The way of Nature, the way of Grace


Series of photographs which explore the relationship with my mother, 2023

There was a time in my adult life when I began questioning my relationship with Mom. I became angry with her for over-protecting me throughout my childhood and teenage years; for being, in psychological terms, a “helicopter parent”. I blamed her for my lack of courage, for my introversion, for controlling me and keeping me emotionally dependent on her. I thought that giving birth to my own child would finally make me a grown-up; that I would be able to overcome all my weaknesses and that raising my daughter would trigger the greatest change in me.

During the pregnancy months, I tried to detach from Mom and not ask for her help. I felt fearless for a while, ready to define the new version of myself. This self-induced illusion only lasted for a little while. Aurora was born and it wasn’t long before, just like a baby, I would attach myself to my mother again.

I would hide behind my mother’s skirt whenever I felt anxiety and fear. I hid when I was four and the priest came to bless our apartment; I hid when I had to stand up for myself in front of the high school principal; I hid when I was at the hospital and my mother would answer the questions the doctor ask me.

Mom used to be my safety net and my shelter. I lived inside a bubble until it broke down into millions of tiny, cutting pieces.

Mom used to work in law. She studied hard to get there, yet happily renounced the job that didn’t bring her peace of mind.
When I was little, she would always be the first parent to take me home from kindergarten. Later in our life, she became much busier though; she would sometimes come home at 9pm and do homework with me until 11.

I never saw her while performing her duties at work. Her colleagues were very fond of her, as she is a warm person and cares for the people.
I remember she would tell me “Don’t do what I do”. She encouraged me to pursue art and photography, never showing a sign of worry about my future.

When I was diagnosed with Postpartum Depression, Mom became my refuge once again. I was not a mother, but a child; perhaps the most fragile version of them all. Mom would hold me inside her arms and comfort me, “This too shall pass, this too shall pass”. I knew it would take time and infinite effort, but only hearing her soft voice made me feel better.

I became dependent – both physically and emotionally – on her for the second time in my life. While I was having my own baby, I felt powerless and extremely needy myself, and Mom was there to help, almost self-sacrificially.

After Mom left her job, she began to fully dedicate herself to family and home.
From time to time I would ask her, “Don’t you miss your career?”, and she would always answer short and firmly, “No”.
Mom can be restless and relentless when it comes to housework. She cooks, she cleans, she vacuums, she irons, she ploughs, she plants, she waters. She has a list of never-ending chores and, just like me, doesn’t know when and how to stop.

I inherited her perseverance, her perfectionism and her ambition. I wish I knew how to give myself a break and step back at times. I yearn to be less judgmental and harsh on myself and Mom. Our relationship is more ripe now than ever, yet life’s challenges never end.
Mom looks at the picture of her and sees Grandmother in it; I wonder whom I will see when I look at my portrait years ahead – will it be a version of who I want to become, or just a ghost of someone else?

The way of Nature, the way of Grace.

Realities we lose when we grow up. Mother and I, 1994

To honour thy father and thy mother.