4 min read

I Will Be The One

I Will Be The One

My mom is a little Filipino lady.  She has high standards, is quite efficient, has great spatial reasoning, and can be very demanding.  On the flip side, she is shy in new social settings, tends to keep to herself, and is happiest when she is doing something for others.

Growing up, my mom and I had a tumultuous relationship.  I felt like I could never meet her standards and that I always fell below in her expectations. Talk to my brother and you will hear the opposite. He told me that she always told him how proud of me she was/is.  The same goes for me, I don't think I ever heard what she thought of me, but I always heard how proud of my brother she was/is.  Its just her way.  She cried when she attended my graduation from college, but I don't think she ever verbally told me she was proud of me...she just told me to straighten my robe.  She's a tough cookie. But that's the way she grew up. No one expressed their feelings, but they showed that they loved you by doing things for you.

My mom's catch phrase is "I will be the one." I remember hearing it as a kid, and I still hear it as an adult.  My aunt (my dad's sister) remembers her saying it long before I was born.

Whenever dishes needed to be washed, clothes to be laundered, food to be cooked, house to be organized, things to be packed (as they inevitably needed to be as we moved every 3 years being part of a military family), my mom would say, "I will be the one."  And she was always the one.  It drove me nuts that no one was allowed to give her hand. She always did it and she always did it her way.  No other way was right or done well.  It's a very frustrating thing to have to deal with that all the time.

Over the years, I have learned that "I will be the one" means "I love you" from my mom.  She knew that she could things well and why trouble you with it, when she could do it herself, probably more easily and probably better. Let's face it, you've seen how I organize a house, she is definitely better!  I'm learning to back off when she says "I will be the one." It's her way of feeling useful and showing her love. I didn't understand it before, but now that I have my own family, I'm starting to understand her better.

Just recently my side of the family vacationed together.  One of the things that I noticed when we got to the condo was that they had a new dishwasher that was a little fancier and was a little harder to figure out. I figured it out and washed our dishes with no problems the 3 days before my parents arrived.  The condo also had a new high efficiency washer and dryer.  There were very specific directions posted over both machines. I figured it out, and washed and dried our clothes without any issues the 3 days before my parents arrived.

When my mom arrived she wanted to get to it.  For our first dinner together, she hopped up and began doing putting everything away and loaded the dishwasher. She paused, looked at the machine again, and asked my husband what to do. He said to ask me, because I'm the one who figured it out.  I taught her how to do it, and then told her, "I will be the one" and took care of the rest of the dishes. For a few days I was the one, until she figured it out on her own.  The same with the washer and dryer. She kept insisting on using the one detergent not recommended for the machine. It took a little explaining and finally I walked her down to the machines at the end of our hall.  She looked at me and said, "I don't know how to do this."  I told her, "I will be the one."  I loaded the machine with clothes, detergent, and coins, selected my settings and pushed start.  She watched me do it a few times over the course of the next few days and then she became "the one."

It's weird to be in this sort of role reversal where "I will be the one" referred to me and not to my mother.  For the first time in my life, my mom referred to me and asked me to help her (I'm sure not an easy thing to do for an independent and feisty Filipino woman).  I noticed as time went on, that I carried on the same character traits with my own family: when my husband asks me to find something (and my son said, "because you're good at it, Mommy"), when I clean up the dishes, pack our clothes before a trip and to go home, or to research something. I will be the one.