When I was a kid, my mom pretty much ran the household.
My dad worked a ton—so my two older brothers and I leaned on Mom for a lot. She did all the traditional mom stuff: helped us with homework, drove us to school, prepared three daily meals. And she did stuff moms don’t get a lot of credit for: she fixed busted appliances, re-floored the house, built me a bamboo canopy, and sewed me way too many fuzzy costumes: Pikachu, an ewok, Star Fox. (I can’t tell you how many needles were broken in sacrifice to my cosplay addiction.)
Mom’s always been the family matriarch. After her family fell on hard times in the Philippines, she left everything behind and immigrated to the United States solo. She was only 19. She won a few scholarships to put herself through nursing school and earned extra income wrapping gifts at Mervyn’s. (To this day, she still gives me crap about my horrible wrapping folds.) She sent every spare penny she could back home to her family and then—slowly, but surely—brought her parents, brother, and three sisters to the States. (They all lived with us, too.)
Genetics—they get you every time. That’s Mom on the left when she was about my age, and that’s me on the right.
With 10 mouths to feed, Mom became an expert in resourcefulness. Leftovers were made into next-day omelets. Old bottles became vases. When something broke around the house, she fixed it. She even fixed our neighbor’s stuff, too.
When I was 6, she taught me and the kid next door how to sew patches onto our hole-y sweaters. At age 8, we tackled drywall repair. When I was 14 (both brothers off at college and Dad traveling 6 days a week for work), we watched way too much HGTV and attempted a whole bunch of DIY repairs and renovation projects. We botched a lot of those projects. (We didn’t want that washing machine anyways…) But I still think it’s more important that we made the attempt—and we did it together.
Me and Ma are serious about Facetime.
Repair is a way of life. It’s empowering to learn how to fix things yourself. Now that I’ve got my own house—a run-down fixer-upper that I absolutely love—I’m putting all those lessons from Mom to good use. And when I get stuck on my latest projects, it’s okay. I know Mom will be down on the weekends—and she’ll tell Dad and I how to best re-carpet the living room if we need help.
And isn’t that what moms are for?