It’s of utmost pleasure on my part to reveal here my son placed 2nd overall in the recent Board Exam for Electronics and Communications Engineers. People around have congratulated me. They said I must have done something right as his only parent. That made me smile.
His success in the national exam was actually the outcome of several months of his commitment to diligent studying. In addition, he has always felt passionate about his field. His father was into the technical profession, too, by the way. Like father, like son.
Before starting his college studies I had expressed my wish that he took up Music instead. My son is also a talented pianist and guitarist. I made sure he had the proper lessons with those two musical instruments in his childhood and teenage years. Isn’t it that Science and Maths are the tools for living, but Music and the rest of the Arts are the reasons for living? He was adamant, though, in his selection in preparing himself to become a full-fledged engineer someday. I backed down.
Six years later, here we are. I am beaming with pride. I’m happy with the results, too, of course. My son seems to have made the correct choice.
But I am here not just to tell you how proud I am of my son. It isn’t my style sugarcoating my reality. A spirit in pain is also hiding behind my smiles in our photos. For he and I are currently undergoing a difficult period in our lives. I am hoping it’s gonna be an evanescent phase for both of us.
There’s a downside to having a child who’s endowed with way academic strength than his or her progenitor. Suddenly, nothing I say seems to matter anymore. Suddenly,
there’s nothing left for me to do but take a backseat. It’s as if any contribution or
suggestion from my side is necessary no more. Oh yes – I must keep on reminding myself – he already turned 22 this April.
Yet I ruminate on the following parental guidelines that have echoed in my mind for so long: Do your best for your child. Show him unconditional love. Make sure that he knows how much he matters to you, etc. I did my damnedest to follow them all. Now I realized all those loads of advice…are actually crap. Nothing in life is guaranteed. No relationship maxim, even between mother and child, from any sphere on this planet is a sure thing.
You might think I must have done something not right that brought about this predicament. Alright, I do own up to not being the perfect parent and to having committed some mistakes along the way. But God knows how hard I tried. How hard I really tried. And only God knows how much I love my only child; The love which made me swear to all the angels in heaven two decades ago I’d be a much better parent to my son in raising him than my own parents combined in rearing me. I subsequently thought I was succeeding through all the years that my son was growing up. He appeared to be turning out finer and finer each passing day – which made me cling to the credence that the bond cementing us together would be stronger than steel.
Nowadays, however, I keep on questioning my prior performance as a mother and asking myself what went wrong.
Or perhaps, I deserve this because I hadn’t exactly been an ideal daughter to my parents either. On the whole – and I say this in supreme truthfulness – my son is a thousand times better individual and human being compared to me.
Still, how poignant it is to discern I have failed in everything. Motherhood, I had promised myself, would be my redemption. The one thing, I thought, I might do well in life. How could I have been so mistaken.
After the oathtaking ceremony, my family members and I went to a restaurant for a quiet celebration. During dinner, while my son was occupied shooting the breeze with his cousins, my mother and siblings took time to ponder and talk about our situation.
“It’s hard having an only child, I guess.” I conveyed with somberness to them.
My sister responded, “No. You just had it hard being the only parent.”