PHILIPPINES: Mother, the light of the home
In the Philippines, we have a saying that the mother is “ilaw ng tahanan.” In English, it’s literal meaning is “the light of the home.” Beautiful thought, right? It conjures up images of a well-made home, filled with laughter and warmth and hope.
It’s nice and meaningful. In fact, I think it’s sometimes a far-fetched notion, because honestly most times I feel I am the polar opposite. It’s hard to feel like “the light of the home” when — like me — you feel like a looming cloud of darkness, failure and hopelessness. I know I’ve felt this way many times, especially in the past year when our family situation was shaken up from its very core.
We have had a tough past six to seven months in our family. When my husband lost his job at the end of 2015, we knew we were going to have to make some big changes as a family. Perhaps the most heart-wrenching part of this episode was saying goodbye to our rental home of five years. I remember my son crying huge tears for several days as he saw his bedroom being packed away little by little, and our house gradually emptied of its furnishings… and most of all, his memories. I felt as though we had let him down.
It’s a common setup in the Philippines to go to family when a situation has gone awry, and that’s what we did.
It just so happened that my mom’s guest house out back had been made available, and I humbly asked my parents if we could stay in that house until we could sort things out. “You can stay as long as you need to,” my mother said, and she meant it. It’s been six or seven months since we moved in, and every day she assures me of the same thing.
And there, I see what it means when a mother is the light of the home. Because for me, my mother restores my hopes each day. We’re still working to get back on our feet, and her encouragement for us remains constant. There is nothing but acceptance and love for myself, my husband and our two young children here in this tiny little home in our childhood garden and backyard. I’m reminded every day of the goodness of my parents, and the Filipino sense of family in which our people so pride themselves. A “light of the home” isn’t something whimsical or aspirational. A mother is a light to her home when she restores hope to a darkened situation or state. No mention of keeping a perfect house or a spotless kitchen!
Maybe you’re not feeling much like a “light of the home,” dear mama reading this today. It’s OK. Like candles, we all get snuffed out at times; we get burned out and we get spent. It’s times like these that we have permission to rely on our fellow moms: friends, our actual mothers, mother figures.
There is nothing more powerful than women helping women, mothers helping mothers. In a matter of time, our light can shine again, brighter than ever.
This is an original post by Martine De Luna for World Moms Blog. Martine is a Manila-based writer and consultant for women in digital (bloggers, online entrepreneurs). Find her regularly on Instagram @martinedeluna and on her blog, makeitblissful.com