Uncategorized

Last night, I said things

Last night was rough.

You woke up every two hours, always in a fit of anger. I was perplexed. We haven’t really had straight nights of sleep, but it’s been a while since you were this difficult. Nothing I could do could comfort you. Boob? Not interested. Rocking on my chest? Not interested. Getting carried in a vertical position? Yes, ok, that works, but when I tried to put you back in your crib, all hell broke loose again.

I was tired, love. I just wanted to sleep. My arms were hurting from having to hold you vertically for what felt like hours. I also wanted to shut you up so that your Heit (*daddy) — who came home at 2am tired AF after a late-night Airbnb tenant check-in — can sleep. And did I say I was tired?

And so… I may have said things. To your little red angry face. I called you difficult and annoying. I said, verbatim, to all 31 chubby inches of you, “stop being a spoiled brat.”

Finally, you drifted off to sleep around 4:30am. I laid you on your crib and tiptoed out of your bedroom. You wailed again and I waited a while before checking in, and then you drifted off to sleep. “Little monster”, your Heit and I mumbled to each other, making groggy promises to encourage you to be more independent and less attention-hungry.

At 7am, you woke up for the morning. I half-asleep carried you downstairs to Leizl so I can get more sleep in. At 10am (thank God for Labor Day) I lumbered down for coffee. That was when Leizl sprung her news.

It turns out that this morning after I brought you down, she thought you were heavier than normal. She opened your diaper, and what do you know? It was full of poop. Humongous, sticky, stinky C-R-A-P. We had gotten so used to your pooping habits (daytime only, and with warning so we know to perch you in your little bowl), that it didn’t even occur to me to check your diapers for blowouts.

You must have been trying to push it out all night, and it might have already been in your diapers while I was busy being angry with you.

You must have been trying so desperately to tell me how uncomfortable you were, and I was busy calling you a spoiled brat.

I was so focused on my own feelings, I failed to consider yours. I was so focused on how last night was rough on me, I forgot to consider how it could also be rough on you.

I’m sorry, love. I’m sorry for the things I said, and for the things I thought about you. I want you to know that I’m learning, day by day. Every FAIL moment, a reminder to do better. Every parenting mistake, a lesson for the future.

And, on the upside, messy shitty lessons stick around the longest.

Special Occasions, Uncategorized

Of gentle easters and infinite wells

(I wrote this yesterday, Easter Sunday)

My husband forwarded me via Whatsapp on Thursday the Easter promo of the hotel we are checking into for the holiday weekend. Face painting, egg hunting, magic show, arts and crafts. ‘Sounds good’, I texted him back, almost automatically, as I was in the middle of something. When I found myself a moment, I ran through the list of activities again — elaborate, expensive, instagrammable — and suddenly found myself being taken back to the more simple Easters of my childhood in the 1980s.

We spent our early years in an apartment in Paco, the same place my mom and her siblings grew up in. It was a house with doors that creaked with age, drawers that groaned with the weight of forgotten odds and ends, walls that held sepia-hued graduation photos from the 60s and the 70s, and a 5-square meter laundry area we all optimistically called the Little Garden. When you looked up towards the ceiling, you would see yellowed balls attached to wooden beams: the result, we were told, of a game my uncles used to play as irrepressible boys, where wet cottonballs would be thrown high up in the air to get as many stuck to the ceiling as possible. My brother and sister and I, we spent the earliest years of our lives in that house with the smugness and softness of unquestionably loved children. Love was the abiding truth of our childhood, and in many ways, the love in that house was a blanket that was flung over us to protect us and insulate us from the vagaries of the world.

Easter was always a festive occasion. My Mom’s younger sister, Auntie Boots, designated herself to be our Easter Bunny. She was, however, terrible at keeping secrets and hiding things. Weeks before Easter Sunday, we would start sniffing around for the plastic egg cases that would hold little pieces of candy. They would always be in one of two hiding places: in the small storage room where the ironing board was kept, or in my great grand-aunt’s room, in the wooden cabinet that hid reams of white bond paper and other wonderful things. We peeked at the candies during Holy Thursday and Good Friday, making deals to trade, planning how to spread them out so they would last the summer. Then Easter Sunday rolled in. After the Sunday mass, the big hunt commenced. My aunt made riddles that needed to be solved and elaborate maps that needed to be deciphered. When you find one egg, the clue for the next egg would be inside in, and so on. I loved it! When we were done, we all gathered together, showed off our loot, and then received our “big” Easter gifts. Which was maybe a Nancy Drew book for me, a Bobbsey Twins book for my brother, a stuffed toy for my sister.

My son and other kids of his generation will spend Easter Sunday in gleaming malls and big hotels, while their parents will partake of commercialized Easter brunches in tastefully-decorated spreads. It is certainly more convenient, anyhow. I already know I probably do not have it in me to make elaborate maps and mind-boggling riddles (and while we are at it, homemade Halloween costumes and daily themed bento boxes). But — and this is what I also realized today, amidst the wistful nostalgia washing over me — memories of our own happy childhoods are not there to shame the parents we now are. Rather, they are wells that we draw from, infinite and self-replenishing, so that whether our children take part in a mall-organized egg hunt or find themselves hunched over an elaborate DIY easter treasure map at home, love in its purest and clearest form becomes the abiding truth of their childhood.

Uncategorized

Raising a half-white boy in the age of Glutamax

So this whole Glutamax brouhaha has got me thinking about my little Dutch Pinoy. His dad has hazel eyes, light brown hair, and the kind of white skin that turns angry red under the sun. While it is too early to tell exactly how he will look as a teenager, it is safe to say that his Caucasian genes will always be undeniable. 
When i was pregnant with him, a friend of mine joked that since he would probably be good looking due to his Eurasian blood, smart due to genetics (heh 🤓), and educated due to social expectation, he only needs to manage his body mass index and the world is his oyster. 
I rolled my eyes then, but it was when i had him and we would bring him to malls and public places that the pervasiveness and relentlessness of our national obsession with whiteness truly became apparent. Once, at a Watson’s store, a circle of maybe 15 people actually formed around him to watch my son perform the impressive, extraordinary feat of…waving. They all say the same thing, “ang puti puti!” That awful Glutamax commercial only affirms what we have constantly been told: that white is valued, brown is commonplace, dark is ugly. If you’re dark, you should want to be white. And if you’re white, you can expect to get perks you don’t deserve.
Once I told my husband that we should probably send him to school in the Netherlands so he can experience being a minority person of color. Racism is academic until one experiences it first hand, and I’m absolutely fine with exposing my child to discomfort and vulnerability to make sure he doesn’t become an asshole. (My husband said we should go all-out and send him to Texas or some other MAGA state. Um, not sure about that.)
But yes, I worry. worry about what it does to a child’s mind to constantly be praised for being “maputi”, to be called guapo because he is mestizo. I worry about what it does to his can-do spirit and his drive if things are handed to him without him having to work hard for them. I worry, most of all, about what it might do to his soul — a soul that i wish will always be sensitive to the many ways the world is wounded and hurting.

So if you know us and are a part of our lives, please, do help me a bit, especially when our son is a bit older and can understand you: Resist the temptation to tell him how white and cute he is. 😊

General, Uncategorized

Lazy, Happy Mamahood

Hello, my name is Jaye, a first time mom to a little boy born in February of 2018. Let me say this upfront: this is not going to be a blog about how magical motherhood is (it is), how much it has changed me (it has), and how I am now this rock-steady pillar of fierce love and gentle grace (not sure, but trying :)).

This is a blog about learning how to be a lazy, happy mama. That is to say, achieving optimal outcomes with the LEAST amount of energy, effort and resources expended. That is to say, navigating through the crazy jungle of intensive,  FOMO (or FOMKMO – Fear Of My Kids’ Missing Out) parenting and figuring out what our kids truly need so that they can be the happy, thriving, kind human beings we want them to be. There’s nothing wrong with giving our kids what we think is best, especially if we see them enjoying it. What’s wrong is when it becomes a competition — a competition of how young our children were when they started kindermusik, or how long we managed to exclusively breastfeed, or how many hours baby can sleep straight at night. Then I’m too lazy for that kind of oneupMOMship. I say no thanks.

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I’ll also use this blog to share tips and hacks that worked for me, as well as those that didn’t. Those with littler babies will learn from my mistakes, and those with bigger babies can laugh at them and maybe see themselves in me.  I’ve had enough of toxic mommy groups filled with sanctimonious mommies with dogmatic parenting philosophies. I believe in kindness and safe spaces, in equality and community, in not not judging moms because motherhood is f&%#ng hard enough as it is.

If these are things you believe in too, come, join my village. Let’s be lazy, happy moms together.