Category Archives: Mother Lode

Why I read

It takes a village to raise a mother. My latest post for Mothering Heights.

Today Anna asked me five why’s in quick succession. When I ran out of answers, I had to do the only quick survival tactic available to tired mothers: I pointed out the window and shouted, “Look!” (So what if every slapstick comedian does that? It worked this afternoon.)

One day Anna is going to ask us, why is the sky blue? My first thought is, “Because it doesn’t look good in red.” It might make her laugh, perhaps make her think out of the box, maybe exercise her imagination, but in the end it won’t help her much.

So this is what it also means to raise a mother—I have to read.

The rest of the post is here.

Photo credit: Best Books

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The Truth, and Nothing But

May I share my latest post on my column, Mothering Heights.

There is a term for an answer too late in the coming. The French call it l’esprit de l’escalier—literally, “stairwell wit”—a comeback given too late, a retort thought of only after the moment had ended, perhaps when one is on the stairs, leaving the event that required the rejoinder.

Read the rest of the post here.

Reasons for breathing

May I share my recent post on my column Mothering Heights.

I learn much from other mothers. I learn love and unselfishness from my sister, Naomi. I learn about creativity from Rhea. I learn about wellness from Richelle. I learn about defying the odds from Rachel Santos.

I visited Rachel in 2006 to interview he­r for Working Mom. She talked almost non-stop, with a mouth primed for laughing and eyes built for smiling. She had just finished her licensure exams for teaching, her dream job since she was a little girl. “I am just so excited to start teaching,” she said. “But who would hire me?” She pointed to her arm, “They’d look at this and think I tried to commit suicide.”

Her right forearm was pocked with needle marks, bruises, veins, and a noticeable bump on her wrist that vibrated when you laid a finger on it. It resembled a battlefield, for that was what it was, with scars of Rachel’s crusade for her life and that of her son’s.

Read the rest of the post here.

Mothering Heights: Like magic

This is my fifth post for my column Mothering Heights.

A few nights ago, while I was journaling, I thought: Nothing remarkable happened to me today. But that’s the thing: nothing has to. Writing isn’t just about recording the fantastic; it’s recognizing that the very ordinariness of our days are worth writing about, are worth being grateful for. Each day is carved into its own space, separated from the gush of time—each day is sacred and each day’s delights are sanctified. What we do with that grace is our gift, but also our accountability.

Read the rest of the post here.

Namamahay

It’s my second night away from home. I didn’t get to sleep much; I was namamahay.

An exact translation for the Filipino term namamahay escapes me; the term homesick doesn’t capture the traitorous way my body searches for familiar scents, for pillows shaped by our contours, for carlights playing on the ceiling, or for a bed that creaks when I turn to my right but not when I turn to my left.

Our home has carved itself on my body.

Mothering Heights: God is in the details

Sharing my fourth post for my column Mothering Heights.

‘My husband and I would like to share our story, which was published in a lovely anthology, Against All Odds: Coincidence or Miracle? Volume IV, produced by Flor Gozon Tarriela and Butch Jimenez. It was one of the hardest stories I had to write, not because I didn’t know how to tell it, but because the road we’d traveled, from there to here, had been pockmarked with hope and despair. It was hard to relive the journey, and much harder not to break down in tears for how God had blessed the broken road that led us straight to our Anna. (Thank you, Rascall Flatts, for letting me borrow your words.)”

Read  the rest of the post here.

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Standing up

I was lost in my writing when my three-year-old barged into the room, asking me to play with her. My mind was still grappling with images, and it took a second for the frames in my mind’s eye to shift to and settle on the real world, where my daughter was already bearing down on the laptop.

I was sad to let my other-world go and felt guilty that I did (we mothers have an auto-guilt mode for whatever good or bad we do).

Then I remembered that my daughter fuels my writing. She gives me material. Playing with her is like priming the pump. So I stood up, remembering Henry David Thoreau’s words: “How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.” Life is my material, and I have to go find more of it.

We writers are always writing: when we look at someone, we are more likely storing in our mind how the neon lights play against his pallid skin, blue and pink against his forearm, or how the corners of her mouth twitch when she lies.

Perhaps we look at life differently. Part of us often step back and catalog an event taking place. Our being “in the moment” is lived thrice: once, when it happens; twice, when remembered; thrice, when reduced to words.

Catherine Drinker Bowen shares the same thought, “Writing, I think, is not apart form living. Writing is a kind of double living. The writer experiences everything twice. Once in reality and once in that mirror which waits always before or behind.”

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A father’s heart

Photo credit: NJCoth

My third post for my column Mothering Heights for OSM!

“My dive buddy, David, a photographer and an artist, was born a fish. Even when I had a few years’ head start on him, he still takes to diving better than I do. He is unfazed by the weight of the sea, unafraid to take risks even when his decisions violate PADI safety guidelines as well as all the laws of physics. I was his buddy when he first dived in Anilao, and he should’ve paid me for that service for he kept speeding after every fish he fancied, parting away from us, and I had to tear after him each time to lead him back to the group—not an easy feat for David had a UP swim team’s body, built for speed.

When we dived Kho Tao, Thailand, our entire team had to do an emergency ascent after a mere ten minutes: we had lost David underwater. He had seen something interesting and tore after it. His lust for life and all its beauty proved far too irresistible.”

Read the rest of the column post here.

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A mother’s heart

Photo credit: To show them Jesus

My second post for my column Mothering Heights came out today:

Two years ago, Good Housekeeping asked me to submit an essay for its Mother’s Day issue, only 700 words. I was a mother only a few weeks old. The long wait for a child—16 years—had led us to Anna, whom my husband calls “God’s Best.”

I wrestled with the essay, perhaps the hardest I ever had to write. My heart had been reeling from tenderness, from bruising, from delight, from doubt.

The William Wordsworth sitting on my shoulder was no help: any spontaneous overflow of emotions, he had said, should be “recollected in tranquility.” I shushed him: a mother is hardly tranquil.

By the third GH deadline, I still hadn’t written much. My words sounded cheap, sentimental.

And then there was Ernest Hemingway: “All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence you know.”

Writing is at once egotistic and humbling, a struggle between vanity and vulnerability. The truest sentence—my truest sentence—is the one I needed to tell my daughter.

Read the rest of the post here.

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Writing, sculpting

Photo credit: Writing and whittling

I am encouraged by the good feedback from friends and family on my first column on mothering and motherhood, particularly by those who are ornery readers. (Family and friends are usually not good first readers.)

I ride on the momentum. Words do beget words. I finished a post for my other blog, which I hope will take off soon. I just have to write more and identify my focus for that blog.

I agree with Elie Wiesel, that writing is like sculpting:

Writing is not like painting where you add. It is not what you put on the canvas that the reader sees. Writing is more like a sculpture where you remove, you eliminate in order to make the work visible. Even those pages you remove somehow remain.

I am a writer. Hear me roar!