Flawed Fem

My Flawed Life as a Mother, Sister, and Daughter -To my Family, With fellow women, & In Christ.


Leave a comment

My Babies’ Father

Let me be straight. If you are the type of guy who expects, nay, demands his wife and baby mama to cook and clean, and does nothing of the same, then do not waste both our times reading this post. This is not for you and you are not deserving of me. Even back in a land of tradition, I have always been the resistance. God bless her soul, but there was a time my exasperated grandma told me that I will not be able to find a husband because I cannot cook.  My response, I’ll find a cook/chef husband. Of course I was labeled a smart ass from then on, but that’s another story. Many years later, how do you think I fared with my baby daddy?..

 

mybabiesfather

Father’s Day gift to Daddy Dark Lord  😉

 

When I met my now husband, one of the first things he did was cook for me. He made me oxtail soup which I would not have the patience to do (I specialize in 15 min meals:) He is also notoriously neat, he loves clean floors, so in submission to him, he is in charge of deep cleaning/ vacuuming in the house. Being a stay at home, I cook and clean more frequently. But it was never an imposition, it was never an order from the Husband Highness. It was a teamwork of chores, just as I have always envisioned marriage to be.
But baby daddy is more than just Mr. Clean. The birth of our kids brought out so much more…
~ He is man of service. Sometimes to a fault. While this can be a source of conflict in other areas, this is a much desired trait in the child rearing department. He is lovingly involved with our children’s lives: Lovingly changes diapers (!) Lovingly supports/his kids’ #1 sports fan. He can be Tiger Dad, but mostly because he really cares about our kids and wants what’s best for them.
~ He is sweet. Comforting and playful. His boys can never get enough of rough playing with him. His boys scream in glee every time he comes home, their adoration of him they can barely contain.
~ He is committed. To his kids. To his beloved boys. He spends time with them and cares for them so much. He tries so hard to understand them. And trust me, they can be a rambunctious pair. He tries to break free of traditional fear-based parenting. I know this doesn’t come easy to him, but he’s trying.

His heart is full. His love for his children boundless. He is all in. He is my love. He is their love. He is their #1 hero. I am proud to call him my babies’ father.


Leave a comment

M.O.M. (Mother series 3)

For a woman who loves herself least, and loves God and her family most. MOM.

She was a simple girl. She is a simple woman. A gentle soul who seeks to help others throughout her life: She was a beauty queen by chance and a star dancer by passion, and in both instances, it was her humility and kindness to her peers that made her so well loved.  She was a teacher who has so much compassion for her students/ children.  She was the oldest of 6 who stepped up to be her siblings’ caretaker when her father died early in life. She was the new wife who moved to the city and became her husband’s mother’s dutiful daughter, through the good and bad, caring for her in many sick and difficult times. She lived out God’s love and light, even through her own tears, even as her family struggled through finances and death.

She is most patient with her children, 4 unique souls, with distinct personalities, with different sets of challenges. She is not perfect, but amidst moments of frustration, she finds a way to transcend anger and show kindness. She seeks to understand us even as we misunderstand, dismiss her. She remains steady, even as we rebel, then and now. Her faith in us never wavers, her heart for us continues to beat strong in the storms. She never fails to teach us about God’s love, and how that defines her love for us.  She is our first glimpse of heaven, with all the comforts of an unconditional love.

Her goodness knows no bounds. She has a big heart for the downtrodden. She has a sincere empathy for the poor and disadvantaged. She is unusual in her ways as a boss, whether it’s in her workplace, or at home. Unusual because while her colleagues show a short fuse towards the less educated workers, she instead bears and teaches them skills. While other homeowners treat their help with contempt and high demands, she befriends them, and treats them as equals, as human beings deserving of basic rights and respect. Her goodness reflects her righteousness. She lives a life of integrity and value. She always tries to do the right thing, even if it causes her undue hardships. She will fight for her children, her mama bear instinct always seek to protect us from harm. She is simply a light force that shines beauty in dark realities.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This is my mom. A woman of extraordinary beauty and light. Her open heart invites sharing life, and I cannot help but live for our chats, ranging from the mundane day to day, to the big ideas. She is my yoda, simple in her speeches, yet wise in her insights. Even as we relate differently now, in spite of conflicts in views, my relationship with  mom remains the most beautiful thing I have in life.  It is her sacrifices that gave me life choices.  It is her faith that pushed me to live my dreams.  It is her nurturing soul that has enabled me to live. So today, and for the rest of my fortunate life, I would like to live a life deserving of her sacrifices. I would like to honor her with my faithfulness, to protect her as she has held me, to comfort her as she has calmed me, and to pass on her Godly light to my own children. I would like to thank God every day for giving me her, and for giving me the highest honor of being called her child. Happy Mother’s Day Mom!

 

 

 


Leave a comment

Work Mom (Mother Series Pt.2)

 

workmom1

Boss Mama is the beautiful woman on the left~ (not to be confused with Ms. Shiny Face rt.)

I have not talked to her in years. I have not seen her for a while. Years have passed. I’ve worked in a variety of work and under many bosses. But she was different. She was more than an authority figure to me. She was a mentor, a friend, a role model. She was my work mom.

 

I was on my way to grad school thousand of miles away.  I can only take a job that allows me to do part time work while I was studying for GRE and doing my school applications. My friend told me they needed some help in her workplace. It was time limited. It was the perfect fit.

I went to work not expecting a lot. It was an in-between job and I was just happy to be earning some extra money. But it turned out to be more than a job. I met lifelong friends, I learned about work ethics (good and bad), and met the mentor who would shape my view of an ideal boss: The first time I saw her, she came with no fanfare, no swagger to give any indication that she was the boss of the department. Instead, what I saw was a woman who commanded respect, not because she had an arrogance about her, but because her soft and firm stance exudes class, decisiveness, and confidence in herself and her people. Over time, I saw how a woman of few words worked more efficiently than the men over her. She didn’t bark orders, she just executed them. She didn’t rule by force, she managed with mutual respect. She didn’t use fear to achieve results, she motivated and inspired confidence and teamwork among her team, pushing us to be our best and most effective at work.  We regard her as our leader, but never once did she ever made us feel like she was higher than us, never once did she utter dreaded clichéd statements like “I’m your boss and you do as I say”; “I’m your boss, I’m not your friend”.

She was not a loud person, but her words speak clearly and loudly to all of us who had the pleasure of working with her. Her humble nature revealed a wisdom far beyond her years- it reminds me, many years later, after I have become a manager myself, that good leadership does not come with a bragging heart, but it is through Godly humility, with a mind willing to learn, a heart able to respect, and a soul inspired to do the best work she can that defines a good leader.

So this month, on Mother’s Day (Mother’s Month- I call it), I would like to pay tribute to my work mom. To my/our work mom- you may not know how deeply you touched all of us, but we are all better people because of you. You molded me and taught me the value of leadership through inspired motivation . You are the epitome of kindness and godliness. You gave me the gift of authentic friendship and mentorship. You gave me the gift of you. Thank you. Love you always work mama~

 


Leave a comment

My Other Mother (Mother Series Pt.1)

Mother’s Day. We celebrate motherhood in all its forms- birth mothers, adoptive mothers, foster mothers, fur mommies. But I would like to take this time to remember some unsung heroes, who are neither of the above. I would like to write in honor of my yaya for Mother’s Day, as a tribute to our caretakers, our nannies, our help. Those who may not have birthed us, nor formally took us in. But they take care of us as our mothers do, sometimes even more.

Everybody knows I love my mom. She is my best friend, my advisor, my teacher. She worked hard to provide for us financially and still be present for us emotionally and spiritually. Growing up, I was always amazed how this tiny woman would work 6 days a week, come home and cook our dinner, and tutor us after school. She also took the time to talk to us, really listen and know us. However, on those times she works late, we were left in the care of nannies or yayas.

Growing up, me and my 2 bros had the privilege of having the most loving, sweetest yaya in the world. We call her Manang Sili. (Side note: Sili means chili, she might have gotten that nickname because she loves spicy food, and she passed on that love of spicy food to all of us 🙂 Manang is our second mother, I still refer to her as my nanay-nanayan. To this day, my mother has nothing but fond memories of Manang. My mom beams with pride and loves telling me how Manang is a sage. Every time I ask my mom about baby advice, she would refer back to Manang, and would tell me how Manang has the best technique and has the best instinct on how to care and soothe babies. My mother never considered Manang as something less than her, or as her competition. My mother regards her as her partner in crime, her confidante. Manang was family.

My own memories of Manang was just as good. When I was little, my dad had to work late hours to provide for a growing family. But I was oblivious to our financial hardships because of Manang. She gave me a magical childhood. She instilled in me a love of nature, of climbing trees and resting by the waters. My fondest memories of early childhood was waking up at 5-6am, going to the bakery for the first batch of bread, pandesal, and playing by the coconut trees and the rocky shores of Manila Bay. Breakfast with Manang consists of said bread, chicharon doused in vinegar w.sili, and coconut drink or softdrinks (soda) in clear plastic bags. If I’m lucky, I get a balloon in the park before I go home.

As we grew older, we see less of Manang, as she had her own grandchildren to tend to. My youngest sibling, my sister, never got the honor of having her as her yaya, because Manang had a new grandchild at that time. Even though she wasn’t working for us anymore, she would still visit monthly and give us eggs and fruits from her family’s farm. But as I reached my teens, the visits became less and less. I heard that Manang worked in his son’s business full time. I heard that she finally mended her strained relationship with her daughter and lived near her. Much as I was happy that she got to live her life with her biological family, I missed her. And my mom did too. She started asking around her old neighborhood to find out where Manang now resides, but nobody really knew. And because we moved around as well, we lost touch with her. I felt the loss of her deeply. I would have happy dreams of her and her big laughs. I could feel her tight hugs and hear her loving whispers in times of sickness, reminiscent of when I was a sickly child, and her frail arms would cover mine for comfort. I may not be a sickly child or a crying toddler anymore, but I would always long for the sweet pure love of my Manang Sili.

Wherever she is, my only hope is that she is happy where she is, and that she knows how forever grateful we are to have her in our family. I hope she knows that I am beyond honored to call her not simply my yaya, but my beloved one. She was more than our help- she was our protector, she was our friend. She was like a second Mother to us… She was, and always will be, my other Mother.

othermotherrev.png

Manang Sili is a lover and giver of fruits. She has instilled the love of fruits in me, that I am now passing on to my own children~


4 Comments

My Reasons Why

A few weeks back I finished the show “13 Reasons Why.” The show was disturbing and compelling. Love it or hate it, it forces dialogue about bullying and mental health. I was personally affected. Deeply affected. I was pulled back into the pain of my past. Into my own dark abyss filled with a broken heart and a damaged mind. I do not have 13 reasons why, but I have an idea of my what, some whys, and the reason I am here today. This is my survivor’s story:

My early childhood started out innocent and happy. I grew up simple, but I had the assuring love of my family. We moved around quite a bit, and I experienced my first bullying when we moved to a new grade school. I was a tiny and painfully shy kid,
and I was easy target because I don’t talk much. Two girls decided to take my things
on a weekly basis. Pencils, pads, cases, hairclips, money. My mom started getting
suspicious because I wasn’t the type who loses things, so when I keep coming home
with lost items, she knew something was up. But I didn’t want to say anything because
these girls would threaten me bodily harm if I talk. One of them would pick me up and squeeze my body hard to show me that they were serious. I was horrified. Suffice it to say, it was my first rude awakening to the world of bullying and mean girls.

But that was just the beginning. Grade school got better when I made a few friends and fell in love with learning (aka I’m a nerd;). Then high school came. I was transferred to a new class and it was like the first day of grade school all over again. Oblivious to the high school hierarchy, I offended a Queen Bee (one of several, I later learned.) At that time, I was fairly soft spoken, so I must have uttered one wrong thing her way, and the war was on. Unfortunately for me, this war was pretty lopsided- since I was the new kid, she rallied everyone against me, she would make snide remarks loud enough for everyone to hear, she would make sure the other Queen Bees (or Queen Bitches, really) would spread the word against me, so that even people who barely knew me would think the worst of me. It was the war of the words..  Except I barely uttered one.

As much as the physical side of bullying hurt me in grade school, the emotional toll of gossip and ostracism in high school devastated me more. I was always a positive person. But I found myself slowly clouded with pessimism: First there were tears of disbelief and sadness. Then a heaviness and weariness overtook my body, making me sick and weak. My mind was filled with confusion and I doubted my self-worth. And finally, my soul was drained. It felt empty, with nothing left to give, and with no one to turn to.

I was almost completely taken over by my darkness. Almost. My story could have ended tragically if it did. I had some reasons to die. But I was blessed to have found better reasons to live:

  1. Parents- specifically my mom. They never knew how deep the darkness was, but they knew I was lost. For parents that value academics, they did not hesitate to pull me out the end of the semester to take me out of my personal hell. They did not know it then, but they literally saved my life when they did.
  2. Music/Poetry- my songs were my only outlet of expression. I couldn’t turn to friends for fear of betrayal (which some did) My early songs of love and rosy gardens turned into songs of heartbreak and loss. Edgar Allan Poe fascinated me. Nonetheless, dark songs and poetry gave me the courage to express the dark side of me and allow me to release them.
  3. Friend(s)- One particular friend is most significant. She remains one of my best friend to this day. I’m not sure she remembers this, but on one particular event when another Queen Bee (or King Bee) started another round of malicious attacks on me, she gently held my hand and smiled. No words, just the simple but most valuable touch of friendship. She had offered me the saving grace I needed on my most hopeless moment.
  4. GOD- the most important one. the one true Savior. First off, he gave me #1-3, so that in itself were more than enough reasons. He also revealed Himself at my lowest point. In the midst of tears and weariness, when I had wanted to give up, He came to me. His presence enveloped my heart and protected my fragile soul from completely losing it. My heart started to sing His songs, and my soul started seeing His hope. Through it all, He walked with me. And He carried me. And He lifted the burden that was long wearing me down. And as my circumstances pushed me towards darkness, His grace and love lifted me back up to the light.

(To the above reasons, I may have been too consumed by my sadness in the past to have expressed my gratitude then. Allow me to express my eternal thank you now. You have and always will be a most valuable part of my life. You have no idea how you saved me then. And continues to save me still.)  

I struggled to write this post… I am struggling as I am writing it now.  Digging into my past is never an easy thing. Bringing up a time full of shame, anger, and sadness can be overwhelming. And emotionally exhausting. I am in tears reliving my ordeal through this post. But as hard as it is, it is also freeing. And I do not write/blog just for personal venting alone. It is my one hope that one lost soul can read this, and know that there is light, that there can be light at the end of it all. Then I would feel that my difficult past was not for nothing. And my darkness would have served it’s purpose for the higher good.

SUICIDEPREVENTIONLIFELINE.ORG 1-800-273-8255

STOPBULLYING.GOV

PACER.ORG/BULLYING

13 reasons3

homage to the show

 

13 reasons2

(I actually had the same nail polish as Hannah’s, by chance;)

 


Leave a comment

Love x10

So the hubs birthday and our wedding anniversary just passed. With two sick kids, it’s been low key. Both of us exhausted and cash strapped, a lavish 10 year anniversary seems unnecessary. But it would seem awful to not celebrate such a milestone, for surviving a decade with each other! (I kid. Or not. Haha.) So to commemorate this special time in our lives, I dedicate this post to the Man, the Dude- as I celebrate his birth and the bond we shared all these years.

According to tradition, the 10th year anniversary is referred to as Tin/ aluminum=flexibility. Modern times allude to the diamond=beauty and strength. This makes perfect sense to me- for any marriage to last 10 years a lot of patience and flexibility are required. And in being flexible the bond is strengthened and made more beautiful each day.

In the beginning, our ‘diamond’ shines bright. When we first met, we were enamored with each other, we bonded over our similar interests. I always tell people our first date was the best date of my life! A simple lunch date became an all nighter- we wanted to know as much as we could of each other. Even in our differences, we compliment each other. I.e. our idea of romance: In our relationship, I am the cliched romantic- love notes, random trinkets. I even framed our wedding poem. My man’s idea of romance is a little different. He likes to do things- Midnight runs for snacks and NYC commutes for dessert gifts. But the ones I am especially turned on to are the times when he does chores. You know, mundane chores like laundry, washing dishes, vacuuming. He thinks I’m weird, but I always say- who needs the sparkle of a diamond when you got the bright sparkle of dishes and floors?!

Time passed. We both evolved. We also both discovered opposing values. And with that comes conflicts, and change, and conflicts because of the changes. Our rosy beginning started to show its thorns (reference to “Every Rose Has Its Thorns” a fave song for us both:) The good times were great. But the hard times, they were very trying times. Some differences seem irreconcilable, some conflicts seem to have no resolution. Marriage is a relationship where you are committed to be close to someone. And that closeness is bound to produce sparks. Some become great fireworks, and some turn out to be destructive bombs. And in order to survive, bombs needed to be diffused: pride needs to be killed and in its place, grace.

Aah GRACE. I love that word. It is a word that holds so much beauty. But that beauty requires selfless compassionate love. And when you’ve been together for so long like we were, and you’ve seen each other’s ugliest, that is not an easy feat. It requires the willingness to embrace each other’s worlds. It also requires freedom and space, to allow each other room to grow, room to change. And therein lies the challenge for us. While one submits, the other resists. While one seeks new things, the other finds comfort in consistency. Most fights result from both of us insisting to be right, neither one willing to give in and give grace to each other, and to some extent, grace to ourselves.

But I wouldn’t be here writing about a 10 year anniversary if we haven’t survived, right? I can’t say we have it all figured out, but by the miraculous grace of God, we are still here. I quote from a fave movie, “I’d rather fight with you than make love to anyone else.” Despite all the hurdles, all the hurt, we have stayed committed to each other. I think we call that LOVE. And when I watch a scene from my fave tv show, where in the middle of their biggest fight, Jack started telling his wife what he loves about her-that hit me big time! Because that scene is my life- In countless fights my own beloved had uttered similar words of love to me. And I have done the same. Words of praise when we don’t like each other at the time. I think we call that GRACE. And somehow, when love and grace are present amidst turmoil, this marriage has lasted this long. 10 years. And hopefully for another 10…And more.

So to end this extremely cheesy post on an even cheesier note, I will expose my penchant for poetry. As per our tradition, I made hubs a poem this year. Please pardon the quality of the poem- It was written with very little sleep 😉 —

To My Dude,

There are times when my body feels drained
There are days when my head is wrapped in chaos
You feel my pain. You ease me.
On the times I don’t feel happy
On the days we don’t feel synced
You move forward. You push through.
Life with us is never easy
Love we share is never smooth
But this is us. This is we.
We are one. We are true. We are free.
I am the bones of your bones,
the flesh of your flesh.
Apart we are torn, together we heal
What God has joined together
Let no man put asunder.
So today on our special decade long love
Here’s to cuddles, neck rubs and heat wraps.
As our bodies grow frail may our souls grow strong
As our eyes grow dim may our hearts glow more.
My RomComs to your Freakshows
My Country to your Classic Rock
We doth share love for mosh and comiccons
And pledge to honor scifis till we grow old
For every difference lies a common ground.
For every conflict lies hearts that cries aloud-
I LOVE  YOU
— So here’s a happy anniversary to me and you
The Man The Dude The One
Here’s to a decade more of living
Less fights more love more spirit filled fun~

 

 

 


Leave a comment

This is Us…This Me.

this is us.png

So… I’ve been dying to write about this show since day 1. But I held off until the end– This is Now.

A little background: This show is co-produced by Ken Olin- the star of another favorite
show of mine Thirtysomething. This is Us’ original title is “36”. 30something, 36- hmm
that has to tell you something! That cannot be a coincidence! This guy is making this
show from the heart! And at the heart of this show is a story about family- being in that life stage now- This- is Us  also…-is Me.

This is Us is a collection of stories. About a mother and a father’s sacrifice, about a husband and wife’s love, about a siblings’ collective bond and individual struggles. What makes this show so universal is that in whatever life stages you are, there is always one (or more) story that you can relate to. For me, there is something in each character’s story that moves me:
~There is young Randall, eager to learn about his African American culture as a black kid with white parents- I am not adopted, but I was a Chinese kid living among Filipinos, trying to balance my Chinese roots with the Filipino culture on which I was raised. ~There is Kate, with weight, body image issues- things I struggled with as a teen. ~There is Kevin, struggling in his craft/profession, trying to change his work to reflect his true passion- I uprooted thousand of miles from my happy home to practice psychology, if that is not parallel to his career storyline, I don’t know what is.

As a wife and a mama, I relate the most with the central characters- Rebecca and Jack.
At first glance, the obvious person I would most identify with is Rebecca- a SAHM with musical dreams. And I do. I definitely see my struggles in hers. When some people are hating on her, I want to shout to them- you don’t understand! Put yourself in her shoes, try raising many kids, on your own, without family support on both sides, leaving your dreams behind, and doing that over and over again for many years. I am luckier as it is, I don’t have triplets and my parents are very supportive (but they do live far, so I am lacking in family support too). But the mommy part, the feeling isolated part (most of my best fam and friends live elsewhere)- it resonates with me. The show mentions it but cannot really show 15 or so years of stay at home scenes. I am only on year 5-6 and much as I am fulfilled, I am exhausted. Imagine 15 years with triplets! Also remember that this is a woman who was hesitant to have kids to begin with, and have unfulfilled aspirations as a singer. I am not questioning her commitment to her family, but she definitely have that unfinished business that she suppressed for many years. And all the feelings she bottled up, unfortunately came up and it expressed itself as resentment towards Jack. Hers is a life of restlessness- of longing for her personal dreams vs. the mama guilt she carries for being her family’s caretaker all these years. And when she finally sees the fulfillment of one dream, it also threatens to shatter her family dreams

And Jack. Oh Jack. The beloved patriarch. The father role model. People will assume I
love Jack because he is perfect. Flawed but close to perfection right?! How many times
have I (and I’m sure most of the audience wives) have turned to their husbands and
say, “why can’t you be like Jack?” “See that, that’s how you’re supposed to do it.” Many
people are hating on Rebecca precisely because Jack is perfect and Rebecca is, well, for
lack of a better word, opposite of that. Extremely flawed. Always complaining. Selfish.
And the list goes on…
But if there’s anything about the show one must learn, is that it was never a straight
forward storytelling, and it’s multi faceted, and that’s what makes it riveting to watch. For me, more than Jack’s goodness, I see a man whose identity is tied to his family. He was the one who wanted to start a family. He was a man whose personal dreams take a backseat for his family. He was the one who, when the kids were getting older, desperately wants a baby (or a dog) to cling on to their cherished childhood. This is a man who vowed to create a family so unlike the one he grew up in. And he did. He was saved by family, his happiness lies in his family, his life is his family. And although that may sound like the best thing in the world, it also makes him easily frustrated and volatile when it comes to his family. And how far that will lead to his self-destruction remains to be seen

And all these characters come together to create these rich complex and loving
relationships that we call family. What makes this show stand out for me is the realness
of each relationship, and how the sweetest moments come with human flaws. How
selflessness needs to be balanced with self-love. And how underneath the conflicts,
after all the mistakes and misunderstandings, hope is always around the corner.
Because a family is what you make it to be. A house is not a home until love prevails.
Life is not about one perfect act, but a series of choices to keep it together. That this is not about one’s self solely, nor is it about others always. This is about both. This is the collective and personal journeys we take together as a family. ^This- makes- This is Us.