to my first-born

I love you.  Blood of my blood. Flesh of my flesh. My first-born.

Where did I go wrong? Whatever did I say or do to you to make you the 18-year old son I just heard and saw this very minute?

It was really hard to make you open up since you were a kid. I longed to see what was going on in your head and heart. But I did not want to seem so pushy. I did not want to force you. I wanted to be your friend, your protector, your mother. I wanted you to be my little buddy because you wanted it too. Not because I forced you to be.

Finally! You gave me a glimpse inside your heart and the workings of your mind. I should be thankful. I should. I am. But your words ripped my heart into pieces. Shattered my dreams. Destroyed my identity as a mother and as a person.

What in the damned world happened?

You didn’t like to be left inside a classroom at three years old even if you could see me through the window or beside the door. You always cried. So I didn’t force you.

At four years old, the same thing happened. Still I did not force you to stay.

At five, I thought things would change. Because it was a real school and this time, you were with your three year old brother. But I was wrong. You spent most of the school year doing school work with silent tears running down your cheeks. This time I forced you to stay and finish the year.

At six, you did not cry anymore. You made friends. You were even talkative. I thought everything was finally okay.

I was quite the stage mother. For the seven years you spent in that school, I also was. Every single day that you were there, I also was. Whole day classes or half a day didn’t matter. I was there from the morning bell until dismissal. Your classmates and friends even ran to me for your assignments and projects just before the morning class bell rang. I watched you develop friendships. Ah, my son is growing!

For high school, you requested to spend on the same school where your aunt spent hers and where you played when you were a toddler. I acceded even though it would mean transferring your younger brothers to schools in the same city where your preferred school is.

I thought you were happy. I thought you were contented. Because I did not see any glimpse of unhappiness or trouble.

I did not hear you complain of any. I always asked you and you never said anything. Through the years, I was always available for your school activities. Through the years, I never stopped trying to not only be your mother, but your buddy and confidante. I was never irrationally strict. Instead of saying “don’t do this”, I presented to you the probable consequences of your possible actions so you could wisely choose your own direction. I never forced you to join activities you really did not like. I always listened to your preferences. I was never old-fashioned in parenting. What did I tell you? Enjoy high school. I did not ask for honours or high grades, but challenge yourself, learn and apply it in your life. When you wanted to go out, there were never any disagreements. As long as you tell me who you will be with, where you will be going and what time to expect you back. I gave you condoms at age 15 as a precaution. I did not encourage you to engage in pre-marital sex. But I wanted you to be knowledgeable and protected if and when an encounter becomes inevitable.

What in the world did I do wrong?

Why are you so lazy? Why do you not follow simple requests? Why do you ignore whatever I say? Why are you giving me failing grades? Why haven’t you shown me your grades for the past two semesters? Why are you always drinking? How and why did you let yourself be included in a drunken fight a few weeks ago? A fight which almost proved to be fatal not only to you, but also to your father and your cousins.

Why?!

You said you were bullied since grade one until third year high school. You never told me. I always asked and probed. I was in school with you every day during grade school. How did that happen? How come I was ignorant? I saw you with friends.

You said it all changed in fourth year. You found friends who will protect you at any cost. I know them. I know their families. They are not a bad sort. They’re nice.

How come you never saw me as your protector? How come you never trusted me? Those words were just like saying; I was not capable of protecting you.

You said a lot of things tonight. I felt that every word that you said came from your heart. That’s why i was deeply wounded and shocked. You accused me of things I never did do. You painted a picture of a mother I cannot recognize.

You insisted on things I never said to you or taught you. You said you never did want to confide to me of the bullying because of your fear that you’re cheeks will look scalded due to my slapping them.

I never did that to you my son. Yes I did spank you when you were small but not to the extent that you would be maimed or disfigured. Just enough to make you realize that what you did was wrong and should never be repeated. I never made a habit of it. My corporal punishment was very rare. Yes, I do remember slapping you but not to the extent that your cheeks would be scalded, only red.

How could I have protected you when you never indicated that there was danger? I did not see any warning signs. How in the world was I so blind? I know I wasn’t a negligent mother. I know I was not an irresponsible mother. I sacrificed a lot of things to be your mother. You always came first no matter what.

So, what happened?

You said that you have come to realize that you did a lot of bad things. You said you are the black sheep of the family. You said you would stop schooling, get work, and financially help your younger brother to earn his degree. You said that you know that in spite of all the bad things you’ve done, I still love you. And that is making you guilty.

Those words are more than enough to melt even a heart of stone. But it did not affect me the same way. Because I did not feel that it came from your heart. It was just words. Because if you have realized those things and really mean them, than what the hell are you doing minutes before we had this talk? You were out again drinking on a school night. You never answered my calls. Because, as your usual wont these past few months, you always leave at home your second mobile phone which I requested to always be with you because that is my primary means of contacting you. I had to wake your father up to look for you and fetch you since I couldn’t do it myself because am sick.

You are my son, my first-born. I will always love you with my whole being, however shattered and broken it may be.

My question is, where do we go from here?  A question you couldn’t answer truthfully and realistically. A question I really don’t have an answer to.

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