In a lot of ways, I am my mother’s daughter. We both have annoying allergies, a strange fascination with bloody contact sports (she watches UFC with me), and a streak of wanderlust. Like her, I’m stubborn, impatient, proud and an indomitable control freak in certain situations.
But in a lot of ways, I couldn’t be more different from her. She’s a neat freak, I’m messy. She’s an early riser, I’m nocturnal. She’s obsessed with being on time, I’m always late. She gets things done as soon as possible, I’m a pathological procrastinator. Somehow, in the course of my formation as an embryo, all the good genes got thrown out and I was left with the bad recessive ones.
Here are her other great qualities I wish I had:
No-bullshit policy – My mother is brutally honest. She tells it like it is; no sugar-coating so as not to offend anyone, no pretentious crap just to get people to like her. She stands her ground and speaks her mind – because sucking up is a coward’s game and self-respect trumps popularity any day.
Asshole-detection radar – She can sense a jerk from a mile away with freakish accuracy. I’d be telling her about some guy and five minutes into my story, she has already passed judgment on whether he’s an asshole or not. She turns out to be right 101 percent of the time.
Ninja expertise in babies – As a midwife for 25 years, my mom has delivered and vaccinated enough babies to populate a village. She knows exactly why they cry or make gurgling noises or do whatever strange things those little people do. She also knows exactly what to do with them at any given moment. I, on the other hand, have the maternal instincts of a cactus.
Low-key superhero – My mother worked as a public health worker in a remote mountainous area that could’ve been plucked out from a poverty porn documentary. The barangay can be reached by either crossing more than 10 rivers or passing through an unpaved mountain road.
She survived raging floods, muddy hikes, vehicular mishaps and vermin politicians. She taught women about reproductive health, looked after pregnant mothers, took care of malnourished children, and campaigned against malaria, tuberculosis, filariasis, leprosy and other third world diseases. She stood as godmother to countless weddings and christenings, judged local beauty contests during village fiestas, and maintained good relations with both the military and the NPA (armed communist insurgents).
For her, these were all part of the job and she did it because it had to be done. No frills, no drama, no romanticized notion of altruism; just a solid commitment to fulfill a sworn duty. If that’s not kickass, I don’t know what is.