I am a product of a broken home. The typical story of the philandering Father and the strong Mother who does all in her capability to keep her children alive? That’s ours. Father left us after barely four years of marriage, had two children with his lover – and my Mother flew out of the country to work as an overseas contract worker in a desperate bid at giving us a normal life.
My childhood was a hazy blur of weekend visits to Grandma and Grandpa, being bullied by my schoolmates, finding solace in the library and sporadic phone calls from my Mother. I was six or seven at this point. Various relatives were taking care of my brother and I, and they didn’t really do a good job of it. Father would rarely show up and was horrible at paying the bills. More than once, we had our electricity cut off. It also wasn’t unusual for me to be sent out during examination times because my tuition fee hadn’t been paid. Weekdays were my own personal hell, and I just drifted through them, not really caring what happened. I only came alive whenever it was time to go to my G’parents’ place for the weekends.
Throughout this whole time, I tried to live a semblance of normality – you know, laugh when you’re happy, take what you’re given. I didn’t know that other children lived differently from the way I did. I though everybody’s Fathers didn’t go home to their house either, and that Mothers weren’t around all the time. I was naïve, and maybe it was that naivety that saved me from emotional breakdown. I just managed to compartmentalize everything into neat boxes.
Then came the time when Mom decided that my brother and I would be taken to the province to live with her relatives. We were taken to live with my Aunt, my Mother’s sister. We stayed there for ten years. It was at that period that I hit my rocky teenage years – and had a huge fight with my Mom about her being abroad while we were here. I told her that I didn’t care if I had to go to a public school and not have good things, I just wanted her there. It was a long nightmare of a phone call, with hurtful words spoken by a confused teenager to a very hurt mother. I can be bitchy if I feel like it. And that night, I was.
After that phone conversation, I swore never to talk about our situation ever again. It hurt too much. And so I just kept on with my life – the high school bullying, the first crushes, the first period, first Prom, pretty much all my firsts, Mother wasn’t there. It was just a fact of life. Yes, I missed her, but there was nothing I could do about it.
When I started University, I came in touch with a lot of other students in the same situation as I was. Long-distance parenting sucks, we understood that, but by now, we preferred it that way. It was easier to look forward to phone calls than to go home to them every night. Then one evening in my Junior year while I was on Y!M chatting with a couple of my friends, my phone rang. It was my Mother, who had by this time developed a routine of calling me nightly. Instead of a happy anticipation that I’d be talking to her, I just felt highly annoyed that she would be diverting my attention from my friends towards our conversation.
And that was the first time I realized, I didn’t miss my Mother. Not one tiny little bit.