Just Let Me Know

Hey Ember, fun fact, I am currently a young adult. You are almost 2 years old. I like to think that because of our not extremely significant age gap that I can keep up with what the cool kids are doing, but of course I’m sure all parents think that.

So last night was one of my best friend’s 21st birthdays. I definitely monitored some alcohol intake and made sure everyone got home safely. His parents knew what was up, my parents knew what was up. Everyone was aware of proper alcohol consumption intake safety guidelines. It was a fun yet responsible evening.

I’m not sure what kind of things you’ll be into when you’re a teenager, but I think I have general knowledge of all the bases. And what I don’t know, I’ll just friggin look up.

I know firsthand that the last thing a lot of teenagers want to do is talk to their parents about what’s going on in their lives. I know that you’re gonna be doing some things you think or know that I don’t want you to do.

But I’m telling you right now, nothing you could do would ever make me reject you. You could never piss me off so bad that I’d do anything drastic. You’ll never be kicked out of the house, you’ll never get cut off, me and your dad will always be there for you.

But please please please, just tell me what you’re doing.

If you’re only 14 and you’re trying to drink, tell me. If you think about smoking, tell me. If you get your hands on weed, tell me. If you want to start having sex, tell me. Just let me know. If you’re about to get a tattoo or piercing, let me know. You don’t even have to go into detail about anything, just let me know. I swear to you, ask anyone and they can tell you how laid back I am about a lot of things.

Nothing makes me more paranoid than thinking you’re doing (potentially dangerous) things behind my back. I don’t care how uncomfortable a talk we might be in for. Of course I’ll probably lecture you a little bit, but that’s because I’m your mother.

In my time, I’ve disappointed my parents a lot. Regrettably. Unintentionally. But I did. I kept a lot of secrets, and I’ve realized that not talking to them probably made things a lot worse. It’s already too late for a lot of things, but I’m starting to talk to them more and it’s helped.

Growing up I wasn’t allowed to do a lot of things. Me and your uncle and our cousins, there were just a lot of things our parents just barred us from for various reasons. So we would always say to each other, “It’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission” just to get through our teen years.

I don’t want you to ask me for forgiveness for anything. I want you to tell me about it beforehand so that you won’t have to. I swear, no matter what it is you may do or want to do, I’ll understand. We’ll talk about it. I’ll help when I can. And I swear to you now that if you tell me things beforehand, I won’t get mad. I might take a moment or two to calm down and think about it, but I’ll do my absolute best not to raise my voice at you.

I respect your autonomy, and I’ll talk to you reasonably.

You know, my parents were actually the last people to find out that I was pregnant with you. Because I was scared. I thought the only people I could talk to were the ones my own age. I knew my parents would yell (and they certainly did) and just thinking about that prevented me from saying anything to them until the very last minute. They were the last to hear a number of things actually, because I would have rather sprung things on them than have them yell at me beforehand.

I can’t even imagine that. It definitely breaks my heart thinking about how I’ve broken theirs on several occasions, but there’s nothing I can do about the past. I can only speak up moving forward.

A lot of people my age keep secrets. I don’t know how old you are, I don’t know if you’re 10 or 15 or 20 when you read this, but even if you’re only 4 I know you’ve still got a secret from me. You’re not even 2 yet and you lie to me about when you poop because you don’t want me to change your diaper.

I don’t care if you took an extra cookie from the cookie jar, spilled water on my laptop, or got pregnant. Just for Christ’s sake, tell me about it.

No matter what it is, I’ll be there for you. I’ll listen to you. Give me as much detail as you want, or as much detail is necessary for us to talk about it.

Even if you come to me and say you want to vote Republican, I’ll talk to you with a level voice. I swear it. Joking aside, I need to know what’s going on in your life so that I know you’re okay. So that I know that if there’s a potential for danger, I know about it and I’ll do something about it. Don’t get me wrong, just because I want to talk about it and hear you out doesn’t mean you can do whatever you want. But I know that I can’t stop you from doing certain things, so I’d rather know about it than have you keep me in the dark.

A lot of parents say they want to be their kid’s parent and friend. And I really do. But let’s talk to each other and set the limits.

Just talk to me. Trust me, and I’ll trust you.


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.

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  story. 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.


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.


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.



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.

What We Learn

High school was a wild ride for me to say the least.

Here is visual proof:

Me in 2011. I look so dorky omg, I was in hardcore weeb mode and I wouldn't be saved for another 2 years at that point.

Me in 2011. I look so dorky omg, I was in hardcore weeb mode and I wouldn’t be saved for another 2 years at that point.

Here is how my average senior year daily schedule would look like:

  • 6:15 AM – Wake up and get ready for school
  • 6:45 AM – Drive to school and do nothing until class starts
  • 7:30 AM – 2:10 PM – Stumble through the day, pretend to be fully conscious, mingle, take notes, learn
  • 2:10 PM – 3:30 PM – After-school clubs
  • 3:30 PM – 5:00 PM – Get home, have a snack, take a nap and relax for a brief moment so I don’t go insane
  • 5:00 PM – 1:00 AM – Homework and study, with approximately 2 hours some time in there to eat and shower
  • 1:00 AM – 6:15 AM – Sleep

Let me tell you now why the education system is messed up.

Of the approximate 16 out of 24 hours I would spend every day doing school work, I retained nearly nothing. Pump-and-dump isn’t just an expression used to describe what nursing mothers do to their milk after a night of drinks, it’s what I had to do with all the information I learned just to keep up. It’s no wonder why America is ranked 14th in education, 2nd in ignorance, and 24th in literacy.

The funny thing is, the stuff I do remember from high school had nothing to do with the lessons, but everything to do with the teachers.

I can’t remember how to find the slope of a line, and I can’t tell you what a derivative is. I don’t remember the plot of Heart of Darkness or how to do a citation in MLA format. I don’t think I can name more than 10 elements on a periodic table, and I remember the formula d = m/v only because the “m/v” part looks like a heart when I write it out. The main thing I retained from history is that FDR was the man and the New Deal was a big deal.

What I do remember are my math teachers staying after school with me for countless hours and helping me until I understood something. I remember my English teachers praising my work and giving me confidence, and editing the crap out of my papers so that I would get even better (it was the only subject I was good at). My computer design teacher Mr. B becoming a good friend to me, staying after with me for hours letting me do work I was really passionate about, and helping me grow in my skills and as a person.

One moment I can never forget took place in my AP US History class when I was a junior in high school. Lord knows I’ll never remember what the actual lesson was about, but my teacher Mr. O started talking about babies. He asked the class if we need doctors and professionals to help us every step of the way when it comes to raising our kids. The 16 year old me sitting in that classroom thought about it, and was the only one to raise my hand and dissent with the group. “Yes, I think we need professionals.” He politely rejected my statement, and said something to the effect of:

“When you’re a parent, you know how to do things. Evolution prepared us for this. When you’re a parent, you know what your kids need. Believe it or not, their cries all sound different, so after a while you know what they need. Oh, there’s a hungry cry. Then that’s a poop cry. That’s an attention cry. You just know.”

At the time, 16 year old baby-less me couldn’t fathom how that would be possible. A cry is just a cry, right?

Nope. Of course, Mr. O was right.

When my baby cries, I just know. Oh, she’s hungry. Whoops, someone needs a new diaper. Oh no she’s scared. That’s a sleepy sob.

In my opinion, the best teachers don’t give you the facts and just the facts. They give you a real talk, with things you take outside the classroom and carry with you forever. I never thought I’d learn something about parenting in my high school history class, but here I am.

Every day should be “Teacher Appreciation Day”, because these people are not only over-worked and under-paid, they give us the #real and mentor us not only about school but about life. I’ll never be able to thank all of my teachers enough (or apologize enough for the times I dozed off during lessons).

To all the educators doing their best, thank you.

The Talk

You know. The talk. The talk.

The birds and the bees up in them trees. Making babies. P in V. Eggplants and peaches. Doing the do. Getting down and dirty. The motion in the ocean. Haha and then what? 😉

However you phrase it, it’s the talk that all parents dread.

The sex talk.

From my maternity shoot! I had an outie by the end of my pregnancy, it was weird af.

From my maternity shoot! I had an outie by the end of my pregnancy, it was weird af.

**WARNING: NSFW text ahead**

My boyfriend and I agree that a sex-positive style of parenting is important. Because not only will our daughter learn these things regardless of whether we talk to her about it or not, but she will do things. And we want her to be able to come to us with absolutely anything.

When I say my family made this topic taboo, I really, really, REALLY mean that. Not once in my life — and understand, I have a baby already — have my parents ever talked to me about sex. When I was in the 5th grade and FLE (family life education) started, I was the only one who’s parents opted them out. Of all the kids in my school, I was the only one sitting in the hallway drawing, wondering what was going on in there. I had no idea where babies came from until my older cousin finally told me when I was 12, which is ridiculous when you think about it. He literally pulled up a diagram of genitals on our desktop (ha, desktops) and gave me the basics.

I have no intention of letting that happen to Ember.

Every time I asked my parents where babies came from, they’d just tell me things like “They come out of the mommy’s tummy” or “You’ll have a baby when you’re married” and vague stuff like that.

When Ember asks me where babies come from, the first thing I will tell her is they come from eggs inside the mommy. Simple enough.

When she gets older and inquires again, I’ll give her the basics.

When she hits high school, I’ll not only give her the real talk, I’ll give her the #realtalk, which I implore all parents with daughters to do.

And now, here are 3 things about sex I highly insist all parents teach their daughters at some point:

1) Your first time is not supposed to hurt.

You heard me. Everything you know is a lie. The cherry does NOT pop. The hymen does NOT break. While your first time may be uncomfortable because of the new sensation, it should by no means be painful.

If it’s actually painful, it’s because the guy did not do his job and he did not arouse you. If it is actually painful and you do bleed, it is because of a tear inside of you due to a lack of sexual arousal and a lack of natural lubrication.

Christina Aguilera can summarize my thoughts towards this here.

2) Sex does not end with the male orgasm.

Let me start this off with a quote from Elizabeth Olson:

“Women’s sexuality is something that I’m obsessed with. I think it’s weird that teenage girls know more about giving blow jobs than they do about masturbation. It makes me sick to my stomach that so many young girls think sex is just about a guy finishing.”

Can I get a resounding #preach from the audience?

Unfortunately, 71% of women cannot / do not orgasm with just penetration. So fellas, if you think you’re Hercules in bed, lemme give you some #realtalk too: she is straight up fakin’ it.

Just because the guy finishes does not mean sex is done. God gave men hands and mouths for a reason, and if they don’t use them, we’ve got a problem. If he doesn’t value your orgasm, he probably doesn’t value you as a person either.

3) Sex does not make you impure.

This may be the most important thing I can teach my daughter about sex. It is my duty as a mother to let her know that sex is a natural thing and that it doesn’t make her bad or dirty in any way whatsoever.

If a man thinks sex makes a woman dirty, he should take a look at his hands.

I’m also under no impression that you should wait for marriage to get jiggy with it. If you want to and you feel that you’re ready, go for it. It’s all about communication and trust with your partner, and if you both think you’re up for it, then by all means. Have a blast. In no way does it make you less worthy of respect as a human being, and it in no way decreases your value as a person.

There are many many many more things I want to add to this list, but this will suffice for now. I was compelled to make this post after I saw this online.

I am surprised and disappointed by how many of my female friends I have had to teach about their own bodies. In high school, I had to sit back and watch boys draw dicks all over the school, but no one ever draws labias or vaginas or ovaries anywhere. We live in a society where everyone knows about how guys pound their meat before anyone tells a girl about her clitoris.

When the time comes, I’m going to talk to Ember about everything. She’ll be the most informed person in her school regarding sexuality, and I’ll be so proud. When she comes to me to talk about these kinds of things, I’ll sit there and listen to her and respect her as a woman and a sexual human being. I’ll buy her condoms, I’ll talk to her about being safe and being respected.

It’s a talk no parent wants to have because it’s awkward and society has made the topic taboo, but when that time comes I’ll be hype and I’ll be enthusiastic and I’ll tell her anything she wants to know.

Watch and Learn

That’s exactly what kids do: monkey see, monkey internalizes it and subconsciously repeats later on in life. Such can be seen in Bandura’s Bobo Doll Experiment.

When I was younger, I watched a lot of TV. And what I saw was sexism and misogyny that I internalized, so that it later affected my social interactions and behaviors.

Thankfully, media is changing. But we all know the stereotypes.

One that I saw frequently is the “you can’t be attractive and intelligent at the same time” trope. I internalized the hell out of that one, and it took longer than I’m proud of for me to knock it out of my system. There were a lot of sexist beliefs I held on to for so long, but I’m glad that I’ve grown into a different (better) person.

Now, hear me talk about 3 sexist stereotypes and common TV tropes that need to be taken away from TV and all forms of media for that matter:

1) Brains vs Beauty

The one I mentioned beforehand. Because of this stereotype, I interpreted anyone I found conventionally attractive to be unintelligent, and I mentally labeled them “popular” and people that I should not associate with. Years after I finally wiped my palate clean of that bad taste, I hear one of my younger cousins talking the same way. And it’s horrible how these affect generations. You think the worst a child can get from TV is violence and curse words, but no. Much worse. Thankfully a lot of children’s TV shows I see now are making all the main characters grade-conscious and top-of-the-class type people, and they are no longer glorifying underachievement. Just today I saw an interview from Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum talking about 21 Jump Street, and they were discussing how they think it’s incredible how society did a 180 flip regarding what’s cool among adolescents (the movie, however ridiculous it is, is actually a great portrayal of the popular beliefs from then and now).

Something particularly detrimental about this stereotype is that it affects girls the hardest. Like, oh, this girl has a lot of makeup on and she wears short skirts and heels and tank tops. Clearly that means she can’t be intelligent, because she cares about her appearance. A lot of old movies and TV shows praise girls for not wearing makeup and for being extraordinarily plain, yet somehow snatch the attention of the star x sport player with their amazing intelligence and quirks. Nothing is wrong with praising intelligence and original personality, but everything is wrong with shaming the people that like to (or just naturally do) stand out.

2) “I’m not like other girls.”

This sentence is inherently offensive. Primarily because it is always said by a main female protagonist as a bragging point. That implies that there is something wrong with being a girl in general.

Oh you’re so cool, you would rather sit home with a book than go to the mall. Oh you’re so cool, you throw on the same sweater you wore three days in a row while other girls carefully pick their outfits. Oh you’re so cool, you wear short shorts I wear T-shirt you’re cheer captain and I’m on the bleachers. (Thankfully my girl T-Swifty has also made a 180 flip since then).


This trope also ties back directly to the previous one, by shaming everything that is seen as conventionally feminine. It makes girls appear to be inferior in nature because the protagonist is so super special and cool for basically renouncing her femininity. My theory is that this trope is responsible for everyone’s strange emo/scene/goth middle school phases.

3) The nagging wife

One of the most common and definitely the dumbest of them all.

What makes this worse is that I was first introduced to this trope by the Fairly Odd Parents, a popular children’s TV show I’ve watched since I was a kid (can you believe it’s been running since 2001?).

Cosmo frequently refers to Wanda as the Nag, and even wrote a song pretending to be her that I used to sing:

You nag it to the left
You nag it to the right
I always nag my husband every day and night!

Think really hard about this stereotype. Think reeeeeally hard.

The wife yells at her husband because he is too incompetent to do house chores and leaves her tired and over-worked. Yet somehow the wife is painted as the bad guy.

For the record, the second time I was introduced to that stereotype was the Spongebob episode where Spongebob and Patrick find a baby clam and Spongebob keeps going HMMMMM? HMMMM? HMMMMMMMMMMM? because Patrick can’t change a diaper.

I’m trying to raise a strong and empowered daughter here, but I can’t do it easily when the media is pitting her against other women.

To put a lid on my frustration, I’ll end with a quote:

“There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.”
– Madeleine Albright