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International Voices

My Mother, the Libero

Le Hoang May 13, 2018

Today is a very special day. There is a lot of writing that talks about what this day means. It’s not because this is a popular topic but rather it’s such a meaningful and honorable thing to write about. So I hope my writing can make a small contribution to emphasize and celebrate the person that has such an important role in my life, my mother.

Without trying to be cheesy and moody from the start, let me begin by giving you an analogy from sports. Probably the only sport I can proudly say that I know how to play is volleyball. A brief overview about this sport: each team has six players, three on the front row and three on the back separated by a net. The goal is not to let the ball hit the ground. The “spiker” is the most critical position on the team and also gets the most attention. Their job is to hit the ball directly onto the ground on the other side. Because this position is so critical, four or five of the six players are spikers.

What you might not know is there is one more position that plays an essential role in winning the game. Only two members are allowed to be on the team to play this position and only one person is allowed to play on the court each time. They can’t attack or be in the front row. They aren’t allowed to sub-out and or win points for the team. Their uniform has to be different from the rest. This is what you call a libero. His/her job is to focus only on defending the ball. Their achievement is measured by  losing the least points possible. They are happy when the team gains a point and takes on the mistakes themselves when their team loses a point.

Some of you might question as I did in the beginning, why would someone sign up for this position? Who doesn’t want to be center of attention in a competitive sport? The further I went along, the more I realized the libero tends to have the strongest mentality. He/she always supports the team no matter what happens. It suddenly struck me:

Isn’t this the role of the mother too?

When I look back at my childhood there are UP’s moments: having fun, hanging out with friends, going to vacations… but also there were “down” moments too: when I was frustrated with schoolwork, depressed, or gave up on things. Nevertheless, there is one person who was by my side and never gives up. No matter how I screw up, I knew there would always one person at home waiting. Perhaps, that is the happiness of life: to have someone there to support you at any moment of your life, whether you are sad or joyful.

A libero stops being a libero when the match finishes, but  mothers don’t have that chance. Day in day out, for over long periods of time. She is always there.

As a college student, we are all on the path to defining who we are. At the age of 20, we aren’t scared of anything. We love to challenge ourselves, proud of the things we have done. We are passionate about what we love to do and our dreams. Adrenaline boosts make us  feel like we can conquer the world. The reason we are able to do all of these things starts from the bedrock of our emotions. We crave the feeling that doesn’t matter how far we go, how high we reach, or how bad we might fail, that there will always be a place called home to go to, a person called mom to talk to, a sense of belonging that is created by this selfless love of the mother. Nevertheless, the only relationship that wants to be split up is between parent and child. The parent gives everything they have from time to efforts without asking for anything back. Still, we ask to be independent. That is the selfless act that we must celebrate.

This is the day we recognize the works of the woman who wears different hats in her life: a chef when we are hungry, a warden when we are naughty, a tutor when we don’t pay attention at school, and I would like to add another one, a libero when we fall. This is the day when all of us should take a step back to look at how much effort our mother put on us and to tell her how grateful we are and how much love you have for her.

And for me, since I can’t go back home, I’m going to send her a big pack of flowers with a card that says, “Here, for the libero of the first 20 years of my life, there is no word to describe the magnitude of your efforts so I can only give you the only infinite thing I have, love. Happy Mother’s Day.”