Flawed Fem

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


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Wonder (Belief Series 3)

Wonder-(noun) a feeling of surprise mingled with admiration, caused by something beautiful, unexpected, unfamiliar, or inexplicable.
A most desirable feeling. And yet a most elusive one. Especially for grown-ups. The irony of growing up and seeing more of life makes us appreciate less of it. When did we lose the wonder of discovery, of new life? When did we lose the joy of creation and play?

Wonder is intertwined with faith and belief. As one builds up one’s faith to believe, wonder allows us to smile through our faith. It lightens the load of our struggles. It makes faith and life a joyous experience, one filled with light and love and magic. Wonder eases the pain, and it turns a gloomy soul into a heart filled with unexpected giddiness. While faith promises a better future, wonder makes joy happen now.

When does wonder starts? The age of discovery is heightened by year 2 of life. While the tantrums and emotions also run high, the senses are awakened to the beauty of life- the raindrops on tree leaves, the rough edges of the grasses, the magic of ovens making sweet and spice and everything nice– the list never ends. It is a perennially wondrous journey of awe inspiring life, and laughter fills your days and nights: While the rest of the world toils in endless labor, the eyes of wonder sees things through a bright light. While we moan and groan at the daily offenses we face, the heart of wonder sees the miracle of each day, and looks forward to the magic of tomorrow.

And as I am inspired by the faith of one child, I am in awe of the wonder of my other. While it is easy for me to be held down by the challenges of a stay at home mom, my child’s endless smiles force me to join in the silly laughter of the mundane. While it is second nature for my strong mind to resist and resent, my creative tot enables me to look outside the box, to  view the world in the eyes of  wonder and guts– he sees puddles as not dirt, but waters that tickle the feet. Heights and rocks he does not fear, they are wonders of nature for him to climb and enjoy.  His view of wonder and courage enlightens and emboldens my own, and I can’t help but start to see the soothing calm of the dark and look beyond the shadows of doubts and fears.

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I am blessed with the faith and wonder of my children. God gifted me with these two amazingly beautiful souls to enable me to begin and believe. As I lay with them and look into their little faces, I am overcome by their peace. I am inspired by their laughing spirit. I am moved by the simple joy of their giant hearts. In all my tragic and sad endings, I find hope in my new happy beginnings.  And while my never after continues to haunt me, I find solace in the love of the ones whose faith and wonder pushes me to BELIEVE in my happily ever after.

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Faith (Belief Series 2)

Faith is a funny word. It is an intangible. For someone visual like me, it is a hard concept to grasp. And as an adult, our experiences have made us cynical unbelievers. I find that the innocence and purity of children make them the best advocates of truth and faith. Children’s faith are unequivocal. They are the most beautiful valuable thing you’ve ever seen. Their faith surpasses darkness. It overcomes doubts. It even survives tragedies and conflicts. It is the most amazing most wondrous thing.

How many times have I seen my child and his friends get into disagreements, or hurt each other, and while they may get upset, cry, shout, get mad at each other, the eventual effect is one of forgiveness. I have seen my child with the biggest heart make one bully his friend this year. And how the bully was won over by a boy who saw his jealousy and responded with understanding. Who saw his fear of being left behind, and the boy, my boy, opened himself up and instead of competing, made a new friend instead. How my boy decided to have faith in love and let go of the pain his adversary has caused.

And where I am most guilty, where I can hurt my most sensitive boy with a dismissive wave or an angry yell, he responds with a quiet sadness. Then a calm word with me. Where he expresses unwavering faith in my love, in the goodness of his family. Even when some family shows a voice of force, he responds with a voice of faith. Even when he gets really really annoyed in the beginning, and he most often shows his pain, he gets to a state of introspection, and in this state, he has hope. He has faith.

Faith belies the age. Maturity does not depend on one’s living days. For I have seen my young child a better person than his parents, his elders. I have seen more faith and a capacity to love in him than in grown men &women who are clouded in resentment and anger with the world. And if we all can learn from the faith of a child, maybe, just maybe, this world’s darkness can become light. Maybe, just maybe, wars will be nonexistent, people will aim to love than hurt, and life will be much less complicated, and much more filled with pure joy and contentment. In this world filled with a dark cloud and a most divided people, I want to be like a child. I want his simple, unconditional, hopeful heart. I want his Faith.

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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.

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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!

 

 

 


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Work Mom (Mother Series Pt.2)

 

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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~

 


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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.

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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~


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This is Us…This Me.

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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.


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The Child I Am

CHILD SERIES #3

“I truly believe that the privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.” -Viola Davis

Without intending to, I had unintentionally started a Child series, writing about my
children in my first two posts. Different child, back to back periods in my life. So to round
it up, I would like to end right back at the start. As the Child I Am.

The Child I am. I am the child of my earthly father and mother. Their blood runs
through me. Their essence becomes me. I learn what I want or not want as a young girl
surrounded by male siblings and cousins. My identity as a woman was formed in
response to my family traditions- demonstrated by the fears, guts, and faiths of my
mother and grandmother. My mother uprooting herself in the city. My grandmother
taking pride in her work, when women don’t work. My mother juggling work and rearing her four kids, being truly present in both. My grandmother travelling around the world in her 50s-60s…I am feminine & feminist through their independence, their support systems. Their capacity to love, their love boundaries. Their many strengths, and their valuable flaws.

The Child I am. I am the child of two lands:
To my motherland- I bleed when she bleeds, I rise when she soars to new heights. I
have become aware of politics in my teen years, but it is only in the recent years that
my heart for social justice has grown deeper. Ironically, it is being away from my home
country that I have begun to search my soul and feel regret for being blind to the poor
man’s plight, and deaf to their desperate cries for justice. I had to be ripped apart from
my comfortable life and as I start to live a life of hard work, I have begun to appreciate
the same hard work my countrymen have done. Yet I succeed, while most of them perish in the cycle of poverty, corruption, and blind religion.
To my adopted land, my second mother- I have dedicated many years of social work to
you. And what I had only hoped to do in my motherland, I have achieved here- to do
good work with your homeless, oppressed, and sick. You have made me more aware of
race, and a vast array of cultures, which both exhilarates/excites me and frustrates/cuts
through me. And as much as the current political air angers and terrifies me, I continue
to hope and pray for my children’s sake, for their future’s sake.

The Child I am. I am a Child of God. Above all else, I define myself in Him.  I am loved just as I love. His love is unconditional. And in spite of my imperfect love, I am filled with His grace and mercy everyday. I am wonderfully and uniquely made. Even as I am not without doubts. Even as I question my existence. Even as I am nagged daily by mother’s guilt. And even as I am a human forever bound by flaws–  My Father’s Spirit inspires me to live supernaturally. To aim beyond my limits. To live a life on fire. To bear the fruits of patience, kindness, and love:
“So my Lord, I bring this offering;
A stubborn heart of stone
And ask You, in its absence
Please exchange it for Your own.”- Beth Moore

The Child I Am. Of many mothers. Of two fathers. Of one Spirit. They have mold me. They have become me. They have formed The Woman I Am.

 

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A symbol of Me ~Live Love Laugh~