I could still remember how I cried when my mother was leaving to go to Saudi Arabia. I was just 11 years old then and was only in Grade 5. I did not completely understand why she had to go. What I only knew was we needed the money for our family expenses.
I tried really hard to study well because I wanted to help our family. In fact, almost every year I was top 1 in our class so my tuition in the Chinese school I went to was free. Even though my mother was far away, I wanted her to be really happy. But deep inside, what I wanted the most then was that she would just come home to us.
For five years, mother bore the pain of spending life away from us. (Is there a mother who would like to be separated from her dear children?) Communication then was very expensive and difficult unlike today that there is the internet and VOIP. That's why receiving a phone call or a letter from mommy is like rainfall in the mid of summer. Because of this unfavorable circumstances, little by little, my heart felt distant from my mother. It must have also been because I was already growing up as a young teen.
When mother decided to come back to the Philippines and never to return to Saudi, I really can't describe how I truly felt. I was happy that she's finally coming home. But, sad to say, much time had passed and spent being far away from each other which put an empty space between our relationship. It seemed that I was used to just having my father around. My mother felt how I felt and I knew that it hurt her feelings. What a painful cost in exchange for her sacrifice and being far away from family just to fulfill our physical necessities!
Nevertheless, I am still thankful to God because He did not allow our family to become like many broken families we know. When the father becomes an OFW (Overseas Filipino Worker), he fills his loneliness abroad by having relations with another woman even if he already has a wife and children. I am also thankful because it was during this time when my mother was in the desert land that she had a closer relationship with God. My father, my siblings and I who were in the Philippines did too. And it was this faith in God that filled the gap in our relationship.
"A strong faith in God is necessary to have a strong family."
Now, I'm also living in another country other than the Philippines, I am not an OFW but a wife to one. Even if it is hard and expensive for my family to live in a nation not our own, we still chose to live together and not be separated from each other.
My husband and I agreed that I and our children would just spend about 2 years here and would then return to the Philippines. But, though I like much better to stay in the Philippines and continue my career, I rather chose to be a stay at home mom. It's all right that I don't have a career, as long as my children and I would not be separated from our beloved father and husband. I did not want my children to experience being separated from a parent just like what I did when I was still young. I am greatly thankful to God because His grace is sufficient enough to meet our every need.
Two faces of mother's love. One endured the pain of being far away from the family so she can give a better life to her family. The other chose not to be separated from the family even if it means sacrificing her good career. Which of the two mirrors your love as a mother?
"In every choice, there is an exchange
Weigh the heart and mind, endure the pain.
And don't forget to trust the Lord ever
Whatever happens He will be always there. "
How beautiful it must be, if no family would ever need to be separated from each other. I pray that the Philippines would arise from poverty and have a better economy. So that fathers and mothers would not need to go abroad and leave their children. I wonder when will that be?
I salute all the fathers and mothers who have the heart and mind that truly cares first for his or her family.
This article is actually an English translation of my winning entry (9th place) written in Tagalog for the OFW Blog Awards 2010 with the theme "Strengthening OFW Families: 'Stronger Homes for a Stronger Nation.' The original article in Filipino can be found at my blog Stay at Home Blessings - Dalawang Mukha ng Pag-ibig ng Ina.