Feeling the heartbreak of moms working abroad

I woke up screaming and crying at 3 am today, my hands frantically feeling the wide bed for my son. It’s still dark and I wasn’t able to see anything at all. A wave of panic came to me when I can’t feel where Ben was. What if it wasn’t a dream?

Apparently, the little boy has rolled on to the little bed attached to the big bed. The little toddler bed had been there for months but he has refused to sleep alone in it. We’re co-sleeping and attached to the hips since he was born.

Last night, like the previous nights lately, he has been rolling to the toddler bed and sleeping nicely there. Great, I can relax and have a little space, yes? Yeah, for the first time in months, I can sleep on my back again for longer time and not on my side exposing the upper half of my body (he is still breastfeeding at 16 months and compensates a lot at night because we’re away from each other the whole day). 

I’ve been having nightmares since he started sleeping away from me and last night was the worst.

I wanted to get up and write so words won’t escape me in the morning. But alas, Ben woke up, startled with my screaming and needed comforting and I am once again nailed to the bed, unable to move away or risk getting my nipples bitten off.

I had a terrible nightmare – that I had to leave my son ‘back home’ (at my parents) to work in a far away land – Dubai. He was an infant in my dream, so small and fragile and looked at me with misty eyes. I was in the airport, handing over my bundle of joy to my parents as I bid him goodbye. I was crying hot tears and I couldn’t stop.

You know that strange feeling when you KNOW you’re dreaming yet can’t seem to get out of it? Or don’t want to get out of it so you know how it ends?

The one where you know the crying will stop once you open your eyes but you can’t open your eyes?

THAT.

I love my children. I’m crazy about them. I kiss them everyday. No. ‘Kiss’ would be to put it ridiculously mild. I INHALE them. Sometimes I feel I must have sucked all the baby smell out of them. I miss them before I go to work, miss them while I am at work and I walk a little faster on my way home to be with them again at the end of the day. They are the center of my world and I cannot imagine living everyday without seeing their faces or not being able to touch them.

Yet my nightmare is a reality for so many Filipino mothers working in Dubai. Many of them leave their babies back at their home countries, thousands of miles away to earn a living. Many work as nannies – taking care of little children for other families so their own little children at home can live.The sacrifice. What must go on behind these ladies’ radiant smiles as they report to work every morning?

I feel a pinch in my heart.

I get sad when our nanny reports baby milestones that happen and I’m not able to see it. I had a guilt trip when my daughter’s caretaker told me I missed to her take her first steps. But for these women working abroad? Forget the little milestones – they will not see their baby grow up, for months, for YEARS. They will not see their children laugh or be able to comfort them when they cry. And despite of it all, I’ve witnessed a lot of parent-child relationship strained because some children end up resenting the parent’s lack of presence in their lives.

It’s a sad reality.

A few days ago was International Women’s Day. I wish no woman had to ever come to the agonizing realization that they must work abroad if they want to provide adequate food, education and health care for their families.

I only had a nightmare but the pain was so real. I held my son tight and wept into his hair for the mothers who must choose between supporting or soothing their children. To the working moms abroad away from their children: may the days go by faster so you can be together with your precious children again.

Also, happy (UK) mother’s day to those celebrating.

Top photo credit: Google images

Comments

comments

Comments

  1. says

    I work from home. But I can understand what you are saying here. I leave my children with my hubby when Ive some errands to run or have to meet a client for something. Iam usually gone for just under three hours. Half way through I start feeling guilty and miss my children. I can’t even do what Iam doing with full peace of mind. I guess we mothers are wired that way.

    I cannot fathom the pain and agony mothers who work abroad go through. I hope no one ever has to go through that.

    Neelu

  2. says

    I too hope no mother will go through such pain but it is a reality for some, that’s why I pray that the kids grow up understanding and appreciate the sacrifice mothers (parents) has to do.

  3. says

    advance Happy Mother’s day to you my dear!

    I know the feeling. My son is a special child. And the most stressful to take care of. I should feel immense relief when his school bus leaves in the morning for the past two years. It’s my time to rest.

    But no. I miss him every time. I want to cry and my heart constricts for a second. Then I worry if he will be alright in school, if he will eat on time, if he will be able to communicate he needs to pee pee. Which i should not be concerned at all because he attends a special school and people there patiently work hard around him.

    But i guess, we mothers are like that. We live our lives forever with constant love and concern for our children.

    • Grace says

      I didn’t realize your son is a special child. I guess I need to read your blog more (if you’ve written about him and his condition at all). It must be a challenge for you and I do understand your worry when the bus leaves.

      My daughter is already 9 and I still worry when her bus leaves every morning. I guess when we become moms, our hearts don’t reside in our bodies anymore, our children take it with them!

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