Because I’m not a mother, I can only speak of a mother’s love from a daughter’s perspective.
I am my mother’s daughter, her first-born child, to be precise, before my sister and my brother.
During her ninth month of pregnancy with me, my mum experienced gestational hypertension (pregnancy-related high blood pressure), and my mother’s gynecologist advised her to have a cesarean birth instead of a natural one, so as not to raise her blood pressure any further.
A date for the operation was scheduled, and on the 27th day of the eleventh month of 1985, the nurses dressed my mum in a hospital gown and wheeled her into the operating theater.
My mum was very nervous, since it was her first time in labor, and probably the first time being cut open.
In the short while that she was conscious before the anesthesia kicked in, she prayed fervently to a God she wasn’t even sure existed.
Her prayer went something like this – “God, if you ensure that my baby is delivered safely, I’ll believe in you.”
Thankfully, the c-section was a success, although I was born two weeks premature, a tiny baby weighing a mere two kilograms, roughly the size of a tiny rabbit.
The doctors held me up-side down and whacked my buttocks, and I screamed my arrival to the world, proof of me being in good health. As my mum cradled the tiny me in her arms, caressing this unfamiliar creature that she had already came to love unconditionally, she whispered a relieved “thank you” to the God that she now believed was real.
My mum has worked her whole life as an accountant, and at that time, took two years off work to dedicate her time to this newborn infant that would suddenly demand so much of her time.
She would carry me to the park in Tampines, and chased butterflies that were fluttering around. She would sing me lullabies and kiss my cheeks, her heart swollen with pride and love.
Later when I was a little older, and my siblings Valerie and Ronald had come along, my mother would call home from work, asking us how our day at school was.
She’d make sure to leave her office on the dot so she could be home in time to spend those precious few hours with us kids – now that I think about it, it must have been exhausting to work 10 hours in the office and come home to play games with hyperactive kids, three kids at that! Yet I don’t remember my mum losing her temper at us for demanding her attention and love, and from a working adult’s viewpoint now, I truly admire her patience.
On occasional weekends, she’d make us a loaf of fragrant butter pound cake or crazy delicious brownies. And all of us would fight over the last piece together.
As I’ve told you before, my mum has always tried to be there for us, despite her full-time accountancy job, and to show us that she loves us in tiny actions.
She’s the sort of person who shows her affection through actions instead of words, and for as long as I can remember, has never promised to do anything she wouldn’t.
Her consistency and constant presence was something that I sometimes took for granted, since she was always there for us, but this consistency was something that I was definitely aware of.
I think a mother’s love is most tested when the child leaves home for good.
In my case, I’m pretty sure that when I announced that I wanted to move across the continents to live in Argentina, her heart must have shattered. Yet, despite her silent tears at the airport and the sadness in her eyes to see me fly off, my mother never made me feel guilty about going away.
Her love is not possessive; and while it was a difficult moment, she willed herself to let me go. Her way of responding was a tight hug, and daily prayers that the same God who’d brought me safely into this world almost three decades ago, would continue to keep me safe.
We’re not big verbal communicators in family. Long phone calls are less common than short Whatsapp text messages, and while I sometimes do tell my mum I love her, it’s definitely not enough to justify the love she’s given to us children.
So because I can write better than speak my heartfelt thoughts, this Mother’s day, I’m dedicating this fig jam recipe to my mum (and all other mothers out there).
Mummy, thank you for every single thing you’ve ever done and will still do for me. I wouldn’t be who I am without your unconditional love and unfailingly constant prayers every morning. You are a wonderful mother and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
I love you! Very, very much!
EASY FIG JAM (Makes 1 small jar)
Barely adapted from: Dash of East
1) 2 cups of fresh figs, cut into very small pieces
2) 1 cup of granulated sugar (or 1/2 cup honey)
3) 1 1/2 cups of water, divided
4) Juice and zest of 1 lemon
5) 1 sprig of fresh rosemary (optional, to perfume the jam once cooked)
1) Combine cut figs and sugar in a medium bowl and let it sit for 1 hour
2) Place fig-sugar mixture in a medium saucepan over low heat, mix in 1 cup of water, lemon zest and juice
3) Stir mixture every now any then, letting it simmer for about 45 minutes or until it reaches jam consistency
4) If mixture becomes too thick, add in 1 tablespoon of water at a time
5) While mixture is cooking, sterilize glass jar with boiling water
6) Remove jam from heat and spoon into sterilized jar, place the sprig of fresh rosemary in the jar, and cover.
*Note: Jam can keep in the refrigerator for up to two months. Best way to eat this jam, in my opinion? On top of scones with a generous helping of whipped cream. Sooo goood.