To my hypothetical daughter

tala with wingsTo my hypothetical daughter,

I have loved you even before you were born.

I want you to know that you are perfectly made, and whatever you will gain in life  will just be an add-on to who you are and what you have. Whether you will have an eyeliner, a jewel, a sash or a medal,  they do not set the price of who you are.

While it is my duty to protect you, it is also my responsibility to introduce you to the real world. I will let you chase butterflies even if they leave you with cuts and bruises. If you need to get dirty to feel the earth, you will always have my permission. Don’t worry if you trip or fall. Mama had always been clumsy and she survived.

I will not force you to read books but every night I will read stories to you. Maybe I might read some fairy tales to you but I don’t want you to dream of a knight and shining armor. I want you to be a queen in your own kingdom. I want you to lead the universe without a crown and scepter. And if you want romance, you can always avail it. You can find romance in sappy movies, in strings and verses, in sunset and sunrise. You don’t need to kiss a frog to find it.

I want you to know that the popular girl in campus is not your competitor. She is your sister. And the girl begging for a piece of bread is also your sister. I want you to know that sisterhood is beyond blood ties, spaces, and races. Understand that every girl struggles with life the way you do. Never see someone’s achievement as a threat to you. Sisters rejoice in each other’s victories and lift those who are falling. If you are starting to feel worthless, convert envy into batteries of inspiration. People value you not based on who you defeat and which place you conquer but how you treat others. Kill your enemies with kindness.

I don’t want you to be obsessed with magazine covers. I will probably buy you some to let you know that the front cover is a product of art and creativity. Do not think of your body parts as mere objects but as  extension of your innate abilities. I don’t want you to dream of becoming a cover girl because your mama cannot assure you that you will win the genetic lottery. Instead, dream of legs that can take you to faraway lands, dream of eyes that can see the future, dream of breasts that can feed, dream of lips that can convey power, and dream of a body that can work for God’s glory.

One day, you will spot blood stain in your skirt. As you will earn pimples, you will be more familiar with the sound of catcalls. Mama will not stop you from meeting boys, the way your grandma hasn’t. But I’ll tell you there are much more interesting things in this world than boys such as travel, culture, trekking, spirits, fashion, martial arts, and a lot more.

As you grow old, some things will be more expensive such as confidence, love, and pride but do not be deceived by what  the TV tells you. Do not save your money for these things. You cannot buy confidence with toothpaste. You cannot buy love with a box of chocolates.

If you make mistakes, do not think of yourself less. No one can break you. You are a rubber band. You will bounce back, no matter how hard life will stretch you. Mama will always remind you that “Everything will be fine. And it’s okay not to be okay.”

I want you to work hard, not for me, but for yourself and for what you believe in.

If one day, you decide to get married, my first question would be, “Are you serious?”

I will not ask for a grandchild. If you are happy in what you do, you fulfill your mama’s dream.

If you want to be a teacher, a pastry chef, an engineer, a farmer, a soldier, a cosplayer, a mother or whatever fictional character you can think of, I will help you become one.

I will give you wings when you want to fly. I will give you a microphone whenever you think your voice is too small.

Your life begins with me but it does not have to end with me. I want to share you with the world so that they can see how wonderful God made you.

Remember, you are a happiness machine.

You will be what you want to be.

And even before you realize what you can be, you are already enough.

“ Dahil ang totoong nagmamahal ay mapagpalaya”

Love and light,

Your hypothetical mother

Thank You Papa

Dear Papa,

I’m sorry I can’t give you a grandson within this year because there are only 12 months in a year and it takes nine months to have a baby. I don’t have enough time. I once told you that almost 90%  of  marriages in India are arranged and only 5% result in divorce. In case you are in favor of that, I don’t mind. It just shows how much I trust my parents or how desperate I am.

But seriously……

Thank you Pa for everything

Thank you Pa for giving me a moral compass though sometimes I forget to use it. I know I am capable of making “major major” mistakes in life but when I think of you and Ma, I can’t afford to make one, When I am confronted by temptation, I used this photo below as my desktop wall paper. I told my friend: “Para makonsensya ako, tuwing gusto ko magkasala.” It has been effective though. People keep family photos for inspiration. I do too but sometimes, it also serves as my conscience.

papa and me

Thank you for teaching me humility. I have never forgotten what you said when I was in elementary. “There will always be someone better than you.” My pride argued: “Yes, there is always someone better than me but I am also better than someone else occasionally.” But I now drop the idea of being better or being less fortunate. I don’t need comparison to make me feel good about myself because I realize everything I owned is borrowed. Everything I accomplished is an answered prayer. Everything I excelled is an occasional luck and bias. I have nothing worth bragging.

Thank you for loving Mama. I know I shouldn’t thank you for this because this is given and expected but every story of domestic violence, every story of broken family reminds me how blessed I am to have loving parents who value marriage vows and family ties.

I first learned the word ‘worldly’ from you. I heard this Bible verse a lot of times: “ Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” I simply understood ‘worldly’ as love for money, cars, and lavish lifestyle. When I was younger, I thought you were just being overly conservative of defining ‘worldly’. But as I seek happiness in many places, in many angles, in many schools of thought. I add another layer of what ‘worldly’ means. Yes, you were right. Consumerism encourages us to want things that we do not have and cannot have. It lets us aspire for the things that we do not need. Our obsession of accumulation of wealth, power, and achievement, has nothing to do how we feel deep within. These ‘worldly’ things serve some purpose in our lives but they are fleeting and shallow. Thank you Pa for giving me that food for thought at a very young age. It did not resonate to me when I was nine but it makes so much sense now that I am facing quarter life crisis.

Thank you Pa for giving me a good example of what charity means or else, I could have been very skeptic with every kind person I meet. Today, the thin line between self-love and selflessness becomes thinner. With the aid of social media, no good deed comes unpublicized. I do question people’s act of kindness. Are they doing this and that for others or are they doing this to feel good about themselves? Uncle Elias has a term for that. It’s ‘spiritual pride’. It is so hard to forget yourself. And sometimes I find myself doing good to compensate my shortcomings or to reap some psychic rewards. You are amazing Pa because you don’t engage in self-publicity (which my generation is guilty of). You are the emergency hotline. You open our house like a social welfare institution but you never earn a medal or a plaque of appreciation or a full feature article in the newspaper (kaya sa blog ko na lang na sinusulat hehe)

*****

I might be  a spinster someday. I might meet men who will give me bruises and scars as souvenirs but I will never be anti-men, just a feminist. As long as you are my dad, I will always think my life is beautiful. I will always choose to see the goodness in people. With you, I have a better appreciation of life.

Happy Birth Month Pa!

Lots of love,

Jacklyn

Mama

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“My mother is the best mother in the whole world.”

How many of you have said that?

We all do.

I can’t remember if I said that when I was kid. I probably did because that was a default way to describe a mother. But now that I’m an ‘adult,’ I know what I mean by “my mother is the best mother in the whole world.” When I was a kid, I probably loved my mother because she fed me, clothed me, sheltered me. As I age, I love my mother more for small reasons, for deep reasons, and for no reason at all. It’s when you are a grownup, you gain deep appreciation the kind of life your parents have given to you.

Minimalist Lifestyle

When I was in Grade I, my mother only gave me two pesos for my baon along with sandwich or crackers she bought in the grocery store. Though we were not really poor, I felt a little deprived. I was studying in a private school where almost all the kids had yayas, drivers, and tutors. I stared at them with envy as I saw them buying soft-drinks and chips in the canteen. My brother and I learned to save when we were kids. It was not because our mother told us to do so, because we knew there was nothing much we could do in spending our allowance in a day, compared to saving it for the things we wanted to own. When I look back, I’m glad my mother did not give me too much of everything. I don’t buy designer clothes and I am not in a hurry to buy the latest gadgets. I also go for the basics first and save for my luxuries.

No “Don’ts”

My mom was always present in my class presentations, parades, and all the school activities that required parents to come. But she wasn’t a typical stage mom. She did not tell me to be like this, like that, to join here and there. She wasn’t like other mothers who would push their children to be honor students, to study in a prestigious university, to finish on time, to take up nursing, to be lawyers or doctors, to work abroad. She was happy if I achieved something. When I didn’t, it did not matter to her. And I am happy that my mom is like that. She gives me enough freedom to be what I am and to discover my own interests.

Mothers usually tell their daughters during their teenage years:  “Books first before boys. Studies first before love” but my mom said nothing like that. Deep inside, I wanted to say, “Ma, don’t you think I’m pretty enough to have precautions or warnings about boys? ” (haha) I’m glad that even if my parents have never given me lengthy anti-boyfriend sermon, it turn out well. I don’t have you-and-me-against-the-world love story. And I haven’t brought a male specimen in the house for my parents to be afraid of. Maybe that’s a simple lesson of parenthood. The more you say, “don’t”, the more they will do it.

I did not make an attempt to be rebellious because there was no reason to be. When I was staying with my parents, I never had a curfew. She did not have to tell me to come home on time because most of the time I was at home by choice. Yah, I pretty had a boring life. When I told my mom, I had to  finish a group project overnight, it was easy to believe. There was no need for me to make white lies.

Unconditional Love

If there’s one thing I learn from my mother, it is unconditional love. It’s a kind of love that you don’t ask anything in return and that you accept people as they are. My mom does not require anything from me.

Some people will love us for what we have. Some people will love us because we are funny, nice, and charming. Some people will love us because of what we can do. Some people will love us because of what we have achieved. Nobody can just love anybody that freely. I know that even if I travel across the universe and meet as many people as I can, I know no one can give me that kind of unconditional love.

I love my mom, not only for giving me life but for the kind of life I had, and the life I made out of it.

Mama, Happy Birthday!

If you want to get to know my mother, read this… hehe