My grandmother raised five daughters and two sons in a foreign country across the Pacific Ocean. She owned a restaurant, worked multiple jobs at once, and won a battle against breast cancer. This year she celebrated her 83rd birthday in her favorite place: the casino. She loves cooking for her family. She makes the best sinigang, sour and warm: the ultimate comfort food. She travels back and forth from the States to the Philippines; between the place that she calls home and the people who feel like home.
My mom’s older sister was her second mom growing up and sometimes she was even stricter with her than her actual mom. She ran the household while my grandma worked. To this day, my aunt is the one to host every Christmas, birthday party, and casual family gathering. She initiates the emergency family meetings and starts the hard conversations. She has an exquisite collection of teas, loose leaf and bagged, with health benefits ranging from boosted immunity, to aiding digestion, to soothing period cramps.
My mom had her first son at nineteen and then had three more daughters. She made us breakfast and packed us a lunch every day from the first day of? kindergarten to high school graduation. She helped me with every elementary school science project (she did most of the work). She drove her three daughters to dance every night and paid tuition for fifteen years. She came to every dance competition cheering us on, pinning our costumes, and spraying our hair with an absurd amount of Aqua-Net to ensure there was not a single flyaway. She helped me pick out every formal dress with the perfect jewelry to match. She cleans the house like it’s her religion; there’s always a candle lit, the countertops are spotless, every miscellaneous object is in its perfect place. She texts me every day without fail, and I find that I text her more than my own roommates.
My mother’s side of the family is dominated by women, some single moms, raising children all on their own. I also have quite a few older cousins who are women, nearing their thirties and forties, who I consider to be more like older sisters than cousins. My cousins have daughters, four girls under the age of five years old. Our family gatherings are teeming with feminine energy, from little girls in pink frilly tutus to grown women in dress shirts discussing their careers, home ownership, and investments.
This Mother’s Day, I am celebrating the power of feminine energy—solidarity, love, and joy amongst women. These women inspire me to be confident and compassionate in every moment. They remind me that I do not need male validation to be successful or happy. I’ve learned love, resentment, and growth. I’ve come into my power as a woman with a strong support system behind me, and I could not be more appreciative of that.