Michelle: This is about Nadine, a nurse; One of the board topnotchers years ago. She is already in her 30s and said that she has been postponing her dream of working abroad due to an ailing mom. All her three brothers are successful overseas Filipino workers in the Middle East. She is the youngest and the only girl. She said they are living comfortably but she is yearning to fulfill her lifelong dream to work as a nurse. Early this year, Nadine secretly processed the requirements for a job in the United States. She got the job. Now her US employers are asking her to be there January of next year. She has been meaning to tell her mom and her brothers of the good news. But she feels guilty of leaving her mom who is bedridden. This is what I call a dilemma and I feel for Nadine who is torn between taking care of her mom and taking care of herself—her goals, dreams and aspirations in life.
DJ: For children, particularly in countries like the Philippines, childhood training at times would lead to gigantic responsibilities of taking care of parents and even the family. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this. Our family is among the very few constants we have in a sea of variables. No one is left behind, come what may. I suggest for Nadine to take a step back and examine her real motivation for taking care of her ailing mother. Is it because she loves her and she deserves care only a child can give? That’s the ideal. Or is it out of guilt? Is she feeling unworthy if she does not care for her mom? That’s sad.
M: The longer Nadine delays the inevitable—that is telling her mom and her brothers, the more difficult for her to decide whether to go or not to go. I think she should tell them the soonest. The fact that she secretly processed the requirements and finally did something about what she wants to do in life is telling of how much she wants to change her present circumstances. I know this sounds a bit unfair but I have to ask, why be a nurse abroad now when her mom needs her the most? It’s different if there is a family member that oversees and makes sure that everything is well taken care of. And fortunately, or maybe unfortunately for Nadine, the task falls on her as the only girl and the nurse in the family.
DJ: Wanting to take care of herself too is not an unrealistic desire to have. I suggest she brings the possibility of pursuing her American dream with her brothers and take it from there. Yes she is the only girl but her brothers are her mother’s children too. She can start with the brother she’s closest to. Eventually opening up to the three of them might result to a joint decision that works. Four reasonable heads are better than just Nadine figuring it all out. She’s family, too. Once they’ve come up with a decision, that’s when I suggest that they’ll involve their mom. It’s better to spare her from the confusion and drama which usually come with brainstorming and be looped in when things are clearer for everyone.
M: What Nadine can do to ease her guilt is to tell her brothers so that they can help her. One of her brothers can go home, if possible, to watch over them mom while Nadine goes to the US this December to personally see for herself what is in store for her there. If she sees and experiences what it is to be away from home, she might find out that what she thought she wanted before may be different to what she wants now. I think the key is for her to be honest to herself. Might it be she is tired of being left alone to take care of their ailing mom? Though her brothers might send the money, they do not feel and experience the burden of taking care of an ailing parent. It is a difficult task. It pains the heart to see an ailing parent but it is also sometimes very challenging and nerve-wracking to take care of them. And sometimes, the old and the ailing patient can be cranky or demanding. It takes patience and a lot of care and love to serve our ageing parents. That is why it is important for Nadine to take care of herself so she can better take care of her mom.
DJ: What I suggest for Nadine to keep in mind is that she is also part of the family. Whatever her decision is. They have her back in as much as she has their back. They are also her constant in a sea of variables. They’ll help her the same way that she’s helping them. She loves them and she is loved. I wish her all the best!