cared, our relationship would currently be stronger. The biggest factor in our relationship was her personality. She was a naturally selfish person. Even if she wanted to be involved with her children, it seemed more forced by parenthood than out of love or concern.

I promised myself I would not be like my mother. I would encourage communication with my children and interact with them on as many levels as I could. I wouldn’t do it out of obligation; it would be out of love.

Don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t that my mother just did everything out of obligation. She cooked with love, which was one of the things that I loved and respected about her. But looking back, I don’t think my mother was happy or content. After all, my father was a completely different story.

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