Wednesday, May 20, 2015


You can tell a lot about a person by the way she/he responds to pain.

When you hurt...

You can strike back. 
You can retreat.
You can deny the pain exists.
You can drown it in other distractions.
You can nurse the wound and wail silently in your sorrow,
or you can announce it to the world for them to cheer you on.
You can fall on your knees and call out to the Divine,
or curse what you've been dealt and feel driven by anger.

I keep it,
for as long as I could.
I try to breathe it in,
turn it inside out, dig deeper into it,
take the shards in my hand only to cut myself again...
and again.

I swim out of it, or at least try to,
if only to steal a breath or two,
and dive and drown in it all over again, as if in search of something.
I sing with it, dance to it, but most of all,
I write verses with it.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Why Do You Scream?

 “You always scream at me!”

I turned my swivel chair to face my eight year old boy and saw his face turn red, eyes welled up with tears.  I felt sorry but was simultaneously so frustrated that the next best alternative for me was to try to calm down and explain myself to him.

“Do you know why I raise my voice and then finally scream?” 

He murmured, “Because you’re angry?”

“No. It’s because I feel like you don’t hear me.  The reason why people talk louder, raise their voices and then scream is because they want to be heard.”

I wasn't planning on that explanation at all, but since divine wisdom seemed to have decided to descend upon my short-fused and moody self, I couldn't refuse.

We scream to be heard. And we all have the desire to be heard, don’t we?

But each of us ‘screams’ in different ways and it’s not always easy to realize it.

Sometimes we act out in different ways in place of a scream.

We overeat.

We drink too much.

We get addicted to drugs or medications.

We rebel, throw tantrums or exhibit belligerent behavior.

Some of us end up overworking. Some choose to be perpetually tardy at their jobs.

Or we choose to retreat and become depressed.

‘Screams’ also sometimes manifest as silence. We withhold.

I think a lot of the times I’m the silent, withholding type. And I write. Sometimes I ‘scream’ here, on this site. But a lot of the times I just keep my written screams to myself to minimize collateral damage.

If there is anything I deem most important about screams, it is this lesson: 

 That one has to care to hear; one has to have heart to have ear. 

To hear and truly listen to someone’s difficulties, anger, pain, sense of isolation or any other wound one carries, you need to REALLY see the other person, be open and have compassion. Screaming back at another’s screams only creates more noise, produces more useless energy that blocks each person from truly receiving what lies behind the scream. 

I don't advocate screaming, nor am I encouraging parents to scream at your children. There are other alternatives, yes, and I'm not here to justify my behavior towards my son. Instead, I hope that next time I'd be more aware of why I'm really screaming, what it is that I want heard, acknowledged or received. 

What's behind your scream? In what other ways do you find yourself 'screaming'?

Thursday, May 7, 2015

What I Know For Sure About Motherhood

In observance of Mother's Day, I'd like to share (in Oprah-ish fashion) things I've become most certain about when it comes to motherhood. We already know it's a lot of hard work. And that it will surprise you with the amount of love you never knew existed in your heart. But beyond those obvious things, what else have become true for me which I am willing to bet are likely true for a lot of other mothers as well? 

Here are my thoughts after my eight-year stint in this job:

There's no one-size-fits-allunless it concerns child safety or health, and existing recommendations are backed by science (e.g. vaccinations, sleep safety, car seat safety, etc). My point is that there is no reason to torture yourself by worrying too much about guidelines on when or how to take away the binky, how long to breastfeed, how to carry or bond with your child, when to potty train, what sleeping arrangements work, or whether or not your child will be permanently damaged if you let him watch some television. We're really all just winging it and much of it depends on our specific situations. What has worked for one family may not be the best for yours. Use commonsense and ditch the beeyatch friend who keeps judging your choices and makes you feel inadequate by perpetually sounding like a talking American Academy of Pediatrics Handbook. 

Childbirth automatically raises your pain threshold. The pain you felt giving birth becomes the ultimate standard by which all other types of pain shall be measured against. When you step on broken glass and end up with a gaping wound, you say, "Bah! This is nothing compared to when I felt as if my body was being literally split in half!"

In the same token, your grossness tolerance is exponentially increased. As is true for most mothers, we're the ones relied upon when it comes to clean uppoop, pee, nosebleeds, earwax, snot, throw up, you name it! Of course we don't enjoy it but who else would do it? I once attended a party where one of my single friends threw up after drinking too much. She felt too ill that she ended up just laying on her bed. I went to assist her with the trash can as she continued to throw up and one of my other single friends asked, "How could you stand that smell? It makes me want to throw up too!" My answer was brief— "I'm a Mom".

Your life will be consumed by plans, routines, schedules. It's the only way to survive and keep your sanity. From coming up with a birthing plan, to feeding schedules, doctor's appointments, planning birthday parties, playdates, vacations, laundry, mealtimes, trips to the grocery store, as well as when YOU can pee, poop and take a showeryou will find that everything requires a lot of time organization and following routines in order to accomplish tasks...and to keep looking and smelling human!

You will gain weight and go through some degree of self-loathing. You'll regret all that wasted time in the past when you hated your body and thought you were big. But don't worry. If you're lucky (and almost all of us are!) you'll have a child that will always tell you the truth that you are perfect and beautiful just as you are, squishy and simply divine.

It's inevitable that thoughts of your own mother will come to haunt you. When you become a mother yourself, you ponder on your own childhood and the kind of mother you had/have. You will think of things that worked and want to emulate, and things you hated and swear you'd never turn into. You will remember the grief you gave your own mother and shiver at the thought of karma always finding its way. Most of all, at least for most of us, you won't be able to help but regress to your young self needing TLC every time you are sick and need that comforting touch only your mother could give. 

You will be plagued with self-doubt. Because you know this is the most important job you will ever do, you will keep asking yourself, every step of the way, if you're being good at it. However, you will soon realize that 'good enough' is a good place to be in. You need to be comfortable  with it, be friends with it, and know that the objective is not to raise someone perfect, just someone who knows how to love. 

I don't care how much you love and adore your children, but when you're a mother, the highlight of your day becomes that time of night when you can sit quietly on your couch or bed, let out a deep sigh of relief and have alone time. A remote control on one hand and a consumable treat on the other (think chocolate, or wine) are priceless and highly encouraged!

If you forget your own dreams, daily realityyours and others'will torment you. You will end up resenting everyone around you and everything will just feel unbearable. You have to find something outside of motherhood that will nurture your spirit and offer growth. This is not selfishness. It's commonsense. If your spirit feels replenished and cherished, this energy has no other choice than to overflow into all that you do and the roles you play. If you feel like an overused and neglected empty vessel deep down, you will be incapable of seeing joy around you, and time spent with your family will only feel like a duty, a burden, rather than a gift.

You may not need an entire village, but a small reliable tribe is always great to have when you're raising children. Never take for granted the amount of assistance you have available to your family. As a migrant whose family lives on the other side of the globe (and my husband's side lives in a different state), we don't have the privilege of having extra hands who are truly trusted, reliable, and not to mention, free-of-charge, when it comes to childcare or any type of family assistance. Having sitters who are strangers to us is an alien concept for me culturally, and so this is something that my son is strongly averse to. Going on a couple's date is a huge production number that takes a lot of planning and impeccable timing, often times involving my best friend's family. Every two or so years, my mom manages to visit from the Philippines and the three or four months she spends with us are priceless! I feel like those are the only times when I'm allowed to get sick, go out on dates and lay off the kitchen somehow to let her take over on certain days. That's my opportunity to taste Filipino dishes I can't cook myself and which I want my son to be familiar with. So if you have family close by, loved ones you can trust so that you can take brief, needed breaks from being 'mommy', consider yourself blessed and make sure you are grateful. Not everyone is as lucky as you.

Happy Mother's Day! 

I would love to hear what you know for sure! 
Please leave them in the comments below.  

Friday, May 1, 2015

Top 5 Excuses for Failing to Blog

I can't seem to write anything decent. I don't know exactly what's causing the dry spell but it's a bad case of writer's block. I sit and stare at the blank computer screen, hypnotized by that blinking black line that keeps on mocking me.

So instead of completely surrendering to this void on my screen and my brain (which is possibly more of a dense black hole, full and yet void at the same time, incapable of spewing anything intelligible at this time), I've decided to milk my misfortune and create a post around it.

Here are my top five excuses for failing to blog! Yay!

Image by: Drew Coffman via Flickr Creative Commons

1. There's just far too many interesting updates on Facebook, organization porn on Pinterest, and endless Amy Schumer videos on YouTube...all much too entertaining and zapping my brain cells in the process.

2. I went to leave a blog comment on another site and the 'I'm not a robot' captcha wore me out. It asked me to check all the pictures of bread I can see and gave me 12 pictures to choose from. I chose one that obviously looked like bread, one that looked like dough, and included two that looked like pizza. It says I'm wrong. Isn't pizza bread???? And thus started a never-ending existential crisis.....

3. I'm having way too much real life, face-to-face adult conversation than what I'm used to (and trust me, I have a really low threshold), making cathartic writing a bit redundant. 

4. I'm seeing too much ugliness in the world and am still waiting for world peace to inspire me. I'm taking to heart what my mother taught me—"If you don't have anything good to say, just stuff your face with brownies!"

Which brings me to #5...

5. Fudgy brownies vs. sit in my office to type a blog post? No brainer, right?!? One might argue I can eat said brownies in my office. But they're so chewy and moist that I need to enjoy every moment of this sacred experience. Respect the brownie, people! How dare you even suggest I multitask!

How about you guys throw me some of your best excuses for not doing what you're supposed to be doing? Misery loves fudgy brownie, right?