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"I'm Grateful To Have A Mom Who Paid Attention To My Every Single Move"—A Tribute To My Mom, By Ella Laxa-Pangilinan

As I wrap up my first semester of studying and living abroad for the first time, I can't help but reflect on how I have actually been able to make it through in one piece. It took several rollercoasters with ups and downs for me to get to a state where I seemed most ready to hop on a plane and take on this challenge for a different form of independence.

But one of the main reasons why I’ve actually managed to stay on is because I was never on those rides alone. Always beside me was my mom. Through all the twists and turns—although I’ve made her freak out at times—she kept that seatbelt on and never jumped out until she saw that I was ready for a thrill of my own.

Since I was a toddler, it was never at the top of my mom’s priorities to pick out my outfits, braid my hair, and doll me up. In fact, flipping through my baby albums, my outfits never matched, my hairstyle was always funny, and I didn’t understand how to get all glammed up. Many times I joked around, asking my mom why on earth did she let her little girl walk out of the house looking like that, and why she couldn’t teach me those things.


With my mom in Florence, Italy


Later on, I realized that she had focused her attention on the manners in which I carried myself. She would always comment on my behavior and give me tips: be polite, speak softly, sit up straight, get my elbows off the dining table, place my napkin properly on my lap, put vegetables on my plate, never cut pasta but rather to properly twirl, chew my food for 20 seconds with no sound before swallowing, excuse myself, walk with good posture, cross my legs while wearing a skirt, refrain from fidgeting with my nails in public, go out of my way to greet her friends and introduce myself should they not recognize me, not let my outside clothes touch my bedsheets, never to step on puddles… And the list goes on! I have to admit, it was often annoying having someone watch my every move, that these little things practically led to the majority of our bickering.

I clearly remember the day we flew to Italy together several months back, and how she had a detailed game plan on how I was going to get all settled up—from how my apartment was going to be managed, list of chores I had to learn, a breakdown of my monthly budgets, how I was going to prepare for school, and all the other little things I had to be mindful of in order to survive. And every single day, just as it was when I was growing up, she would watch and comment on my every single move, making sure I did it all right. It definitely led to frustrations and I couldn’t wait to relax and just eventually figure it out on my own.



After 10 days of settling me in, she finally set me free to hop on a new rollercoaster to live life according to my own standards, but this time without her beside me. Several days after her departure, to my surprise, I found myself doing everything exactly as she’d correct me. Or before making decisions, the first thing I would think about was her response. It was as if her voice found its way to stay permanently in my head, and all her reminders stuck! For the first time in my life, I had realized how grateful I was to have a mom who paid attention to my every single move. Without her physically being there to remind me, I believe, has become the true test to gaining independence.

Oftentimes, I feel as if it is quite common to think that your mom is against you especially if you have one as particular as mine. At one point, I felt like I wasn’t doing anything right. When really, my mom was never against me, but for me. I am encouraged to continue perceiving that everything she has done for me was to groom me to be the person I am today, and the person I am destined to be. I would not have been able to understand what it truly means to be raised well, earn respect, and find my own place in this world.



I can’t thank God enough for blessing me with a mom like her. Sometimes I wish she was right beside me, watching my every move, this time hopefully to witness that I’ve truly been listening to her. Hahaha!

Happy Mother’s Day, Mama! I love you, and I miss you very much!


Photographs by SweetEscape, courtesy of Ella Laxa-Pangilinan