I’ve been back to work for 16 months yet my heart still sinks each morning when I drop off our son at daycare. I wonder about the little moments I’ll miss out on. What will happen over the course of the next eight hours to make him smile, laugh, scrunch up his nose, or even cry? Will he say something funny? Will anyone hear it?
Fortunately, just eight hours later, I scoop him up, kiss his chubby cheeks and find out — in scattered toddler stories — everything I missed.
Pretzel Brieta isn’t as lucky.
Her children live 11,000 kilometres away in Davao City in the Philippines. She left them to work as a nanny in Canada when her kids were six and 10, with hopes she could bring them over once she is a citizen.
That was four years ago. She hasn’t seen her children in person since.
“I want to hug them. I can’t hug them. I want to give them a kiss. I can’t kiss them, you know?” Brieta said.
“The most hurting part is that every time I want to comfort them, I can’t do it because I was not there with them and every time they needed me most, I couldn’t be there even though I really wanted to but we’re miles apart, miles away.”
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For Brieta, Mother’s Day is particularly tough.
“It’s Mother’s Day. It’s the time that I have to spend with them, but I can’t.”
I think every mother makes sacrifices for her children. In most cases, it’s the ordinary day-to-day surrendering of sleep and energy. Other times, it’s more tangible things like pausing or ending a career or giving up a personal dream.
In Brieta’s case, the sacrifice is painful because it is enduring.
By pursuing a prosperous future for her children, she gives up bearing witness to years of their childhood — not days or hours — years.
I can only hope that one day soon she will be able to scoop them up and find out what she’s missed.