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A child’s letter, a mother’s reply

by Josephine

As the children of migrant domestic workers, our children are often deprived of the attention and guidance from us parents. While we work away from home to provide for their basic needs, they long for the daily care that we can’t provide. It’s important that we as parents help guide, teach and lead our children as they begin to study. The most salient negative impact of a parent’s absence is a feeling of being abandoned that cannot be compensated for by financial support.

This is a letter from my child entitled An open letter to my mom. 

When I was younger, I was a consistent awardee. Every semester, I walked up to the podium to receive my award. My mom was always by my side to claim my award with me. One time in 4th grade, my mom was late in coming to school; she was not able to go up on stage with me. I felt shy and alone. I cried in front of all the students and teachers at our school. That was the first time my mom was not with me when I received my award. I was not expecting that that would also be the last time that she would be with me. 

The time came when my mom had to go out of the country to work. I know that life has been hard for my parents. I know that they had financial problems, but they did not let me experience any of those hardships. They never failed to meet my needs and wants. Time flew by. I was in the 6th grade, and that is where everything started. I felt neglected. I missed the feeling of having my mom always by my side. I learned a lot of bad things at an early age. I started lying to my grandparents. I started drinking to get away from my negative emotions. Every night, I cried, and I always skipped my meal. I lost my awards, and my teacher talked behind my back. They often discussed my life and created rumors about me. They said that I ran away from our house and that I was a bad influence on some of my friends. 

Our graduation day came, and my mom also came home. My graduation day was the most embarrassing day of my life. When it was time to receive the award, all of the students in our class stood up and formed their lines to receive it. Only three people in our class remained in their seats, including me. My classmates looked at me, wondering why I remained in my seat. I just looked down and waited for the program to end so I could leave. I was not able to receive my award because I wasn’t able to meet the required grade. I have known that since that day, I have disappointed my parents. I know I lost their trust. I see myself as a big disappointment. Nobody knows how I felt. People judge me easily without even knowing how it feels to be in my shoes. 

Years passed, and I still haven’t brought my old self back. My mom still supports me in everything. She still never fails to give me my wants and, especially, my needs. But until now, I have always been a big disappointment. Despite the several times I have let her down, she continues to trust me.

To my mom, I've been carrying a heavy heart for a long time now, and it's important for me to put my feelings into words. First of all, I want to say I love you, and thank you for everything you have done for me. I want to talk about the feelings that have been bothering me for a long time now. The feeling of not being enough. I’ve been fighting with the feeling of disappointment in myself because I know that I’ve been falling short of all the expectations you could have had for me. I know you expected more, ma, and I’m sorry if I wasn’t able to fulfill that. These feelings are not a reflection of your support and guidance; rather, they are a reflection of my own struggles and doings. 

I randomly cry at night every time I think of you. I cry, remembering that I am a failure and that I have failed you. I am sorry, mama, for being the real black sheep of this family. I want to thank you, mama, for not giving up on me. I want to thank you for not saying hurtful words, even though I have failed you a lot of times. Please know that I am trying my best to give you what you deserve. I want you to be proud of me again. I'm looking forward to the day when you'll be proud of me and see that I've grown into the person you've always believed I could be. I want you to know that I have always found strength in your love and support. I genuinely appreciate how much your trust in me helped me get over multiple challenges. I want to repay everything you have done for us, ma. 

I know you are also carrying heavy feelings with you, ma, but please keep in mind that we will always be here for you and that we are so proud of you. We're proud of you because you managed to be far from us just to meet our needs. I know this is the first time I have expressed my feelings to you, ma. This is very unusual for me because I never share my feelings with others or even with you. I see this letter as an opportunity to express my feelings to you. More than words can say, I love you, and I am eager to share my development with you. I'd like to thank you for being the best mother anyone could ask for.

A mother’s reply

Dear child, my precious one,

I am at a loss for words.

I’m partly to blame, but I have only wanted what I know is best for you. I had so much regret that I wasn’t able to finish college because of financial issues and difficulties. That is why you are my motivation to strive hard, so that you can graduate and have a good life in the future.

I thank you for bringing it all up, because I feel as though I have been living in a cave. I didn't know what you had been through. I thought you were okay and that you just missed me, and that you weren’t used to me being away from you. 

Taking care of other people’s children and not seeing you for so many years has been torture for me. I was never hard on you and on your studies because I know what you are capable of. But when I read this letter, I was crying a river in the train station. I didn't care about the fact that I wasn’t alone, and that some of the people were looking at me while I was reading my phone and sobbing.

I love you so much and never ever think of you as a disappointment or a black sheep because you never have been and never will be. It’s not yet too late to show to everybody and prove to them that they are wrong. 

I’m always here to guide you and love you. I love you with all my heart and I will do anything just for you. I will never fail to understand you and listen to you. I am here not just as your mom but I can be your friend that will listen to you and support you with all your troubles in life. I’m so sorry for not being there with you in your ups and downs. I’m sorry that being away from you caused you much pain, but this is for you. I want you to know always that I love you so much, anak, with all my heart. 

About the author 

Josephine has two daughters and one step-daughter. Because of

poverty in the Philippines, she chose to leave her family and applied to work abroad. She came to the UK in August 2022, which was a new place for her. After finding the Voice of Domestic Workers, she took English classes, which helped her confidence and ability to speak to others. She is a spokesperson on the Future Voices programme, where she’s looking to learn and widen her knowledge to have a better understanding of what VODW is really fighting for.

In her free time, Josephine enjoys reading books, which she downloads on her phone, and watching Netflix. Most of her free time is spent talking to her parents, her husband and her children. 

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