My mom’s really superstitious. She’ll be the one banging and clanging on pots and pans and honking horns and blowing whistles as the new year counts down – all so the bad spirits and evil luck are driven away. She’ll crowd the dining room table with an assortment of fruits – 13 round ones, and others of various shapes – because doing so supposedly keeps wealth and prosperity in the house. And don’t even get me started on the drying grapes and the rotten eggs hanging around the property…
Mom tells me that I should leave all bad thoughts and pessimistic karma behind me, so that my new year starts fresh and on the right foot. But, seriously? I can’t see myself doing that. Not after realizing just how bad my parents’ financial situation really is.
Here in the Philippines, we’ve got it made. Not only is the cost of living a hell of a lot lower over here, but I’ve been able to ignore (at least momentarily) the small mountain of debt that I accrued while I was living in New York City.
I make enough to pay for mine and Riley’s smaller essentials (food, toiletries, medical care, et al.); things like the mortgage and utilities are taken care of by my folks; and extras like toys and eating out and going shopping are covered by Rob’s folks. As I’ve said on here before, Rob’s not really up on his making money game, and his folks get it. [That’s a whole ‘nother set of craziness to explore.] And as fortunate as I am, and as grateful as I am, and as appreciative as I am of all this generosity, I hate it. No one really expects me and Rob to take care of any of our expenses, and if I wanted to be a free-loader, that would be great. Thing is, I don’t want to be a free-loader, yet I find myself in the uncomfortable position of having agreed to be just that. That was, after all, what I signed off on when I decided to move to the Philippines. “Be an excellent mom, an awesome student, and figure out your life,” my parents had said. “We’ll take care of the rest.”
Every day, I hope to be half as good at loving my kids fiercely and unconditionally as my parents are.
I won’t get into specifics because of privacy reasons, but basically, I just recently realized how bad my parents’ financial situation is, and it’s really, really bad. It’s so bad that I’m considering packing up my stuff, moving back to New York, and working two or three jobs to help them out. Riley will stay with Rob’s mom while I’m working, and in a year or two when the finances are afloat, we’ll come back here to the Philippines so I can finish my nursing degree…
That’s what I’m thinking, anyway. It’s a crazy woman’s thought process, and if I let myself completely empathize with my parents and their situation, I would do it in a heartbeat. I would just move back to New York and take back my role as eternal family problem fixer, and I would work my little ass off until there was a light at the end of the tunnel. This is how bad their situation is. I mean, I can’t get off the phone with either of them without tearing up. I feel guilty that I can’t help them out more, that I agreed to moving here, that I’m living a comfortable life while they’re toiling away. I’m thisclose to forgetting that the beauty of living here is being away from distractions and being able to just buckle down and get items crossed off my to-do list. I’m in danger of some major regression, people. All of the hard work and progress that I’ve made is unwinding, and I feel myself letting go of my hard-won principles, and all the lessons I’ve taught myself are seeming frivolous.
These are my parents. They are flawed and have made many, many mistakes. They are terrible at handling money, and might lose everything because of it. But they have loved me with all their might and have taken care of me and sheltered me to the best of their abilities, and for that, they are amazing human beings. And it hurts, knowing they’re in pain, understanding that they’re thrashing in emotional and financial turmoil, feeling that they check their urges to purge their insides because they don’t want to worry me. They don’t want to adversely affect my studies or my pregnancy. They don’t want to be a burden.
How could they ever think of themselves as anything short of extraordinary?
I’ve never believed in superstitions. Instead, I put faith in hard work and commitment. This year is going to be one of the hardest, and I want to apologize in advance if I’m less available. Maybe it’s a kind of penance or punishment, or a mark of alliance with my parents, or just some crazy idea that I have, but I’m putting more pressure on myself from now on. I really have no choice but to fulfill my goals. I need to bring home a lot more bacon and take as much off my parents’ plates as possible. I owe it to them.