I blew a fuse last weekend. Again. And as usual, the little guy bore the brunt of it. I was trying to relax on the couch when he tried to get my attention and said something like, "Look what I have, Mommy". When I looked, I panicked and immediately said, "Put that back....NOW!" Of course he got terrified by my tone, and no, I didn't shout. But it was a deep, non-tentative, oh-my-God-if-you-want-to-live-you-will-do-as-I-say kind of tone. He backed away, couldn't decide if he would run or do it slowly, but most definitely he left in tears.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you the object and cause of my temporary anxiety....
It's a snow globe. It's tiny, approximately only 2 inches tall, and inside is a kneeling cherub holding a harp. Now please don't go all judgmental on me and ask, "Is that thing worth getting angry over and scaring your kid in the process?" Even after 4 days, my answer would still be yes and here's why.
This thing you call 'merely a thing' is obviously more than a 'thing' to me. I don't love it because I'm extremely religious. I love it for what it represents; a part of my life that I can never go back to or build on; a past that now feels so distant to me and yet one I fully treasure.
I had to explain to my son why this snow globe is so important to me. I told him first and foremost that it's irreplaceable. I bought it more than a decade ago (perhaps even closer to two decades, if I'm not mistaken) from somewhere in the Philippines. I can't even remember what store, which mall although I have a vague recollection of how I spotted it. I think it was a store selling religious items and most of their figurines were of angels. At the time, I had a fascination for angels and snow globes and was determined to start a collection. I was single, in my 20's I think (most likely), and optimistic and romantic, idealistic, quite religious and I guess you could say, innocent. I was perusing the store and had almost given up, when I spotted this angel sitting on the counter, by the cashier. I wasn't going to buy it but I knew I would regret leaving the store without it and would torture myself thinking about it. So I purchased it and have cared for it all these years. This cherub has seen our old home, before we even moved to our newer one. It has experienced sitting on my desk at the faculty center when I was still teaching. I had brought it to an apartment where I lived with a friend and it was my first experience of living away from home, from my parents. It stayed in my bedroom at my parents' house for years after unexpectedly getting married and migrating for good here in the U.S. So when we visited Manila back in early 2008, I knew I had to bring it back with me, together with other 'treasures' (books, pictures, letters, other valued knick-knacks). I'm just glad it didn't break and that it survived the almost 20-hour flight.
I don't think my son understands at this point what I explained to him. Even though I told him that this snow globe has sentimental value, that I can no longer purchase anything exactly like it, and that it reminds Mommy of home and connects Mommy to her life before, I don't really expect him to understand fully just yet. I think that unless you've also experienced being very far from your 'home', or have uprooted yourself from all that's familiar to you knowing that there's no going back, can one fully grasp having such intense feelings towards a thing, or any object that connects one to her/ his hometown, and most importantly, a 'past life'.
He's five. He doesn't know Mommy wasn't always a Mommy. He doesn't know Mommy wasn't always with Daddy or didn't even know that Daddy existed. Mommy has family he hasn't met or doesn't remember. Mommy has friends he hasn't heard Mommy speak of. Mommy used to work outside the home, used to teach, thought she'd study and travel in Europe, used to ride something called a 'jeepney', used to live in a place so different from where we live now, used to dream of doing things, going to places, meeting different people. Right now, Mommy is just Mommy to him. And though that may mean the world to my son, a big part of me still wants him to know and understand (eventually) that there are far more many layers to his mother than what he sees right now.
A lot of things may have changed in my life since migrating and having a family. Dreams and aspirations have come and gone; joys, loves and pains all savored, soothed and treasured. Not all of those are possible to resurrect. Neither do I desire to, for a lot of them. But I still do fantasize about some of them knowing fully well that it's no longer possible because of where I am now and what I have chosen to become. I think it's mainly for the purpose of reminding me of who I am deep down, affirming those parts of me untouched by time, unmoved by the drudgery of the mundane. The perpetual challenge for me now is to allow these parts to show through for my son's sake. I want him to know who I am, beyond the caregiver role, the pots and pans and such. I wonder how much he will see. More importantly, I wonder how much I would still be able to show.
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