Three decades later, I understand my mom better.
This past week, two news items seemed to underscore the truth of this post's title.
The first one was a video that has gone viral, of what turned out to be a Malaysian mom beating up her baby - why would these people agree to have themselves recorded?!? - to the outrage of netizens here (many of whom mistakenly thought it was a Filipino mom). The authorities there clarified that this happened months ago and that the said mom has long been incarcerated and serving her jail term.
The second one was a news item of a mom in her early 20's, who shook her baby to death, all because the baby "distracted" her from her Farmville game.
If there was some kind of licensure for motherhood, they would have been irrevocably revoked for these two examples.
All over the world, fertility clinics are booked solid with women who truly define the term expectant moms, because they are really expecting to be able to bear a child after costly treatments and procedures and investing so much time and effort into experiencing the joy of motherhood.
I've seen countless interviews of moms here with upwards of 10 children, who say that the more "blessings" they have, the more possibility there is of one or two of them being some kind of Manny Pacquiao who will turn the family fortune - such as it is - around and be the "answer from heaven" financially.
Some women will remain celibate - a portion by choice, but a portion are those who believe in religion doctrine that says they cannot have children without a husband, and will never experience motherhood.
And I know of some women who are adamantly against motherhood - not in the sense that they want to deny the privilege to others, but in the sense that they refuse to be defined by it in their own lives, and refuse to accept how societal norms insist that they are somehow "incomplete" without children, who know that they are not exactly "maternal material" and have fulfilling lives nonetheless.
Then there are the men - I think we all know who these are - who insist that women are nothing more than baby making machines, and a woman who doesn't do her "duty" is somehow thwarting some cosmic/divine purpose and is "sinning".
All these have given me the perspective that motherhood truly is a privilege.
Those who have it sometimes waste it, use it selfishly, or seem to think so little of it.
Those who can't have it are sometimes the best candidates for it, but are unable to do so.
Those who don't want it are sometimes the ones most capable of having the resources to provide the best environmental support for it.
And on this day, Mother's Day, I dedicate this post to those who have been fortunate enough to experience a mother's love, whether from our family of origin or our family of choice. We, who have experienced how a mother would sacrifice all to give to her children; who knows that a mother will be the last one to fall asleep when we are sick; we, who suffered through corporal punishment, who later realized it was because a mother could not bear to leave this world without imparting what she knows to be right or wrong and wanting us to always remember it; we, who felt our mom being the biggest cheerleader for all our personal triumphs and our counselor when we needed someone to get us through a rough spot.
To those of us who have experienced a mother's love, and are still experiencing it, we are privileged.
It doesn't happen for everyone, despite what Hallmark may want us to believe. I know well enough about the world to know that sometimes, being a mother or having one doesn't mean a bed of roses; there are mothers who actually do more harm than good.
Appreciate mothers while they are alive, because many of us do not have that same privilege already. My heart goes out to them, who long to confide in their mothers but cannot do so anymore. But they should still feel privileged, because they knew of a mother's love in this lifetime.
And to my mom, from whom I derive my (some would call very strong) sense of right and wrong, who taught me to think for myself, for reluctantly giving me my independence and always being open to welcoming me back in her arms, I am privileged to have you as my mother.
Happy Mother's Day to you and to all mothers who viewed motherhood as a privilege, because our lives were enriched because of you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.