A Bad Mom

There are a lot of reasons people mom-shame hardworking mothers. There are a lot of reasons moms think they’re not good enough. When it comes to rearing children, someone – regardless of how much experience they actually have – always has something to say.

I’ve been a mother for almost 4 years now. But I’ve felt the fierce love in my heart ever since I found out I was pregnant. I know I don’t know anything, but I know this much is true.

When we go out shopping, and you want a toy but I don’t want to spoil you with another I say no. You throw a fit and people stare and you say it’s not fair, but I don’t think I’m a bad mom.

When it’s bed time and you ask me to leave all the lights on but I turn them off even though you don’t like the dark, I don’t feel like a bad mom.

When a curse word accidentally slips out of my mouth and into yours, I don’t feel like a bad mom.

When you begged me to stay home from school because you said you weren’t ready, no matter how hard you cried and clung to me I still cast you into that classroom and walked away without looking back. And I didn’t feel like a bad mom.

There are a lot of things I know are necessary. I do a lot of things that people cast judgement on but I know that everything will be okay. But we’re entering a completely new chapter in our lives together, and I haven’t been feeling so great.

When you ask me where daddy is and why you don’t see him anymore, and there’s not a damn thing I can do to comfort you because you’re too young, I feel like a bad mom.

When I’m so depressed that I don’t have the strength to get out of bed in the morning, no matter how much you pull on me and beg, I feel like a shit mom.

When you ask me to play with you or watch you do something but I’m too tired or don’t have the time, I feel like the worst mom.

I’m doing everything I can to be better than I was, and I’m working hard so that I’ll be better than I am. I never dreamed I’d end up a single mother but everything I do is for you.

I don’t feel worthy of being your mother a lot of days, but you need me and I’m here for you. I don’t know how bad I am but I want to get better for you.

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In the End

Hey baby.

Sorry I haven’t written in months. Can’t believe it’s already September. I promised myself I’d write at least once a month so that I could update you on everything growing up, but I feel like a lot of this is for myself too. So that mom doesn’t forget anything.

Not gonna lie, these last 2 months have been some of the best and worst of my life. It’s been a wild time. And you probably won’t remember any of it. In fact, I have no doubt you won’t. It’s for the better.

Daddy and I aren’t together anymore.

It doesn’t matter what happened. It really doesn’t. And it had absolutely, absolutely nothing to do with you at all. It had everything to do with him and I not working out.

Daddy decided to move away. He’s going to live in another state now while we stay here. He’s leaving tomorrow.

He loves you so much.

I love you so much.

That’s all that matters.

You’ll always have a place with both of us.
You’ll always be taken care of.
You’ll always be wanted, loved, cherished.

Just because daddy and I couldn’t stay together, doesn’t have anything to do with you. Because we both want and love you endlessly.

New Year Old Me

Hey Beng.

It’s mama.

I can’t believe I haven’t written anything since last August, jeez. I’m not sure how old you’ll be when you’re finally able to read this blog, but I give you permission to get on my case about being lazy. BUT, I did start a bullet journal which is this thing some people in my generation are using to get organized, so hopefully I can get myself to write more than like what, twice a year?

The thing is that honestly I am CONSTANTLY thinking of things to write about, things I want to tell you, but I wonder how relevant it will be by the time you’re of age?

God you’re so smart. You’re a genuine genius in my book, but I think all parents think that of their children. And the thing is that, I hope by the time you’re in high school I feel like a dumbass next to you.

Trying to imagine you as a functioning human being is so wild to me. Me and dad are always talking, and like, every time you do literally ANYTHING we are just blown away.

For example, when you were:

0 m/o: “Wow, one day she’ll be able to look at us.”

3 m/o: “WOW she can sit, one day she’ll be walking can you believe that?”

9 m/o: “OMG LOOK AT HER RUN SHE’S SO STRONG.”

1 y/o: “SHE DOESN’T STOP BABBLING WOO MAYBE SHE’LL HOLD CONVERSATIONS SOON.”

1.5 y/o: “She can hold her own bottle and eat snacks all by herself this kid is self-sufficient.”

2 y/o: “She can walk, talk, sing, dance, she’s half potty-trained this kid can do ANYTHING.”

3 y/o: “ONE DAY SHE’LL BE ABLE TO GO TO THE BATHROOM BY HERSELF HOW WILD IS THAT??”

Literally. Everything. You do. Just amazes us.

And you’re only 3!

I’m currently trying to teach you how to write.

Just thinking about you as a high schooler makes me want to cry. That’s really the time when you’ll likely start to solidify a personality and start making stronger relationships and connections with others.

Who knows where technology will be at that point in time?

What made me think to write this is that the other day, my laptop broke down and I was thinking about how I’ll need to save to get another one. Your dad told me to get a brand I’ve never used before, and I thought, “Ugh I’m not used to that interface I’d rather not.”

But then I laughed at myself, ’cause that sounds like something an old person would say.

I’m not afraid of progress, but I am definitely lazy.

By the time you’re a teenager, you’ll be exposed to so much technology and knowledge I won’t even be able to wrap my head around it.

And I hope you’ll teach your ol’ ma.

The thing is that, humans have survived on this planet for thousands and thousands of years, and NOT because things have stayed the same. We thrive as a species because we constantly grow and learn, and we spread that information and we advance. Every generation knows more than the last, each generation teaches as much as it can and then they pass the baton of advancement to their children.

That’s just good ol’ fashioned natural selection.

I know for a fact that you’ll surpass me in every way before I can blink. And I look forward to it. I have so many hopes and dreams for you, and I’ll support you with everything I have and everything I am.

I ask you to live your life open-minded. To always be curious, and to never think you know everything about anything. Be able to admit you’re wrong when you are, and learn what is true. Don’t let your emotions cloud facts. Live logically but not coldly. Have faith in your heart but keep your eyes open. Be smart.

Watching you grow makes me feel old. I’m a pretty young mom, but you’ve got me feeling old as hell. You’re the shiny new gadget and I’m just the outdated model. When you finally read this, feel free to tell me how old I am.

Just know that I love you, and no matter how far ahead of me you run, I’ll always have your back.

Work and Happiness

Sorry I haven’t posted anything in forever. I constantly have writing ideas running through my mind, but I can never seem to find a moment to sit down and write them. And it’s not that I don’t have any time, I just can’t write when I lack inspiration and the right mood.

Ember, I don’t know how old you’ll be when you start to read these. The reason I write public blog posts in the fashion of letters to you is because all these messages are for you. Right now you are just a few weeks away from being 2 years old, and the things I want to tell you well, you just don’t understand. You barely understand English, let alone abstract concepts of work and life satisfaction.

Something I grew up hearing all the time is that you need to love what you do. And by “do”, I mean career-wise. You need to love your work. You need to be happy with the gear you chose to spin on in this capitalist machine. But the thing is, that’s just not plausible. There are millions of people all over the world, and it’s not realistic to absolutely love what you do.

The fact is, some people need to just do what they can to survive. Now I’m not saying you will hate it, no no you should at least like what you do. At the very least tolerate it. But it’s a job. Not everyone can work in a profession where their heart is.

Now if you can, then that’s awesome and that’s definitely the goal.

I guess what prompted me to write this to begin with is that last night I spent 7 hours studying for an Economics exam. I’m not even an economics major. I don’t get economics at all, I straight up hate the subject, doesn’t make sense to me, as far as I can tell it’s not relevant to what I want to do in the future. But I have to take this class to graduate.

When I graduate I’ll have a marketing degree. I wasn’t a little 4 year old who dreamed of growing up to be a marketing major. I didn’t hope and wish with all my heart to work in advertising and marketing.

I wanted to be a singer. An artist. Maybe an actor, but that was never going to work out.

Actually, before I was a marketing major, I was a psychology major. I wanted to be a therapist and help people. But after you were born I switched because I needed a major that would let me earn money faster so I can take care of you.

That’s the thing. I don’t dislike marketing, but I didn’t dream of it. I don’t get butterflies in my stomach thinking one day I’ll wake up and head to my marketing-related job. But I’m good at it (in school so far at least. And I like it well enough. It can be fun at times, and it allows creativity. It plays on my strengths and at the same time will let me earn a comfortable living.

But work isn’t all we do.

At the end of the work day we need hobbies. We still need to do the things we’re passionate about.

Drawing, singing, dancing. Running, cooking, playing sports. The things we care about don’t need to be our careers, but they still need to be a part of our lives.

I don’t know if you’ll be old enough to understand what I’m talking about when you read this. But I want you to know that I’ll always support you.

If you can get the job of your dreams, go for it. Work as hard as you can to get there, and I’ll help you. But if you want an “ordinary” job, that’s okay too. Aim high, but don’t be sad if you end up somewhere you didn’t expect.

I feel like this message isn’t what parents are supposed to tell their kids. I feel like I should be telling you you can do anything, that no job is unattainable, that if you work hard enough you can accomplish everything.

And I will say those things, and I will mean them from the bottom of my heart.

But with where I am in my life, I just know that sometimes you need to settle for less than your dream. And that’s okay. That doesn’t mean you won’t be happy.

I’m not where I pictured I would turn out in life, but I’m happy.

No Sick Days

I had a HORRIBLE fever for the longest time. It started about 11 days ago, and it was the worst I’ve felt since I had mono like 4 years ago. High fever that didn’t break for almost 7 days, a migraine that absolutely would not go away, muscle aches that left me bed-ridden, and a cough that made me feel like my ribs were going to crack.

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I kept a medical mask on like literally 24/7.

Shortness of breath. High fever. You name it, I had it. I was so sure it was the flu, but no, just pneumonia.

As a kid, I know I would have loved being that dreadfully ill if it meant not going to school. But of course, adults have it much harder.

I was not only freaking out about all the school work I would be missing out on, but it was stressful just thinking of how I would take care of Ember when I could barely take care of myself. I could barely carry my water bottle without my arm wanting to fall off, so how could I carry a 30 pound squirmy baby?

Thankfully I had the help of my family and of course my baby daddy, but it wasn’t enough. And by that, I mean a mother’s work is never satisfied.

Wearing the surgical mask 24/7 made me realize how much time I spend with her. I couldn’t give her kisses, couldn’t blow on her belly to make her laugh. I couldn’t eat the pretend food she made me, or share my food with her. I couldn’t bite her toes or let her feed me her leftovers, and I’d wear it in my sleep in case she might try to wake me up with good-morning-kisses.

Even though the mere act of standing up made me want to pass out, I kept finding myself automatically getting up and peeking into the other room just to see how Ember was doing. All I wanted to do was sleep, but when she wasn’t near me I felt anxious. I really had to go almost an entire week spending virtually no time with her out of fear of her getting sick too, and I really missed her even though most of the time she was just downstairs.

The thing is that it’s one thing to have help watching your kid. Everyone needs a sitter from time to time. But, just not all the time. I barely got to see Ember all week and it made me so depressed. It just wasn’t noticeable because I was dying of lung infection.

Going on Day 11 and I just finished my round of antibiotics. My cough is virtually gone and I haven’t had a fever in 4 days. I’m hoping I’ll be back at full strength by the end of the week, so I can say goodbye to the mask and play with my sweet baby again.

The Importance of Faking It

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I thought for a while on what I wanted to write about today. I considered writing about your dad and I’s romantic history — a full telling of the Z & B ┬ástory. But thought, nah. Then I started drafting out something on the difference between what happens when passionate love turns into companionate love. But thought, nah, you could just google that. Maybe the difference between family and friends and romantic affection? The definition of love and what it means to me?

I’m rambling now. Anyways, I finally decided to make this post on probably one of the most important kinds of love: self-love. This is something you should develop strongly and fiercely at a young age — we can discuss those other loves another time.

So as I believe I’ve mentioned before, I grew up with an unmentionable amount of self-esteem issues. People told me I was ugly, and I believed them. I let those words consume me. I’d stay up late nights crying. I hated myself. I wore clothes to hide my skin and always kept hair in front of my face to hide myself.

With my full-body eczema, I felt hideous. Being a lil chubby, I had a horrible body image. I thought nothing about myself looked good, and it tortured me. There is so much pressure on young girls to look good, and I felt the entirety of that weight constantly pushing down on me.

When I was finally old enough, those thoughts of self-hate turned very, very destructive. I think from middle school to freshman year of college, suicide would cross my mind almost daily. Some days would be worse than others, and I’ve made my share of threats and attempts. I saw nothing good in myself. The negativity I felt towards myself was not just about looks, it spread to doubt in my abilities and everything. I felt like a wholly useless being better left for dead.

It wasn’t until I was pregnant with you that something in me clicked. It wasn’t until I found out I was having a daughter that I summoned all the emotional strength I had to think positively and work to be a better role model. I was not about to let you grow up with a mother who would teach you self-hate.

Kids learn from their parents. That’s just a fact of life. There’s some weird trend where people take turns pointing out their insecurities and it’s just… awful. Why can’t a group of friends get together and sit around talking about how gorgeous everyone is? Why do we sit around and talk about our weight issues? Our skin problems? Our jealousy over what other people have? Why don’t we relish in our own beauty?

Now, depression does not just go away with positive thinking. There are still moments where I sink to scary, dark levels and those bad thoughts come back. But I’m trying to fight them. I’m trying. Sometimes I’m successful, sometimes I’m not, but I’m trying.

Now for the name of this post. I did a lot of faking it.

I walk around talking big. I talk about how gorgeous I am. I talk about how my makeup is perfect, my cute chubby belly is perfect, my thick legs are perfect, my short green hair is perfect. At first it was sarcasm, but it turned into something else. I talk about how I’m beautiful, I talk about how smart and creative and funny and overall good I am. And soon, somewhere in all that talk, it stopped being sarcasm. I believed it. I do believe it.

FAKE IT TILL YOU MAKE IT.

That certainly doesn’t apply to every aspect in life, but in this case it does.

I want to fill you with so much confidence that no one can ever knock you down. If you believe in yourself, everyone else will. If you believe in yourself, there’s nothing you can’t do. If you believe in yourself, you’ll never pine for anyone else because when you’re alone you won’t feel lonely. That might not make a lot of sense now but it will.

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Ember’s second Valentine’s Day!

Ember, you are only 1 but you are already so smart and kind and funny and friendly and beautiful and strong. All and none of those words define you. It’s up to you to decide who you’re going to be in this world, but you’ll never reach that potential if you don’t have confidence in yourself.

A lot of people say not to make your child cocky because they’ll be obnoxious in school. Well, to those people I say, worry about your own kid.

There’s a difference between a kid saying “I’m so smart” versus saying “I’m the smartest one here”. There’s self-love and there’s arrogance.

The thing is that I would much rather teach Ember modesty than teach her to stop hating herself. Because self-hate is something very difficult to unlearn. I’ll show Ember through example how to love yourself, and I hope that fierceness will transfer over and she’ll instill unbridled confidence and power in her friends too. Self-love is a movement that needs to catch fire and my baby will be the first of many flames.

My parting words are this:

Love yourself. If you don’t, fake it till it’s true.

Mother(‘s) Land

Ember, we may live in America, and you may have your daddy’s white skin and curly brown hair, but never forget that Filipino blood is coursing through your veins.

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3 STARS AND A SUN.

So, I guess to start, I’ll explain what brought me to write this. I’ve just started my second semester at my new school, and I’m taking a class called Black Protest In the Atlantic. First off, this class is honestly so amazing like I could listen to this professor preach for hours and not get tired of hearing it.

Anyways, today we discussed how people culturally identify themselves. Because of the slave trade, Africans were brought to America. This whole identity mess begins with generations not knowing their roots. They don’t know where in Africa they come from, they have a Master’s last name, so for all intents and purposes they are just American. Some young black individuals prefer to just refer to themselves as Black Americans instead of African-Americans because they feel they have no roots to Africa.

I could go on about that specific topic, but I’m not trying to give you a history lesson or anything like that right now.

Here’s what I’m trying to get at.

I am pure Filipino. I love my tan skin, my dark hair, my small nose. I love my Filipino family, I eat Filipino food, I watch Filipino game shows with my cousins and grandma. I love meeting other Filipinos and talking about the things that connect us.

But at the same time, I have never felt Filipino enough.

I lived there when I was a baby, and have only visited twice since coming to America. I understand enough of the language, but can’t speak it. My tongue wasn’t trained to pronounce the words the way they were meant to be spoken, and I get embarrassed trying sometimes. I don’t know how to cook anything (except maybe turon). I don’t know much about what the culture is like over there besides what I’ve picked up from friends and family.

Even though my family moved here, we don’t call it home. When someone goes back to visit the Philippines, they don’t say, “I’m going on vacation”. They say, “I’m going home.”

The Philippines is my motherland. It’s where I came from. And I’ve always felt this sense of disconnect about who I am and where I came from. Most of my family lives there, but we’re not close. We don’t talk. One day when my parents are no longer around, I fear I’ll lose touch with who my family is and the Philippines will turn into a vacation spot instead of the place where I was born.

I’m always full of a deep sadness when I think about how to raise you to be more Filipino. In this society, especially since you are mixed, I feel like your Filipino identity could be easily washed away. Since I’m not the most pinoy person around, I have this strange sense of not being qualified to teach you how to embrace this culture. But I’ll definitely do my best.

If you have questions about your heritage, ask. If I don’t know the answer, we’ll learn together.